20.09.12. Ukraine offers EU "closer collaboration" in energy (læs længere nede på siden)

20.09.12. Ukraine warned against passing defamation bill (læs længere nede på siden)

20.09.12. Journalister protesterer mod Yanukovych (læs længere nede på siden)

19.08.12. Støt ukrainerne nu ! (læs længere nede på siden)

18.07.12. The Parliament of Ukraine has adopted a new language law

18.07.12. Ukraine: The beginning of a new trial against Yulia Tymoshenko

17.07.12. Frihandelsaftale mellem Ukraine og EU klar til underskrivelse (læs længere nede på siden)

16.07.12. Germany, East Central Europe, and moral responsibility for the Holocaust: Part I

16.07.12. What’s at stake in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections (læs længere nede på siden)

18.06.12. Language Intolerance in Ukraine (læs længere nede på siden)

18.06.12. Ukrainian Government's monolingualism diagnosis

18.06.12. Political threats to the Ukrainian language (læs længere nede på siden)

27.05.12. Ukraine without NATO is not secure and NATO without Ukraine is a geo-strategic illusion (læs længere nede på siden)

27.05.12. Moscow, Bruxelles: Alle quiet on the western and eastern fronts (læs længere nede på siden)

27.05.12. Ukraine's windfall offers freedom from Russia

27.05.12. Brawl erupts in Ukrainian parliament over language bill

13.05.12. The EU needs Ukraine now more than ever

13.05.12. Extremism in Ukraine

13.05.12. Taras Kuzio: a reply to Ivan Katchanovksi

13.05.12. Ukrainian ‘Freedom’ party should be ringing alarm bells

26.04.12. Association Agreement Initialed Between Ukraine, EU

26.04.12. Appeal from Ukrainian World Congress in the Tymoshenko-case (læs længere nede på siden)

25.04.12. Yaroslav Stetsko. The life and times of a Ukrainian nationalist (læs længere nede på siden)

25.04.12. Moving west is "lesser evil" for Ukraine

25.04.12. Germany takes hard line in Tymoshenko case

29.03.12. Soft and hard power threats to Ukraine (læs længere nede på siden)

29.03.12. Russia takes control of Ukraine's security forces? (læs længere nede på siden)

05.03.12. Tymoshenkos datter: Min bor bliver torteret i fængslet (tysk)

05.03.12. EU-udenrigsministre om associeringsaftale med Ukraine (eng.)

06.02.12. Ukraine announces a limitation and diversification of its gas imports

06.02.12. The growing Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute

31.01.12. Rinat Akhmetov's DTEK acquires Ukrainian energy assets

31.01.12. The “Blackmail State” re-emerges in Ukraine

31.01.12. Ukraine political appointment shuffling the deck does not change the cards

29.03.12. Russia takes control of Ukraine's security forces ?


by Taras Kuzio

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza (March 1) provided details of Russia’s growing grip over Ukraine’s security forces. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin only dropped his support for Yulia Tymoshenko in mid-2011. This came about as a consequence of two factors.

First, the criminal case against Tymoshenko removed her as a political actor and counter-weight to President Viktor Yanukovych, whom Putin did not have a high regard for. According to a US diplomatic cable, Prime Minister Putin “‘hates’ Yushchenko and has a low personal regard for Yanukovych, but apparently sees Tymoshenko as someone, perhaps not that he can trust, but with whom he can deal” (http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/01/09KYIV208.html).

Second, Putin changed his stance after Yanukovych agreed to the introduction of Russian advisers in the Security Service (SBU) and coordination and joint consultation with Moscow over future government appointments (especially in the siloviky services). “The list of these candidates should be personally agreed by Putin,” Gazeta Wyborcza (March 1) reported.

Allegations of Russian influence in the SBU and other Ukrainian security forces have existed for the last two years (see EDM, March 18, 29, 2010; Jamestown blog, October 13, 2010). Russian citizens Igor Shuvalov and Viacheslav Zanevskyi are a case in point. Shuvalov runs “political technology” in the media for the presidential administration and Zanevskyi is the head of Yanukovych’s personal bodyguards. Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Gryshchenko and former Defense Minister Mykhailo Yezhel were lobbied by their Russian counterparts. Yezhel’s career was in the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Minister of Education Dmytro Tabachnyk was lobbied by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. Allegations of Russian and Putin’s influence over Ukraine’s security forces have been further confirmed by subsequent government re-shuffles and appointments of Russian citizens Igor Kalinin and Dmitri Salamatin as SBU Chairman and Minister of Defense, respectively.

Salamatin was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, spent his working career in Russia and moved to Ukraine only in 1999. He illegally holds dual citizenship and is the son-in-law of former Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets (Ukrayinskyi Tyzhden, February 17).

Salamtin was elected to parliament in the 2006 and 2007 elections as a member of the Party of Regions and in 2010-2012 headed Ukrstetsexport, Ukraine’s arms export agency. Ukraine had competed with Russia on the international arms market under Presidents Kuchma and Yushchenko but this position changed under Yanukovych when both countries’ military-industrial complexes renewed their cooperation.

Salamatin, like Kalinin, is loyal to Yanukovych and “The Family” whom they will protect and defend to stay in power. Salamatin has no experience for the position of Defense Minister and, as political expert Vadym Karasiov pointed out, was promoted with the priority of protecting the “Yanukovych regime” first and Ukraine’s interests only second (Kyiv Post, February 9).

The head of parliament’s Committee on National Defense and Security Anatoliy Grytsenko, himself Defense Minister in 2005-2007, described Salamatin’s appointment as a step backwards from military reform. “This person never once outlined and obviously has no personal understanding of the direction of reform and development of the armed forces and improvement of its combat readiness, all of which creates serious problems in the practical field” (Ukrayinska Pravda, February 8). Salamatin, as a Party of Regions deputy, never once initiated draft legislation in the field of national security (Ukrayinskyi Tyzhden, February 9).

Kalinin was born in Moscow oblast and spent his career in the Soviet KGB in Russia. Through the security service “old boys network,” he maintains close ties to Russia. Kalinin headed UDO (Directorate on State Protection), the former Soviet KGB 9th Directorate, that continues to have responsibility for protecting senior officials and is the closest Ukrainian equivalent of the US Secret Service. Two Russian citizens, Kalinin and Zanevskyi, have protected Yanukovych, which is a reflection of his paranoia and distrust of the SBU that he has never forgotten supported Yushchenko in the 2004 elections (see EDM, December 3, 2004, June 28 and October 28, 2010).

Kalinin and Zanevskyi are obligated to “The Family” whose gray cardinal is Oleksandr Yanukovych, the president’s eldest son (see EDM, December 2, 2011). During the Orange Revolution, when Kalinin held a senior position in the SBU’s Alpha spetsnaz forces, he (unlike most SBU officers) remained loyal to Yanukovych. Kalinin’s appointment will increase Russian influence in the SBU.

His appointment will also lead to enhanced cooperation between the SBU and FSB with whom they both have a “common Cheka past,” Valeriy Khoroshkovsky said (The Ukrainian Week, February 24). The FSB was expelled from the Black Sea Fleet in 2009, but a May 2010 agreement, signed a month after the ‘Kharkiv Accords’ extended the use of the Sevastopol base for the Black Sea Fleet, permitted the FSB to return to the Crimea (see EDM, May 24, 2010).

Khoroshkovsky, long regarded as a Russian agent of influence in the Yanukovych administration, moved from the SBU to briefly serve as the Finance Minister and to the important position of First Deputy Prime Minister. Khoroshkovsky was believed to be behind numerous scandals in 2010-2011, when he headed the SBU, that undermined Ukraine’s European integration. One of the scandals was the July 2010 detention of Nico Lange in Kyiv’s Borispil Airport on the eve of Yanukovych’s state visit to Germany. Lange is the Ukraine Director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organization, and fellow Christian Democrat Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to intervene on his behalf. The SBU has also added over ten additional criminal charges against Tymoshenko since her October 2011 sentence.

As head of Ukrspetsexport, Salamatin channeled all proceeds from arms exports under his personal control and the funds were paid to the Belize offshore company Primavera Financial Ltd via Cyprus-based bank accounts. “Ukrainian arms trade cash flows are now completely centralized and any foreign intermediaries have most probably been excluded. Previously a separate offshore structure was set up for every major arms export contract. This allowed several insider ‘clans’ to flourish, and was useful when supplying arms to both sides of one conflict” (http://foreignnotes.blogspot.com/2012_02_01_archive.html).

