Saturday

28th Nov 2020

Anti-Tymoshenko party hires top PR firm in EU capital

  • Tymoshenko in court last year (Photo: byut.com.ua)

Ukraine's ruling Party of Regions (PoR) has hired Burson-Marsteller - a top PR company in Brussels - amid a smear campaign against former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Robert Mack, a senior manager at Burson-Marsteller, told EUobserver: "Our brief is to help the PoR communicate its activities as the governing party of Ukraine, as well as to help it explain better its position on the Yulia Tymoshenko case."

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

One of his staff said it was hired "several weeks ago."

Its tasks include setting up press interviews for Ukraine's deputy prosecutor general, Renat Kuzmin, when he visits the EU capital next week.

Kuzmin in the Financial Times on 1 April accused Tymoshenko of involvement in a 1990s contract killing. On a visit to Brussels in November he accused her of buying "cars, furs, jewellery, restaurants" while declaring a tiny income.

A Tymoshenko party ally, Hyorhiy Nemyria, told this website the PoR-Kuzmin link violates Kuzmin's status as an independent jurist: "It's just one more confirmation that this is a political case and that Kuzmin is a loyal servant of [Ukrainian] President [Viktor] Yanukovych."

Martin Nunn, a British national who runs Whites Communication, a PR firm in Kiev, said he has written to the UK's Crown Prosecution Service to ask if Burson-Marsteller, which has an office in London, is in violation of the UK bribery act.

"This can be perceived as an act of bribery on the part of the Party of Regions as Kuzmin is getting PR benefit as a gift from PoR," he said.

Burson-Marsteller's Mack noted: "The deputy prosecutor general is a logical person to speak about the facts surrounding the Tymoshenko case."

Meanwhile, a senior aide to Yanukovych, Anna Herman, told this website his chancellery knows nothing about his party's PR work: "We have nothing to do with it and we don't have any information about it."

Referring to allegations that Tymoshenko was beaten by prison guards last Friday (20 April), Herman added: "If it's not one thing, she'll invent another. I don't like scandals and I don't like scandalous women."

The Burson-Marsteller contract comes amid wider efforts to blacken Tymoshenko's name.

In 2010, Yanukovych hired US firms Kroll, Trout Cacheris and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to look for evidence of corruption. Last week, anonymous sources circulated a blurry video to Ukrainian media purporting to show her in her prison cell faking back ache and cuddling with her lawyer, Sergei Vlasenko.

Nemyria said the clip is a fabrication. He noted that it shows her using her left hand to do her hair even though she is right-handed.

Tymoshenko was jailed last year on charges of abuse of office in a trial denounced by EU diplomats as "selective justice." She is currently in the seventh day of a hunger strike in protest at the alleged beating.

The case threatens to damage prospects of the EU signing a political association and trade pact with Ukraine later this year - a development of geopolitical significance in EU-Ukraine-Russia relations.

Nemyria said Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, Nina Karpachyova, met with EU diplomats in Kiev on Friday (27 April) to show them photos of bruises on Tymoshenko's body resulting from the alleged beating.

He added that the presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany are to boycott Yanukovych's summit of central European leaders in May.

For her part, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has urged Kiev to "examine promptly and impartially any complaints of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and to let the EU ambassador to Ukraine see Tymoshenko.

Opinion

Ukraine's New Year gas nightmare

Throughout 2011 Ukraine was locked in a dispute with Russia over gas prices. The quarrel is set to escalate in 2012 as Russia squeezes Kyiv to choose deeper integration with Moscow in exchange for cheaper gas.

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.

Opinion

Why Tymoshenko will stay in prison

Nothing short of EU sanctions, a revolution or a miracle election win sill see Tymoshenko get out of jail, writes Neil Pattie.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit talks pick up pace once more
  2. MEPs back US trade detente
  3. Iran diplomat to stand trial in Belgium over 'France bomb plot'
  4. Trump says he'll leave if Biden wins Electoral College vote
  5. EU Parliament: Polish abortion ban risks womens' lives
  6. UN experts warn against racial profiling
  7. EU auditors raise red flag over maritime protection
  8. Four students charged in France's beheading case

Opinion

The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE

An internal power struggle has undermined the world's leading international security body since the summer. The OSCE is due to finally get new leaders in December but the unprecedented power vacuum has hit at a crunch time for hotspots worldwide.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. Erdoğan jails hundreds for life, as EU weighs relations
  2. Italian energy giant director advising EU foreign policy chief
  3. Poland and Hungary say rule-of-law link needs treaty change
  4. Portuguese presidency to focus on social rights and India
  5. The under-reported power struggle at the top of the OSCE
  6. Poland hammered on women's rights in EU debate
  7. EU 'front-line' states want clearer migration rules
  8. Von der Leyen tells Poland and Hungary to go to court

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us