Friday, October 26, 2012
Will observers pull their punches to prevent Ukraine's eastward tilt?
European leaders have quite correctly declared Ukraine's further European integration to be dependent on how Sunday's parliamentary elections are conducted.
Some are worried that if observers deem Sunday's elections to be unsatisfactory, Ukraine may as a result turn eastward and enter into a customs union with three authoritarian countries - Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In order to prevent this, they predict: "the official evaluation [of the elections] by EU observers, the OSCE and the Council of Europe will be very cautious."
This is bollocks. The job of official observers is to give neither cautious, nor harsh assessments, but to observe and scrutinise, report on what they see, and provide a conclusion. This is what they will hopefully do.
Western politicians should not respond to Yanukovych's playing of he Russia card: "Go easy on us, or we will turn east" - it is all bluff. Russia will not give Yanukovych anything...even for something. E.g. the Kharkiv Accords agreement has become a taboo subject during this election campaign. Ukraine gave away one of it's crown jewels - the best naval port in the Black sea, and still did not receive a fair gas price from Russia - Ukraine is still paying far more for Russian gas than other customers.
Whether or not Sunday's elections are declared satisfactory on not by independent observers will make little difference to Yanukovych's steamroller. His priority is to maximise the wealth of his family and maximise political power, by whatever means necessary, in order they remain 'on top of the muck-heap'.
Yanukovych said in Kharkiv today: "The fewer prompters [commentators] who [try to] teach us how to live in our house there are, I have in mind from the outside, the better and more comfortable we will feel in our house, in Ukraine.." Is he suffering from pluralis maiestatis?
p.s. Vice Premier of Ukraine Serhiy Tihipko thinks their could be a national referendum on Ukraine joining either the Customs Union or the European Union. We will see in the weeks to come whether the country will have any choice, or whether there is any point in such a referendum.