Much at Stake in Ukraine | Freedom House

Much at Stake in Ukraine

The American Interest

uch has been written on whether the European Union and Ukraine will sign agreements on association, free trade and, just as important if not more so for average Ukrainians, visa liberalization. Lots of analysis also has zeroed in on how Russian President Vladimir Putin and his minions have approached the Ukraine-EU relationship, using threats and pressure that have done more to alienate Ukrainians from Russia and unite Ukrainians in moving toward Europe. Less attention, by comparison, is being devoted to the event that will take place long after next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius—namely, the 2015 Ukrainian presidential election.

In the first set of analysis, the focus has been on whether Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will pardon or grant amnesty to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych defeated in a close but free and fair election in 2010, or leave her in jail. The European Union has made clear that Yanukovych’s failure to free Tymoshenko will scuttle any deals in Vilnius. Still haunted by Tymoshenko’s role in the Orange Revolution events of 2004, Yanukovych ever since his electoral victory in 2010 has sought to prevent Tymoshenko from posing a political challenge to him again.

His friends in the prosecutor’s office have complied by carrying out a politically-motivated legal campaign against Tymoshenko with a series of investigations into her alleged criminal acts, with the latest being spurious allegations of her involvement in the murder of a Ukrainian legislator back in the mid-1990s. Like his predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, Yanukovych has had an unhealthy and counterproductive obsession with Tymoshenko in which he sees her as his main threat—to the point that keeping her in prison may well wind up ruining his country’s chances to deepen its integration with Europe.

Tymoshenko’s prosecution and imprisonment, criticized widely in the West, exemplify Yanukovych’s use of selective justice against his political opponents and the corruption of the legal system. His willingness to play a game of chicken with the European Union—hoping it will back down on its demand that she be freed as a precondition for signing the agreements at next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, because Ukraine is “too important” to leave to Russia’s sphere of influence—reflects his determination to place his political fortunes above the interests of his country. The European Union is right to demand a satisfactory solution to the Tymoshenko problem.

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1511#sthash.UR7in...

uch has been written on whether the European Union and Ukraine will sign agreements on association, free trade and, just as important if not more so for average Ukrainians, visa liberalization. Lots of analysis also has zeroed in on how Russian President Vladimir Putin and his minions have approached the Ukraine-EU relationship, using threats and pressure that have done more to alienate Ukrainians from Russia and unite Ukrainians in moving toward Europe. Less attention, by comparison, is being devoted to the event that will take place long after next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius—namely, the 2015 Ukrainian presidential election.

In the first set of analysis, the focus has been on whether Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will pardon or grant amnesty to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych defeated in a close but free and fair election in 2010, or leave her in jail. The European Union has made clear that Yanukovych’s failure to free Tymoshenko will scuttle any deals in Vilnius. Still haunted by Tymoshenko’s role in the Orange Revolution events of 2004, Yanukovych ever since his electoral victory in 2010 has sought to prevent Tymoshenko from posing a political challenge to him again.

His friends in the prosecutor’s office have complied by carrying out a politically-motivated legal campaign against Tymoshenko with a series of investigations into her alleged criminal acts, with the latest being spurious allegations of her involvement in the murder of a Ukrainian legislator back in the mid-1990s. Like his predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, Yanukovych has had an unhealthy and counterproductive obsession with Tymoshenko in which he sees her as his main threat—to the point that keeping her in prison may well wind up ruining his country’s chances to deepen its integration with Europe.

Tymoshenko’s prosecution and imprisonment, criticized widely in the West, exemplify Yanukovych’s use of selective justice against his political opponents and the corruption of the legal system. His willingness to play a game of chicken with the European Union—hoping it will back down on its demand that she be freed as a precondition for signing the agreements at next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, because Ukraine is “too important” to leave to Russia’s sphere of influence—reflects his determination to place his political fortunes above the interests of his country. The European Union is right to demand a satisfactory solution to the Tymoshenko problem.

- See more at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1511#sthash.UR7in...

by David J. Kramer
President, Freedom House


Much has been written on whether the European Union and Ukraine will sign agreements on association, free trade and, just as important if not more so for average Ukrainians, visa liberalization. Lots of analysis also has zeroed in on how Russian President Vladimir Putin and his minions have approached the Ukraine-EU relationship, using threats and pressure that have done more to alienate Ukrainians from Russia and unite Ukrainians in moving toward Europe. Less attention, by comparison, is being devoted to the event that will take place long after next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius—namely, the 2015 Ukrainian presidential election.

In the first set of analysis, the focus has been on whether Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will pardon or grant amnesty to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Yanukovych defeated in a close but free and fair election in 2010, or leave her in jail. The European Union has made clear that Yanukovych’s failure to free Tymoshenko will scuttle any deals in Vilnius. Still haunted by Tymoshenko’s role in the Orange Revolution events of 2004, Yanukovych ever since his electoral victory in 2010 has sought to prevent Tymoshenko from posing a political challenge to him again.

His friends in the prosecutor’s office have complied by carrying out a politically-motivated legal campaign against Tymoshenko with a series of investigations into her alleged criminal acts, with the latest being spurious allegations of her involvement in the murder of a Ukrainian legislator back in the mid-1990s. Like his predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, Yanukovych has had an unhealthy and counterproductive obsession with Tymoshenko in which he sees her as his main threat—to the point that keeping her in prison may well wind up ruining his country’s chances to deepen its integration with Europe.

Tymoshenko’s prosecution and imprisonment, criticized widely in the West, exemplify Yanukovych’s use of selective justice against his political opponents and the corruption of the legal system. His willingness to play a game of chicken with the European Union—hoping it will back down on its demand that she be freed as a precondition for signing the agreements at next month’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, because Ukraine is “too important” to leave to Russia’s sphere of influence—reflects his determination to place his political fortunes above the interests of his country. The European Union is right to demand a satisfactory solution to the Tymoshenko problem.

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