Archive for June 20th, 2011

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Tymoshenko – Travel bans and the investigative circus

June 20, 2011

Well, you will recall a few days ago I wrote about the invitation (or not) to the PACE meeting in Strasbourg for Yulia Tymosheko.

Indeed she had not been invited to attend by PACE but by the EPP to attend a meeting on the sidelines.

Being subject to travel restrictions due to pending court cases, she applied to the PGO to attend having successfully done so before relating to the annual EPP summit (a main event, not a sidelines show).

Here is the reply from the PGO this time

This time her travel has been refused.

Now whether that is due to the fact one case has now reached court and she is dragging her heels over reviewing evidence on the other two, thus they feel her time is better spent reviewing such evidence that trotting around Europe to attend sideline meetings of no consequence is open to debate.

Whether they think now one case has got to court there is a greater risk of her not returning is also questionable.

Whether it is because whilst the Ukrainian president and Foreign Minister are invited to the main event by the event hosts and Ms Tymoshenko has been invited to a minor sidelines show of no consequence is possible also.

One wonders what the UK would say to Mr Assange if he asked to leave the UK and go to another country to attend a sideline meeting and his bail conditions be waved accordingly.  What would the USA say to DSK if he wanted to leave the US for a similar reason?  One assumes that both the UK and USA would decline such requests as the Ukrainian PGO has for Tymoshenko.

The question is, however, a matter of international perception.  There will be those who claim DSK and Assange are subject to political shenanigans just as they will claim Tymoshenko is.  There will be others who will say that whilst they are aware of the possibility of political manipulation behind these cases, the accusations are serious in all cases and there is sufficient evidence in all cases to warrant a trial.  As the law is supposed to blind, thus status, politics and personality should have no influence over any process.

It is difficult to see how PACE will condemn this travel ban having so forcefully stated that the organisation had not invited her to attend or speak.  There will be howls of anguish and derision from the EPP however no doubt.  The problem for the EPP, if there is one, is that they are the largest umbrella party of the European Parliament.  A parliament which currently does not enjoy much EU community love from either member States or the citizens of Europe for numerous reasons.  Europe is sliding firmly to the right whilst the EPP are firmly to the left of political central.

One suspects that any perceptions therefore, will be formed by what media outlets you read.  Any left leaning outlets in tune with the left of centre EPP and Ms Tymoshenko will no doubt carry the story of persecution given the slide to the right across the European nations politically.  The right of centre media is likely to portray a different view if they carry the story at all.  She is after all, not in a gulag yet and has not been remanded into custody.  She is as free to visit a museum, supermarket, art gallery, appear on the television, hold press conferences etc as I am.

Most people will probably see it as just another act in a circus performance which is dragging on far too long to retain their interest.  Undoubtedly this circus will be played out in the public domain not only because of it involving Ms Tymoshenko but also because both prosecution and defence are employing US law firms who invariably have two trials.  One in the press and another in the court room such is the circus of the US legal system participants.   Maybe it is time for Ms Tymoshenko to change her tactics and now stop the delaying action and expedite matters to a conclusion where public interest will increase and her cause, if there is one, will be headline news once again.

The problem with that tactic is that, by her own public admission several times in October 2010, she did not play straight in the Kyoto case against her and public media admissions are very difficult to undo.  People are found innocent on a technicality every day.  Those same technicalities also find people guilty even if their actions are well intended.  The later seems a distinct possibility in the case of the Kyoto issue.

Ms Tymoshenko and a large part of the watching international audience have the impression she will be found guilty no matter what.  Maybe she is gulity.  However when presented with the Kroll Inc report which is publicly available, it would have been impossible not to investigate her and not have the same “corrupt Ukraine, elite looking after elite” label immediately placed on the new government.  Instead they have the “political persecution” label, despite the President of PACE stating publicly that the investigation is lawful.

However what if these matters follow all the correct legal procedures of investigation, court hearing and she is found not guilty?  Nobody really anticipates that.  Ms Tymoshenko would have 5 minutes of basking in the glory of a victory proving her innocence but that would not compare to the long lasting image that the current administration would have by way of allowing the legal system to go its course and a not guilty verdict be arrived at.

It would be very hard indeed to say that this was a political persecution if she is found not guilty (despite some compromising remarks in October 2010 admitting technical guilt over one charge).  The government would cite the PACE President as publicly stating the investigation was legal and the government would also say that the rule of law was allowed to go its course without political interference as seen by a not guilty verdict.

It would go a very long way and make a lasting impression on those that really matter in the international institutions (rather than the chattering classes) that the rule of law was followed and not interfered with as they feared by this administration.  People are, after all, found not guilty in courts in every country in most nations every day when the system has integrity.

Statements to the affect that “if she is not guilty, then she will be found not guilty” coming from the government now (at least if I was their spin doctor that is what I would be advising them to say loudly and often…..but I’m not that bright to be a spin doctor), long before any court interactions, and then to have her subsequently found not guilty, would seem to make it a very good political opportunity for a major and long lasting  impression to be made on the rule of law under this administration.  Rule of law has consistently been a thorn in the side of Ukraine since independence under any leadership.

Who comes out the long-term winner if she is found not guilty?  Tymoshenko or the government?

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