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|Open Letter from the Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine||TOP|
February 24, 2012
The Open Letter from the Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine reflects concerns of global democrats regarding the systematic elimination from political life of some 100 members of the official opposition parties of Ukraine, in particular former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Minister of the Interior Yurij Lutsenko, and shares initiatives designed to assist them. Above all, the Letter seeks action from each person of good will to assist in a just cause.
Like most of you, the Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine, founded last year to counter Ukraine’s regression from democracy,is gravely concerned about the plight of its leading opposition figures. Politicians, like former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Minister of the Interior, Yurij Lutsenko are incarcerated in contravention of the rule of law and universally acceptable human rights norms as President Victor Yanukovych cripples Ukraine’s parliament and undermines democracy.
Since the arrest of Ms. Tymoshenko, the Group has organized protests, letters to the Prime Minister of Canada, and urged others to keep a public focus on the imprisoned freedom fighters.
Important institutions have stepped up. Canada’s government, with others, has repeatedly criticized the situation and lately, sent a team of medical doctors to examine the health of Ms. Tymoshenko: apparently her situation is “grave’. The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations is sending a letter to its members to publicly support the opposition democrats. Academic organizations are looking into honorary degree awards. Organizations in the United States are putting the matter on their national executive agendas. In Ukraine, esteemed leading women like Lina Kostenko, Nina Matviyenko, Oleksandra Kuzhel, have appealed to women government leaders of the world to intervene.
This is a fine start but more is needed. As its specific project, the Group is seeking national and international women and human rights awards for Ms. Tymoshenko specifically the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award offered by the Canadian government and the John Humphrey Freedom Award created in honour of the great Canadian who penned the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last year it was awarded to Ales Michalevic, the opposition leader in Belarus.
Concerted world attention is a powerful tool. It brought about the release for Myanmar’s leading democrat Aung San Suu Kyi. Nelson Mandela’s release was, in no small way, the result of protests, media focus, publications and some 270 awards. Now, is the time to mount a similar effort for Ukraine’s democrats.
We urge you to act. You might seek public commitments from you politicians, keys to your city, honourary university degrees, articles and opinion pieces in broadsheet and social media, lectures -- church, sports, genealogy -- and other ways that reach out beyond our community to ensure Ukraine’s imprisoned patriots are set free. A most worthy achievement would be to secure their nominations a ‘person of the year’ for prestigious publications like Time Magazine or for the Nobel Peace Prize. Such distinctions would underscore that sustaining democracy in Ukraine is critical to the region (a democratic Ukraine stimulates Russia toward democracy) and to global peace and security and that Ukraine’s dangerous reality vis-à-vis its democrats is a vital message to other emerging democracies like the Arab Spring.
Together, we shall overcome. Justice will triumph and Yulia Tymoshenko, Yurij Lutsenko and the other Ukrainian political prisoners will go free. To assist your efforts, please find enclosed brief biographies of both opposition leaders and more information on our Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cg4du.
With warm regards,
|About Yulia Tymoshenko||TOP|
Yulia Tymoshenko was vice-prime minister from 24 January to 8 September 2005, and prime minister from 18 December 2007 to 4 March 2010and presidential candidate in the 2010 elections in Ukraine.
Yulia Tymoshenko was born in 1960. She majored in cybernetic engineering at the Dnipropetrovsk State University. In 1984 Tymoshenko graduated with honours as an engineer-economist. She defended a PhD dissertation at the Kiev National Economic University in 1999 ("State Regulation of the tax system").
Following the economic collapse of 1991-92 in Ukraine she started her own business, United Energy Systems of Ukraine, which grew into a multi-faceted corporation with annual turnaround $4bln in 1996. It was Ukraine’s largest corporation at that time, and the leading, but not the only, supplier of the Russian natural gas to Ukraine. During the years of building her corporation Tymoshenko was exposed to regular embezzlement of her business by the corrupt bureaucracy of the young Ukrainian state. Yulia Tymoshenko was elected to the Parliament of Ukraine in 1996. Later one of Ukrainian Prime-Ministers, Pavlo Lazarenko, was prosecuted and sentenced in the USA for abuse of power with the purpose of personal enrichment; prosecution identified Tymoshenko as a victim of embezzlement. Finally, in 1998 the business of Tymoshenko was destroyed by politically motivated tax investigations.
Following these events of the 1990’sYulia Tymoshenko became the first major Ukrainian political and business leader, who identified corruption as the root of the problems of the young Ukrainian democracy, and as the ultimate threat to Ukraine’s democracy and Ukraine’s future. She remains an uncompromising fighter against corruption and for democracy ever since.
