Wednesday

25th May 2022

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.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

Opinion

Brexit hostility to Good Friday Agreement is damaging UK in US

Democratic Unionist MPs could affirm unequivocally they support the Good Friday Agreement, with no return of a border with physical controls on movement of people, goods or agricultural produce within the island of Ireland — but they won't.

News in Brief

  1. France 'convinced' Ukraine will join EU
  2. Von der Leyen: Russia hoarding food as 'blackmail'
  3. Legal action launched against KLM over 'greenwashing'
  4. Orbán refuses to discuss Russia oil embargo at EU summit
  5. Turkey's Erdogan snubs Greek PM
  6. ECB: Crypto may pose a risk to financial stability
  7. UK PM Johnson faces renewed questions over Covid party
  8. Sweden gives 5th Covid shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  2. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June
  3. 'No progress in years' in Libya, says UN migration body
  4. Toxic pesticide residue in EU fruit up 53% in a decade
  5. Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental
  6. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back
  7. EU aims to seize Russian assets amid legal unclarity
  8. Close ties with autocrats means security risk, Nato chief warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us