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Adding fuel to Mr Putin’s fire – and to domestic difficulties

March 20, 2014

I had written something regarding the broader future of Ukraine for today following yesterday;s illegal annexation of Crimea  – which will now wait until tomorrow.

Rarely do I write about specific incidents as it is too easy to get lost in the minutiae and lose the perspective of the bigger picture.  As regular readers know I generally write in broad political and policy brush strokes and cause and effect thereof.

However,  some occurrences rank so very highly on the scale of absolute stupidity and poor timing they cannot be ignored.

On the very day President Putin annexes Crimea on the premise of protecting Russians (ethnic and language speaking) from the fascists that have (apparently) taken over the leadership of Ukraine in his view, the right wing Svoboda Party has its members – including a leading member Ihor Miroshnichenko (the man with the long hair in a pony tail) – caught on camera threatening the CEO of 1tvua for airing statements about the party they disagree with.  They in fact forced him to resign under threat.

You would think that Mr Miroshnichenko, a journalist himself – awarded the title “Honoured Journalist of Ukraine” in 2006 – would have a little more respect for freedom of speech and freedom of expression – clearly not.

All those who would seek to try to justify Mr Putin’s illegal actions in Crimea, handed a propaganda golden egg.

Quite simply rank stupidity of the highest magnitude – and at the worst possible time.

That this will rightly be raised by the foreign politicians, diplomats and in the media – if some wrongly attributing it as a mitigating excuse for illegal Kremlin actions –  is only half of the issue.  There are the domestic consequences too.

Those consequences are not limited to more of the population in the east and south growing in anxiety about the far right.  There are now consequences for the current interim government which comprises of Ms Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party and Svoboda from which these MPs are members.

In days gone by, such incidents would have been roundly ignored by all governing administrations – to be sure, indeed such incidents were ignored under each and every President and Prime Minister – but these are different days.  Those that stood, died and were injured at protests in Kyiv and beyond, did not do so to usher in a new set of political faces just as feckless, inept, contemptuous of rule of law and basic human rights – Svoboda politicians included.

Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (Batkivshchnya) has already publicly condemned the incident – whilst also making it clear that as those involved are MPs with immunity, there is nothing he or the police can do – stating it is a matter for the Prosecutor General.

The Prosecutor General is Oleh Makhnitsky of Svoboda – the same party as the offending individuals caught on camera.

All eyes, regional and domestic – and not just in the south and east – will now be looking to the interim leadership to see what action – if any – will be taken against these Svoboda MPs trampling on democratic rights and rule of law.

Will there be the same turning of a blind eye, or will there be disciplinary action, either within Svoboda itself and/or by the interim government and RADA, and/or by the legal institutions?

The Prosecutor General calling them in “for a chat” and nothing more will obviously not suffice in the eyes of many.

Will inaction be tolerated by a still volatile and  angry electorate who expect systemic change rather than simply a changing of the faces?

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2 comments

  1. I understand the ‘big picture’ and all that, but I’m really concerned about the military and their families now trapped in Crimea. Here, we hear that Putin has said the surrounded soldiers and sailors in Crimea can return to Ukraine. However, the forces, be they so-called militia or Russian soldiers proper, actually surrounding them are telling the Ukrainian military their only choices are to swear allegiance or surrender (be arrested). Not much of a choice there. Are you aware if these people will be allowed to leave Crimea, or are they victims of doing their sworn duty?


    • Ukrainian military forces will be withdrawn from Crimea I suspect – without humiliation via the orders of the Ukrainian government.



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