Yushchenko's Regime Gets Tough

KIEV, Ukraine -- A district court of Kiev is to pass on Tuesday a sentence upon the tent camp organized by the protesters who demand the liberation of an opposition leader.

Boris Kolesnikov, the head of the Donetsk regional legislature and a close ally of Viktor Yanukovich, was detained on April 6. Mr. Yushchenko has apparently forgotten that the previous regime used to treat his supporters noticeably more softly. The oppositionists are expecting that a court decision won't be in their favor and may be implemented by riot police as early as Tuesday's evening.

The plaintiff at this trial is the administration of Kiev. The city authorities claim that the territory occupied by the protesters has been taken lawlessly and the tent camp "disturbs the public order, impedes the recreation of the capital's inhabitants in the park area and hampers the work of the Cabinet of Ministers". During the first court's sitting the city's lawyers failed to prove their case, and the trial was adjourned to Monday. Meanwhile the tent camp has been swelling. It accommodates reportedly around a thousand people, and they keep on arriving from practically all regions of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian president makes no secret of his enmity towards the protesters. "If someone from the former regime is touched upon, the bought rallies will certainly be organized", Yushchenko said on Thursday. The truly "democratic" attitude of the authorities towards the opposition is revealed by the fact that the metal fences in front of the presidential headquarters have been recently restored. These fences were dismantled just after the victory of Yushchenko. The demolition of the fences was then declared a symbol of "the new era of democracy in Ukraine", since the president wouldn't "hide from his citizens anymore". But with the advent of the protesters' tents "the new era of democracy for all" has finished. The democracy for a few has reappeared.

However some people believe that the court's decision may be not in favor of the plaintiffs. The thing is that the camp is being built under the leadership of the opposition MP Nestor Shufrich who is by all accounts a close friend of the Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, and they say that she herself is opposed to the demolition of the camp - the bloodshed is of no use to her, since the protesters are pledged not to go voluntarily.

But most protesters don't trust to justice. They think that it's already turned by the new authorities into a rubber stamp of the president. Yushchenko's regime is already experienced in destructing protesters' camps: a similar camp was brutally destroyed in Odessa on April 9. During the Odessa operation, which is called by witnesses no less than a massacre, riot police was assisted by a paramilitary organization INKONT, which has a reputation of "a criminal grouping involved in racketeering".

It's worth reminding that when Yushchenko was still in opposition, the then authorities acted much more softly towards his supporters. But now Yushchenko is seemingly willing to use force.

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