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SENTENCE OF TYMOSHENKO.
Russia and the EU are equally discontent with the situation

SENTENCE OF TYMOSHENKO. Russia and the EU are equally discontent with the situation

The Ukrainian President has driven himself to a dead-end. Both Europe and Russia may reproach him for getting rid of a rival, while euro-integration becomes all the more distant. Even discharging Tymoshenko will give poor comfort. Releasing Yulia Volodymyrivna will instantly idolize her in the eyes of Yanukovych haters.

On 11 Oct a three-month-long judicial epic, directly related to Ukrainian ex-Prime Minister Yulia Volodymyrivna Tymoshenko came to an end. This event — just like the most litigations of that scale — has had several underlying contexts and believing it to be purely legal matter would be utmost naïve.

Here’s the legal outlook on the matter. The Ukrainian Court has been accusing Mrs. Tymoshenko of deliberately signing contracts with Gazprom. Years after, those contracts suddenly put Ukraine into a disadvantageous situation, loosing the gossips of their corrupted essence. In spite of various oddities like the testimonies, dated by the non-existent 31 Apr, the judge considered the arguments of the prosecution convincing enough. And regardless of the defense efforts Tymoshenko was sentenced to 7 years of imprisonments and a liability to compensate the state loss of $189 million — the long awaited moment for common folk, following the course of an incident, and deplorable for Tymoshenko herself. Right after the sentence had been passed, Tymoshenko claimed that she’s to lodge a complaint against it in a Strasbourg Court.

For the ethic sake we have to mention that the prosecution had aplenty allies. Ukrainian gas transit bureaucrats and former employees of Yulia Volodymyrivna have done their best to assist the investigators, making the crushing testimonies and putting all the blame onto their ex-patroness. Ex-President Yushchenko, who neglected his former revolutionary friendship with Tymoshenko, told that contracts with Gazprom have been exclusively her idea, while Yushchenko’s consent for those illegal talks had been achieved through intrigues, slyness and deception. He has allegedly understood from the very beginning that there would be no neat way out of this.

Describing the political meaning of a situation would be a bit harder. We used to say many and more at the WIN.ru pages that Tymoshenkogate benefits a variety of sides — both now and in the long run. The only ones who are at loss now are the Ukrainian authorities.

Authorities surely do their best to demonstrate complete detachment from the case. President Yanukovych has sympathized Tymoshenko during live broadcasts, wished that she discharged herself and lifted his hands in dismay, reminding the citizens that even the President is helpless to change to the sentence. So to say, "Dura lex sed lex".

Yet, all the analysts, keeping up with highs and lows of Ukrainian politics, have noticed a remarkable coincidence — Tymoshenkogate started to build up the pace right after President Yanukovych and Prime Minister Azarov failed to negotiate the decrease of the gas price. This coincidence is all the more curious — anyone competent in the oil and gas market matters could have predicted the outcome the moment contract was signed. Oil price goes up all the time and the gas price is bound to it, which is why Ukraine was to pay much more for the contract. The fact that Ukrainian statesmen, who have huge staff of analysts and experts, understood what "time bomb" of a contract they got just today is rather weird. Certainly, we can’t brush the seditious assumption that all of the king’s energy analysts and all of the king’s men are utterly talentless aside. In this case we may only give poor consolation to Ukraine and the further analysis is surely useless.

If we consider Ukrainian leaders good strategic thinkers instead, the only option we’re left with is that the entire Tymoshenkogate started now because Yanukovych and Azarov believe that they’re able to kill two birds with a single stone. The main goal, of course, is an indirect renunciation of the current contract that was concluded illegally and thus is to be revised on beneficial conditions. It was no accident that long before the sentence was passed Ukraine mentioned the existence of a huge heap of documents, which is to substantiate its complaint to the European courts in order to renounce the current contract. At that, they’ve made it clear that cancellation scheme, stipulated in the contract itself, doesn’t suit Ukraine and that another way was to be found. We have to pay peculiar attention to the fact that as soon as the sentence was passed onto Tymoshenko, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated that he expects "to reach a compromise with Russia on the gas issues within a couple of weeks".

Even today we may feel the frailty of current Ukrainian government. Mind that the renunciation of Naftogaz-Gazprom contract will take years. In case of success, profitability of the new contract is way too unobvious, while much stiffer attitude of Gazprom to its Ukrainian partners is guaranteed. Being fully aware of how feeble this plan is, President Yanukovych kept assuring everyone that he’s able to talk the gas price discount out of Gazprom even without a trial. The chance for such extra-judicial windfalls is quite low too though, but this is a subject for another article.

