Monday, November 21, 2011

Ombudsman: Tymoshenko gravely ill whilst being kept in jail.

Ukraine's Ombdusman, Nina Karpachova, whilst making a announced visit to Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former Prime-minister who is being held in jail, has reported that Tymnoshenko is gravely ill and needs urgent medical treatment outside of the jail. The assessment of the Ombudsman is contrary to thr infornation provided by jail officals last week.

Tymoshenko has been jailed following a complaint made against her by Vikttor Yushchenko back in 2009. Tymoshenko was found guility of having misused and abused her public office in signing an agreement with Russia to supply Ukraine gas. The allegations against Tymoshenko and other members of teh oppsoiton parties are seen to be potitcaly motivated.  Tymoshenko has appelased agsint her convcition and the appral is scheduled to be heard next month.

There are calls for Tyshmeochnko to be released or plavced under hoiuyse arrest pending the outcome of her appeal.

Earlier on the authorities claimed that Tymoshenko health was satisfactory and that she was being interviewed in relation to a number of additional allegations that have been levelled against her.

The assesment made by the Obmudsman will incease pressure on the Ukrainian Authorities to act as a matter of urgency.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yushchenko's Role in Tymoshenko's Persecution

By: Taras Kuzio

Former President Viktor Yushchenko is an important, but underestimated, aspect of the sentencing of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years imprisonment and a three-year ban from government work. Our Ukraine honorary chairman Yushchenko’s support for the sentence was in contradiction with the Our Ukraine political party, which condemned it as a return to authoritarianism. Every other opposition political party condemned the sentence.

Party of Regions deputy Taras Chornovil said in a recent interview with Radio Svoboda that “Yushchenko was the only well-known public person in Ukraine who supported the sentence.” Yushchenko was the only person who “applauded and said that he supported it and was satisfied with it”

In interviews given to the BBC Ukrainian service on Oct. 12 and Der Spiegel on Oct. 18, Yushchenko publicly supported Tymoshenko’s sentence. Speaking on Inter television channel on Oct. 23, Yushchenko stated his opposition to the decriminalization of the 1962 Soviet criminal articles that were included in the 2001 Ukrainian criminal code used to sentence Tymoshenko. Officials, he argued, should be held responsible for their actions. The EU had sought to use decriminalization as a compromise for Yanukovych to release Tymoshenko.

Former U.S. Ambassadors to Ukraine, William Taylor and Steven Pifer, described the trial as a “farce.” Yushchenko, in contrast, said it was a “rather a normal judicial process,” believing the charges arose from her “treason.” Yushchenko continued: “I do not see a show trial, but rather a normal judicial process. Even politicians are not above the law. Was not the former French President Jacques Chirac also forced to stand trial?” he asked.

Former Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, elected to parliament in the pro-Yushchenko Our Ukraine-Peoples Self Defense, believes that Yushchenko’s support for the sentence is a product of his personality as he showed himself to be a “very low moral person” who “betrayed tens of millions of people.” Omelchenko and other Orange politicians have pointed to Yushchenko continuing to live in the president’s dacha as a “reward” for his anti-Tymoshenko vendetta.

Yanukovych lives in his palatial Mezhirya, a former Soviet complex privatized when he was prime minister in 2006-2007, and does not need the president’s official residence. A Razumkov Center opinion poll conducted one week after the sentence confirmed Omelchenko’s views, finding Yushchenko to have the highest negative rating of any Ukrainian politician. Indeed, 80 percent of Ukrainians did not support his actions, higher than the Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko who had minus 69 percent ratings. Only 1.5 percent of Ukrainians supported Yushchenko.

Party of Regions deputies have pointed out that the criminal investigation against Tymoshenko was launched in 2008-2009 by Yushchenko and they have merely brought the case to its logical conclusion.

The Tymoshenko case has had three stages. The first stage in the summer of 2008 was the collection of a dossier of Tymoshenko’s alleged “treason” by the presidential secretariat (Yushchenko has continued to use her “treason” to justify his support for the sentence).

The “research” operation was led by then chief of staff, Viktor Baloga, who resigned in May 2009 after which he defected to Yanukovych. During the 2010 presidential elections Baloga organized victory for Yanukovych in Transcarpathia, the only western Ukrainian region which he won. In October 2010, Baloga was appointed as the Minister of Emergency Situations.

During the second stage, Yushchenko undermined his prime minister’s 2010 election campaign. Yushchenko signed into law increases in populist social benefits that led to a suspension of the 2008 International Monetary Fund loan agreement and signed last minute changes to the election law that increased opportunities for election fraud.

In his final press conference, Yushchenko revived criminal charges from the Leonid Kuchma-era related to Tymoshenko’s chairmanship of United Energy Systems in 1995-1997. The same charges were revived on Oct. 12; the day after Tymoshenko was sentenced, by the Security Service.

The intervention by the SBU chairman, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, is the latest in a string of similar steps that seek to destroy Ukraine’s European integration. In the second round of the 2010 elections Yushchenko called upon Ukrainians to vote against both candidates which only reduced Tymoshenko’s vote. Between the first and second rounds, Yushchenko posthumously awarded the nationalist leader Stepan Bandera with a state medal, which increased the anti-nationalist turn-out of eastern Ukrainian voters.

The third step in January 2009 was marked by Khoroshkovsky’s promotion by Yushchenko to first deputy chairman of the SBU. Three months later Khoroshkovsky ordered the SBU’s Alpha Spetsnaz unit to raid Naftohaz Ukraine’s offices over the January gas contract. The contract became the basis for the charge of “abuse of office” against Tymoshenko. Our Ukraine leader and former SBU Chairman, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, said in an interview with Komentari on March 5, 2010 that “it would be personal satisfaction” if Khoroshkovsky was promoted to the post of SBU chairman, “which he had recommended him for.” Khoroshkovsky became the SBU chairman shortly afterwards.