Salamatin’s actions led to the Ukrainian company Progress losing a 2008 contract worth $560 million to supply Iraq’s armed forces with 420 APCs and six An-32 aircraft. This took place because of Salamatin’s conflict with his predecessor (at Ukrspetsexport) who was responsible for ensuring the fulfillment of the contract on behalf of an American intermediary, Oleg Yankovych (Олег Янковичем) (http://nashigroshi.org/2012/01/21/rehional-vviv-belizku-monopoliyu-na-ukrajinsku-torhivlyu-zbrojeyu/). It was assumed to be logical for an American to be involved in the contract as the US had provided the funds to pay for Ukrainian weaponry to arm Iraq’s armed forces.

The appointments have removed the security forces from under the control of the oligarchs and placed them under “The Family.” “It is a sign that Yanukovych fears betrayal from within,” Karasiov says (Kyiv Post, February 9). Their primary responsibility will be to defend Yanukovych and “The Family” and ensure his re-election (see “Yanukovych Forever!” in Jamestown blog, March 6).

The strategic factor behind these appointments is the “resolution of the 2015 problem,” Ukrayinskyi Tyzhden (February 17) concluded. With Yanukovych acquiescing to Russian influence over the security forces and the opposition threatening if they come to power to annul the ‘Kharkiv Accords,’ Putin now has a personal stake in maintaining Yanukovych in power indefinitely.

29.03.12. Soft and hard power threats to Ukraine

by Alexander J. Motyl

Ukrainians like to blame their country’s ills on “Moscow and the Muscovites,” but the UK’s highly respected Royal Institute of International Affairs (a.k.a. Chatham House) has just provided good grounds for thinking that their paranoia may be justified.

Take a look at the January 2012 briefing paper, “A Ghost in the Mirror: Russian Soft Power in Ukraine,” by two Kyiv-based analysts—Alexander Bogomolov and Oleksandr Lytvynenko. Bogomolov is president  of the Association of Middle East Studies, while Lytvynenko is director of research projects at the Foreign and Security Policy Council. Neither is a “nationalist hothead.” Both are sober establishment men.

Here are the bullet points of their argument:

“For Russia, maintaining influence over Ukraine is more than a foreign policy priority; it is an existential imperative. Many in Russia’s political elite perceive Ukraine as part of their country’s own identity.”
The problem with existential imperatives is that they are “zero-sum games.” If Russia’s existence truly depends on Ukraine’s nonexistence, then compromise is impossible, at least as long as Russia’s rulers perceive Ukraine as part of Russia’s identity.

“Russia’s socio-economic model limits its capacity to act as a pole of attraction for Ukraine. As a result, Russia relies on its national myths to devise narratives and projects intended to bind Ukraine in a ‘common future’ with Russia and other post-Soviet states.”
Russia’s Putinist model is more accurately termed “fascistoid,” an ugly word that captures the wretched nature of Vladimir Putin’s brand of authoritarianism plus charismatic strongman rule. (For more on this, see “Fascistoid Russia” in the current issue of World Affairs.) The good news is that, since no right-thinking non-Russian elite would presumably want to adopt such a model, even Ukraine’s doltish Regionnaires may want to resist Russian soft-power blandishments if they recognize that they are a cover for the hard-power brutality of Putinism.

“These narratives are translated into influence in Ukraine through channels such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the mass media, formal and informal business networks, and non-governmental organizations.”
Here’s the bad news for Ukraine. Its elites can, in principle, easily say no to Putin and Putinism, but how does one say no to religion, language, and culture?

“Russia also achieves influence in Ukraine by mobilizing constituencies around politically sensitive issues such as language policy and shared cultural and historical legacies. This depends heavily on symbolic resources and a deep but often clumsy engagement in local identity politics.” 
“Russia’s soft power project with regard to Ukraine emphasizes cultural and linguistic boundaries over civic identities, which is ultimately a burden for both countries.”
The last two points are especially bad news for Ukrainian and Russian liberals committed to interethnic tolerance and amity. If Russian soft power is focused on creating “disloyal minorities” with intolerant identities, then the ultimate effect will be to promote racism, chauvinism, and intolerance both within Ukraine and Russia and between Ukraine and Russia.

According to the two analysts, the root of the problem is that the very idea of a Ukrainian nation separate from the great Russian nation challenges core beliefs about Russia’s origin and identity. Ukraine hosts the most valuable symbols constituting the core of Russia’s national identity—the mythological birthplace of the Russian nation and the cradle of the Russian Orthodox Church along with its holiest places….  From this perspective, the collective goods that bring the majority of Ukrainians together as a nation … appear to be meaningless, second-rate or blasphemous to a large number of Russians. Generations of Russian intellectuals have turned belittling of the Ukrainian language and culture into a part of the Russian belief system alongside anti-Tatar and anti-Muslim stereotypes. But whereas the latter are built around national differences, what makes Ukraine stand out in this list is a dismissive attitude to any assertion that national differences exist. This coexistence between friendship for a “kindred people” and hostility to the Ukrainian nation is what gives relations between Ukraine and Russia their distinctive quality.

More than distinctive, the quality of Ukrainian-Russian relations is, given such a mind-set, necessarily going to be conflictual. Worse, if such dismissive attitudes are part and parcel of Russian identity, then there is no solution short of a fundamental transformation of Russian identity—something that, even in the best of circumstances, will take a long time.

Unfortunately, regardless of the dastardly intentions of “generations of Russian intellectuals,” Ukraine’s policymakers have compounded their country’s problems by behaving as if they were paid agents of Russian hard power. Here’s what Edward Chow, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an expert on Ukraine’s energy, told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 1st:

I have not met a single Ukrainian or Western geologist who does not believe that Ukraine has the geologic prospects to greatly increase its domestic oil and gas production. … Together with energy efficiency improvements, Ukraine can be more than 50 percent self-sufficient in gas. … Ukraine’s oil and gas sector is operated in a totally dysfunctional manner. … In fact, if you were to design an energy system that is optimized for corruption, it might look very much like Ukraine’s. You would start with a wholly state-owned monopoly that is not accountable to anyone except the head of the country who appoints the management of this company. It would operate non-transparently…. Domestic production would be priced artificially low, ostensibly for social welfare reasons, leading to a large grey market in gas supply that is allocated by privileged access rather than by price. ... The opaque middleman is frequently paid handsomely in kind, rather than in cash, which allows him to re-export the gas or to resell to high-value domestic customers, leaving the state company with the import debt and social obligations. … Russia may expect to gain full control of [Ukraine’s] gas transit system over time, as Ukraine continues to mismanage its energy sector…. The result of this possible scenario is that Ukraine becomes an energy appendage of Russia’s.

As Chow suggests, fixing Ukraine’s energy problems is technically a piece of cake. All you need to do is stop stealing from time to time.
As Chow suggests, fixing Ukraine’s energy problems is technically a piece of cake. All you need to do is stop stealing from time to time. Naturally, no corrupt Ukrainian policymaker—and certainly no Regionnaire policymaker, almost all of whom are by definition corrupt—will put his country ahead of his Swiss bank account.

As Bogomolov and Lytvynenko imply, neutralizing Russia’s soft-power assault on Ukraine is also doable. All you need to do is speak Ukrainian from time to time. The Orange governments tried and were denounced by the Regionnaires. And, naturally, no Regionnaire will put his country ahead of his inability to speak a second language.

All of which leaves Ukraine trapped between Russia’s hard and soft power. A few more years of Regionnaire indifference and Yanukovych may go down in history as the man who transformed his country into both an energy and identity “appendage” of Russia

25.04.12. A Soviet prism. The life and times of a Ukrainian nationalist

Askold S. Lozynskyj

On June 30, 1941 as the Soviets were fleeing and the Nazis invading the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists convened an assembly at the Lviv “Prosvita” building and there proclaimed the renewal of Ukrainian statehood. The proclamation was read by the  head of the temporary government Jaroslaw Stetsko. The Germans insisted that Stetsko rescind the proclamation. When he refused he was arrested, incarcerated, sent first to Berlin, then to the Saksenhausen concentration camp where he spent most of the war years like his leader and colleague, Stepan Bandera.

After the war, Jaroslaw Stetsko headed the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, an international structure composed of leaders of the many nations that had fallen captive to the USSR. From 1968 for almost twenty years Stetsko headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Bandera faction). Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was that he managed to place the struggle against the USSR and the evils of communism on the international agenda.

