From the very beginning Yulia Tymoshenko’s question was considered from the angle of whether there are reasons to try her. Part of Ukrainian society, the opposition, and European politicians viewed the criminal case of the former prime minister as politically biased. For the other part of the society and government the Tymoshenko case is just a punishment for crimes. Actually, the discussion is still going on. It would not have probably had so much importance, if “selective justice” did not go in package of the terms Ukraine must meet in order to sign the Association Agreement and FTA with the European Union. Moreover, the Tymoshenko case has turned into the most important problem on the way of Ukraine’s EU integration. “If Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from jail, I would say the chances would be very high [that the Association Agreement will be signed. – Author]. If not, the question mark remains,” stated Poland’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz in her interview to Gazeta Wyborcza.
What are the mechanisms of resolving the “Tymoshenko problem”?
Of course, the prospect of signing the Association Agreement should not depend on one case only. Incidentally, Yulia Tymoshenko mentions this in her latest letter, published on the website of Batkivshchyna (Fatherland). “I don’t want the European future of my country be harmed for any reason, moreover because of my destiny,” the letter reads. Most importantly, former prime minister agreed to get medical treatment in Germany, which has been recently mentioned as one of possible versions to solve this situation. “Pat Cox and Alexander Kwasniewski send me an offer to get medical treatment in Germany. I publicly accept this offer,” Tymoshenko writes.
It should be underlined that the news was publicized by Tymoshenko’s defender Serhii Vlasenko. According to him, Cox and Kwasniewski sent a request to pardon the former prime minister to President Viktor Yanukovych. “They need to get a result till October 15; that is why they are staking their all, trying in such a way to speed up the resolution of the problem. But it is too early to speak about any final decision,” Ukrainian expert Oleksandr Sushko commented on this.
“If she [Tymoshenko. – Author] sends a letter to the president with the request to grant her pardon, it will give grounds to Ukraine’s president to submit a proposal to the Verkhovna Rada to somehow regulate this issue on a legislative basis,” stated MP Hanna Herman in her commentary to Radio Liberty. “Lutsenko was pardoned in the same way. The president showed mercy to him. The same will happen to Tymoshenko at some point of time. But it cannot be result of some threats, blackmailing, or pressure on the president, or putting forth any terms to the president, no. This must be an act of goodwill when the time arrives.”
Of course, there are circles in Ukraine which have shown lately that they are interested in the defeat of the current government with Viktor Yanukovych at the helm. The game is played on two fronts: on the one hand, the information from Cox-Kwasniewski about the pardon is publicized, but not directly by them, and the Ukrainian opposition intrudes, insisting on the pardon. On the other hand, the factor of Russia, which speaks openly against the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU and involves the “fifth columns” in Ukraine, is being used. In this regard, one can recall the initiative of the Communist Party of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Choice concerning the referendum on the Customs Union. And most recent mass advertisement placed by the Ukrainian Choice in the Kyiv Metro shows a warning sign in the center of the poster, the words “Association with the EU” is above and “Ukrainian Choice is Warning” – below it.
There is one more nuance, which remains practically unnoticed. Whereas previously European politicians and Ukrainian opposition were speaking about the resolution of the question of “selective justice,” today they are speaking concretely about the pardon. So, whereas previously they were speaking about politically motivated decision concerning Tymoshenko, non-recognition of the ruling of Ukrainian courts, now they speak about pardon, which means practical recognition of the ex-prime minister’s guilt. In this case, even if we assume that Tymoshenko will be pardoned, the question of her rehabilitation will be raised – in Germany or another place. And the Ukrainian power will never agree to this. So, in this case Tymoshenko or, again, Yurii Lutsenko may stay in politics, but they won’t have any political prospect. This may seem good for those who don’t see any political future for Tymoshenko. Incidentally, what steps, apart from the pardon, has the opposition proposed? So far it appears that all sides are playing a dishonest game, where resolving of the Tymoshenko question takes far from the first place.
