ECONOMIST: A DANGEROUS DIRECTION FOR UKRAINE

04.05.12


In the ongoing and shameful spotlight that is currently on Ukraine's leadership, an article in the Economist says that Ukraine's President, Viktor Yanukovych, is "mauling" Ukraine's fragile democracy, and describes his brand of leadership as "thuggish autocracy". The article takes the same line as the AUGB has been advocating: that politicians should boycott Euro 2012, but that the football teams should attend and that matches should take place as planned in Ukraine.

The Economist concludes that:

"Fears of Russian influence must not be allowed to dictate a soft response to Mr Yanukovych’s autocratic ways. He tends to treat friendliness as weakness, pocketing the proceeds. Instead, the EU should tighten the screws on the president and his Donetsk business associates—while also finding ways to hold out hope to ordinary Ukrainians.

High-level political boycotts are a good place to start. Several heads of state, including those of Germany and the Czech Republic, are rightly refusing to attend an east European summit with Mr Yanukovych that begins in Yalta on May 11th. The EU’s political leaders (but not its soccer teams) should also boycott matches in Ukraine during the Euro 2012 football championships, which it is jointly hosting with Poland.

Off the pitch, the EU should press for fair parliamentary elections in October, sending as many observers as it can. Financial supervisors must apply money-laundering laws stringently to the huge sums flowing out of Ukraine to Austria, Britain, Cyprus and elsewhere. EU countries should withhold visas from those directly involved in the abuse of power. Yet at the same time they ought to make it easier for other Ukrainians to visit the West for study, trade and tourism. And they should do more to explain to Ukrainians the potential benefits of their association agreement, including the possibility that it might ultimately lead to EU membership. The West’s quarrel with Ukraine is with its president, not with its people."



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