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10 April, 2013 10:00   ▪  

The Economist: since becoming president in 2010 Yanukovych has taken to constant brinkmanship

Viktor Yanukovych`s chances of inking landmark association and free trade agreements with the EU are as uncertain as the fate of Yulia Tymoshenko, notes The Economist.

“This weekend’s decision by Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president, to pardon Yury Lutsenko, a jailed opposition politician, was a nice “gesture,” as one western diplomat in Kiev put it. Yet it may not be followed up with more concrete steps to appease the European Union’s pressing concerns about political persecution and the gradual demise of democracy in Ukraine under Mr Yanukovych’s rule,” states The Economist.

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“Mr Yanukovych is still seen internationally as the villain of the 2004 Orange Revolution. He has taken to constant brinkmanship since becoming president in 2010.

But with a May deadline, set by the EU, for Mr Yanukovych to demonstrate concrete progress and commitment to EU values, his government’s chances of inking landmark association and free trade agreements with the EU are as uncertain as the fate of Yulia Tymoshenko, the jailed Ukrainian opposition leader. All signs on the ground in Kyiv are that Mr Yanukovych, whose popularity at home is plummeting , is not yet ready to release Ms Tymoshenko, his fierce and feared political rival,” claims the magazine.

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“Yanukovych’s poker game is not working. We are not fooled by it,” said a western diplomat in Kiev. “Mr Yanukovych should not expect that the release of Lutsenko is enough.”

“Indeed, upon hearing of Mr Lutsenko’s release, Stefan Fuele, the EU enlargement commissioner, stressed that it was a “first but important step to deal with selective justice.”

Even so, Ms Tymoshenko’s release is still considered by many European leaders the main litmus test of just how committed Mr Yanukovych is to democracy and EU values,” underlines The Economist. 


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