Jaroslaw Stetsko was the subject of much Soviet propaganda. Beginning with the late 1960’s  in  such books as  “Hopeful of foreign bayonets”, such as “Mouthpieces of the Cold War” in the 1970’s and newspapers such as  “News from Ukraine”, “Literary Ukraine”,  and the satirical journal “Pepper” throughout, Stetsko was branded a bourgeois Ukrainian nationalist, a war criminal, a war monger, an imperialist western agent, and  even a   Zionist advocate.

In 1975 “Literary  Ukraine” wrote about the apparent imminent ending of the cold war, intimating that the world was establishing  at last a political climate conducive to settling the most complex international disputes through negotiations. Yet Jaroslaw Stetsko had maintained his hostile attitude, opined the Soviet publication. The Soviets hearkened to 25 years earlier when at an ABN news conference in Frankfurt,  Stetsko allegedly had stated:

“Now, it’s too late to consider how to avoid war. Now we need to prepare in order to win it.”  The Soviet newspaper then went on to add some creativity attributing it to Stetsko and the ABN leadership: “(they) wrote more than one hateful military slogan which included an appeal to imperialistic leaders with tearful pleas, ‘Drop an atomic bomb on the Kremlin.’”.

In June of 1977, the Soviet satirical magazine “Pepper” carried a full page dual caricature of Stetsko  with a Swastika and the Trident from 1941 on one side and the Star of David and the Trident from 1977 on the other. The canard labeled Stetsko a war criminal and anti-Semite who supported Hitler’s policy against the Jews in 1941 but in 1977 became a Zionist, appearing at Zionist rallies, bemoaning the  persecution of Jews in the USSR.

Stetsko’s 1941 proclamation of Ukraine’s independence was endorsed by both the Ukrainian Catholic and the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. The Catholic Church was represented at the assembly by then Bishop Josef Slipyj who went on to head the Church after the death of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptycky. Subsequently Metropolitan Slipyj was  arrested and spent seventeen years in Soviet gulags. Upon his release through the intervention of the Vatican and U.S. President John F. Kennedy,  he came to the West. Stetsko befriended then Cardinal Josef Slipyj after his arrival in the West and for many years served as a most influential secular advisor. Stetsko had always been close to the Catholic Church since he was the son of a Ukrainian Catholic Priest and, himself, deeply religious.

In the 1970’s Cardinal Slipyj introduced the concept of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Patriarchate. Stetsko was one of the first to embrace the idea and began addressing Cardinal Slipyj as Patriarch.  In a publication by the notorious KGB affiliated “Ukraine Society” in 1973 entitled “Mouthpieces of the Cold War” the Soviets lambasted Stetsko and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists for taking over control of even religious publications in order to “support non-existential positions in all major world religions – the Vatican, the World council of churches, Buddhism and the like.” The Ukrainian Patriarchate was a non-existential position for enemies of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Jaroslaw Stetsko was born one hundred years ago in 1912. For many in my generation he was a source of inspiration, one to emulate, an indefatigable and principled warrior. He was despised by both the Nazis and the Soviets.  He was determined to attain a just and independent Ukraine. Sadly, he died five years before the 1991 independence proclamation, but after the Chornobyl disaster. Before his death he insisted that Chornobyl would be the demise of the USSR.  Like Moses, he never entered the “promised land,” but he saw it before others.


26.04.12. Appeal from Ukrainian World Congress in the Tymoshenko-case




On April 25, 2012, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij sent an appeal to international leaders on the inhuman treatment by Ukraine’s governing authorities of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Referring to a writtenstatement by Yulia Tymoshenko, UWC expressed its disgust about the use of brute force and a beating on April 20, 2012 by co-workers of a convoy while she was being forcibly transferred from the colony to a hospital. UWC added that on April 20, 2012 Yulia Tymoshenko began a hunger strike to protest what is happening in Ukraine and the treatment she has been receiving in prison.

In addition, UWC quoted a statement made by the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Nina Karpachova, demanding that the Prosecutor General open criminal proceedings against those who were involved in the incident and suspend them from service, and that the Head of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine urgently provide all the required medical treatment according to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights and the conclusions of the Ukrainian and independent foreign doctors.


UWC called upon the international community to:

1)      demand that Ms. Tymoshenko be provided with immediate treatment by independent medical experts in a specialized clinic;


2)      remind Ukraine’s governing authorities of the resolutions and policies passed by international institutions and the demands by individual nation states (i) that Ms. Tymoshenko be properly treated and (ii) that opposition members (including Ms. Tymoshenko) be freed and allowed to participate in Ukraine’s October 2012 Parliamentary elections; and

3)      warn Ukraine’s governing authorities that there will be personal consequences to them (e.g. denial of entry visas for individuals and their families) of ignoring the aforementioned resolutions, policies and demands of international institutions and individual nation states.

Copies of this letter were sent to the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych and Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Nina Karpachova.

The UWC is an international coordinating body for Ukrainian communities in the diaspora representing the interests of over 20 million Ukrainians. The UWC has member organizations in 32 countries and ties with Ukrainians in 14 additional countries. Founded in 1967 as a non-profit corporation, the UWC was recognized in 2003 as a non-governmental organization (NGO) by the United Nations Economic and Social Council with special consultative status.



145 Evans Ave., Suite 207
Toronto, ON 
M8Z 5X8 Canada

Tel. (416) 323-3020
Fax (416) 323-3250
e-mail: congress@look.ca

website: www.ukrainianworldcongress.org


27.05.12. Moscow, Bruxelles: Alle quiet on the western and eastern fronts
Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation
On May 18 the two main leaders of Ukraine President Viktor and PM Mykola Azarov paid official visits to Moscow and the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. In Moscow Yanukovych spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin within the framework of an informal summit of the heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Azarov took part in the work of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council having met with EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Affairs Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule.

Empty meetings

President Yanukovych’s visit to Moscow was his first opportunity to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after four-year hiatus during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. The events of May 15 confirmed the low expectations of results of the meeting of the two heads of state. Several critical factors were obstacles to the two sides taking any serious decisions. First of all, while the meeting was quite formal, real results of the talks between the two sides will only be evident at the meeting of inter-state commissions this July.

Secondly, the presidents of the two countries did not show their willingness to retract from their positions of withdrawal, which are currently very contradictory. Yanukovych continues to insist on reduction of the price of Russian gas through amending the current agreement between Russia and Ukraine.

What were the results of the visits of Viktor Yanukovych and Mykola Azarov? What role does Ukraine play in the Moscow-Kyiv-Brussels triumvirate?

Ukraine or signing a new contract. Meanwhile, Putin believes close integration of Ukraine with Russia is the only way of changing the prices of gas.

Thirdly, if the Ukrainian side has seemingly not decided how to deal with Russia after the presidential elections in Ukraine next March, then obviously the Russian leadership will deliberately balk hoping that the circumstances will eventually force Ukraine to concede. It is not surprising that the results of the meeting between Yanukovych and Putin on May 15 were cautious statements by both presidents in which they did not say anything new about their vision of cooperation between the two countries in the future.

Premier Mykola Azarov’s visit to Brussels also did not bring any results. Before the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council it became clear that President of the European Council Herman von Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso would not meet with the head of the Ukrainian government. Most probably, this was due to another boycott that European leaders imposed on members of the Ukrainian government thereby expressing their disagreement with the political processes and the resonant judicial processes in Ukraine. This comes as no surprise as both Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule expressed their concern about political persecution in Ukraine during their meeting with Azarov. In response, the Ukrainian premier cast aside these accusations thereby further contributing to the freezing of relations between Ukraine and the EU.

Accordingly, the only result of Azarov’s visit to Brussels on May 15 once again proved that the Ukrainian government does not want to learn from its mistakes and continues to obstinately push aside its European partners. The premier’s promises to let doctors from the European Parliament visit Yulia Tymoshenko and allow representatives of the EU participate in reviewing the cassation of her sentence will not likely be an obstacle. After all, Assistant Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin confirms the fact that Tymoshenko was involved in the murder of businessman Yevhen Shcherban in 1996. For this reason, at the moment there are enough grounds to expect that another sentence will be passed down against Tymoshenko is more likely than the current one being reconsidered.

Left to the mercy of fate

Meanwhile, both meetings on May 15 sent out extremely alarming signals regarding Ukraine’s position on the international scene. On the one hand, relations between Ukraine and the EU ran into a dead- end quite some time ago in connection with the Tymoshenko case and at the moment the EU is not willing to keep Ukraine in its orbit for fear of its reorientation towards Moscow.

