“This Christmas I would like to ask my family and friends all over the world not to worry about me. I know that I am more alive than the people who threw me into the prison” – this is what Yulia Tymoshenko wrote in her letter from the Lukianivka pre-trial prison.
Half a year ago few could fancy that Tymoshenko would spend the New Year’s Eve and Christmas in a pre-trial prison. Reputable political experts assured that she would be only frightened a little and released. Finally, Europe would gain its end. Tymoshenko’s article would be decriminalized, the appeal court would make a corresponding decision or she would be amnestied. However, nothing of these happened. Instead, there was a trial and one more arrest. It turned out that Yanukovych is ready to sacrifice Ukraine’s European future in order to get rid of his main political rival… According to the Ukrainian president, Ukraine has been paying the unbearable price for gas for two years now. “The country became the hostage of one person’s signature,” Yanukovych said.
What is awaiting Tymoshenko? After the decision of the appeal court the verdict comes into force. Now Tymoshenko can be sent to prison at any time. The members of BYuT think that their leader will be left in the pre-trial prison and her sphere will be as limited as possible. “She would feel better in prison since she could freely move around the territory there but here she is completely controlled,” Den was told in BYuT.
Will the European Court be able to help the number-one prisoner? The member of BYuT Serhii Soboliev is optimistic and thinks that the European Court will be able to release Tymoshenko. However, the things are not that easy.
It is possible that Tymoshenko will not be released after the decision of the European Court. According to experts, the European Court may find or not find the violations of the Convention on the Human Rights and recommend Ukraine to eliminate the infringements: cancel the institution of proceedings, conduct a new prejudicial inquiry or a new judicial inquiry, change the restraint, etc.
Most of the experts predict that Tymoshenko will stay in the pre-trial prison till the parliamentary elections. A lot will depend on the state of affairs in the Verkhovna Rada.
Meanwhile, a lot of events, pleasant and unpleasant ones, happened in Tymoshenko’s fraction. Last Friday one more person, Roman Zabzaliuk quit the fraction. Now there are 102 deputies in it. This news was a shock both for his colleagues in the party and many journalists. Unlike a lot of his colleagues, Zabzaliuk honestly spent the whole summer near the Pechersk Court. In the parliament he was thought to be close to Turchynov and Kozhemiakin. In the political environment they thought that if his friend headed the fraction, Zabzaliuk would quickly come out on top. Some even predicted that he could become the deputy head of the fraction.
“Roman Zabzaliuk has been on the sick leave for two weeks. When he recovers he will give commentaries. He personally asked me about it,” leader of the fraction Andrii Kozhemiakin said. Zabzaliuk did not pick up the phone those days. When this article was edited the motifs of his leave were still unclear.
Another important event is, certainly, electing Natalia Korolevska head of the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party (not to be confused with the Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine). Though USDP is not that popular among the average electors it is one of the old political parties of Ukraine: it was founded in 1998 and became one of the aces of Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc.
Actually, this election was no surprise for anybody. At the final press-conference Korolevska admitted that she had been considering the suggestion made by the former head of USDP Volodymyr Tkachenko for nearly half a year. “I had a long conversation with Oleksandr Turchynov, we assessed all the risks and potential threats, especially if USDP splits off and decided that the party has to be supported and has to resume its active participation in the bloc… The leaders of Batkivshchyna did not have any remarks… We also spoke to Serhii Vlasenko and Yevhenia Tymoshenko. We prepared the letters to Yulia Tymoshenko. We will build and develop a consolidated democratic movement”.
Really, BYuT did not go off into hysterics. Korolevska, Yevhen Suslov and Oleksii Lohvynenko who joined her were not ousted from the fraction (though certain media had prematurely placed this information). The head of the fraction Andrii Kozhemiakin reacted calmly. He said that there was no split. “USDP is the party making part of BYuT and there is no reason to exclude Korolevska”.
In her speech Korolevska repeatedly said that “Yulia Tymoshenko has been and will be our leader.” She said that their main tasks are “reinforcing the bloc” and liberating Tymoshenko.
The Day asked how Korolevska and her party would participate in the elections since any blocks are illegal now. She asked to leave the question of technology and process of elections for 2012.
It should be noted that another BYuT’s “ace”, PRP [The Party “Reformy i Poriadok”. – Ed.] is now facing the same problem. “At the local elections our activists withdrew from membership in PRP, were put into the list of Batkivschyna and then they resumed their membership in our party. Probably, we will use the same scheme at the parliamentary elections. This is one option. Another one is the agreed majoritarian list,” Ostap Semerak told The Day.
Obviously, it is still too early to speak about the format of the opposition at the elections. Probably, nobody knows about it now. At the moment we can only say that there is a social demand for the consolidation. After the New Year we will find out if it happens or not.
Volodymyr FESENKO, political expert:
“It is very probable that the European Court will make a decision in Tymoshenko’s favor. The Ukrainian judiciary will face a dilemma how to react to this decision since there will be criticism concerning Tymoshenko’s rights violation during the legal investigation and the period of imprisonment. What should they do: release her or not? If not, how to avoid the further deterioration of relations with Europe and how to save face? It means it will be a juridical and political problem at the same time.
“The changes inside BYuT are the result of Tymoshenko’s absence since she was the decision-making center and the main arbiter. Some of the members do not see the political prospects of this political force (probably, it concerns Zabzaliuk as well). Besides, there is one more specific problem: now a large part of the fraction members feel that they would not have a chance to be placed into the access part of the list since it will be four times shorter than in 2007 as the result of the mixed system and ratings. That is why they have to think what to do. As for Korolevska and those who joined USDP with her, the situation is slightly different. In this case we can see the spontaneous self-determination of individual members of BYuT. It is possible that Korolevska was made this offer by her colleagues, friends and partners who saw her potential and popularity growing (really, she has become one of the few discoveries in the opposition environment this year due to her active work with the entrepreneurs; she is one of the few who worked with the protest groups). On the other hand, I admit that the people who control Batkivschyna now also recommended Korolevska going to USDP. Why? Not to interfere in Batkivschyna’s affairs and not to make the competitive center of influence. Those who joined her (Suslov, Shevchenko and others) are the so-called ‘new wave’ in BYuT. It can give a certain prospect, a chance to this project. However, the electors have to be informed about it. Thus another problem might arise: the active dissipation of BYuT’s electorate”.