Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Moderate success in Euros will not improve Ukraine's image
Below are loosely translated portions of an article in the Polish 'Gazeta Wyborcza' entitled "A lost match, a lost Ukraine?" by the excellent Marcin Wojciechowski.
"Ukrainian success in the Euros could have persuaded the authorities to make a generous gesture in the Tymoshenko affair [having sentenced her to seven years in prison for signing the gas agreement with Russia], and also in the cases other members of her government who are now in jail... Success and nationwide festivities would have provided cover to the authorities, enabling them to justify a change in their current policy - destruction of the opposition, or breaking its back by means of selectively applied criminal charges.
Now, after Ukraine's exit from the tournament, the country is more likely to return back to the starting point. Ukraine is deeply divided, and is considered in Europe to be an half-authoritarian state, boycotted by some, and as a state losing its chance to enter Western structures, not capable of taking advantage of them.
Perhaps this image will be somewhat improved after the successful organization of the tournament in Ukraine and the good impression left on visiting fans. But we should not delude ourselves: during the championship about 200-300 thousand people from the West visited Ukraine - less than half the number that visited Poland - and its image in the world will be shaped by the media and the speeches of politicians. And these are what they are.
If you listen to the Ukrainian government you might conclude that everything is perfect: there is no corruption, no authoritarian practices exist, no crisis; and all shortcomings are the fault of a demoralized opposition.
If, in turn, you take the point of view of the opposition, Ukraine is now ruled by Stalin with Beria, only dumber and more corrupt. Neither one nor the other viewpoint is correct.
Ukraine is faced with the task of constructing a minimal compromise that will solve the current deadlock. While the current murderous battle between the authorities and the opposition continues it is obvious Ukraine will remain rooted on one spot. The successful hosting of the Euros will not help. With the current elevated emotional level of political conflict on the banks of the Dnipro, the successful organization of Euro 2012 is of small comfort. Unfortunately."
The 'Economist' agrees.
Wojciechowski is correct. Had Ukrainian authorities picked up the German doctor's hint and put Tymoshenko under house arrest while she undergoes treatment so that she is fit to face trial in the UESU affair, everyone would have gone away on their holidays in a more relaxed frame of mind.
p.s. Putting Tymoshenko into a glass 'aquarium' in the Kharkiv courtroom together with potted plants, fancy rug on the floor, paintings on the wall etc. is stupid - cheap deception - 'ochkovtiratelstvo'
As for the 1996 Shcheban murder, one possible likely scenario?