CONTROVERSY AT V WORLD FORUM OF UKRAINIANS

21.08.11


The V World Forum of Ukrainians in Kyiv has been marked by more controversy than many would have expected. First, President Yanukovych, who had been invited to give a keynote address to the Forum, decided to send the Foreign Minister and others to read his speech instead. Many news agencies, including the BBC Ukrainian service reported this as Yanukovych 'ignoring' the diaspora and report on the angry reaction from many delegates.

Yesterday, an open letter to the President, prepared by lawyers attending the Forum, which demanded the release of Yuliya Tymoshenko, and which had been signed by delegates 'disappeared'. Reports say that it was taken from the registration table by someone who wanted to read it, and was not returned. Delegates believe this was a deliberate attempt to suppress the letter, but this seems to have backfired given the media attention the event has received from many newspapers and agencies.

Chair of the World Congress of Ukrainians, Dr Evhen Cholij's speech, which focused on issues of democracy, personal and press freedoms, was also widely reported.

In the background to the Congress, yesterday in Kharkov, members of the youth wing of the Party of the Regions were involved in scuffles with the Ukrainian National Party who unfurled the largest Ukrainian flag as part of their action across many cities of Ukraine 'Our national flag unites us'. The flag measures 30m x 45 m and was torn during the scuffles by those who were trying to prevent it being unfurled. This came on top of the arrest of pensioners in Kharkov who gathered to demonstrate during President Yanukovych's visit on 18 August, as well as the arrest of three journalists videoing the Presidential cortege.



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