Yanukovych hits back at EU over Tymoshenko

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Aug. 24, 2012, 5:45 p.m. | Politics — by Reuters

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych hit back at the European Union over jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday, saying he would not pursue integration with the EU at the price of allowing it to interfere in her case.

The seven-year prison term meted out to TYmoshenko has been condemned as political persecution by Western leaders and stopped important Ukrainian agreements with the EU on political association and a free-trade zone dead in their tracks.

Yanukovych made his remarks in a speech marking Independence Day that also drew several thousand opposition supporters onto the streets of the capital in protest at his government's economic policies and Tymoshenko's imprisonment.

Yanukovych, midway through a five-year term in power in the former Soviet republic, said in a keynote address to government and church officials that his leadership was committed to joining the European mainstream.

He went on: "But integration at any price in exchange for losing independence or for making economic or territorial concessions or in exchange for allowing interference in our internal affairs - this is a path which we have never accepted and will never accept."

The Tymoshenko affair will be a major issue in an Oct. 28 parliamentary election when Yanukovych's majority Party of the Regions faces a strong challenge from the united opposition.

The EU and the United States regard Tymoshenko, firebrand leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution street protests and a former prime minister, as the victim of selective justice and say her trial was politically motivated.

But Yanukovych, whose first bid for power was overturned by the Orange Revolution but who later went on to beat Tymoshenko in a bitter run-off for the presidency in 2010, has refused to secure her release and allow her to return to political life.

Tymoshenko was convicted last October of abuse of office in connection with a gas deal which she brokered with Russia in 2009 when she was prime minister. The Yanukovych government says it saddled Ukraine with exorbitant prices for strategic gas imports which are now impairing the economy.


She is appealing against her conviction, but a second trial has been opened against her for alleged embezzlement and tax evasion.

Yanukovych, resorting to a tactic used by Ukrainian negotiators before, hinted that Ukraine might opt for tighter economic association with Russia if its path to integration with Europe proved too difficult.

"We must multilaterally develop cooperation with our CIS partners. After all that is where there is the biggest market for Ukrainian producers. We should not ignore the integration processes which are going on there," he said.

Despite frequently dropping the hint that it will turn to Russia if spurned by the EU, Ukraine has for several years rejected membership of a Russian-led customs union of ex-Soviet republics as an economic blueprint for the future.

Several thousand opposition protesters marched in Kiev on Friday to show their solidarity with TYmoshenko and to criticise government reforms, which have imposed higher taxes on small business and forced people to push back the age of retirement.

In an audio-recording from jail that was played at Friday's opposition rally, Tymoshenko appealed for uncompromising struggle against what she called "absolute evil" in the country.

"Do not leave our young country to the kleptocrats, the occupiers and dictators. Do not adapt yourself to their level of immorality. Do not betray yourselves or the country," she said.

The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Roman Dawydiak Aug. 25, 2012, 1 a.m.    

Yanukovych's lashing out at the EU and North America in particular, are a clear indication of a loser. Since he and his Party of Reprobates have no solutions to the internal disquiet in Ukraine they will resort to any method to try and distract voters from the real issues that affect all Ukrainians. Whether it is blaming foreign States for his failures or trying to buy votes (ie. pandering to Great Russian chauvinists and their little russian allies via pro-russian language legislation or giving away free sacks of buckwheat etc) their methods of trying to curry favour are being met with deaf ears. They simply do not understand when the general public has said enough is enough is enough.

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Byron Hill Aug. 25, 2012, 8:40 p.m.    

Goodbye EU, hello Customs Union. Who will make history? Who will save Ukraine from corruption? Who will be Ukraine's martyr? Will history show, once again, that it will be a woman who saves her country?

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Mykhayl Aug. 26, 2012, 3:20 a.m.    

Слава Ісу~

Who not why!
Utters not eggs?

It's much simpler,
another spoiled brat.

Stalin, Hitler now

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bernardh Aug. 25, 2012, 1:29 p.m.    

Bottom line is: Yanukovych prioritizes petty personal vendettas to long term national interests.

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elmer-елмер Aug. 25, 2012, 3:53 p.m.    

meow, meow, meow

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cedrik Aug. 25, 2012, 5:25 p.m.    

"The EU and the United States regard Tymoshenko, firebrand leader of the 2004 Orange Revolution street protests and a former prime minister, as the victim of selective justice and say her trial was politically motivated."

Justice is justice, selective or not.

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Roman Dawydiak Aug. 25, 2012, 7:47 p.m.    

Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler viewed justice in exactly the same manner.

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cedrik Aug. 25, 2012, 9:52 p.m.    

Canada speaks.

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Roman Dawydiak Aug. 26, 2012, 5:15 a.m.    

Keep fishing Cedrik.

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Chris Babeouf Aug. 26, 2012, 12:27 a.m.    

Yanuk is talking tough not because he cares about the Customs Union or any other Russian deal. He is talking tough because there is an election on the way. And because the EU is in a full blown political and economic crisis. No one knows whether the Euro will survive. And if it doesn't then the EU might fall apart. As a result of its current divisions the EU can't confront anyone about anything.

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Roman Dawydiak Aug. 26, 2012, 5:47 a.m.    

There can be no denying the fact that both the EU and the Americans are having serious economic problems as well as having to deal with social issues on top of their own electoral processes. However, this does not mean that they are without political clout. From that perspective they have wisely chosen for the most part to keep an arm's length from the current electoral situation in Ukraine. To do otherwise would be to fall into Yanukovych's trap and be accused of tampering in the Ukrainian elections. Vitya on the other hand has once again become engaged in an elopement with Vladimir Putin hoping to curry favor in a gas deal with the Russians. This is a dangerous game being played like a rat that has been cornered. The Russians will not proceed to do anything that is not beneficial to their own interests regardless of how it could affect Yanukovych. If Vitya succumbs to Russian blandishments then he will be accused of selling out Ukraine, again. Therein lies the rub.

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carl Aug. 26, 2012, 6:32 p.m.    

The problems in US,EU will wash over Russia as well,these are dangerous times for the world. I pray that the innocents of the world will be spared another world war.

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