Newly appointed Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, was interviewed Thursday on Mykola Knyazytsky's TV show. He freely admitted that in recent meetings with European foreign ministers and other officials, topic number 1 was the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko - the biggest obstacles to closer integration with the EU. He repeated his frequently declared previous opinion that the two imprisoned former ministers were denied fair trials and did not have a chance to defend themselves properly in court. He claimed both Kyiv and Brussels were hostages to the situation and both were working to find a mutually acceptable solution.
The previous day, first vice prime minister Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, in an interview with the BBC in London said that in the matter of Yulia Tymoshenko the EU and Ukraine should strive to find a compromise otherwise neither side will ever hear one another.
Both Poroshenko and Khoroshkovsky seem to imagine that the EU and Ukraine can somehow 'work around this problem.'
In recent days the imprisoned leaders of the opposition have been visited by Freedom House delegates and, at long last, by EU representatives. A fancy suite of rooms in a Kharkiv clinic has been prepared in which Tymoshenko is to be treated for her herniated spinal disc - which was first diagnosed early November last year. It seems German doctors will have an input into her treatment.
At the same time, prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka is daily finding new charges with which to attack Tymoshenko. She is being linked to the murder of a business rival in the mid-nineties, and today Pshonka claimed in 2005 then-prosecutor-general Sviatoslav Piskun closed the criminal cases against Tymoshenko's United Energy Systems of Ukraine corporation (UESU) on the orders of then-president Viktor Yushchenko. Despite the gravity of his allegation, you can be sure neither Piskun or Yushchenko will ever be charged with any wrongdoing.
Yanukovych's tactic seems then to be: the P-G will continue a flat-out campaign to further discredit YuT, primarily intended for domestic consumption, whilst at the same time she will remain, [IMHO for quite a while] in pleasant surroundings for 5* medical treatment, as a palliative to lessen criticism from abroad.
This will not succeed.
This unequivocal message from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, just a couple of days after the recent visit of Ukraine's foreign minister to that country, is the same as that emanating from other European capitals:
"Association Agreement is a win-win solution for both Ukraine and Europe. This all sounds very positive. And it is. But there is a snag; the Association Agreement is unlikely to be signed and ratified unless opposition leaders jailed as a result of flawed trials are freed and permitted to participate in politics..."
The presentation of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko's cases before the European Court of Human Rights in the near future, and the global media spotlight on Ukraine during the Euro 2102 soccer tournament in two month's time means the entire issue of repression of political opponents will not abate. Yanukovych will most likely receive a hostile reception from local fans if he attends any soccer matches, and the opposition will make the most of such a situation to hype their message.
The ever-increasing number criminal charges being placed at Tymoshenko's door, do not seem to be harming her OP ratings, which remain on a par with Yanukovych's.
President Yanukovych's manipulation of the Constitution on coming into office has given him great powers...which will be inherited by any successor, whoever that may be. If he loses the next presidential elections in 2015, which is quite possible, even probable, he could be in deep doodoo - he has set a precedent by persecuting his own predecessors.
Update: Poroshenko's most interesting TVi interview [excerpts] here .
Also lots of speculation that Tymoshenko may be sent for medical treatment in Germany...
LEvko asks, 'If she responds to treatment in the freshly appointed treatment rooms in Kharkiv, why should she need go to Germany?' Also would German authorities co-operate with what would be banishment from her own country, particularly as she is facing other major criminal charges? Hmmm...