Apparently, the inflexible policy of official Kyiv has irritated European officials to the point that Europe will simply forget about Ukraine. In this case, Ukraine will not only lose the chance of European integration, but also be deprived of opportunities to turn to Europe in talks with Russia as a potential lever of influence on the opposing side. At the same time, it is glaringly obvious that the most important and most difficult aspect of talks between Ukraine and Russia are on the horizon. It is no secret that Putin will attempt to implement large- scale integration projects such as the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space with the participation of countries of the post-Soviet expanse, Ukraine being the main participant.

It is also understood that Russia plays and will play first fiddle in such unions if they are formed or further expanded. Accordingly, Russia will continue to apply pressure on Ukraine, meaning that the Ukrainian side faces the risk of losing all of its trump cards by the end of this year. Furthermore, while today the Ukrainian government is actively tarnishing its international image by its reckless behavior towards Tymoshenko and its attitude towards recommendations of the EU, the upcoming parliamentary elections in October of this year could deal the next blow. It is hard to diminish the threats related to these factors.

On the one hand, should the leaders of the two most powerful opposition parties in the parliament not run in the elections and if the votes in the elections are rigged, this will result in the total international isolation of Ukraine and will play into the hands of Moscow. On the other hand, if Ukraine is not granted a loan from the International Monetary Fund and does not receive discounts on the price of Russian gas, the Ukrainian government risks the repercussions of serious economic tremors after the elections if it fulfills its populist promises.

If these two prognoses come true, at the end of this year Ukraine may have no choice but to join the integration projects of Russia on its terms. And this will most likely put Ukraine’s state sovereignty under threat.


The visit of President Viktor Yanukovych to Moscow and Premier Mykola Azarov to Brussels produced no results and instead demonstrated further cooling of relations with the EU and the continuation of a period of alarming uncertainty in relations with Russia. If Ukraine holds to its current foreign policy it cannot expect any serious progress in its relations with Brussels or Moscow over the coming months. There may be some notable changes after the parliamentary elections this October. If there are serious violations in terms of the democratic nature of the elections, Ukraine faces the risk of becoming a passive target in Russia’s geopolitical sphere of influence.

27.05.12. Ukraine without NATO is not secure and NATO without Ukraine is a geo-strategic illusion

Askold S. Lozynskyj

Following the failed attempt on the part of both the United States and Ukraine to provide Ukraine with a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the April 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit, Ukrainian membership in NATO has become a dormant if not a non- issue. The United States once a strong advocate of Ukraine has been silent. Much of it can be explained by a change of administrations in  both countries. Certainly, the Obama administration has been less forthcoming on Ukraine than the Bush administration. Undoubtedly, the Yanukovych regime has stifled what was once a grand design of European integration by President Yushchenko and has transformed Ukraine into a global pariah. So then what is Ukraine’s current outlook for NATO membership. The answer is unclear.

On 16 March 2009, a U.S. high-level bipartisan commission (Hagel-Hart Commission) recommended that the new American administration reach out to Russia in a number of ways, including the withdrawal of support for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. It recommended that the American government accept that "neither Ukraine nor Georgia is ready for NATO membership," and that the United States does not now have "a compelling security interest" in NATO membership for either country. The U.S. commission further recommended to its government "to develop options other than NATO membership" for Ukraine and Georgia and find other ways "to demonstrate a commitment to their sovereignty."

No doubt Russia's policy of rearmament, renewed aggressiveness, and a demonstrated willingness to implement that part of its military doctrine which calls for military intervention in its "near abroad" to "safeguard" Russia's "national interests" had a major impact on the Commission. Furthermore, political expediency, particularly in the Middle East, influenced this decision to sacrifice Ukraine and Georgia. Unfortunately, this Commission manifested   ignorance of or disregard for  NATO’s genesis, its history and purpose.   

Undeterred U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,  has declared on more than one occasion that "we should continue to open NATO's door to European countries such as Georgia and Ukraine and help them meet NATO standards." But the Secretary’s words fall on deaf ears since no one seems to know where the U. S. President stands.  Germany and France have been non-supportive  of Ukraine’s security interests, to say the least,  and this may have  been further aggravated by the recent election of a Socialist president in France. The “reelection” of President Putin and the introduction by the Russian Orthodox Church of a new term loosely translated as “the Russian world” should have stirred up renewed concerns over Russian aggression, but instead they have brought Chancellor Merkel and President Putin closer together and persuaded a heretofore unprincipled President Obama to become even more “flexible.”

Ukraine’s imprisoned former prime-minister deserves western intervention. However, she should not be used as a weapon in Angela Merkel’s continued belligerence towards Ukraine in order to please her friend, Vladimir Putin. Today, Ukraine itself has become less than proactive as to NATO membership partially because of  its Soviet  past,  an increasing Ukrainian skepticism toward the West's intentions and all of this severely aggravated by  the Yanukovych regime’s non-Western orientation and thuggish behavior. This has enabled such non-friends of Ukraine as Chancellor Merkel to shroud her essentially longstanding Russophile policies in a “concern for human rights” cover. Ukraine’s imprisoned former prime-minister deserves western intervention. However, she should not be used as a weapon in Angela Merkel’s continued belligerence towards Ukraine in order to please her friend, Vladimir Putin. 

The subject of Ukraine’s security not only for the sake of principle, but more so on a geo-strategic level needs to be addressed. Irrespective of Germany, France and even President Obama, Ukraine remains a lynchpin and buffer between today’s NATO and the country, in essence, for whom NATO was formed. A militarily strong and modern democratic Ukraine is NATO’s best weapon, even better than the radar and anti-missile shield contemplated for Poland, the Czech Republic or Romania. Without diminishing the significance of any current NATO member state, after all Ukraine in size and population is one of Europe’s largest countries.  Ultimately full NATO membership for Ukraine serves not only Ukraine but furthers NATO’s purpose as an alliance defending itself from the world’s most dangerous possible aggressor. We need not name that aggressor.

Tangible action such as an imminent offer of  MAP sends the right message to both the cynical Ukrainian population and the aggressive Russian rulers. It also puts Ukraine’s current thug-president in a quandary.  Let’s be both honest and practical for a change, given its size and location, Ukraine is a most appropriate candidate for NATO membership. The process  should be facilitated and expedited. Frankly, Ukraine without NATO is not secure and NATO without Ukraine is a geo-strategic illusion.


18.06.12. Political threats to the Ukrainian language

June 12, 2012

Zenon Zawada

Misinformation has accompanied the current language bill in parliament because of Ukraine’s complex linguistic situation. Unfortunately, Western journalists haven’t succeeded in clearing up the confusion and informing their readers of the real meaning behind this legislative initiative.

Sufficient legislation on language has long existed in Ukraine, offering generous – some say indulgent – guarantees for the Russian language and its speakers.

The binding legislation approved in 1989, “On Language in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic,” properly identifies the Ukrainian language as one of the decisive factors in the national selfhood of the Ukrainian people.

It called for the state to ensure the thorough development and functioning of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of social life, a principle that was subsequently adopted by the Ukrainian Constitution in 1996.

While giving priority to Ukrainian, the 1989 law also protects Russian language speakers, reflective of the Ukrainian people’s long history of tolerance towards its ethnic minorities.

The 1989 bill calls for the free development and use of the Russian language, which was buttressed in the Constitution of 1996, a document that goes even further in calling for the defense of the Russian language in Ukraine.

Specifically, it sets the conditions for the use of Russian, alongside Ukrainian, in state organs and enterprises. It allows for citizens to address state organs and enterprises in Russian, and for these institutions to respond in Russian.

The same bill allows for judicial proceedings to occur in Russian, including offering testimony and producing all documentation. It requires all state employees to command both Russian and Ukrainian and requires that students learn both languages, beginning in elementary school.

Therefore, the characterization offered by certain Western media (including the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal) that the legislation approved by parliament on June 5 would allow the use of the Russian language in state institutions is false and misleading.

The Russian language has been alive and well in the state institutions of the majority of Ukraine’s oblasts and in most of Ukraine’s cities for the duration of the nation’s 20 years of independence. This is the case even after the alleged Ukrainianization during the Orange era [of ex-President Viktor Yushchenko and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko], which barely occurred.

The Russian language ranks supreme the dialogue and documentation at state medical and banking institutions in most cities (and private ones, for that matter). It ranks supreme among state engineers, police officers, and tax inspectors.

In courts, the majority of testimony and verbal exchange occurs in the Russian language. The documentation in many courts in southern and eastern Ukraine is in Russian, and most of the judges and lawyers there speak in Russian during sessions and trials.

