Saturday

24th Oct 2020

Ukraine steps up anti-opposition campaign after initialing EU pact

  • Tymoshenko was jailed for seven years last year for 'abuse of office' (Photo: byut.com.ua)

Ukraine has stepped up efforts to dismantle the country's main opposition party after initialing a political and trade agreement with the EU.

Diplomats from both sides at a ceremony in Brussels on 30 March formally sealed the content of the 1,000-page-long treaty after more than four years of negotiations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Ukrainian foreign ministry at the time said it expects EU leaders to sign the text in six to 12 months' time. Its head of EU integration, Yevhen Perelyhin, said on national TV on Monday (9 April), Ukraine should start getting ready for the "versatile opportunities" offered by the trade part of the deal.

For its part, the EU back on 30 March published a laconic press release to mark the event.

EU diplomats say the Union initialed the treaty in order to show President Viktor Yanukovych that the door remains open to improving relations. But at the same time, they have watched with dismay as he continues to smash up the country's main opposition party in the run-up to parliamentary elections in October.

The prospect of freeing former leader Yulia Tymoshenko in time to register as a candidate for the vote diminished in the past two weeks with the launch of a new PR campaign to link her with a gangland murder.

Ukraine's deputy general prosecutor Rinat Kuzmin told the Financial Times on 1 April that a bank account controlled by Tymoshenko was used to pay the killers of Yevhen Shcherban, a businessman shot dead in eastern Ukraine in 1996. The dead man's son, a pro-Yanukovych MP, made similar claims at a press conference in Kiev on 4 April.

Kuzmin on 7 April said on Ukrainian TV that the current head of Tymoshenko's party, Oleksandr Turchynov, should face trial for allegedly bribing a journalist.

Courts last week also jailed for three years Georgiy Filipchuk, Tymoshenko's former natural resources minister, on charges of abuse of power while in office. On Monday, prosecutors said her former acting defence minister, Valeriy Ivashchenko, should go to prison for six years on corruption charges.

Tymoshenko last week and her daughter Eugenia Carr, in an earlier interview with EUobserver, have called the contract killing allegations "absurd."

For his part, neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele has said the EU will only sign the association treaty if the October elections are free and fair.

But the EU has not made explicit whether this means only that the vote-count is not faked, or whether it also means that Tymoshenko and her party must be allowed to compete under normal conditions.

Rape case shames EU-aspirant Ukraine

A horrific assault on a young woman in Ukraine has highlighted the culture of legal nihilism in a country which says it wants to join the European Union.

Football diplomacy: Euro 2012 and Ukraine

The man in charge of Ukraine's Euro 2012 football championship has said Uefa is doing more than the EU institutions to modernise the country.

EU snubs Ukraine, again

EU Council President Van Rompuy - the Union's highest official in protocol terms - has told Ukraine's prime minister he is not welcome in the EU capital.

News in Brief

  1. UK scientists fear Brexit blow to joint EU research
  2. Greek migrant camp lockdown extended
  3. Lukashenko and 14 others in EU crosshairs
  4. EU imposes sanctions over 2015 Bundestag cyberattack
  5. Italy reignites Mont Blanc border dispute with France
  6. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  7. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  8. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. South Caucasus death toll much worse than feared
  2. Polish court effectively bans legal abortions
  3. MEPs urge EU to be ready to dump disputed energy treaty
  4. EU commission on defensive over 'revolving doors'
  5. Why German presidency is wrong on rule of law
  6. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  7. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  8. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us