KIEV, Ukraine -- European integration remains the “invariable priority” in both Ukraine’s home and foreign policy, as claimed by the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych when speaking for the third time at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session in Strasbourg.
The main points of his speech were on the fulfillment of Ukraine’s commitments to the Council of Europe (CoE), the fight against corruption and dialog with the opposition.
Previously, PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu noted after his meeting with Yanukovych: “We welcome and support the priorities of the Ukrainian presidency in the Council of Europe. We also welcome and support the reforms in Ukraine, in particular the ones concerning the constitution, election legislation and cleanup of corruption.”
Meanwhile, the CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland assured that the CoE will provide Ukraine with any necessary help in carrying out the reforms.
However, the questions asked by the MEPs showed that they expected to hear something else from him.
Hence PACE has adopted a resolution in which it first of all called on the Ukrainian authorities “to ensure that judicial measures are not used selectively, and investigations, prosecutions and trials are held with maximum transparency” and warned the Ukrainian authorities against “the possible use of criminal law as a tool to achieve political ends”.
Secondly, PACE “is worried by the growing selective prosecutions of the opposition leaders in Ukraine and the disproportional measures used in the case with Tymoshenko and the former Interior Minister Lutsenko.”
That is why the first question asked by the MEPs concerned the persecutions of the Ukrainian opposition.
A group of popular parties wondered why they refused Yulia Tymoshenko’s request to come to Strasbourg.
Yanukovych replied that he supports the thesis that the Ukrainian politicians shouldn’t have any borders. “[However], I, as president, don’t have any right to order the investigator or the Prosecutor General to let somebody go somewhere,” he added.
When commenting on whether the situation with Tymoshenko can affect the image of Ukraine abroad, Yanukovych claimed that his prime interest is that the image of the country doesn’t suffer from the claims about political persecutions, in particular, of the former Prime Minister Tymoshenko.
“If you ask me this question, I would have done something to eliminate this process with Tymoshenko [and her claims about political persecutions],” he stated.
It should be noted that the question of selective persecution of the opposition and the ban on free movement for the opposition leaders is the main problem issue in the dialog between the EU and Kiev.
British ambassador Lee Turner has also emphasized this.
This is well-known in Mykhailivska Street but, in all probability, Bankova Street doesn’t want to even hear about it and uses the correct yet formal excuse that all the decisions are made by the public prosecutor.
Obviously, the Ukrainian government has to do its best to make the trials of the opposition as transparent as possible.
They should probably reach an agreement with the opposition, in particular the fraction BYuT-Batkivshchyna that approached Yanukovych with a letter asking to ensure a fair trial for Tymoshenko.
“We ask the Ukrainian president to assume the measures provided by his powers concerning the unprejudiced and fair investigation and to make the trial public,” reads the letter.
The fraction BYuT-Batkivshchyna also insists that the public and the media have access to the courtroom and asks to provide the corresponding premises, namely the Ukrainian Home conference room.
Besides, the fraction also insists on the direct transmission of the session on the First National channel since this trial isn’t an ordinary one and the case is resonant.
Source: The Day Weekly Digest