There is another, quite symptomatic, statement. “It seems to me, one should not expect that Yulia Tymoshenko will for sure be released prior to signing of this agreement (EU Association Agreement),” said Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Austria to Ukraine Wolf Dietrich Heim to a press conference in Kharkiv on Tuesday.
“YULIA TYMOSHENKO WILL COME BACK TO UKRAINE AFTER MEDICAL TREATMENT IN GERMANY”
Pavlo PETRENKO, MP, Batkivshchyna faction:
“All the power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose name is Yanukovych. We understand that the courts make rulings only following the political instructions of Bankova Street, so it was him who started Tymoshenko’s imprisonment. Now, owing to the Cox-Kwasniewski mission, appeals of the leaders, authorities, and representatives of churches, the president has an opportunity to get out of this deadlock situation and ensure that the agreement will be signed in Vilnius. In fact this question may be resolved very quickly, even without drafting any orders by such presidential assistants as Portnov. No other legal grounds are needed, except for the decree on pardon, which will allow Yulia Tymoshenko to go for treatment.
“It should be mentioned that according to the regulations of the order of granting pardon, pardon is possible at the initiative of the person, other individuals, or a corresponding presidential commission, and it is not connected in any way with the fact of admission of guilt.
“As for the format of the party’s further activity, we will resolve this question as soon as Tymoshenko goes out of prison and gets the medical treatment she badly needs. I will only say that in her public statement she clearly noted that she does not intend to leave the country, so she will return to Ukraine after the treatment.”
“NOW THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE ARE PLAYING THE GAME OF ‘NERVES’”
Andrzej SZEPTYCKI, analyst at the Institute of International Relations of Warsaw University:
“Poland is more interested in the very effect – Tymoshenko’s release, rather than the mechanisms used to achieve this. In Poland, like in Ukraine, her release for treatment is being discussed. It seems that this scenario can become a compromise between the Ukrainian government, the European Union, and Yulia Tymoshenko.
“The European Union and the president of Ukraine are playing a game. If Yanukovych agrees to free Tymoshenko, this will be presented as the EU’s victory and Yanukovych’s defeat, to some extent. If he does not allow this, and the EU agrees to sign [the Association Agreement. – Ed.], it will be perceived as the EU’s defeat. If there is an opportunity to provide treatment to Tymoshenko in Poland or Germany, there is a possibility to organize this. However, in my opinion, there are little chances that Tymoshenko will be released, but it cannot be excluded either. Both sides are interested in the signing of the Association Agreement. But Tymoshenko’s release is at the moment the main obstacle on the way to the agreement.
“The Europeans still acknowledge that the policy concerning the Tymoshenko case has hardly been efficient. They also confirm their interest in cooperation with Ukraine. The Tymoshenko case has been dragging on for over two years. During this period the EU has several times condemned this situation. It has not produced any large effect, but as we know, politics is the art of possible things. If we are not able to do something on the political level, we will try to achieve this by other means. Tymoshenko’s release is currently the most important thing for Europeans, because it will allow them to sign the Association Agreement without any negative political consequences. They are trying to get Tymoshenko released under any circumstances, at least as far as I understand the words of the president of Germany.”
“IF THE AGREEMENT ISN’T SIGNED, IT WILL MEAN UKRAINE’S SURRENDER TO PUTIN”
Hennadii DRUZENKO, lawyer, publicist:
“In the situation with Tymoshenko we can clearly trace two alternative logics, which are sometimes different, and sometimes openly contradict one another: those are political and legal logics. Political logic can be understood. Since Tymoshenko’s case is well known not only in Ukraine, but in Europe as well, politicians, who depend on ratings, will have to give answer to their voters, what they did to free Yulia Tymoshenko. And possible versions vary: granted pardon, released for treatment, and finally the fantastic version – all verdicts were annulled and she was justified. Namely because of being popularity-dependent and public nature of the Tymoshenko case the European politicians are exerting pressure on Viktor Yanukovych. Whereas in December 2012 the position of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers strictly formulated the terms of signing the Association Agreement (Tymoshenko’s name was not mentioned in the conclusions regarding Ukraine, it was said that the progress was needed in overcoming such a phenomenon as ‘selective justice’), now we can see that the European politicians are focused on Tymoshenko’s name, and ‘selective justice’ as a systemic fault has been given a secondary role.