Yushchenko’s anti-Tymoshenko vendetta has brought three negative consequences for Ukraine. First, it has led to widespread voter disenchantment and disillusionment in Ukrainian politicians, especially among former Orange voters. This has generated passivity among Ukrainians making it easier for Yanukovych to roll back the democratic gains achieved in the 2004 Orange Revolution. Only 3,000 Ukrainians protested against Tymoshenko’s sentence – fewer in number than the Berkut riot police who had been drafted into Kyiv.

Moreover, Ukraine fatigue undermined Ukraine’s integration into NATO, which looked promising in 2005-2006. Khoroshkovsky’s SBU is a major factor in contributing to Ukraine’s democratic regression. Yushchenko’s support for Tymoshenko’s sentence undermines his claim to be a supporter of Ukraine’s European integration as the case has derailed the chances of Kyiv signing an Association Agreement.

Finally, Ukraine fatigue led most countries to initially welcome Yanukovych’s victory because they believed it would end “Orange” chaos and bring “stability.” Yanukovych was therefore given a long honeymoon period for most of 2010 during which criticism of democratic regression was mooted and phrased diplomatically. Political repression of dozens of opponents only led to negative consequences in EU-Ukraine relations after August 5, 2011, when Tymoshenko was imprisoned for contempt of court.

Yushchenko’s support for Tymoshenko’s sentence reveals political immaturity, a lack of dignity and willingness to prioritize personal revenge over Ukraine’s national interests. In 2006 and 2011, respectively, he has supported policies that have undermined Ukraine’s path to NATO and the EU.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights: Tymoshenko case in review.

Preliminary Report on the investigations against Yulia Tymoshenko in November 2011.

This report has the purpose of describing and analyzing the actual legal situation of Mrs. Tymoshenko as of the beginning of November 2011 and to compare it with the obligations of Ukraine as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. It has not been the purpose of the monitoring to take side in the question of guilt or innocence; Human Rights are for the guilty as well as for the innocent.

Copy of report (pdf)


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wikileaks: Cables from Kyiv U.S. Embassy

There are a number of very interesting cables issued by the Kyiv U.S. Embassy and published by Wikileaks.

They provide a fascinating insight and review of the period in the lead-up to the 2006 Parliamentary elections and beyond.  From 2005-12-23 to 2010-02-26  (If only Wikileaks published cables from the beginning of 2004)

Readers are encouraged to consider denotations to Wikileaks to help them in their quest for open and transparent governance.

There was an interesting aside on comments by Olexandr Moroz (SPU) dated Feb 2005 on the Russian gas deal stuck by Yushchenko.

 2. (C) A clearly unhappy Socialist Party (SPU) leader 
Oleksandr Moroz blasted the GOU handling of the gas crisis 
and the resulting deals with Russia, said he was appalled at 
the GOU decisions taken, and emphasized that Ukraine had 
other options, even though filing an appeal at the Stockholm 
Court of Arbitration would have taken too much time in the 
dead of a cold winter.  Moroz expressed particular irritation 
at President Yushchenko's constant public statements that 
everything was okay with the deal when it seemed clear that 
the deal hurt Ukrainian national interests.  Moroz expressed 
sadness as well, because the handling of the contracts 
clearly signaled that those who had signed off on the deal 
had their personal interests in mind.  Moroz could not fathom 
why Yushchenko had said Ukraine had won, when it seemed clear 
that Russia had stuck to its position and Ukraine had given 


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

UK Parliament TV - Westminister Hall: Ukraine Debate 1 Nov 2011

Thanks to ForeignNotes for this link
Debate starts at 13:00 and finishes at 13:30


Venice Commission proposes Ukraine improve current proportional electoral system

Source: Kyivpost

The Venice Commission has proposed that Ukraine introduce a proportional electoral system with open regional lists, rather than switch to a mixed electoral system.

"If we're talking about the introduction of a mixed system, Ukraine has [already] had a negative experience in applying such a system. A mixed system may lead to abuses [at elections]. Thus, the Venice Commission will propose changing the current system to a proportional one, with open regional lists, rather than switching to a mixed system," Venice Commission Secretary Thomas Markert said at committee hearings on the discussion of bills on parliamentary elections in Kyiv on Monday.

He said that the text of the bill tabled in parliament by deputies of the coalition (authored by Oleksandr Yefremov, Ihor Sharov, and other MPs) was different from the text that was drafted by the working group set up by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and that was submitted to the commission for it to draw its conclusions.

Markert said that the Venice Commission had supported work in Ukraine related to the introduction of amendments to electoral legislation before the holding of new elections.

At the same time, he said that there were several types of electoral systems in European countries and that each state should choose an electoral system that fits it best.

"But this electoral system cannot provide advantages to one side. It should create equal conditions for all political forces," Markert said.

He said that such a system should be based on a broad political consensus and that all changes to the electoral system should be made after such a broad consensus is reached.

"It is now being proposed to make three changes to Ukraine's electoral system, in particular, a transition to a mixed system, an increase in the electoral threshold from 3% to 5% and a ban on electoral blocs," he said.

"All of these changes have been made by the majority contrary to the position of the opposition. We believe that such unilateral changes will undermine the confidence of voters in the electoral system," Markert said.

He noted that among the shortcomings in the bill currently being discussed in parliament was the fact that the issue of the boundaries of polling stations was not resolved in the document.

"The bill does not have the relevant provisions," he said, adding that the fact that this issue has not been resolved will create a lot of problems during the elections.

At the same time, Markert said that the Venice Commission had proposed that the Verkhovna Rada continue to work on drafting a single electoral code.