Western policymakers should follow the money if they want to punish the authoritarian Ukrainian regime
До перехода в Корреспондент я работал в газете Kyiv Post и писал для изданий The Economist Group. Вчера решил тряхнуть стариной и написать статью-воззвание к западным дипломатам. Она уже висит на сайте Kyiv Post, и должна выйти в пятницу в печатной версии.
Скоро Президент Виктор Янукович объявит, что Запад не готов к сотрудничеству с Украиной, и нам ничего не остается, как войти в Таможенный Союз с Россией. И больше не будет необходимости наносить демократический макияж. В принципе, он и так уже почти сошел.
Завтра я уже буду далеко отсюда - на две недели отменяю себе электрошок. Еду исследовать глубины Китая.
Но через две недели вернусь.
Jail the opposition? No problem.
Strangle rule of law and free markets, while building business empires? Sure.
Build mansions the size of Hyde Park, while cutting social spending? Of course.
Now that President Viktor Yanukovych has washed off the leftovers of his democratic makeover, the West is mulling a response to an increasingly brazen regime. The most common idea coming out of Western capitals these days is that the civilized world should put any further cooperation with Ukraine on hold.
That’s the wrong path.
It won’t hurt Yanukovych and his associates as much as it will Ukraine.
And Ukraine is 46 million people, most of whom share the core values with Europeans to a much larger extent than Ukraine’s government. Seven years ago, citizens endured freezing temperatures for months to let the whole world know they are for democracy and rule of law.
The capital of Kyiv still is full of well-educated, multilingual professionals who effortlessly switch from Ukrainian into Russian and English and back. Many of them are well-travelled and have degrees from the US and Western Europe. Their world view is completely different from that of post-Soviet dinosaurs running Ukraine.
I heard American and Polish managers working in different markets say that the best teams of professionals they ever had was here in Ukraine, where people are unmistakably European and hoping their government will catch up some day. And it will be millions of these same young Ukrainians who take the hit if Ukraine gets a red card from the West.
This doesn’t mean that Yanukovych and those involved in crackdowns on personal freedoms shouldn’t be reprimanded.
He and many of his colleagues show disgust for the rule of law, human rights and property rights. Tymoshenko was sentenced to jail for seven years for a technicality in signing an inter-governmental treaty. There was no evidence of corruption or personal gain.
Leaders of entrepreneurs’ unions are facing prison terms of five years each for damaging the tiles on Kyiv’s main square during a strike. At the same time, the interior minister goes unpunished for receiving an off-road vehicle from an unnamed individual as a gift.
The president himself is building a huge mansion the size of London’s Hyde Park without bothering to explain where the finances come from. Reports of corporate raiding have become ubiquitous. Tax police and other law enforcement bodies have forgotten their proper role.
In the last two years, media owners and editors have sunk into fear. Compiling the list of officials involved in what increasingly looks like Lukashenko-style repressions is not a difficult task.
Want to get even? Here is how to teach the Yanukovych gang that nurturing dictatorial skills in the center of Europe can be painful in the 21st century:
Ukrainian government officials and businessmen love showing off in Monaco, spending vacations in Sardinia and weekends in London.
Difficulty in getting visas for US and Western European trips would be a blow to them. They will then have to explore the vastness of Siberian natural beauty or go hiking to the mountains of Kyrgyzstan – a couple of the countries where Ukrainians can travel freely to without a visa. They would also be able to enjoy the benefits of reintegration with drunk Russian workers on the beaches of Turkey.
Closer attention to government officials’ personal bank accounts in the West should be another step. As well as a closer look at their foreign subsidiaries through which they siphon off money from Ukraine and back.
While making immediate and all future decisions on Ukraine, the key thing for all Western diplomats to remember is that Viktor Yanukovych is actually not Ukraine. Ukrainians are definitely on their path to the European Union.
Yanukovych is a hefty, but still temporary barrier that Ukrainians will sooner or later remove.
Vitaly Sych is chief editor of Korrespondent weekly magazine.
Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/115159/#ixzz1b8q0GSni
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