The Image Eaters

23 August 2011, 17:02

As the end of Yulia Tymoshenko’s trial draws to an expected finale, the arguments concerning the consistency and, moreover, the legitimacy of this finale are becoming noisier and noisier. These arguments splashed onto the international level immediately after the ex-prime minister was arrested. And, contrary to all logic, the splashes will not abate. Ukraine has to wipe its face more and more frequently now, if you will allow this analogy.

Kyiv is not keeping silent: five days before this article was sent to be published, the Ministry of Internal Affairs managed to censor both the statements of the Western nations concerning the Tymoshenko case (for being biased) and the actions of the opposition. The latter, as our readers will remember, have urged the West to ban Judge Rodion Kireiev and representatives of the prosecution from entering the USA. Ukrainian diplomacy has interpreted this as “pressure on the court,” and also as an attempt “to get the executive authorities of certain countries involved in interfering with legal proceedings in Ukraine.” “We are convinced that our foreign partners will be absolutely clear and proper in reacting to these appeals and to this situation,” Oleh Voloshyn, the director of the information policy department at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said.

The problem here is that Ukrainian counterparts themselves are not doing their best to convince the West and rest of the world to perceive the Tymoshenko trial only as a political process. What should Washington, D.C., or Brussels think when even a certified lawyer, MP Inna Bohoslovska keeps blabbering on about the ex-prime minister’s guilt? When reminded of inappropriateness of such statements before a judicial decision is made, she lamely corrects herself by saying that she is not actually exercising any pressure on the court — she just believes that Tymoshenko will end up in jail (as she did at Shuster Live talk show of July 6, and at her press conference on July 11). What should any sane person think when after such statements, this parliamentary goes on to tell about the “pressure on the court” exercised by… the defense attorneys?

How should the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe react to the following words said by yet another MP, our omniscient Vadym Kolesnichenko on August 12, “Why are CE reporters not worried about the fate of another prime minister of Ukraine, Pavlo Lazarenko, who is imprisoned in the US? He, too, was involved in matters related to the UESU (United Energy Systems of Ukraine. – Ed.).” But Strasbourg certainly knows that Tymoshenko is being tried for something quite different than the UESU activities. And Kolesnikov’s statement is interpreted quite clearly: either Kolesnichenko is a total ignoramus (but how is he allowed to comment on things of which he has no idea?), or this statement is meant to form a distorted opinion of the Tymoshenko case in the minds of Ukrainians. Which, actually, constitutes a typical characteristic of a political trial.

And then there are the top officials of the Attorney General’s office (who should above all be interested in making the Tymoshenko trial seem as unbiased as possible). First they say that a process concerning Tamiflu vaccines is going on in the USA, yet it turns out that neither Tymoshenko, nor even swine flu has anything to do with the hearings in Oregon, US. Then first deputy attorney general Renat Kuzmin begins saying the former prime minister once spent about a million dollars on hotels and shopping on her visits abroad, but does not mention this as corpus delicti (by the way, this fact is not included in the prosecution materials). It is clear that the mention of millions spent on hotels can stir up popular resentment against the former top official. But what does it have to do with jurisprudence? Europe ponders this, and fails to find an answer.

Just the other day Kuzmin came up with another “sensation”. He alleged that Tymoshenko might be involved in the scandalous assassination of Donetsk businessman and politician Yevhen Shcherban (1996). Now the AGO (Attorney General’s Office) are “verifying” this information (as if they could not have done that earlier). Yet I can bet that the result will be exactly the same as the vaccines trial: idle shop talk which will soon be forgotten. Mark my words!

The Tymoshenko trial is indeed a political case, regardless of the actual guilt of the ex-prime minister. And the regime is acting with all the grace of the much-maligned bovine in the famous shop he so frequently visits. Yet it is Ukrainian–European relations that will suffer at the end of the day. I am convinced that everyone at the Foreign Ministry are perfectly aware of this — from the ordinary clerks to the director of the department of information policies, Voloshyn, to minister Hryshchenko himself. But unfortunately, it is not up to them to bring the incompetent PR and AGO “propagandists” to their senses. It is not under their jurisdiction.

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