All this occurs in spite of the binding law calling for the Ukrainian language’s priority status because the law carries little weight, as in most spheres of Ukrainian life.

Linguistic matters are decided on a largely de facto basis, and the nation’s citizens have learned to get along more or less based on mutually accepted norms that have evolved without government interference.

Even if the law did matter in Ukraine, sufficient legislation already exists that offers Russian speakers comfortable conditions.

Given these facts, that begs the question of why the ruling Party of the Regions of Ukraine, with its parliamentary allies, decided on June 5 to cast 234 votes in favor of new language legislation, “On the Foundations of Language Policy.”

It was sponsored by alleged 2004 election falsifier Sergei Kivalov and provocateur-for-hire Vadim Kolesnichenko, who denigrates the Ukrainian language and culture at every opportunity he has in front of the media.

As the main reason, it’s worth noting that for the first time since the Orange revolts of 2004, the Party of Regions is no longer the most popular political force, according to an April poll conducted by the Razumkov Center, widely considered to be among the most reliable.

The Fatherland Party founded by imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is now most popular.

The Party of Regions has lost significant support among its electorate, particularly with such maneuvers as passing an oppressive tax code and cutting social payments to veterans of the Afghan War and 1986 Chornobyl clean-up, many of whom live in the party’s cradle of support in the southeastern oblasts.

Indeed on the very same evening that parliament approved the first reading of the language bill, it voted on another bill that creates the opportunity to cut such social payments even further in 2013. Not a bad distraction, eh?

Then there’s the economy. The stock market is down 33 percent year-to-date and the National Bank of Ukraine can’t sell enough five-year notes, despite interest rates of close to 14 percent.

The National Bank also reportedly burned through $1 billion of its international reserves in May alone, bringing them down to $31 billion. Most recently, Business Insider ranked Ukraine as among the world’s five governments most likely to default.

The National Bank also reportedly burned through $1 billion of its international reserves in May alone, bringing them down to $31 billion. Most recently, Business Insider ranked Ukraine as among the world’s five governments most likely to default.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government stands accused by the opposition of plundering close to a third of the $10 billion in state funds spent on Euro 2012, the evidence for some of which exists.

In its desperation, the Party of Regions has turned to the sensitive and volatile language issue as its last trump card to activate its core support base of pro-Russian radicals.

Unfortunately, these elements care little for establishing rule of law and independent jurisprudence in Ukraine, which are issues that are far more relevant to most Ukrainians as tangibly improving their day-to-day lives.

These radicals, who number in the millions, suffer from ignorance of the history of the land that they walk upon, wanting to live in a Ukraine without ever encountering the Ukrainian language that they were raised to hold in contempt by Soviet propagandists.

Ironically, their leaders, including Kolesnichenko, claim to embrace European values, alleging their position is in line with the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, a document whose letter and intent was to defend weak languages from extinction and to ensure their speakers retain the minimum of rights.

Yet Ukraine is unlike any other contemporary European nation since the state language happens to be the lesser spoken tongue as a result of the native people’s post-colonial, post-genocidal and post-totalitarian 20th century history. The same can be said for the Crimean Tatar language.

The law on the books, as weak as it is, is the last remaining safeguard for the Ukrainian language. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Constitution calls for the Russian language to coexist with the Ukrainian language, according to several court rulings that interpreted Article 10.

Violating this principle, the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko bill creates the architecture for Russian to replace Ukrainian entirely with its 10 percent rule, requiring state institutions to accommodate languages in a given population center that are spoken by at least 10 percent of its residents.

The bill thereby dismantles safeguards in the few remaining institutions where the Ukrainian language is flourishing, namely education, voiceover dubbing in cinema and mass media advertising.

The legislation claims to defend such minority languages as Crimean Tatar or Bulgarian, yet there’s no chance that state organs – often lacking funds to pay heating bills or to buy floor cleaning soaps – can accommodate each 10 percent minority in a given district.

Conflicts will become inevitable between the various minorities and the default language will be the majority language in most regions, which is Russian.

The Kyiv Post has printed letters to the editor complaining about the presence of the Ukrainian language, such as voiceover dubbing in cinemas (Ukrainian-language dubbing is non-existent in DVD sales).

Foreign university students have also complained about courses taught in Ukrainian (though much of the coursework, particularly in mathematics and the natural sciences, has been in the Russian language).

Such complaints reveal indifference to the suffering of the Ukrainian people, who were persecuted, and often killed, for asserting their right to live in an environment that provides for the comfortable functioning of the indigenous language of most of these lands.

These complainers should consider that the Finnish language was subjugated centuries ago to the Swedish language, a policy supported by Finland’s own elite. Similarly, the Czech language was once subjugated to German by its own elite too. Ukraine’s so-called elite is no different, embracing Russian and laying the groundwork for the eradication of Ukrainian.

Among those voting for the language bill on June 5 were Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarchs – billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, Kernel Group founder Andrei Verevskiy, mega millionaire banker Aleksandr Buriak and Kharkiv business mogul Aleksandr Feldman.

Therefore, Ukrainians themselves are partly to blame for foreigners holding such attitudes because unfortunately, many citizens disrespect their own history and heritage after decades of Soviet totalitarianism and Stalinist genocide.

Beyond such issues of basic respect however, Westerners ought to consider the geopolitical consequences of the language issue.

Political experts are increasingly drawing parallels between the Russian government’s current approach to Ukraine and Adolf Hitler’s Anschluss policy, which eventually led to the invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia and annexation of the Czech Sudetenland, where Germans lived.

Political experts are increasingly drawing parallels between the Russian government’s current approach to Ukraine and Adolf Hitler’s Anschluss policy, which eventually led to the invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia and annexation of the Czech Sudetenland, where Germans lived.
In this context, the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko bill has a few new clauses that deserve particular attention, such as defining one’s native language as “the first language that an individual mastered in earlier childhood.”

Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who make up the vast majority of Ukraine’s urban residents, have long held to the tradition of reporting that their native language is Ukrainian, despite speaking Russian on a daily basis (at least in public). That’s typical of a post-colonial society.

The new legislation seeks to redefine as native Russian speakers those who would typically categorize themselves as native Ukrainian speakers.

This strategy was employed in the Republic of Georgia, where more than 85 percent of the population of South Ossetia was extended Russian passports, in large part on the basis of them being native Russian speakers.

Such events would serve as the basis for the Russian government to intervene militarily in Ukraine. Those skeptical need only to turn the 2008 South Ossetian War, in which the Russian government defended its actions by claiming the duty to protect its citizens, wherever they may be.

The groundwork for Anschluss is already being laid in Crimea, whose residents are being propagandized by mass media, schools, and even summer camps into thinking they are ethnic Russian (with Ukrainian surnames) with loyalties to Moscow (instead of Kyiv).
The groundwork for Anschluss is already being laid in Crimea, whose residents are being propagandized by mass media, schools, and even summer camps into thinking they are ethnic Russian (with Ukrainian surnames) with loyalties to Moscow (instead of Kyiv). Many are reported to have Russian passports in their possession, despite Ukrainians laws forbidding dual citizenship.

Ukraine’s foremost political experts, such as author Serhiy Hrabovsky and Ihor Losiev of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, have already sounded such alarm bells.

It’s up to Western leaders, both in the private and public sectors, to realize that the Ukrainian language is just as much about geopolitics as it is about culture and heritage.
It’s up to Western leaders, both in the private and public sectors, to realize that the Ukrainian language is just as much about geopolitics as it is about culture and heritage. Fortunately, the U.S. government has pursued a wise policy of offering strong support for the Ukrainian language.

Corporations such as McDonald’s have also shown a firm commitment to the Ukrainian language, playing contemporary Ukrainian music in its restaurants and keeping its menus in Ukrainian even in Russian-speaking cities as a sign of respect for the Ukrainian state and its history.

It’s just as important for Western business leaders, lawyers, academics and politicians to demonstrate that same support by tolerating the Ukrainian language, if not learning the basics themselves and encouraging its use among staff and employees.

Not only do their future business prospects hang in the balance, but so does the future of Ukraine as an independent state based on Western, European values.

Zenon Zawada is the former chief editor of the Kyiv Post.


18.06.12. Language Intolerance in Ukraine

Alexander J. Motyl

The Ukrainian language is back in the news. The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, recently ruled on the Regionnaire-proposed draft law, On Principles of the State Language Policy of Ukraine: “the question remains whether … there are sufficient guarantees … for the consolidation of the Ukrainian language as the sole State language, and of the role it has to play in the Ukrainian multilinguistic society” (article 66).