Along with an economic goal, Tymoshenko’s imprisonment solves a personal political problem of the incumbent Ukrainian leadership — elimination of the main political rival in the situation when his ratings are catastrophically low. Due to certain indirect clues, this goal was stated too — sentence prohibited Tymoshenko to hold any administrative posts for 3 more years. There’s, however one more peculiarity that proceeds from the nuances of Ukrainian legislation — Tymoshenko still may be set free on the grounds of some amnesty. Still, she won’t be able to compete with Yanukovych openly — according to Ukrainian laws, people with conviction records cannot hold any state posts. Thus, Ukrainian authorities (who have surely nothing to do with the sentence) actually benefitted from the court decision some. These benefits still make an example of political short-sightedness, an exchange of one’s queen for enemy’s pawn.

Ukrainian opposition, usually silent, has suddenly shown it spirit during Tymoshenko’s trial. Soon enough the Facebook pages with Molotov cocktails recipes appeared. We can’t fail to denote a creative touch — in order to get roundabout accusations, authors of those pages merely "popularize the classic literature", citing the pages of books, where the manufacture of various pyrotechnical means is described. Since the sentence was passed a certain alliance of oppositional parties named the Dictatorship Resistance Committee had been calling Ukrainians to unite, stand and bring down the regime that they dub in no other way but an "organized criminal group".

It’s business complicated as usual in the foreign relations too. Tymoshenko’s sentence had the most baneful impact on the "holy cow" of Ukrainian statehood — the European integration. "The trial itself and today’s sentence exemplify the politicization of Ukrainian justice. Ukrainian public image of a state that brought a fundamental pro-European transformation into life was severed" — Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated. Expressing the opinion of all European foreign-policy Ministers (!), Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, claimed that the European Union is really disappointed with the sentence that was passed upon the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and this will have an inevitable impact upon the EU policy towards Ukraine. Euro-bureaucrats used to warn Ukraine before that the EU will never ratify scheduled bilateral agreements on political integration and free trade if Tymoshenko is imprisoned or banned from participation in the parliamentary elections’2012. Today British legal company Public Interest Lawyers stated the following: "The sentence passed upon the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko is a return to the dark ages, when no one in the country was safe from the state repressions".

According to CDU MP Karl-Georg Wellmann, passing the sentence to Yulia Tymoshenko "Ukraine has moved one step away from Europe, while its integration with Europe has become a thing of distant future. Everything indicates that it was an exclusively political decision. The EU member states are to act accordingly. We’re to impose the visa regime for the holders of diplomatic passports once again" — he emphasized.

It will take quite a time to list the indignant exclamations of European activist. Certainly, Russia voiced up its opinion too, which is only natural given its peculiar attitude to the Tymoshenko case. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the sentence of Yulia Tymoshenko case has "an apparent anti-Russian implication", that ex-Prime Minister was convicted for the "current and still effective legally binding agreements between OAO Gazprom and NAK Naftogaz of Ukraine". Russian Ministry also labeled the Tymoshenko’s sentence "the unilateral attempts to withdraw the situation from the agreed legal framework".

Thus, convicting Tymoshenko has placed the incumbent authorities in the utterly unfavorable light. Responding to a squall of the EU reproaches, Ukrainian foreign-policy body merely managed to squeeze an answer like that: "No domestic processes or momentary events may cause the denial of mutual approach (in the matter of European integration) as long as it is subject to the strategic prospects of European-Ukrainian relationship". Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also reminded angered Europeans that the "Treaty on cooperation of the EU and Ukraine is to promote the unification of Europe" and expressed their confidence in the fact that European expansion secures the EU viability and its historical prospects and no less than that...

We’re quite sure that President Yanukovych has absolutely nothing to do with Tymoshenko’s sentence. Yet, we can’t fail to admit either that The Ukrainian President has driven himself to a dead-end. Both Europe and Russia may reproach him for getting rid of a rival, while euro-integration becomes all the more distant. Even discharging Tymoshenko will give poor comfort. In this case Europe will get a notion that once it threatens Ukraine with suspending the euro-integration, it makes all the necessary decisions. Releasing Yulia Volodymyrivna will instantly idolize her in the eyes of Yanukovych haters. And make no mistake — she WILL play this card indeed.

By Andrey Polevoy

 

 

 

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