Today, Friday, president Yanukovych visited Donetsk to take part in the 'Day of the Miner' celebrations. He gave a speech praising their efforts, stressing the importance of coal to the country's economy, and awarded medals to distinguished workers in the industry.
The dark pall hanging over all of this, was of course the dozens of deaths in recent mining disasters at the local "Sukhodolskaya Vostochnaya", "Bazhanova," and "Krasnokutskaya" mines.
At a pre-arranged press conference the president could only find time to answer three questions from journalists : one from Rinat Akhmetov's TV company, one from Rinat Akhmetov's newspaper, and one from the First National Television channel which was clearly planted to enable Yanukovych to respond to recent comment by Russia's president Medvedev on Ukraine's possible accession into a Customs Union with its northern neighbour.
Yanukovych did not look comfortable, clenching and kneeding his fists, whilst giving his brief answers.
'Ostro' reports that security on the day was absurdly tight. In their words, "Donetsk greeted the president of Ukraine with enormous billboards and empty streets."
"An hour before the arrival of the head of state employees of the SBU and the police cleared people from 'Theatre Square'.
The President's cortege was met by several dozen of miners specially selected for this purpose, and several dozen employees of the SBU. The entire territory and the area in front of the theatre building was cordoned off by police. A brass band played...After the ceremonies had ended, when President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych left the theatre, his security immediately closed the main entrance doors behind him, not allowing any of those present to come out onto the street outside.
People, including those miners that had just congratulated, crowded into the theatre lobby, wondering when they would be allowed to leave the theatre. The waiting lasted about 10 minutes. The door was [then] opened for everyone."
[Compare with British prime minister, David Cameron, taking questions recently from members of parliament in a televised debate on wide-scale riots that took place in London and elsewhere, earlier this month:
"For two and a half hours on the Commons floor, Mr. Cameron took questions from anguished, and often angry, lawmakers. They demanded to know why, on the first nights of the rioting, their constituents had been left to cower in fear in their homes and elsewhere while police officers in riot gear stood back, armed only with nightsticks, under orders not to engage the rioters.
It was the longest inquisition of its kind that any prime minister has faced in living memory. Not even Winston Churchill, often described as the greatest Commons man in history, endured such a protracted grilling." ]
Groucho Marx once said that the key to success in life was sincerity, and added, if you can fake that you have really got it made. It was not one of Yanukovych's better days..