After she was appointed the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine in late 1999, she introduced and implemented the reform of the electricity market, which eliminated corruption there. Following this reform energy-starved Ukraine became an electricity exporter. Ukrainian oligarchs retaliated using their influence with then President Kuchma. Tymoshenko was dismissed in 2001, and arrested on fabricated charges. The case against her was dropped by the court a few weeks later. As soon as she was freed, she launched the Yulia Tymoshenko Block (BYuT), which became the driving force of the “Ukraine Without Kuchma” anti-corruption and anti-crime movement. BYuT became aparliamentary party following the 2002 elections in Ukraine.
The 2004 presidential elections were rigged by Ukrainian authorities and oligarchs; this deprived the democratic candidate Victor Yushchenko from his victory. Peaceful nationwide protest, known as the “Orange Revolution” followed. Tymoshenko and Yushchenko were at its helm, and brought it to a successful conclusion without any violence. Tymoshenko made the decisive contribution to this success; following the demands of activists in the Orange Revolution Victor Youschenko appointed Yulia Tymoshenko the Prime Minister, despite the resistance of Ukrainian oligarchs, on January 25, 2005. She was subsequently dismissed on September 8, 2005, following disclosure of her plans to combat corruption in the gas trade scheme of Rosukrenergo, which was masterminded by the FBI “Most Wanted” Russian criminal Semen Mogilevych. Nevertheless, she still managed to return to Ukrainians the valuable asset: the Krivorizhsteel metallurgy giant, which was sold to Ukrainian oligarchs at 20% of its market value by the previous corrupt government (in which the current President Yanukovych was Prime Minister).
Tymoshenko returned to the Prime Minister’s position after the democratic forces won the 2007 parliamentary elections. Her first move was to abolish Rosukrenergo. She managed to achieve this goal, despite furious resistance of a corrupt bureaucracy. Termination of Rosukrenergo was the main cause of the 2009 conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which led to interruption of the gas supply to the countries of the European Union in the middle of the cold winter of 2009-2010. Tymoshenko managed to stand her ground, to bring back heat to Ukrainian and European homes, to save the Ukrainian industry from collapse, and to remove corruption schemes from the gas trade between Ukraine, Russia, and Western Europe. Yulia Tymoshenko had successfully navigated Ukraine through the 2008-2009 economic crisis. Despite unprecedented 20% industry downturn, and despite sabotage by the corrupt bureaucracy all the pensions and benefits for the disadvantaged people were paid on time and in full, lights were on, and houses stayed warm.
Corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs responded to their defeat by providing hefty financing for Tymoshenko’s rival, Victor Yanukovych, for the 2009 Presidential elections. Yanukovych won narrowly (3%) in the second round. (Not all election observer missions agreed that it was a fair election, e.g. Canada’s.) This victory brought corruption, crime, and abuse of power back into Ukrainian political life and economy. Since Yanukovych was elected, Ukraine started rapidly turning into a criminal state, plunging down in all world ratings, including economic freedoms, corruption, democracy, and crime.
This could not happen, if Tymoshenko would be active in politics, even as the leader of the opposition. She was arrested on fabricated charges in August of 2011, and was sentenced to seven years jail time by the court, whose procedures were rigged, and closely resembled the ill-famous, Stalinist repressions of 1937 in the Soviet Union.
|About Yuriy Lutsenko||TOP|
Yuriy Vitaliyovych Lutsenko (born December 14, 1964) is a Ukrainian politician and statesman and the former Minister of Internal Affairs. He occupied this post in two cabinets of Yulia Tymoshenko and in the cabinets of Yuriy Yekhanurov, and Viktor Yanukovych. He graduated from the Lviv Polytechnic University in 1989, with degree in electronics engineering. Lutsenko joined the Socialist Party of Ukraine in 1991, where he soon became the leader of the moderate pro-Western wing.
Yuriy Lutsenko gained public fame as one of the leaders of the “Ukraine without Kuchma!” campaign, which followed the Kuchma /Melnychenko cassette scandal of 2000. The aim of the campaign was to force the corrupt and unpopular President Kuchma to resign. He was elected to Parliament in 2002, and remained a stern opponent of the corrupt regime of President Kuchma until the 2004 President elections. The 2004 elections were rigged by Ukrainian authorities and oligarchs; this deprived the democratic candidate Victor Yushchenko from his victory. A peaceful nationwide protest, known as “Orange Revolution” followed. Yulia Tymoshenko and Victor Yushchenko were at its helm, while Lutsenko was one of its “faces”, and managed the protests to make them successful, and to make them non-violent. His contribution in the success of the Orange Revolution was critical.
