Archive for December 13th, 2012

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Welcome to national(ist) politics – Svoboda attack gay and human rights demonstrators

December 13, 2012

On 8th December, it appears that members of the newly elected to parliament Svoboda Party attacked people involved in a peaceful gay and human rights demonstration in Kyiv.

The fact their members are alleged to have attacked a legally held gay and human rights demonstration is bad enough, but for it to have been seemingly praised by those within the party leadership raises questions about a United Opposition that includes Svoboda.

Naturally most will concentrate on the actions of those Svoboda Party members who carried out this pointless assault, but there are wider questions to consider in relation to how such events effect the working of the United Opposition and indeed how the EU will in turn relate to a United Opposition that includes the Svoboda Party by association.

Let us be quite clear, the EU is very, very pro human rights and gay rights as an entity, despite varying positions in the scale of support for those rights amongst its constituent sovereign parts.

Of course a balance between the right of people to support human and gay rights has to be kept with those who have the right to demonstrate to protect the old social order and non-acceptance of minority groups – but here we are talking about physical assaults in the street condoned by a political party that has only just taken up their seats in the national parliament for the very first time.

However, as part of a united opposition in parliament (if not part of the United Opposition by contract), the actions of Svoboda and its members can only reflect upon the image of the United Opposition.  Thus for the United Opposition to say and do nothing about these events may very well be seen as condoning these attacks given their political desire (and need) to keep Svoboda closely on board.

Alternatively, to take the matter in hand and attempt to discipline, distance or expel Svoboda from the United Opposition ranks by way of association and working together only a few days after a new parliament has taken its seats in coalition with Yatseniuk and Tymoshenko’s parties (amongst others), immediately displays the obvious cracks within the United Opposition and allies.

As my grandmother used to say, “shit sticks to a blanket”, and the actions of Svoboda and its members likewise will stick to the image of the United Opposition to a greater or lesser degree, unless they do something about the issue publicly by way of condemnation or disassociation.

The more such actions occur and are not admonished by this politically unholy alliance, the more all those associated with Svoboda, even if not involved directly, will be tarnished – domestically and within the eyes of the EU.

How long can Yatseniuk or other leaders of the United Opposition share a political stage and press conferences with Oleh Tyahnbok (the leader of Svoboda) when such actions are carried out by his party members and openly supported by his party leadership and possibly even himself in the years ahead without saying or doing something about it?

How long before EU representatives would refuse to meet with the Ukrainian opposition if Svoboda representatives are present should such attacks on EU priority issues like gay and human rights continue?

How difficult will it be for the EU to totally get behind the opposition when core social and idealogical EU themes are being attacked, physically, by a party within the united Ukrainian opposition ranks in the streets quite overtly?

The actual attacks in Kyiv are abhorrent, the political knock-on effects may yet be great or small – both domestically and beyond.

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