The commission’s language is squishy, but diplo-babble always is. In reality, the above remarks represent a severe criticism of the draft law. And rightly so. The Regionnaires have done everything possible to roll back Ukrainian in the last two years. Naturally, they insist they’re being evenhanded, even liberal. Indeed, they claim that they’re the true Europeans. They say they want linguistic freedom; they say they stand for equality of languages. It’s them other guys—the supporters of Ukrainian language and culture—who are imposing their preferences on a reluctant population. Them other guys, meanwhile, insist that all they want is equal time for a language that’s been discriminated against for hundreds of years.

Now, the Regionnaire monoglots do have a point: language use should be guided by liberal values. We may doubt their sincerity—after all, these guys wouldn’t know a contemporary European value (as opposed to those practiced by European colonialists, racists, and anti-Semites) if it snapped at their jowls—but it is true that imposing languages or denying people the right to speak the language of their choice contravenes liberalism and tolerance. Defenders of Ukrainian also have a point. Ukrainian language and culture have been subjected to sustained persecution by the czars and the Soviets and surely deserve to have a significant presence in a country that calls itself Ukraine.

So how do we reconcile both claims?

Consider what the ideal language situation in a liberal and tolerant Ukraine would be like.

Imagine a country in which two languages are spoken by the vast majority of the population. What linguistic skills and values should citizens have if they want the society to be based on contemporary European values and be liberal, tolerant, and functional? That is, if they want all citizens to enjoy freedom of linguistic choice and still be able to communicate?

First, everybody should be proficient in both languages. Proficiency translates into the ability to comprehend and speak both languages.

Second, everybody should feel free to use whichever language they want whenever and wherever they want to. The freedom to use whichever language one wants is tantamount to liberalism.

And third, everybody should accept others’ use of whichever language they want whenever and wherever they want to. The acceptance of whichever language others use is tantamount to tolerance.

Now imagine two languages—U and R. In ideal circumstances, speakers of U would be proficient in and tolerant of R, while speakers of R would be proficient in and tolerant of U. If a speaker of U and a speaker of R met, they could and would happily speak their own preferred languages, either only U, only R, or each other’s languages. The conditions of liberalism, tolerance, and functionality would be maintained.

So how do these reflections apply to Ukraine, where the two key languages are Ukrainian and Russian?

In ideal circumstances, speakers of Ukrainian would be proficient in and tolerant of Russian, while speakers of Russian would be proficient in and tolerant of Ukrainian. If a speaker of Ukrainian and a speaker of Russian met, they could and would speak their own preferred languages, only Ukrainian, only Russian, or each other’s languages. The conditions of liberalism, tolerance, and functionality would be maintained.

How does the actual linguistic condition in Ukraine measure up against the ideal?

Not as bad as you might think. The vast majority of Ukrainian speakers are proficient in and tolerant of Russian; if and when speakers of Ukrainian encounter speakers of Russian, most are more than happy to hear Russian and even speak it. That is as true of Lviv as it is true of Kyiv and Donetsk.

In contrast, the vast majority of Russian speakers do not meet these conditions. Many are not proficient in Ukrainian; some are intolerant of Ukrainian (and consider it the language of animals); and, if and when speakers of Russian encounter speakers of Ukrainian, few are more than happy to hear Ukrainian and speak it. That is as true of Kyiv and Donetsk as it is true of Lviv.

Ukraine’s language condition is thus only half ideal. For the society to be truly European and thus liberal, tolerant, and functional, that part of the population which lacks proficiency in Ukrainian should acquire proficiency in Ukrainian; that part which is intolerant of Ukrainian should become tolerant of Ukrainian; and that part which is unwilling to hear or speak Ukrainian with Ukrainian speakers should acquire the willingness to hear or speak Ukrainian with Ukrainian speakers.

Each of Ukraine’s presidents—Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko, and even Viktor Yanukovych—has in point of fact behaved according to European principles. Whatever their personal private linguistic or cultural preferences, they have all made a public effort to be liberal and tolerant in just the way described above. The vast majority of Ukraine’s national democrats also adopt the above posture. The only political forces that are, in both principle and practice, linguistically illiberal and intolerant are the anti-Russian Svoboda party, the anti-Ukrainian Communists, and the anti-Ukrainian Regionnaires—as well as most of their respective constituents. Illiberal and intolerant Ukrainian speakers probably comprise no more than 5 percent of the total population, while illiberal and intolerant Russian speakers probably comprise about 40 percent. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the latter are concentrated in the Regionnaire stronghold in the south and east of the country.

Ukraine, then, still has a long way to go before it’ll embody European values and be linguistically liberal, tolerant, and functional. But the only way it’ll ever get there is if the Regionnaires abandon their bigoted attitudes and start being liberal toward and tolerant of Ukrainian.

Alexander J. Motyl's blog


16.07.12. Derek Fraser: What’s at stake in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections

Jul 3, 2012

Ukrainians are going to the polls on Oct. 28 to elect members of their parliament, the Verhovna Rada. If the elections were totally free, President Viktor Yanukovych’s party, the Party of the Regions, would have a hard time getting a majority since, according to the polls, its support is in the teens or low twenties, and is often lower that that of any of the principal opposition parties.

But initial indications suggest that the election results may not be accepted as free or fair by the West. Some leading figures of the opposition, including a former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, have been imprisoned as a result of what human rights organizations and Western countries, including Canada, consider to have been politically motivated trials. The Election Law has been modified by the Party of Regions in ways that make it easier for the government to fix the results. Ukrainian media are being increasingly controlled or cowed through official harassment. The electoral commissions have been largely brought under government control. In the local elections of 2010, which may have served as a pilot project for the parliamentary elections, the principal opposition party was prevented from running in areas where it was especially popular.

It is important that we all should closely follow the electoral campaign and the elections themselves. The degree to which the elections are held in violation of human rights and democratic principles, if that proves to be the case, should have immediate consequences on Western policies toward Ukraine, including the negotiations of the free trade agreement that Canada is the process of etching out with that country.

We should not be surprised at the darkening shadows over Ukraine. Few countries have managed on their own to make a smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy without relapses. The journey has been long and hard for Ukraine since it became independent in 1991, because of its lack of experience as an independent state, its weak institutions and weak tradition of political pluralism and its scant understanding of the separation of powers.

Compounding these weaknesses, there has been insufficient support from the EU and strong interference from Putin’s Russia. Unlike European countries further to the West, Ukraine has not been able to count on the promise of EU membership in the short or medium term to serve as an incentive to move to democracy. (The EU’s current offer to Ukraine consists of an association agreement, accompanied by free trade and the possibility of EU membership in the distant future.)

Working against the attraction of the EU has been Russian blockage. Russia has repeatedly interfered in Ukrainian affairs — spending lavishly campaigning in favour of pro-Russian parties in elections, seeking the appointment of certain ministers and generally undermining Ukraine’s economic and democratic reforms. It has repeatedly used the price of gas, of which it is the sole supplier, as a lever to bring Ukraine to heel. The Russians seek the inclusion of Ukraine in a network of associated satellite states, with Russian control over the economies, the finances, and the defence of the other members, including the right to intervene militarily to keep them in line.

According to many observers, President Yanukovych intends to use the current election as another step on his path to dictatorship. Should he win two-thirds of the seats in parliament, he could amend the constitution without regard to any opposition in the Rada. While he does want a deal with the EU, he does not want to accept the EU’s condition of a return to democracy. Therefore, although he is resisting Russian pressure, he may end up accepting Russian domination so he can remain in power.

Should Russia succeed in its aim of establishing hegemony in the former Soviet Union, it could prevent the spread of democracy, and prolong the instability in the area.

Because of the stakes involved, Canada and the West have a strong interest in following the elections closely and being prepared to react vigorously if we come to the conclusion that they have not been held fairly and in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

Derek Fraser was Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2001. He is currently an adjunct professor of Political Science at the University of Victoria, and head of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation Long-Term Election Observer Mission to Ukraine.

