Editor’s Note: The following is an English language translation of an open letter to President Viktor Yanukovych signed and made public late in December by leading Ukrainian intellectuals. In the letter, the signees (listed below) urged Ukraine’s president to bring Ukraine back on a path towards democracy and end political oppression of oppositionists, starting with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
On Dec. 15, 2010 democracy in Ukraine suffered a cruel blow. This is the date when political persecution reached new and dangerous heights. Democracy was trampled upon and the Party of Regions dictatorship showed its true face.
President Viktor Yanukovych’s team has showed that it continues to intimidate the opposition and civil society through repression and arrests. On Dec. 15, the Prosecutor General’s Office presented charges against Batkivshchyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko. By banning this politician who received 12 million votes in the presidential election from traveling abroad, the authorities have demonstrated their audacious intentions to permanently destroy the opposition and introduce authoritarian rule.
The authorities have demonstrated their audacious intentions to permanently destroy the opposition and introduce authoritarian rule.
It is clear that the accusations against the former prime minister are absurd and politically motivated.The criminal case against Yulia Tymoshenko is built on allegations that she used money from the sale of greenhouse gas emission quotas to pay pensions in the midst of the economic crisis. And despite the fact that the State Treasury confirms that all this money, down to the last kopeck, is still in these accounts, the authorities are threatening to put Tymoshenko in jail for 7-10 years.
It is understandable that Yanukovych ordered Viktor Pshonka, his crony and at the same time the Prosecutor General, to open a criminal case against Tymoshenko so as to remove the Batkivshchyna party leader from political activity and destroy the opposition. Yanukovych understands that it is Yulia Tymoshenko who will be his main competitor in future parliamentary and presidential elections, that it is Tymoshenko who personifies real resistance to anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic policy that is being realized by the current regime.
The Ukrainian people have a bitter and tragic experience of being oppressed during the Lenin and Stalin regimes. We remember that, for the people, destroying freedom and alternatives in politics resulted in disfranchisement, poverty, famine, humiliation of dignity and spirituality and russification.
Take your hands off Yulia Tymoshenko!
Today we are on the eve of yet another era in which all that we survived in the 20th Century is starting to repeat. One party rules again. Political pressure is being put on civil society and the mass media. The opposition is being persecuted. Lawlessness and corruption are flourishing. Those in power are ceding national interests and ruining the grounds for both Ukrainian identity and independence of the state of Ukraine. A vicious attack in the parliament by lawmakers of the Party of Regions against lawmakers of the Batkivshchyna party illustrates again that members of the Party of Regions are acting as though they are occupiers of Ukrainian land.
We urge Ukraine’s President to stop political repressions, to get rid of the thugs from his inner circle, to preserve democracy and human rights in the country. We demand a stop to the political persecution of the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, the head of the Batkivshchyna party.
Take your hands off Yulia Tymoshenko!
Yuri ANDRUKHOVYCH – writer, poet;
Ivan DZYUBA – former dissident, member of the National Academy of Sciences;
Irena KARPA – writer;
Myroslav POPOVYCH – member of the National Academy of Sciences, Director, Institute of Philosophy;
Dmytro PAVLYCHKO – poet, writer;
Bohdan HORYN – former political prisoner;
Vasyl OVSIENKO - former political prisoner;
Levko LUKIANENKO – former political prisoner;
Volodymyr VASYLENKO – professor, Doctor of Law, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine;
Yuri SHCHERBAK – writer, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine;
Ihor YUKHNOVSKIY – member of the National Academy of Sciences;
Maria MATIOS – writer, laureate of the Shevchenko National Prize;
Mykola ZHULYNSKY – member of the NASU, laureate of the Shevchenko National Prize;
Dmytro HNATYUK – opera singer;
Valeriy SHEVCHUK – writer, laureate of the Shevchenko National Prize;
Yuri MUSHKETYK – writer, laureate of the Shevchenko National Prize;
Volodymyr YAVORIVSKIY – writer, Head of the National Writers’ Union;
Pavlo MOVCHAN - writer, Head of Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Union “Prosvita”;
Hrihoriy HALYMONENKO – professor, Doctor of Philology;
Volodymyr SERGIYCHUK - professor, Doctor of History, Head of International platform “Dialogue-Eurasia”;
Vasyl SHKLYAR – writer;
Vasyl HERASYMYUK - writer, laureate of the Shevchenko National Prize;
Larysa DENYSENKO – writer, lawyer;
Oleksandr SKIPALSKIY – public and political figure;
Mykhaylo RATUSHNIY - public and political figure;
Yevhen LUPAKOV - Deputy Head of Ukraine’s Officers’ Unit;
Volodymyr PYLYPCHUK – professor, member of the National Academy of Sciences;
Natalia OSMAK - public and political figure;
Vasyl TURKEVYCH – writer;
Volodymyr HARBUZ – artist, member of National Union of Painters;
Andriy TKACHUK – public and political figure;
Yuriy DOROSHENKO – publicist.