Yanukovych wants to win at all costs

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Aug. 3, 2012, 6:05 p.m. | Op-ed — by Yuriy Onyshkiv

Viktor Yanukovych

Yuriy Onyshkiv

Aug. 5 marks one year since ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was jailed during her trial, after which she was convicted and sentenced in October to seven years in prison.

Since then President Viktor Yanukovych has managed to swallow and digest the most severe Western and domestic criticism since 2004, when the fraudulent presidential election triggered the Orange Revolution and Yanukovych’s ultimate defeat that year.

It is clear now that Yanukovych can and may go much further to secure his political future and the continual enrichment of his family and his cronies.

His infamous loss in the 2004 presidential bid and the regret that followed taught him that a bad victory is better than a fair loss. International observers found the 2004 presidential vote fixed in favor of then-candidate Yanukovych, the nation’s prime minister at the time. Viktor Yushchenko won a second vote that year, becoming president.

Since then, Yanukovych and members of his team have long regretted not reaching the presidency in 2004. They still keep saying that Yanukovych’s victory was stolen from him.

Considering this history, the odds are high that the guys in power will not make such a mistake again during the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections.

Earlier this year, ex-Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko was sentenced to four years in prison. A number of other former government officials during that time managed to get away with suspended sentences. Meanwhile, more criminal changes pile up against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko, who are Yanukovych’s major political opponents.

There has been much criticism of Yanukovych’s backtracking on democracy, freedom of speech and rule of law. Human rights violations, censorship, self-censorship and blatantly slanted coverage in the news media are all on the rise. There have been numerous dubious court decisions and criminal charges against politicians and civil activists in the last year.

All the while, Yanukovych has gotten used to such criticism – regarding it as little more than a nuisance. There are many clear-cut signs that Yanukovych and his team are not going to turn around and start improving the situation, but instead are driving a high-speed train in the same direction.

The recent out-of-the-blue criminal cases launched against Ukrainian news website and TVi television channel are reminders that the criminal justice system is enforced from above. These cases – and the fear they generate – may spawn even more self-censorship as journalists and media owners try to stay out of harm’s way.

Yanukovych also seems to be marching away from democracy and into autocracy in other ways.

In June 2011, for instance, two months before Tymoshenko’s arrest, Yanukovych bowed to Western criticism and vetoed legislation that would have exempted state-owned companies and publicly-financed enterprises from holding competitive bids. The procurement measure also allowed excused these enterprises from publishing the amounts of their orders and the winning bidder.

At a government anti-corruption meeting on June 8, 2011, Yanukovych acknowledged that crooked deals amount to 10 to 15 percent of the state budget, or roughly $7.4 billion, ending up in the pockets of corrupt officials.

But earlier this week, more than a year after the earlier veto, Yanukovych signed nearly identical legislation to the measure that he vetoed and ferociously criticized just one year ago.

While such hypocrisy is no surprise on the political arena, his flip-flop on the procurement issue is another signal that Yanukovych is more resistant to criticism.

This “I-could-care-less” style of governing shows that he does not fear Ukraine losing hundreds of millions of euros in European Union grant money because of the state procurement law, which many critics say will fuel corruption in public spending. What’s more important for the president is that his close allies are allowed to make huge profits on providing overpriced goods and services to state-owned enterprises at taxpayers’ expense.

Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov have pledged repeatedly that they will do everything to make sure the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections are free and fair. But if it appears their team is losing – and the polls show it might – the ruling party will have two options on Election Day.

The first option is to lose the elections fair and square, and live with it – including loss of control of parliament.

The second option is to have a dirty victory with cheating. Such a vote will not be recognized by international observer missions as meeting democratic standards. This will lead to more condemnation from the EU and the United States and, potentially, from even from Russia if President Vladimir Putin decides to put more pressure on a weakened Yanukovych.

But winning – even winning a dirty election -- will ensure that Yanukovych and his Party of Regions remain in full control of the country.

What do they have to lose in such a scenario?

Plenty, but not enough for them.

It will be even harder for the Ukrainian government to get a low interest loan from the West or any financial assistance. Yanukovych will not be welcome in major Western capitals. Some Ukrainian officials in law enforcement and some politicians, even, could be banned from getting visas to the EU and America.