17.07.12. Frihandelsaftale mellem Ukraine og EU klar til underskrivelse

Ukraine og EU har definitivt afsluttet den tekniske side af færdiggørelsen af den del af associeringsaftalen, der handler om dannelsen af en frihandelszone.
Det oplyste EU's handelstalsmand John Clancy i Bruxelles ifølge Ukrinform.
"Vi har afsluttet den juridiske formulering af teksten til aftalen om en dyb og altomfattende frihandelszone. Den tekniske parafering finder sted den 19. juli i Bruxelles", oplyste Clancy.
Ifølge EU-talsmanden begynder derefter den tekniske del af forberedelsen af aftalen til underskrivelse, blandt andet en oversættelse af teksten til EU's officielle sprog.
"Beslutningen om underskrivelsen af aftalen afhænger af den politiske situation i landet", understregede EU's handelstalsmand.
Som bekendt indledte Ukraine og EU forhandlingerne om en Associeringsaftale i 2007.
Den 19. december 2011 meddelte parterne efter et Ukraine-EU topmøde, at forhandlingsprocessen vedrørende en Associeringsaftale og en dyb og altomfattende frihandelszoneaftale nu var afsluttet.
Den 30. marts 2012 paraferede parterne dokumentets politiske del, samt den første og den sidste side af aftalens økonomiske afsnit UP.

Paraferingen betyder klargørelsen af et dokument til underskrivelse og ratificering. Efter den 19. juli og efter en behørig oversættelse vil Associeringsaftalen og Frihandelszoneaftalen således være klar til de 27 EU-medlemsstaters regeringers underskrivelse og de 27 EU-parlamenters efterfølgende ratificering.

19.08.12. Støt ukrainerne nu!

af Erik Boel, landsformand Europabevægelsen, og Roman Horbyk ukrainsk journalist på The Ukrainian Week

(Bragt i Berlingske 14/8 2012)

Under EM-slutrunden i fodbold flød medierne over med kritik fra politikere og NGOer – heriblandt den danske Europabevægelse – af det ukrainske styre. Baggrunden var særligt den uretmæssige fængsling af oppositionslederen Julia Timosjenko, og flere europæiske lande samt formanden for EU-Kommissionen, José Manuel Barroso, boykottede fodboldfesten i protest. Siden den sidste konfetti dalede ned og stadionspotlightet slukkede, har der været meget stille om Ukraine. Men det er et utilgiveligt tidspunkt for verdenssamfundet at slække på opmærksomheden og pressionen. De ukrainske borgere er nemlig begyndt at røre på sig med spredte demonstrationer mod styret oven på endnu en farceagtig lovgennemførelse i parlamentet.
Selv det ellers notorisk så brutale politi undlader i stigende grad at banke demonstranterne – et håndgribeligt tegn på den efterhånden stigende utilfredshed med Viktor Janukovitjs styre.

EU er kendt for at arbejde for international retfærdighed, og på dette tidspunkt er det bydende nødvendigt, at der kommer konkret handling fra EUs side for at skubbe Ukraine i den rigtige retning mod frie og demokratiske værdier, frem for flere vage resolutioner, som styret i Kiev blot betragter som ’støj på linjen’. I juli idømte Den Europæiske Menneskerettighedsdomstol den ukrainske stat at betale den tidl. indenrigsminister Lutsenko 15.000 euro i kompensation for overtrædelse af hans basale rettigheder i forbindelse med endnu en obskur fængselsdom. Det får ikke Lutsenko ud af fængslet, men er et skridt i den rigtige retning. Selvom det ikke sikrer direkte frihed, åbner dommen op for et nyt pressionsmiddel mod det diktaturlignende, ukrainske styre. Det er den slags, der er brug for.

SITUATIONEN I UKRAINE er kompliceret og virker håbløs. Janukovitjs regime har forværret denne situation. Men EU bærer også en del af skylden for den manglende optimisme. Efter den Orange Revolution i 2005 troede ukrainerne selv, at de var på vej mod den Europæiske Union, men siden hen er meget lidt sket, og Ukraine synes langt væk fra forhandlingsbordet i Bruxelles.

Oven på den epokegørende revolution kom der aldrig en konkret invitation om medlemskab af Unionen, kun uldne erklæringer om Ukraines plads i Europa. Viktor Jusjenko (som vandt valget i forbindelse med revolutionen) gav flere gange i sin tid som præsident udtryk for, at han var skuffet over EU's manglende støtte og afvisning af muligheden for medlemskab. Den følelse deles af den ukrainske befolkning, og siden Viktor Janukovitj kom til magten, er Ukraine og EU ikke rykket tættere på hinanden. Sagerne om Timosjenko og Lutsenko har fået både Europarådet og EU til at rette fokus mod Ukraine, og borgerne kigger nu igen, om end med begrænset håb, mod Bruxelles i håb om, at EU er dén magt, der kan påvirke Janukovitj i den rigtige retning. Det håb skal EU gribe for at støtte de spirende moddemonstrationer, der begynder at vise sig i Ukraine.

DER ER VED AT SKE noget i Ukraine, der forhåbentlig kan ændre situationen i landet, og som kræver EU’s fulde opbakning. En ny bølge af folkelige protester har ramt Ukraine denne sommer. Befolkningen fik for alvor nok af regimet, da regeringen forsøgte at få en ny sproglov vedtaget i parlamentet som optakt til efterårets parlamentsvalg. Regeringen tilsidesatte endnu en gang alle normale procedurer for at få gennemført høringerne. Det fik ukrainerne på gaden, og i alle større byer har der været demonstrationer imod regeringen. Lige nu er der konstante protester – primært i Kiev – hvor 500-1.000 ihærdige aktivister nægter at bukke under. Det er disse folk, vi skal vise vores støtte. Det Arabiske Forår har lært os, at alt er muligt, men der skal opbakning til. Det er derfor ekstremt vigtigt, at EU og de europæiske politikere ikke endnu en gang skuffer ukrainerne ved at slække på pressionen og opmærksomheden.

Med efterårets parlamentsvalg og den stigende uro i befolkningen skal Europa og FN være forberedt på et scenarie, der kan komme til at ligne det, vi har set i Libyen og lige nu ser i Syrien og være klar til at reagere på dette og bakke befolkningen op.


20.09.12. Journalister protesterer mod Yanukovych


Sept. 4, 2012

Katya Gorchinskaya, Editor

As Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stood proudly on a Kyiv stage telling hundreds of the world’s publishers and journalists that censorship is just a stereotype in Ukraine, he thought he was the “Good.”

He turned out to be an “Ugly Liar,” as demonstrated by the drama that unveiled in the audience. The “ugly” events that unfolded gave visitors of the World Association and Newspapers and News Publishers, and the World Editors Forum a snapshot of Ukraine’s deteriorating state of media freedoms and freedom of expression.

A recent law has allowed the government to stop disclosing the results of public procurement tenders, which have in the past allowed journalists to uncover a number of potentially corrupt deals, such as the oil drilling equipment bought from a murky offshore company at inflated prices under the watch of Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko.In a silent and peaceful protest, about 15 Ukrainian journalists pulled out posters reading “Stop Censorship” as Yanukovych started speaking. A few guards with official blue badges swiftly moved to protect their “boss” on stage from seeing the content of the posters, or being humiliated by them.

Sadly for them, their tactics backfired.

One of them, a tall light-haired man, approached me from behind. He pulled me roughly by the shoulders and yanked the poster out of my hands. Then he moved on to do the same to Olena Prytula, chief editor of Ukraine’s most read online news portal Ukrainska Pravda, who stood right next to me.

A short scuffle followed as we tried to reclaim our posters. We were shocked that he dared to scuffle with two women, a couple of perfectly peaceful posters, in the middle of a conference full of journalists while Yanukovych was speaking about how he will protect media freedoms.

Stripped of our posters, we quickly pulled out our notebook computers and wrote the same anti-censorship messages on the screen, holding it out for all to see. The guard then stood in front of us, attempting to shield us from Yanukovych’s view.

What made the situation comical is that he attacked the chief editor of the most read online news source in Ukraine as his own president stood on the stage saying: “Ukraine has made its way, without exaggeration, from total censorship to an open society.”

To add to the surrealism of the whole affair, another dozen journalists, including Kyiv Post Editor Brian Bonner, were left untouched holding similar posters amid in other sections of the audience.

Could the other guards not reach them? Or did their brains kick in, signaling that it would be unwise to squash peaceful protesters in the middle of an audience of 1,000 people from the news industry?

In an episode where the absurd became reality, the other guards filmed the other the protesters with their cameras as journalists in the audience turned their cameras on them.

All of this cross-filming and other minor dramas were instantly and dutifully reported on twitter, Facebook and blogs by dozens of foreign witnesses who, stunned from what they were seeing, took pictures with their phones and madly tapped keyboards of their digital devices.

