Tymoshenko was victim of government murder plot

The head of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Committee, Tetyana Chornovol, has published transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations which show that Party of Regions MPs advised former President Yanukovych to kill Yulia Tymoshenko in prison. The tapes have also been released on YouTube, here.

Hat tip: Taras Kuzio

Ukraine: Real Deals

In Grani, Ilya Milstein writes about the aftermath and possible consequences of yesterday’s Ukrainian presidential election (my tr.):

Meanwhile Tymoshenko has other plans. Her “Fatherland ” party is initiating a referendum on Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and it is only outwardly that this step appears risky, reckless and unwise. Well, yes, NATO does not accept states with unresolved territorial issues, but after all it is not a question of joining the alliance immediately. It is rather about scaring Putin, who has been scaring the Russians and giving himself nightmares about a terrible scenario: the entry of American cruisers into the peaceful waters of Sevastopol and the installation of American missiles on the territory of Ukraine. Now, if the issue is discussed in the Rada, the propaganda horror stories that were suitable only for justifying intervention in Crimea will acquire the traits of another geopolitical disaster.

Poroshenko himself is by no means a supporter of Ukraine’s accession to NATO, but he can offer Putin an exchange. You get rid of Grandpa Babai and his RPGs, and I will calm Yulia. You stop supporting the bandits who are already building real concentration camps in our country and have effectively used them, and we will postpone the referendum on accession to NATO. You temporarily forget about Ukraine and stop blackmailing us with rising gas prices, and we will temporarily forget about Crimea. Agreed?

The Dangers of Yalta

In Project Syndicate, Yulia Tymoshenko writes:

Putin’s gambit is akin to the infamous Yalta Conference in 1945, where Joseph Stalin made Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt complicit in a division of Europe that enslaved half of the continent for almost a half-century. Today, Putin is seeking to make the West complicit in the dismemberment of Ukraine by negotiating a Kremlin-designed federal constitution that would create a dozen Crimeas – bite-size chunks that Russia could devour more easily later.

Yulia Tymoshenko: Statement to the Ukrainian People

Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko has made a direct video address to the Ukrainian people:

From the statement:

“…we are not alone in this confrontation with Russia. In 1994 Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum with the U.S., UK and Russia guaranteeing our security in exchange for giving up our nuclear arsenal. Russia today is flagrantly violating its obligations and invading our territory. But I’m confident that the United States and Great Britain will never violate this Memorandum and will do everything they can to ensure peace in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin knows that by declaring war on us, he is declaring war on the guarantors of our security – the U.S. and Great Britain. I don’t think that Russia will cross this line, because if it does it will lose.

“This should be the main reason for calm in our country.”

Yulia Tymoshenko on Maidan

Yulia Tymoshenko’s speech on Maidan, February 22 2014.

Below are some fragments in English, mostly translated from Ukrainska Pravda’s report. The whole speech covers much more ground  – when a complete transcript becomes available, I will hope to post it.

“You are heroes. You are the best that Ukraine has. Heroes do not die. You are the guarantee, the strength. 

“Today you and I have a few important things to do. First – under no circumstances do you have the right to withdraw from Maidan until you have completed all that you planned to do in Ukraine.

“If anyone tells you that you have already done your job and can go home, and that everything will be made fine and dandy for you here – do not believe such claims, do not believe a word of it.

“Until you have completed the job to the end, to the last step, none of you has the right to leave. Because it is you who have changed everything, not the politicians, not the diplomats, not the world, none of them was able to do it.

“We have to do a few important things, one of which is to bring Yanukovych and all that trash that had gathered around him, to Maidan.

“When the snipers fired their bullets into the hearts of the young men who were slain, they fired them into the hearts of everyone. And if those who organized it and carried it out are not punished with the toughest and most severe justice, you and I will not be worth anything. If we let them escape responsibility, if we forgive anyone who fired a bullet  into the hearts of our heroes – we will live in shame for ever.

“Those who perished will be our responsibility for each step we take next.

“I understand that  that people have stopped trusting politicians.

“I will be the guarantee that you will know what is going on behind the scenes ….  I do not only repent, I ask for your forgiveness for all politicians, no matter to which party they belong.  I want to say on behalf of them  all – the politicians were not worthy of you, of your blood. I want to do everything to see to it that you will see different politicians , officials, functionaries. And to make you part of building a new country.

“If the new parliament, the new government are formed without you – it would be unacceptable.

“I am going back to work.  I will not let a single minute pass without making you feel happy in your country.”

Ukraine Approaches Europe

A number of recently-published articles focus on Ukraine’s forthcoming signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union at the November 28–29 EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. RFE/RL’s Dmytro Shurkhalo writes about the fears of a possible trade war between Ukraine and Russia, while Yevhen Solonyna examines a document that purports to be a plan drafted by Moscow and its allies in Ukraine “that outlines a multipronged effort to extend Russia’s influence in the country.” Attention is concentrated particularly on the Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his Ukraine’s Choice civic movement, whom some analysts have suggested are responsible for the 10-page document.

In Eurasia Daily Monitor, Maksim Bugriy asks How Powerful Is the Pro-Russian Lobby in Ukraine?, concluding:

While to date, the pro-Russian lobbyists’ activity in Ukraine seems generally ineffective to alter the country’s course, their influence cannot be underestimated. At a minimum, such activity increases the costs for the Ukrainian government to pursue a pro-Western policy. And in the medium term, Russia may increasingly rely on Ukrainian Eurosceptic power players, who will inevitably gain political weight as Ukraine works to accommodate Europe and the West.

Meanwhile, the imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko has sent a greeting to the Ukrainian World Congress being held on August 20-22, in which she says that  the matter of signing an association agreement with the European Union is a matter of the existence of Ukraine, because the accession to the EU will guarantee the country’s independence. From the text of the greeting:

It so happened that forces came to power in Ukraine that don’t recognize the Holodomor as genocide – the Party of Regions and its satellites – the Communists. Instead of honoring the innocent victims of Stalin’s cold-blooded regime, they are trying to rebuild a new regime in Ukraine, destroying freedom, democracy, denigrating our language, history and national pride. 

In the name of the dead, the living and unborn, we must finally break out of this darkness, where famine killed children, where injustice, lies and humiliation reigned. We must escape to the world that has overcome tyranny and authoritarianism, to our historical home – the European community. 

Right now there is no greater priority than the signing of an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union on political association and a comprehensive free trade area. For me this isn’t a matter of my liberty or imprisonment, it’s a matter of the existence of our country, because joining the European Union will guarantee our independence and protect Ukraine from returning to a new empire. 

We must consolidate our historical European choice with a victory of the democratic forces in the 2015 presidential elections and move to full EU membership for Ukraine. We have learned all the painful lessons we should have from 2005-2010. Three parliamentary opposition forces have already concluded an agreement on full coordination of activities during the next presidential elections in 2015. Not a day or hour goes by when I don’t think about the design for the future of our country, about every detail of the plan of changes in Ukraine after the victory of the democratic opposition in the presidential election.