“How can this question be solved? Politically, everything is very simple. Yanukovych issues a decree on pardoning Tymoshenko, which looks quite realistic today, because time is pressing. Then Tymoshenko will go for treatment to Germany. And these are already political agreements, because nobody will be able to force her go anywhere after the pardon. There are no legal mechanisms here. But there is a great danger from the viewpoint of the rule of law, because in spite of emotional dependence on the voters and sympathy to Tymoshenko, European politicians declare all the time that the EU is a community based on the values, one of which include the principle of the rule of law. According to this principle, the law must be applied equally to everyone, no matter whether this person is a former street cleaner or a prime minister. Here we face a serious problem. For what Ukrainian opposition politicians and part of European politicians offer is actually answering with ‘selective mercy’ to ‘selective justice.’
“Instead of starting a fight against the systemic problem in Ukraine, which has touched today not only Tymoshenko, but hundreds of thousands of our fellow countrymen, in this case the attention is focused only on one person’s destiny. If this step of simply pardoning of Tymoshenko is made, the EU will say, ‘Okay, you have met the requirements – we sign the Association Agreement.’ It turns out that instead of advancing to a legal state, when every person, no matter whether Cox and Kwasniewski petition for him or her (if anything happens, they will hardly petition for us), can expect to be tried by a just and unbiased court, we have a situation when a prosecutor or a politician may call and ask to resolve the problem. So, ‘selective mercy’ concerning Tymoshenko is practically undermining the change of the defective system of ‘selective justice.’ So, in a sense, the same illegal paradigm will remain: I put to jail whenever I want (and Ukrainian oppositionists say that namely Yanukovych is responsible for this), and I release whenever I want. Here it is not the law that has its effect, but the discretion of a high-ranking official – in particular, concerning Yulia Tymoshenko – the country’s top ranking official. And this is the paradox of the situation, into which Ukrainian and partially European politicians have driven themselves.
“In juridical aspect the case is much more complicated, because the stroke of a pen, instead of making a step towards the rule of law and stable rules of the game, which will equal for everyone, again implements quite selective decision, depending on the will of a concrete individual.”
The factor of Russia. Can it have any influence?
“Russia’s position is quite clear. First, everyone felt that it is losing its influence on the territory of the countries, which, to its sincere belief, are its legitimate zone of influence. And the key country is Ukraine. Even the Soviet Union can be imagined without anything, except for Ukraine. Correspondingly, Ukraine’s moving out of Russia’s zone of influence causes hysteria in Russia. Today we can see that Russia so far behaves like a bull in a china ship. So, all its actions, starting with so-called trade war, hold-up of Ukrainian goods on the border, have had a reverse effect. They have mobilized the Ukrainian society, the elite, in particular, the oligarchs, in their effort to push forward the signing of the Association Agreement, diversify the risks, and reduce dependence on Russia.
“What troubles me is if in the aspect of economic pressure Russian measures had rather a reverse effect, we can face a serious problem in the sphere where Putin is a professional (traditional special-forces raids up to open sabotage). Above all, it refers to Sevastopol and the Crimea, and quite possibly Ukraine’s south. These open measures aimed at destabilization of the situation may entail at the least very serious problems in the sphere of security, because of low readiness of Ukrainian special services and national security agencies to undertake responsibility for such challenges. We remember how nearly the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs together with Alfa units was trying to bust Chechnya bandits in Odesa. This can turn out to be much more serious than trade wars. Ukraine’s government needs to mobilize the remainder of the professionals who still work in the law-enforcement and security bodies, and who are able to think and prevent, not only suppress the political opponents.”
Prepared by Ivan KAPSAMUN, Yulia LUCHYK, Anna CHEREVKO, Ihor SAMOKYSH, Olesia YAREMCHUK, The Day