EuroMaidan ‘magnifies Ukraine’s human rights problems’

EuroMaidan, the anti-government protests launched on Nov. 21, has put the spotlight on Ukraine’s worsening record on human rights, police brutality and media freedom, analyst Mark Rachkevych writes for the Kyiv Post:

In December alone, according to Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group* director Yevhen Zakharov, more than 50 journalists were assaulted – mainly by police – including 40 on Dec. 1 alone…..

While some call it a continuous campaign of creeping authoritarianism, political analyst Serhiy Taran characterized law enforcement’s actions as “selective repression.”

“For a government to be absolutely authoritarian, it needs to either have a strong ideology, a strategic resource like oil and gas, a charismatic leader or a dynamic economy — all of which Ukraine lacks,” said Taran, who heads the International Democracy Institute think tank.

He thinks that the targeted repression “is futile.”

“If (the authorities) believe that they could scare 100,000 people into going home, then this is a sign that it doesn’t understand people because the more pressure that is applied, the more it will mobilize the populace. It illustrates that the government doesn’t understand how Ukrainian society works,” continued Taran.

*Supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.

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