Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No duty-frees for Yanuk in Brussels next week?

Amongst the unprecedented tsunami of criticism from European leaders [these from the White House and the British Foreign Secretary are typical] there is one declaration that could hurt Yanukovych more than others.

He is scheduled to visit the European parliament in Brussels a week on Thursday - on 20th October. Elmar Brok, a well-known figure there and former Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, says Ukraine must resolve the situation surrounding the Tymoshenko case before his visit. Other Euro-parliamentarians are already talking of cancelling his visit.

Yanukovych has been stringing along his European critics for several months now, misleading them with commitments of a 'soft landing' for Tymoshenko. Now that she has been sentenced he has been exposed a charlatan.

Today's attempts by Yanukovych to wriggle out of his responsibility for her imprisonment, declaring that this is not a final verdict because there's still an Appeal Court to which she can turn, and his attempt to blame an outdated legal system and his predecessor who instigated investigations against her, will not cut much ice because Ukraine's legal system, with its 99%+ conviction rate, is totally discredited already. The prosecutor's office, the Perchersk court..they are all his people.

Yanukovych will be feeling very satisfied right now having eliminated his biggest enemy from the field of battle. All the country's oligarchs must now bow before him -he can become as rich as they are - no other politician can challenge his power. But the concrete step of cancelling next week's visit to Brussels would hit Yanukovych harder than all of today's declarations of dismay and anger from world leaders..bring him back down to earth, at least a little.

Expect Yanukovych in that event to 'cry wolf' and threaten integration eastwards rather westward..

p.s. One commenter notes that the losses from Tymoshenko's 2009 gas deal would be as nothing compared to economic losses to Ukraine - lost exports, lost inward investment, lost remittances from Ukrainian's working abroad etc. that would result from cancellation of the planned association and free trade agreements. But would the Customs Union compensate? Hardly..With Russia everything is a zero-sum game..

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