Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guilty of governance without a permit

Foreignnotes - one of the best blogs on what's happening in Ukrainian Politics, (thought provoking and rational insight into the Ukrainian politic) has commentary on three possible scenarios that may follow the conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko originally published by Segodnya’ newspaper , these scenarios are not so fanciful as they might seam.

Option One (60%) Do nothing and work behind the scenes to avoid the crisis and hope that the issue will die down and resolve itself in time.

Option Two (30%) Apply sanctions and run the risk of causing a economic meltdown the consequences of which are unknown

Option Three (10%) Wait for or fuel protests movements and hope for the eventual uprising of the Ukraine people that would spawn another revolution and the overthrow of the government

LEvko of Foriegnnotes thinks that the percentage of option one and two are the other way around - Option one 30%, Option two 60%

The three options are not exclusive of each other and depending on the reaction and strategy taken by the European Union could involve a degree of all three as the events unfold in the near to medium future.

The article published by Segodnya’ newspaper highlights the fact that the number of people attending the "Free Yulia" rallies in Kyiv is around 5,000 people. This is not many considering past rallies in support of Yulia's election campaign and the Orange revolution where considerably greater. This is seen as a indication as to the extent that Ukrainians are prepared to come out and defend the principals of justice and political freedom.

From the freedom loving point of view it is difficult to understand why so few Ukrainians are not out there protesting what is clearly an abuse of process and denial of an individuals constitutional rights. This is Ukraine after all and they have endured a lot or repression under previous regimes and Presidential domination. The European Union and other International states are right in criticising Ukraine for the arrest and detention of Tymoshenko for what is political persecution at its worst.

Tymoshenko is guilty of a technicality "Governing without a permit" in that the law has some ambiguity as to who had the right to sign-off on the Gas supply agreement with Russia.

The allegations against Tymoshenko came about as a result of complaints made by Viktor Yushchenko in 2009.

Instead of challenging Tymeshenko's authority to sign the agreement in the Courts, Yushchenko with the aid of his appointed National Security Council had sought to have Tymoshenko prosecuted for misuse and abuse of office.

Similar charges against Yushchenko for his misuse of office, most notable the illegally and unconstitutional dismissal of Ukraine's previous parliament and his interference in the operation and independence of Ukraine's Constitutional Court, have not been laid . Yushchenko has managed to escape persecution, unlike other members of the Ukrainian Opposition. It is the selectivity of the persecutions that has given rise to international condemnation.

The allegations and the punishment can not be justified and are considered to be designed to prevent Yulia Tymoshenko from participating and seeking election in the Ukrainian Parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2012.

The West. rightly so, say they want her conviction overturned and Tymoshenko's right to run in next years Parliamentary elections preserved.

The issue and question is to what extent will the West go to hold Ukraine to account for its obvious and selective persecution of the opposition leadership?

There is the suggestion that Tymoshenko will be released or pardoned but her conviction will remain along with the requirement that she pay-back the State the sum of 188 million dollars, the amount of money that the state claims was lost as a result of the gas agreement that Tymoshenko signed to end the Russian/Ukrainian Gas War back in 2008. How they came up with this amount is anyones guess but it is a hefty penalty never the less. The conviction and outstanding debt would prohibit Tymoshenko from being a candidate in the forthcoming parliamentary election.

Tymoshenko is still facing further additional criminal prosecution over corruption allegations dating back to her time as Energy Minister in the 1990's. This will no doubt keep her tied up in the courts for some time to come and it is not clear if she will be detained whilst these matters are before the courts or if she will be allowed out on bail.

Leader of the People's Self Defence Movement Yutri Lutsenko has been detained for just under a year on allegations that he usurped power and authority when he was Minister for Internal Affairs. His court case is still continuing. Whilst all the focus has been on Tymoshenko little media attention has been given to Lutsenko whose health is deteriorating whilst he is imprisoned waiting judgement for his alleged political crimes.

In the absence of internal support of protest it is difficult for the West to take up the Human Rights issues. Ukraine must take some responsibility for its own governance and the EU in particular can not consistently be placed in the position of having to tell Ukraine how it should govern its sovereign state.

In the background of these abuses is the question of EU/Ukrainian relationships and the proposed Free trade and association agreement. The prosecution of opposition members has certainly presented a challenge to the EU. Do they maintain their position on Human Rights and deny Ukraine association status, in which case they run the risk of pushing Ukraine back into the influence of Russia ore do they sign the agreement bring Ukraine closer to the EU and continue to try and work though these issues as a separate point of discussion.

No doubts the Ukrainian government feels it has the upper hand an that the West in the absence of a Ukrainian revolt will soon tire of trying to defend Tymoshenko and the Human Rights issues. After all the EU did the same when Vicktor Yushchenko violated Ukraine's Constitutional rights back in 2007. The EU made noises at first and soon sat back and looked on as Yushchenko continued his misuse and abuse of power and they did nothing to defend Ukraine and the principle of rule of law. in 29007 Yushchenko's actions caused seven months of political and civil unrest and the crowds in the streets were much greater then the 5000 protesting about Tymoshenko's arrest.

If the EU and US push hard and imposed sanctions, as they have done to Belarus, they may make maters worst.

If they do nothing they could be just deferring the problem to a later date.

If sanctions are imposed and the EU/Ukraine association is put on hold this could have a serious impact on Ukraine's economy and as a number of economists have predicted could see Ukraine suffer a major financial crisis setting off an avalanche of discontent over the winter period this could give rise to public protest and my even result on the removal of the government is the crisis is as sever as predicted. Given that Europe itself is balancing an economic tight rope of its own can it afford Ukraine to fall. to add to the risks involved Ukraine is co-host to the Euro 2012 Football championship and any economic crisis would be compounded dragging Poland into a crisis situation bring the crisis to its own.

The choices are difficult. Do nothing and remain silent and hope that the avalanche will not occur or speak out and run the risk of triggering the pending disaster. It is the latter that gives rises to Option A being rated at 60%.