The European Union, countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Canada and the United States have a major interest in these events having invested time and millions upon millions to help Ukraine emerge from the wasteland of the Soviet Union and help it find a place in the democratic world.
International expectations and the hopes of Ukrainian citizens are being thwarted by Ukraine’s current political leadership. The 2010 election of President Viktor Yanukovych has led to a Soviet-style constitution, comparable repressive practices and the persecution of political opponents. The democratic space shrinks alarmingly. By international standards, Ukrainian constitutional, legal and judicial systems have been seriously compromised. As the country wobbles towards destroying its democracy and freedoms, how might these developments be reversed?
Although international voices have joined in a chorus of condemnation and disappointment, effective action has been absent. Mired in its financial and political crises the European Union is for the moment distracted. New democratic states adjoining Ukraine (Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia) have insufficient political weight to trouble the Ukrainian president. The other neighbors – Belarus and Russia – are indifferent to democratic ideals. Additionally, Yanukovych and his regime clearly demonstrate a Soviet mindset that will readily ignore all criticism. They have shown this time and time again.