Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Slipping into isolation
Kostiantyn Yeliseyev, Ukrainian ambassador to the European Union, claims Sunday's parliamentary election "will be a good election".
He urges his EU colleagues: "Sign the Association Agreement! Not because we want it, but because we deserve it [?!]. Because it is the best possible guarantee of Ukraine’s way to European standards and its future as an independent and sovereign state." It all sounds rather desperate....
Ukraine lags miles behind normal European electoral standards. The list is large: widespread overt and cynical purchasing of votes by parties and candidates; systematic pressure applied to the already diminished independent information media such as TVi; persistent bias in favour of the ruling party's candidates in the mass media, particularly on television channels almost wholly owned by pro-Party of Regions' oligarchs; frequent appalling harassment and intimidation of independent candidates, e.g. as in this case, especially in simple majority consituencies; use of dummy party candidates to gain maximum influence in local electoral commissions....the list goes on and on.
And all this is on top of a year's criticism as the result the elimination from public life by means of ludicrous show trials of the top two opposition leaders, Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko.
My view is next Sunday's elections will receive a negative assessment by foreign observers, and the likes of Yeliseyev know this already - it will not be a "good election." I wonder how much worse it would be if the systematic scrutiny by independent observers was not in place..
The claim will be made that the final result generally reflects the wishes of the electorate - but how can anyone be sure about this in the light of the 'epidemic of pro-government PR, 'bought' television news reports, and the 'arm-twisting' of vulnerable voters.
Yanukovych has taken so much flak from western capitals I believe he does not care about this any more.
But Yanukovych's body language and stuttering delivery in this brief video clip during Monday's meeting with president Putin seems to indicate Ukraine will not be receiving any favours, especially on the gas front, from its northern neighbour either. The humiliation continues...