Well dear readers, when should a sovereign state impose sanctions on another, or individuals within one?
Given the latest fashion of targeted sanctions against individuals rather than nations, just how bad does an individual have to be before a sovereign state will introduce sanctions against them, seize their assets and restrict their movement, at the very least to visit the imposing nation’s soil?
How long did it take for EU nations to put in place sanctions against Gaddafi, Al-Assad, Gbagbo? How many people died and how much suffering was caused before sanctions eventually were imposed against these leaders and some members of their administrations?
Closer to Ukraine, what of Lukashenko in Belarus or the former Soviet state of Uzbekistan and leader Karimov where restrictions on human rights are far greater than anything seen in Ukraine today. Saakashvili’s Georgia is hardly a beacon of human rights either.
With the above examples of just how bad things have to get before sanctions against individuals are even considered by Western nations, an article in Ukrainska Pravda catches the eye. A list is being drawn up by some opposition party deputies of people they want the Western nations to apply sanctions against.
Taras Steskiv of the OU-PSD party has apparently told the Ukrainska Pravda that a decision to submit this appeal to the Western nations will be made this week. Those currently on the list are the Prosecutor General, several of his staff and a number of judges.
In effect the opposition are considering asking Western nations for individual sanctions against members of the Ukrainian Civil Service dealing with the rule of law, no doubt all of whom are active in the investigations into the past government, (investigations that the PACE President Melvut Cavusoglu has said quite clearly are legal), or sanctions against those judges who are likely to hear any case when they eventually get to court.
Is it not somewhat bizarre to ask Western nations, most of whom are within the PACE club, to apply individual sanctions against civil servants that the President of PACE has publicly stated only a few weeks ago, are acting legally?
It is quite clear that the Western nations are very aware of what is happening in Ukraine when it comes to the investigations into the opposition. Those most high-profile investigations happen to be based on the evidence presented by Western organisations to the current administration.
One cannot help but think this is an incredibly foolish road to go down by the opposition at this time, as quite clearly there is currently nothing illegal occurring unless Melvut Cavusoglu took leave of his senses when making public statements in his official capacity as President of PACE.
What is the effect on public opinion, if and when such sanctions are sought and refused? Does that undermine or assist the current situation of the opposition figurers being investigated? Would it by default add credibility to the current investigations, those carrying them out and any eventual result?
In the long term, is it not more advantageous to the opposition to let things take their course in Ukraine and then take any subsequent ruling they disagree with to the European Court of Human Rights and allow them to assess the evidence? If there is an obvious and politically motivated miscarriage of justice, a public ECHR ruling against the current administration would be incredibly damaging.
On the other hand, if any ruling by the Ukrainian system was deemed to be correct by the ECHR, it would end the political careers of several high-profile Ukrainian opposition politicians.
Whether the current investigations are politically motivated or not, it seems (at least as far as the President of PACE is concerned) they are being legally conducted and based upon reasonable grounds. If it is the case that the opposition are stating the high-profile opposition figurers are being treated unfairly through restrictions of travel, well one has to look at DSK in the USA or Julian Assange in the UK and ask why they are also subject to travel restrictions whilst on-going investigations and judicial actions continue in their respective cases.
There seems to be a lack of grounds (given precedents for previous sanctions on individuals by the West) to even consider such an appeal as far as the opposition are concerned, and yet they are considering it. One can only feel that to pursue this path will do them far more harm than good on the domestic stage given the probable Western reaction to such a request.
Then again, many Ukrainian politicians are incredibly poor when it comes to judgment, knowledge, ability or being in touch with international realities. Grand-standing and show-boating is something they are all capable of though, regardless of what seem obvious consequences.