The daughter of jailed Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko (right) is urging the British government to withdraw President Viktor Yanukovych’s invitation to attend next month’s Olympics.
The UK has joined other European states in boycotting the group stage of the Euro 2012 soccer championship being jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine to protest the country’s deteriorating democracy and human rights situation.
But in an interview with the Guardian as Ukraine prepare to face England today, Eugenia Tymoshenko said the boycott had been ineffective, noting that prosecutors in Kyiv had hinted that Tymoshenko may also face murder charges.
The UK and other EU states should target the overseas assets of Yanukovych and his cronies, including the president’s “luxury residence and the money trail that leads to London,” says Ukrainian journalist Serhij Leschenko.
“Having completely rejected such European values as human rights and democracy, the Ukrainian president uses Europe as a place to hide his dirty money with impunity,” he writes. “European leaders who are critical of Yanukovych could put pressure on him through his European assets – deeds, not words.”
Despite Ukraine’s democratic regression, Yanukovych’s “counterrevolution is coming up short,” writes the Washington Post’s Will Englund:
Yanukovych, ousted from power in the Orange Revolution of 2004 but given a second chance by voters in 2010, has spent two years trying to re-create the “vertical of power” that has sustained his neighbor in Russia, Vladimir Putin.
The chief hallmarks — corruption, cronyism, vindictive use of the courts — are in place. But Ukraine is missing the wealth from oil and gas that has bolstered Putin’s government, and the cracks are not hard to find.
It was Ukraine that sealed the fate of the Soviet Union when it charted its own course in 1991, and it was Ukraine that emerged after the Orange Revolution as the country that was going to embrace Western values and Western ways, and in turn expected to be embraced by the West. ….Yanukovych derailed that journey, but he has been unable to cement his grip on the country.
Civil society organizations have pushed back. So, to some extent, has the news media. Opposition parties are in power in some regions. And, with October parliamentary elections on the horizon, Yanukovych’s hugely unpopular Party of Regions expects to get a shellacking…..For the past 10 months, authorities have been easing off on the cruder sorts of crackdowns. Officials have quietly engaged in discussions with interested civic organizations on the question of reforms in several key areas.
“I can’t say it’s impossible to work with these guys,” Bushchenko said. “It’s not Belarus, it’s not Kazakhstan.”