Signal to Society

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, President Yanukovych stated that releasing Yulia Tymoshenko would give the wrong signal to society. 


There have been such waves of negative and inconvenient signals that you can understand the wish to quell the tsunami – or at least make a run for it.  However it’s not so easy to escape the consequences of an unrestrained wish to get rid of political opponents – neither for the regime nor for that same society whose moral education the President is suddenly so concerned about.

Let’s look at what he said: "

"What kind of signal do we give society?" Mr. Yanukovych said. "That to be able to commit crimes one should be a member of the opposition?"

Now that was precisely the impression that the State-owned and increasingly servile First National TV channel [UTV-1] assiduously pushed on their viewers on 11 October. While the close attention from Europe was mentioned, no indication was given of the reasons for it. Even if heads were spinning from the seemingly endless surge of outraged statements from representatives of European bodies, foreign governments, international NGOs, you couldn’t exactly drown in the detail.  After all, each statement spelled out roughly the same reasons for concern in ultimately clear and concise manner.  They were all unanimous that the trial and the sentence were evidence of a selective application of legislation, of politically motivated prosecutions, and lack of respect for international standards for just, transparent and independent court proceedings. A considerable number of the statements mentioned that the signing of an EU-Ukraine Association Agreement might be jeopardized, as would relations in general with EU and other countries. We are hardly talking here about subtle diplomatic hints. Presumably that was the reason why most television channels were silent about such nasty words. So that they didn’t, so to speak, give the wrong signals to the public.

Returning to President Yanukovych’s interview, we are told: "Raising his voice, he called on the West to respect his country, saying he had the impression that "they don’t want to listen" to his claims that he hasn’t interfered in the work of courts and law-enforcement agencies.".

It’s not nice, of course, when we talk of commitment to European integration, democratic values, including an objective and independent justice system, and they simply refuse to nod their heads approvingly. Even worse, they actually mention the strange choice of judge and multiple irregularities in Tymoshenko’s trial. Not that it’s easy to heed only the words, however sweet to the ear they may be, when journalists have demonstrated a direct link between events in the court and the President’s Administration.  When MPs from the ruling Party of the Regions are untiring in repeating the Prosecutor General’s Office accusations against Yulia Tymoshenko. Or on the contrary, get in there with accusations just before this independent body of power. When one sees how remarkably well-coordinated everything – the trial and sentence, the new criminal investigation, the question of decriminalization, etc – is with the State-owned UTV-1.

The coordination certainly hits you in the eye. On UTV-1 on 12 October, the day after sentence was passed there was virtually no mention of the trial. We learn only that Tymoshenko’s lawyers plan to lodge an appeal although the trial, the sentence and of course the likely consequences for Ukraine were being actively discussed throughout the world.  The news reader instead asks: "Which private company’s obligations become State debts?".  An answer to the question is provided by Prime Minister Azarov.

"The government is continuing to deal with a huge number of other debt claims against the country. For example, the demand from the Russian Federation Defence Ministry to return 405 million dollars of the debt owed by Ms Tymoshenko’s notorious "Single Energy Systems of Ukraine [SESU]" And another 3.3 billion UAH which at the moment is equivalent to all the State’s spending on building hospitals, schools, etc in Ukraine’s regions in 2012".

Then, lo and behold, we are informed the very next day, about a new criminal investigation. The very first news report begins with the words: "Yulia Tymoshenko may be sentenced to another 12 years and presented with claims for three billion UAH". We then hear the Head of the Security Service’s Central Investigation Department who states:

"Tymoshenko made an attempt to embezzle public funds on a particularly large scale by making the government responsible for the SESU corporation’s obligations to the Russian Federation Defence Ministry – 405 million, 500 thousand US dollars".

It’s just terrifying when you realize how many enemies, that is, criminals try to evade fair, and of course independent trial – and for 15 years to boot!.

However the President is there to worry himself about the public’s moral health.

"On Monday, Mr. Yanukovych suggested it would be wrong to release Ms. Tymoshenko because of new criminal charges she faces that could bring her a 12-year sentence."

So the President who of course "hasn’t interfered in the work of courts and law-enforcement agencies" chooses not to respond to clearly expressed objections regarding an already ended court trial and sentence. .No, instead he already knows that the leader of the opposition Batkivshchyna Party cannot be released because a new criminal investigation has been initiated whose course and result we need have no doubts about.

After all, the regime will worry about the signals to the public.

Is it not about time that the public provided a clearer signal to the regime?  Before it’s too late.

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