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07.05.2010

Pressure on the opposition: Ukrainian-style boomerang

   

According to members of the political parties who were on 6 May questioned by the police and Prosecutor, mass-scale pressure has begun on the opposition. They claim that these actions by the new regime are a planned attempt to intimidate the public and disrupt protest action planned for 11 May. On the other hand, President Yanukovych says that the country needs constructive opposition, not those who offer smoke bombs.

On Thursday, several members of opposition political forces were questioned by the law enforcement bodies as witnesses in criminal investigations initiated over the protests against the ratification of the Kharkiv Agreements (allowing Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to remain in Ukraine for a further 25 years for 10 years of apparent gas concessions) on 27 April in and around the Verkhovna Rada.

One of those questioned, the head of the right-wing VO Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok,  said that this was the worst pressure from law enforcement officers on the opposition since Independence.

On the same day, National Deputy from the Our Ukraine Party, Andriy Parubiy was questioned by the Prosecutor as witness of the events in the Verkhovna Rada. The police at the same time spoke with the Head of the Kyiv branch of the Ukrainian National Party, Volodymyr Shovkoshytny.  They demanded that he name all members of his party who protested against the Kharkiv Agreement.

Oleh Lyashko, Deputy from the BYuT party [bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko] claims that similar actions are taking place with respect to members of his party.

“They are exerting pressure on my colleagues, initiating criminal investigations against deputies’ assistances, while at the same time the State Tax Administration is putting pressure on business loyal to BYuT.  Yet why, when they speak about smoke bombs in the Verkhovna Rada do they not initiate criminal investigations against the bandits with deputy IDs who beat up out colleagues? The law enforcement agencies are becoming a weapon of political struggle. I cannot exclude the possibility that when the “regionals” [from the Party of the Regions] lose power, they will experience their own methods”.

Both Mr Tyahnybok and Mr Lyashko assume that this is to deter protest on 11 May.

Meanwhile President Yanukovych, during a visit to the Donetsk region on Thursday, in talking about the protest over the Ukrainian-Russian agreement, said that he would not allow anyone to get in the way of the process of stabilization and overcoming the crisis. He stated “the state needs constructive opposition, which offers alternative projects for improving people’s lives, and not the sort that proposes smoke bombs”.

He also called the present opposition activists “pseudo-democrats” from whom all of Ukraine would soon be seeking salvation”.

According to the Director for Political and Legal Programmes of the Razumkov Centre, Yury Yakymenko, such rhetoric and the actions of the law enforcement agencies could damage the regime itself.

“The opposition are being brought to answer for attempts to counter the regime. The regime is returning to the methods of 2004 and taking steps to deter people, to scare potential participants in protest actions. We know how this ended then. I don’t understand why the regime is not taking its mistakes into account.”

Another political analyst, Kost Bondarenko, however claims that the opposition leaders themselves created the conditions for such persecution and that this is the mirror image of attempts to bring Kolesnikov and Kushnarov to answer in 2005. “Then they even dismissed school heads not loyal to the new regime.”

Slightly abridged from a report by Yevhen Solonyna at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/2034746.html

[One National Deputy Oleksiy Doniy, from the opposition, was seriously injured during the disturbance, and there has been a lot of talk not only from the opposition, but in the media, asserting that those responsible included people close to or employed by the main party in power.  Given the nature of the allegations, and the serious injuries incurred by one Deputy, the fact that only opposition members have been questioned, seems at very least strange –  Halya Coynash]

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