Following the 2004 election victory, he was appointed as the Minister of Interior, and retained this position until 2010. While serving at the Minister of Interior position, Lutsenko had concentrated his efforts on suppressing corruption in the police force, and on destroying organized crime. This was an uphill battle, but he advanced enough to stop the growth of crime, to reverse the tendency of growing drug use, and to earn him respect of police. While Lutsenko was at the helm of the Ministry of Interior, Ukraine became a much safer neighbour for Europe, than it was before under Kuchma.
Lutsenko's efforts earned him numerous enemies among the corrupt bureaucracy, and among organized crime bosses of Ukraine. Less than a year after Victor Yanukovych was elected as President of Ukraine, Lutsenko was arrested on fabricated charges. Numerous witnesses were forced to testify against him, but all witnesses but one told the court that they testified under pressure, and reversed their testimony. Journalists had even recorded episodes where representatives of the State Prosecutor’s Office were pressuring witnesses outside of the court, and were instructing them on what to testify. Nevertheless the testimony that was given under pressure was not excluded, while the reversals and testimony about pressure and perjury was disregarded.
Since Lutsenko left his position, crime rates in Ukraine are on the rise, cases of police brutality have become wide-spread, and police are now used as an instrument of political pressure, and of the criminal redistribution of wealth in Ukraine.
|About the Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine (CGDU)||TOP|
The Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine (CGDU) is a newly created grassroots organization comprising Canadians concerned with Ukraine’s backsliding towards dictatorship under the leadership of President Victor Yanukovych. The Group is guided in its raison d’etre by its democratic Canadian experience, its rights as citizens of a free country concerned with a fledgling democracy, as well as its keen interest in peace and security in the world.
The erosion of freedom of expression, disrespect for national symbols, favouring Russia’s interests above those of Ukraine, preferential treatment of the Moscow’s Patriarch led Orthodox Church, the politicization of the criminal law system; indeed the systemic violation of universal freedoms and human rights as penned in the UN Declaration of Human rights created a need for greater attention and action in this area and gave birth to the Group.
Some of the recent violations of human rights in Ukraine underscore the rationale:
To deal with such abuses the Group invites all freedom loving Canadians to join in calling upon the Canadian government to keep condemning this slide towards dictatorship and, if unheeded, take concrete actions to counter them. In this matter, the Group advocates the targeting of oligarchs and senior officials including judges implicated in corrupt and/or criminal activities if these don’t cease.
The Canadian Group for Democracy in Ukraine acts in response to the call of Ukraine’s democrats who, unable to fight the slide into dictatorship on their own, need friends like Canada and other democracies to assist them in staying the course of freedom, rule of law and democracy.
Achievements to date:
|Канадська Група cприяння демократії в Україні||TOP|
«Канадська Група cприяння демократії в Україні» - це новостворена організація, заснована канадськими українцями, які занепокоєні тим, що за час президентства Віктора Януковича Україна щораз більше сповзає до авторитаризму. Засадничо Група використовує досвід канадської демократії, керується правами громадян незалежної держави, рівно ж – підвищеним інтересом до збереження миру та безпеки у світі.
Знищення свободи слова, неповага до національних пріоритетів, домінування інтересів Росії над національними, надання українською владою преференцій УПЦ Московського Патріярхату, політичні переслідування з наступним ув’язненням, а також постійні порушення Декларації людських прав ООН є причиною для занепокоєння Групи, що й дало поштовх до її створення
Дещо з останніх порушень прав людини в Україні:
У цьому питанні Група підтримує заклик Конґресу Українців Канади, який вважає, що при переговорах про зону вільної торгівлі Канада-Україна має бути останньою запевнено дотримання людських прав в Україні.
Також Група настоює на тому, щоб запровадити санкції проти олігархів, найвищих посадовців, включно з суддями, які причетні до корупційних або кримінальних схем та продовжують свою незаконну діяльність.
«Канадська Група сприяння демократії в Україні» діє на заклик демократичних сил України, які не в змозі самотужки боротися зі встановленням диктатури в країні. Україна вкрай потребує друзів таких як Канада та інших демократичних країн, щоб іти дорогою до свободи, верховенства права та демократії.
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