Fall out and burn out

31.10.2011 | kyivweekly.com.ua

Ukrainians get it at both ends

Ordinary Ukrainians have been burned again this time by the international community. They are feeling the effects of international outrage at the outcome of the Tymoshenko trial. The European Union decided to reduce the number of Schengen visas it issues to Ukrainian citizens by 70%. According to Ukrainian diplomats, the Europeans are not interested in citizens of a country flaunting democratic principles. To be fair, the Europeans had little choice and were only following through on their threats to Ukraines authorities about the violations in democratic legal procedure. The conviction of the ex-PM was too much, and the Europeans needed to react. On the other hand, Ukrainian citizens have been doing their part. Throughout the entire Tymoshenko trial, citizens were out on the streets, protesting the authorities railroading the ex-PM. They took on the unforgiving Berkut special police, decked in full riot gear. They blocked the police vehicles coming and going to the courthouse, they yelled insults, and some even got beat up and hauled off to spend their own time in interrogation and prison. The public should hardly be penalized for wanting to go on a European holiday to get away from the vindictive authorities. Already countries like Canada do not allow a young, single Ukrainian citizen to visit family or come on vacation, with the Canadian authorities fearing they may not go back. Ukrainians are having their rights and privileges curtailed at home and can hardly bear having to go through more red tape for a few luxuries like foreign travel that even authoritarian countries like Belarus enjoy. This leads Ukrainian citizens to feel that they are not Europeans and they do not need to aspire to be like responsible Europeans. The international community might consider refusing visas to those officials and their political allies, who are responsible for making these undemocratic decisions, as was suggested by one VR deputy last week. Europeans have announced that it was making it tougher for some Ukrainian officials to get visas, but it would be making a real statement against authoritarianism and allow Ukrainian citizens even easier travel to be rewarded for taking a stand.

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