Many of them later expressed concern for the protestors. “If they’re doing this in front of us, what are they going to do to you when you come out of here?” asked Anette Novak, a board member of the World Editors Forum and one of the event organizers.

In this particular case, they needn’t have worried about. The violent guards disappeared as soon as the president left the room.

Later, the presidential guard issued an official statement alleging that the attacker was not one of their staff, but a private individual. This is nonsense, because he had a document certifying he was a n official guard, and he acted (and then disappeared) in coordination with the rest of the security. He may not be on staff of the presidential guard, but he could be a members of the SBU state security service, or another dozen budget-sponsored security agencies.

Larry Kilman, deputy CEO of WAN/IFRA, expressed public support for the protest. “One of the main focuses of these events is to defend and promote press freedom. By choosing Ukraine as our venue, we stand in solidarity with the local independent press, and draw international attention to the situation here. The protesters were a very powerful reminder that there is still much to be done,” she said.

Kilman is right indeed. Ukraine has a dismal record as far as freedom of expression goes. International watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked the nation 116th in its freedom of speech rating in 2011-2012, up from its all-time low of 131 the year before.

Journalists are threatened with criminal cases and face a danger of violence and occasionally even death from officials as well as law enforcers. Journalists are threatened with criminal cases and face a danger of violence and occasionally even death from officials as well as law enforcers. TV channels that attempt to report on corruption by influential officials or present a view alternative that of oligarch-owned channels that are loyal to the president are silenced through a whole range of means.

A good case in point is channel TVi. After being left without digital licenses by the regulator last year, it is being pushed out of cable networks, which are in turn pressured by the National TV and Radio Council, the same regulator.

This cuts the channel’s audience and chances for survival. Combined with pressure from tax authorities, the channel can go bankrupt, while its founder Mykola Kniazhytskiy (who is now running for parliament with the opposition to get immunity from prosecution) can potentially face criminal charges.

The story of TVi is, in some ways, hardly news. After all, in Ukraine, law enforcers, regulators and threats of criminal charges are often used to silence journalists and prevent them from doing their jobs. Many media face censorship from the owners and managers, and often practice self-censorship. As a result, the public has little access to objective information, but plenty of propaganda, pro-presidential spin and paid-for content with no clear marking.

For journalists, access to information is getting more restricted as a number of new laws have been approved. The law on private information is cited any time a journalist attempts to get a hold of an official’s declaration and match it with the properties they live in and cars they drive.

A recent law has allowed the government to stop disclosing the results of public procurement tenders, which have in the past allowed journalists to uncover a number of potentially corrupt deals, such as the oil drilling equipment bought from a murky offshore company at inflated prices under the watch of Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko.

Thanks to Ukraine’s ridiculous legislation, censorship can be legalized. According to one interpretation of copyright legislation, anyone interviewed by a journalist is co-author of their story, giving them a right to edit and kill the content.Thanks to Ukraine’s ridiculous legislation, censorship can be legalized. According to one interpretation of copyright legislation, anyone interviewed by a journalist is co-author of their story, giving them a right to edit and kill the content.

There is little will or prospect that the situation will change for the better any time soon, hence the Sept. 3 journalistic protest. It was addressed to the international community as much as it was to the president. The community is still figuring out what it can do to help. But the president, traditionally, has pretended the problem isn’t there.

still the “Ugly.”

Kyiv Post deputy editor Katya Gorchinskaya can be reached at katya.gorchinskaya@gmail.com.




20.09.12. Ukraine warned against passing defamation bill TOP

Ukraine opposition says libel law "death of journalism"
September 12, 2012

Maria Danilova

Censorship today, GULAG tomorrow.An international media watchdog urged Ukrainian lawmakers on Wednesday to reject a bill that would make defamation a crime, saying it could "threaten the very existence of independent journalism."

This week Ukraine's parliament, dominated by President Viktor Yanukovych's allies, tentatively approved a bill that would make defamation punishable by up to five years in prison, restoring a Soviet-era practice that Ukraine abolished 11 years ago.

Currently, alleged libel can only result in a civil lawsuit, and journalists who lose would just face fines.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday that "such a return to the past would have a major impact on freedom of information in Ukraine." It said, "Journalists already have to confront many dangers and an increase in self-censorship inside news organizations."

The bill, which has yet to undergo a second reading, then be sent for approval to the president, has angered Ukrainian journalists, especially since it could affect their coverage of the nation's Oct. 28 parliamentary election.

Alexander Akymenko, an editor at Forbes Ukraine, suggested that all reporters could easily end up behind bars. "Now you need to have an already packed bag at home," Akymenko wrote on his Facebook page. "Just in case."

Serhiy Leshchenko, an investigative journalist with the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, whose reports are strongly critical of Yanukovych, said he is worried that he could be the first victim of the new law.
Watchdogs and opposition leaders say freedom of speech has taken a beating since Yanukovych came to power two years ago. Most television channels, the main source of information for Ukrainians, are controlled by government-friendly magnates, and opposition voices are rarely heard there.

Earlier this month, Yanukovych drew widespread condemnation when his security guards roughed up several reporters staging a silent protest during an international media conference, as the president spoke about freedom and democracy from a stage just meters (yards) away.

Yanukovych's office called for the creation of a special working group to analyze the bill.


20.09.12. Ukraine offers EU "closer collaboration" in energy (læs længere nede på siden)


By Andriy Klyuyev, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council

Europe’s top priority is getting the economy back on track, and ensuring low-cost and stable energy supplies is an essential component. Ukraine holds a vital role in powering Europe by providing reliable access to current sources, exploring new shale and offshore reserves, and helping to transition to renewables.

Closer collaboration between Ukraine and the EU cannot be just an abstract goal. It will allow Western investors to tap an emerging market, improve living standards across Europe and strengthen Europe’s connections with eastern Europe to balance the region’s complex relationship with Russia.

Ukraine already serves as the conduit for much of Europe’s energy. A quarter of all gas consumed in the EU goes from Russia through Ukrainian territory, making it the largest transit state on the continent. In addition, one-third of all interseasonal gas supplies in Europe are located in underground storage facilities in Ukraine. That capacity helps maintain energy access during winter for hundreds of millions of people.

Ensuring the long-term security of this supply route, particularly in the face of external threats, whether economic, political or environmental, is a priority. Ukraine is eager to collaborate with the EU to modernise its pipeline system so that we can all continue to rely on energy travelling through Ukraine. The time for discussions about pipeline upgrades, within the broader context of the Ukraine-EU relationship, has arrived.

Alongside this role as a gas transporter, Ukraine is also crucial to Europe’s future energy strategy. We must be realistic about short-term needs and long-term aspirations, and Ukraine can support both.

The US Energy Information Administration estimates that Ukraine has around 42tn cubic feet of shale gas reserves, the third highest among European countries. However, like much of Europe, we are still a net energy importer and pay far more for gas than is acceptable. The drain on Ukraine’s economy is massive, so we have to diversify our energy sources and explore our own hydrocarbon supplies, particularly from unconventional sources.

Once we address our own energy needs, Ukraine hopes to become a net natural gas exporter so we can help the entire continent combat increasing energy prices. We have built strong partnerships with leading global energy companies like Shell, Chevron and Exxon to explore and develop untapped shale gas reserves in the Lviv Basin and Donetsk Basin, as well as offshore oil and gas in the Black Sea. The commitment of the energy majors shows that Ukraine is open for busin and is a testament to our efforts to transform our economy.

These efforts will only take us so far. Ukraine is an extremely high-volume consumer of gas by European standards, so renewable energy is a must. We are aiming to increase the share of renewables in the country’s energy mix from the current 3 per cent to 10 per cent in 2015. We know that is an ambitious goal, but we are on our way.

Last year, Ukraine grew domestic wind power capacity by 73 per cent to 151MW. This year should see similar growth, with 37MW of new capacity already added in the first half of 2012 and more than 60MW expected in the second. And given Ukraine’s standing as a leading corn producer, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities in biofuels.

Our commitments do not just bring Ukraine in line with the standards set by the European Energy Community as part of our vision for EU membership. We hope to inspire our eastern European neighbours to move toward clean energy innovation and production. Every country should play a part.

Ukrainian and European energy strategies are closely aligned, and the EU can help us modernize and reform. With European conventional gas reserves dwindling and demand for energy rising, there are pitfalls of over-dependence on gas imports from single countries, especially connected to gas price policy. That is why it is now high time for Ukraine and the EU to deepen our energy relationship. We look forward to finding answers together.

Andriy Klyuyev is secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine