Keeping up the pressure on Ukraine

June 29, 2012

The Government of Ukraine will soon have to realize its continued mistreatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is damaging to Ukraine’s interests nationally and internationally.

After nine European leaders concerned over the continued detention of Tymoshenko announced plans to boycott a Central European summit hosted by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich in May, Ukraine cancelled the event. Several countries have indicated that their leaders will be boycotting the games of the June 2012 Euro soccer championship being hosted by Ukraine. Tymoshenko, who was jailed in 2011 after what most international observers consider to be a politically motivated trial, began a hunger strike on April 20 to protest what she said was an assault by prison guards. It was not the first time there have been concerns about the treatment she has received while incarcerated. She discontinued her hunger strike after being moved to hospital May 8.

The Government of Canada continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine, especially the apparent erosion of democracy there. When Ukraine’s former Defence Minister was sentenced to five years in prison, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Honourable John Baird, said the conviction “may call into further question judicial independence in Ukraine. A troubling trend is continuing in Ukraine. Like previous, apparently politically motivated prosecutions, this undermines the institutions upon which a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society depends.

“I reiterate my call for the Ukrainian government to strengthen judicial independence and capacity. Canada will continue to advocate freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for all Ukrainians.”

The hope is that these actions will help the Yanukovich government to realize that the rest of the world is serious when it expresses concern about what has been happening in Ukraine and give it the opportunity to reconsider the path it is on.

What do you think?