Saturday, September 14, 2013

Prospects for Tymoshenko, and Ukraine getting worse?

In her latest article in, Sonya Koshkina  discusses the opposition's possibilities in the 2015 presidential elections, and the role the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko may play in them.

Koshkina considers the chances of Tymoshenko being released any time soon has declined from a possible 70% down to 30%. Despite this, those currently in power are reasonably confident [overconfident?] that the EU-Ukraine Association and Free Trade Agreements will be successfully signed in Vilnius in November.

She provides several reasons for the increased likelihood of Tymoshenko remaining behind bars.

The European Parliament's observers for Ukraine - former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski and former European Parliament President  Pat Cox have not been able to guarantee Yanukovych two of his demands. The first was that Tymoshenko, once in Germany for treatment, would remain there and not go 'galivanting 'around the world. The second was to pledge Tymoshenko would not be granted political refugee status once on Germany -  a big black mark for Ukraine.

[Both of Yanukovych's demands are rather peculiar. European Court of Human Rights and Council of Europe rulings and reports have already been highly critical of the manner Tymoshenko has been treated, so a black mark already exists. The ECHR are currently evaluating whether Tymoshenko's trial breached her human rights. It is probable they will rule in her favour.  Cox and Kwansniewski have no power to dictate to sovereign European countries to whom they do or do not grant political refugee status, or whom they permit to enter or leave.]

Party of Regions' are also concerned the release of Tymoshenko could harm Yanukovych's presidential re-election campaign.

At the moment Yanukovych's rating stands at 21% and seems to be quite durable at this level. Second place - VitaliyKlitschko at 16%. Third - 12% Yulia Tymoshenko. Fourth - 9% Yatsenyuk. Behind them - Symonenko five percent, Tyahnybok and Poroshenko at around 4%.

Even if Tymoshenko did not make a second round play-off vote, her support to any opposition candidate could significantly harm Yanukovych chance of winning. Tymoshenko has always done better in elections than predicted by opinion polls.

The signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, although finalised, has been postponed since 19 December 2011, primarily because of the politically motivated criminal persecution, trial, and imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko. The question for Kwasniewski, Cox, and other EU leaders have to answer now is what has changed in Ukraine since that date?

I fear the defence mounted by the European Parliament on behalf of its eastern partners, particularly Ukraine, concerning Russian pressure on these countries,  will be misinterpreted by Yanukovych. The EU has now gone 'the extra mile', [check out this brief video in English] the danger is Ukraine's leaders will not, and the AA deal will be postponed again.

p.s. When asked many years ago what was the greatest challenge for a statesman, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan reportedly responded, “Events, my dear boy, events.”

You make your mark as a statesman by your ability to control events.....failure in Vilnius would now be a disaster for Yanukovych because he has now so firmly committed himself to future Eurointegration. It is in his grubby, capricious hands Tymoshenko is being held..

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