But these measures are not likely to scare the administration. Yanukovych has gotten used to the company of his post-Soviet partners. Thus, in the year since Tymoshenko’s imprisonment, the president and his team have shown that they’re aim is to win at all costs.

Kyiv Post staff writer Yuriy Onyshkiv can be reached at

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.
gary yellando Aug. 3, 2012, 7:06 p.m.    

and the ukraine people will vote for sad

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carl Aug. 3, 2012, 7:33 p.m.    

After election all will be well with EU. Also by end of year IMF money will flow again.

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David Willcox Aug. 5, 2012, 12:50 a.m.    

Don't count on it~This corrupt President is not welcome!

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AL BALA Aug. 9, 2012, 3:29 a.m.    

Azarov promised new roads to the doctors

"The next year all of Ukraine from north to south and from west to east you can get just such ways" - he said.


Gee ?

Methinks that this is blatant disinformation ?

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gary yellando Aug. 3, 2012, 9:25 p.m. are so damn right

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blueriver Aug. 5, 2012, 1:25 a.m.    

Yanu kovych lost Election in 2004 and Putin was very very Angry with Yanukovych

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cedrik Aug. 4, 2012, 12:09 p.m.    

The Ukrainian people will vote for stability more than anything else. That will be the deciding factor in the election.

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AL BALA Aug. 5, 2012, 2:40 a.m.    

In a village near Odessa opponents "regionals" threatened with murder


Regions "will come at night and destroy all your family."


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bkrevel Aug. 5, 2012, 6:07 p.m.    

In your mind,,,,stabiltiy= corruption.
The people will NOT vote for stability.
They now know the true nature of the Por = corruption, thievery and personal gain.

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bernardh Aug. 4, 2012, 1:49 p.m.    

The PoR may have a 15-20% support, but with manipulations, fraud, bribery, cheating, threats, harassments etc, they will force through a parliamentary majority. The unstability and polarization of society will deepen as a result, Yanukovych will continue to be a pariah among civilized countries, and the isolation of Ukraine from EU will be cemented. All the while Yanukovych continues to amass grotesque luxury for himself and his family, at the cost of the Ukrainian people who will only sink further in poverty. It is a tragedy of enormous proportions.

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blueriver Aug. 4, 2012, 11:05 p.m.    

Party of Regions Election Promise = We will give Crimea to Russia.
We promise to give & allow Russia to control our Gas.
We promise to allow Russian Language to dominate Ukraine.
We promise to support Belerus and Russian anti demoracy ways.
We promise never to say 1935 Holdomor Famine was genocide.
We promise never to blame Russia for the Failures in Chernobyl.
We promise to support Russia 100%
We promise to follow Russia and take advise in all matters.

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David Willcox Aug. 5, 2012, 12:49 a.m.    

A true warrior will avenge the wrongs of a corrupt Family~by the demise of it's bloodline~Have faith~even if it is a 1 in a 1,000.000 chance~That's a lot of chances!!

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kpxoxol Aug. 5, 2012, 11:12 p.m.    

What people think about the orange crapsters was clearly demonstrated by the ABYSMAL FAILURE of the orange idiots to gather support against introducing the Russian language as and Ukraine regional language - the orange losers barely gathered 20% of the Ukraine population to support their losing cause, heh, heh, heh :D

Considering the extremely unpopular years of orange rule what let the Ukraine economy to nosedive worst not only in Europe but also amongst the CIS economies, the orange economy policies are butt of any joke.

The Ukraine people remember well enough what the orange mafia and their diaspora pimps and sex traffickers brought - they turned Ukraine into a cheap sex tourism destination full of children alcoholics and prostitutes. They turned Ukraine into a banana republic for their western owners.

The oranges got boot for good from the Ukraine people in 2009. The are FINISHED , heh, heh, heh :D

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AL BALA Aug. 7, 2012, 4:05 a.m.    

Fire. Do you want to be burned alive? Then Russia is the place for you. If not, stay clear. Russia records about 18,000 fire deaths a year, AP reports – 10 times more than in the US. Since the U.S. has twice as many people as Russia, your chances of being burned alive are twenty times greater in in Russia than in America. Is that tour of Moscow’s “Golden Ring” still worth it? Didn’t think so.

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