Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EU will not accept authoritarianism

I really liked Vitaliy Portnikov's comments on Monday's non initialling of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement posted on the Radio Svoboda site.

I've loosely translated some bits of it here:

"At today's meeting between President of Ukraine Yanukovych and EU officials what happened is what should have happened: i.e. nothing. No initialling of any Association Agreement with the EU, and no kind of free trade zone.

The real sensation would have been the refusal of Europeans to deviate from their basic principles, their willingness to solemnly initial an agreement with a country whose leaders are carefully constructing an authoritarian Lukashenkovite regime. But the expectation of some kind of diplomatic miracle was in reality a test of morality, not only for the Ukrainian authorities, but also for the Ukrainian opposition, many of whom were calling for continuing European integration in spite of "some case against Tymoshenko"; as if it was not crystal clear that to use judicial levers to settle political accounts would inevitably cast the country far from Europe.

This was a test for many civic activists who presented the same slogans and argued that the way to "educate" Yanukovych was through Europe.

This was a test for Ukrainian journalists who readily repeated and maintained such irresponsible statements. And the results of the test showed that Ukraine has no place either in Europe or next to it, and that the country has returned back to the past.

The country has returned to the past because its society and elite are devoid of moral values or any ability to resist authoritarianism. That's why Yanukovych has been successful. Tha is why Tymoshenko in jail. And if tomorrow Yatseniuk or Klitschko were to wind up in jail what would happen? Nothing. People will get agitated on the internet - and then benignly calm down.

No technical problems existed in the signing of these agreements with the EU. The only one
problem was a moral one. The problem was created by Yanukovych, but Ukrainians could solve it very easily. Had as many people gathered under the court walls as had gathered for the tax demonstrations in the capital the Ukrainian President would personally have come to release the opposition leader, and an obedient pseudo-parliament would have adopted all the necessary changes in the Penal Code.

The authorities spit on Brussels and on Moscow. They are afraid only of their own citizens. Ukrainians have merely explained to one other that they are "not for Yulia," and this is "not their war". That "those at the top are all the same". Even supporters of Tymoshenko are more comfortable holding talks in the presidential administration than addressing public meetings.

And no one wants to understand that all this is not about Tymoshenko. It's about the Soviet judicial system - about authoritarianism.That is a barrier that has descended on Ukraine's path to the civilized world. And the barrier has been lowered not in front of Yanukovych, it has been lowered before all Ukrainians. And has been lowered deservedly ."


elmer said...

Portnikov is truly one of the shining lights, one of the brilliant analysts, one of the true gems, in Ukraine.

His friend, Mykola Knyazhytsky, from TVi (where Portnikov used to have his own political analysis show) is another.

Anonymous said...

Demonstrating for the release of one corrupt ex-oligarch who made billions of dollars on the back of ordinary gas conseumer and transferred huge kick backs to the then prime-minister is hardly going to give the message that actually counts, which is that there ought to be an independent judiciary and which isn't so easily controlled by the President. She's hardly a figure around which to mount such a campaign. The distinction is too subtle. The journalist comments are also rather a slight on the victims of the Chernobly clean-up who have had their presumable not over generous support cut and the small buiness people who are pulverised by the tax men.