Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Ukraine chief seeks friends in EU capital

Ukraine's new administration is pulling out the stops to win a better name for itself in the EU capital ahead of Sunday's (31 October) local elections and the EU-Ukraine summit in November.

Rattled by what they see as a stream of hostile articles against President Viktor Yanukovych in the best-respected media in Brussels, such as the Financial Times, the new authorities are putting together a constellation of various supporters.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Public relations consultancy Glocal Communications is helping to organise off-the-record press meetings with high-level members of Mr Yanukovych's circle when they pass through Brussels. The little-known firm is based well-away from the EU district in the city. It has not signed up to the European Commission's lobbyist register and refused to disclose its list of clients when asked by this website.

Meanwhile, PR giant Burston Marsteller is working for Rinat Akhmetov, an energy-and-steel-sector billionaire who is also an MP for the president's Party of the Regions.

Another PR major, Apco, is working for billionaire MP Olexandr Feldman.

Mr Feldman was on Mr Yanukovych's side before the president was ousted from power in the 2004 Orange Revolution. He then switched over to Mr Yanukovych's nemesis, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. With Mr Yanukovych back in power, Mr Feldman now says he is "independent." But the Apco-Feldman tandem is circulating and endorsing pro-Yanukovych op-eds to Brussels reporters, penned by Yanukovych MPs, such Leonid Kozhara.

Glocal Communications is also reaching out to media to attend debates with Mr Feldman. And Yanukovych-sympathetic analysts from Brussels-based think-tanks have encouraged members of the press to meet with the MP at intimate dinners, describing him as "objective" and "a philanthropist."

In perhaps its biggest coup, the Party of the Regions on 14 October signed a two-year co-operation deal with the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group in the EU parliament. Following the move, S&D vice president and Romanian centre-left MEP Adrian Severin lobbied to quash a vote on a Yanukovych-critical resolution in the EU assembly on 21 October. The resolution fell.

On the other side, Ms Tymoshenko is working with the small, Hampshire, UK-based lobbying firm Ridge Consulting.

Ridge Consulting facilitates meetings for the press with high-level Tymoshenko supporters, such as former deputy prime minster Hryhoriy Nemyria, in the EU capital and it sends out email alerts of alleged Yanukovych abuses of power.

Ms Tymoshenko's lobbying activity is concentrated in the centre-right European People's Party, however. Her faction, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, joined the group in 2007 and Ms Tymoshenko attracts fierce loyalty from some senior EPP euro-deputies. The EPP adopted an anti-Yanukovych resolution on the very day of his visit to Brussels in September, thoroughly annoying Kiev.

The EPP's sister organisations, such as the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the conservative German think-tank, are also helping Yanukovych critics, such as Taras Kuzio of the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, to reach out to Brussels-based media.

The competing narratives paint a phantasmagoria of heroes, villains and monsters doing battle in the former Soviet country of 46 million people.

The pro-Yanukovych narrative says that Orange Revolution leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko are solely to blame for the political chaos of the past five years; that Ms Tymoshenko is a messianic figure in a cult-like party; that Mr Yanukovych is a pragmatist who can deliver stability and pro-EU reforms; and that the notion that he is anti-democratic is a lie believed by people who do not know what is really going on in Ukraine.

The pro-Tymoshenko narrative says he is a Kremlin stooge who will destroy Ukrainian independence; that the recent constitutional reforms handing him more power were carried out illegally; that his people in the Ukrainian secret services are strangling free speech and civil society; and that his friends in the gas business are crooks.

For their part, EU officials are trying to remain agnostic.

Brussels' top decision-makers on the Ukraine dossier - EU Council Prsident Herman Van Rompuy, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele - have said that Sunday's elections will be a test of Mr Yanukovych's democratic credentials and have ratcheted up warnings that he must respect free media and NGOs.

The Yanukovych camp may be cheered to learn that Russian gas transit is more important than the romance of revolution and counter-revolution to some of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in the EU capital, however.

"I don't think people [in the EU] will care who is in power in Ukraine if they can't heat their houses this winter," a senior EU official told this website, referring to the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas crisis.

This story was amended at 8pm Brussels time on 29 October 2010. The original text contained a reference to the NGO, the People First Foundation. This reference was removed following a clarification

EU seeks to extend Morocco fish deal, despite legal opinion

An EU court advisor says an EU fish deal with Rabat should be scrapped due to the Morocco-annexed territory of the Western Sahara. The fisheries agreement is set to expire in July but the European Commission want to renew it.

US warns on flare-up in Ukraine 'crisis'

Fighting in Ukraine escalated to "hellish" levels not seen since February amid warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe in the run-up to Christmas.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap