The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office commented on today's 4 year sentence handed down to former Ukrainian Interior Minister, Yuriy Lutsenko thus : "The apparent political motivation behind the trial calls into question Ukraine’s commitment to a closer relationship with the European Union and runs counter to fundamental EU principles of democracy and a transparent and fair judicial process"
Similar reactions have been voice by other European capitals and multigovernmental institutions.
New Secretary of the NSDC, Andriy Kluyvev, when asked today in Brussels about Yulia Tymoshenko's imprisonment, admitted it had had a negative impact on EU-Ukraine relations, but declared unapologetically : 'criminal responsibility for crimes committed was irreversible.'
[BTW, Klyuyev's recent demotion from vice PM has caused some irritation in Party of Regions']
Clearly, Yanukovych and his pals are totally unconcerned by this negative impact - they intend to gain ever-greater control - their critics can "blow it out of their a**".
LB.com's Sonya Koshkina describes the emergence of what she calls a new 'Cold war'.
Here's a precis of some of the point she makes:
During 2010 and most of 2011 many in Europe and Washington lived under the illusion that Yanukovych dreamt of defining his place in history as a great reformer and Euro-integrator. However, as a result of the Tymoshenko and Lutsenko trials, and 'the leader's' broken promises to his European interlocutors, this illusion has been shattered. There is now serious talk about application of sanctions against some Ukrainian individuals in the Europarliament.
Relations with the USA have also become frosty - Yanukovych received a final warning from Hillary Clinton in Munich several weeks ago, but despite this, Lutsenko was today sentenced to four years inprisonment. The US ambassador had previously been denied the right to visit Tymoshenko in prison and new criminal proceedings have been opened against her too.
According to Koshkina, after Munich, the Presidential Adminstration started thinking seriously about Autumn's parliamentary elections.
In order to minimise the risk of losing, the following strategy has been devised:
Conducting a campaign of maximum pressure against the opposition to dissuade as many as possible of their candidates from standing for election.
Maximising economic pressure, e.g. by the tax authorities, on major businessmen who would be prepared to fund an opposition election campaign [this process is already well under way].
To manipulate the election laws and 'deprive the opposition of oxygen'.
If these measures do not ensure a favourable result, the elections could be postponed indefinitely.
It has been made clear to Yanukovych that if Tymoshenko and Lutsenko are not allowed to participate in the Autumn elections, they will not be considered valid in the West, so why bother holding them at all?
In order to compensate for the huge deficits which would have been filled by no-longer available overseas borrowings, those at the top of Ukraine's 'Forbe's list' are to be squeezed. Quite what the reaction of these guys will be, Koshkina does not say...
China could also be a source of funds, if Ukraine's farmlands were provided as collateral.