A significant political trial in Ukraine is currently underway, with grave implications for human rights. Regardless, the media, like human-rights activists, is deafeningly silent. Furthermore, the international Left pretends to be unaware of the situation.
The ongoing political prosecution in Ukraine far outweighs the recent prosecution of Alexey Navalny in Russia, which has been completely overblown to grotesque proportions by the international media. Even some of them, such as the Deutsche Welle, a Germany-based transmission belt of Euro-Atlanticist agit-prop manufactured in the United States, were forced to admit it. Additionally, the cases that led to his recent trial are straightforward fraud cases involving Yves Rocher, a French-based international toiletries manufacturer, and a Russian timber company, for which Navalny received local court convictions.
The political prosecution that is currently taking place in Ukraine is a far more serious matter!
The individual facing high treason charges is none other than the leader of his country’s largest opposition party! Victor Medvedchuk, to be precise.
Medvedchuk is indeed the leader of Ukraine’s largest opposition political organization, the “Opposition Platform — For Life” party. He was arrested and is now being held under house arrest.
You would think that given the fact that we are discussing one of Ukraine’s most powerful political figures, a figure who is widely supported, as demonstrated by millions of Ukrainian voters, that this pending trial would garner considerable international attention. Perhaps one would expect that human rights advocates would express concern about this and inquire as to what a treason trial of a prominent opposition politician in any European country was all about. Wouldn’t they want to be certain that this is a genuine court case involving a genuine charge and not an attempt by the Ukrainian government to remove a serious political rival from contention?
If you anticipated all of that, you would be extremely disappointed, as Western governments have remained completely silent on the subject.
There is almost no commentary on this in the western media, and no statement from any western government. Amnesty International is not rushing to declare Medvedchuk a political prisoner.
It is unclear what Medvedchuk is alleged to have done. Of course, he cannot be completely trusted on anything, given his long association with Ukraine’s disastrously corrupt political and oligarchic machine. He began his career as a lawyer in the 1980s and was already an active politician by the late 1990s. Medvedchuk was the head of President Leonid Kuchma’s presidential administration from 2002 to 2005. He is both a politician and a business oligarch, which is practically synonymous in Ukraine. Almost every Ukrainian politician is a businessman in some capacity, and many of them conducted business with Russians. Medvedchuk undoubtedly owes Russia something, and he may have done business with commercial entities in Crimea as well. This appears to justify, or is said to justify, charging him with high treason.
Of course, this is
absurd beyond comprehension.
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the situation in Eastern Europe is aware that millions of Ukrainians visit Russia, despite Kiev’s efforts to make it difficult and despite the fact that the two countries are at odds with one another. Additionally, millions of Ukrainians work in Russia! It may come as a surprise to some, but Ukrainian tourists continue to be the largest single group of visitors to Crimea.
So why should Medvedchuk be singled out for prosecution on charges of high treason?
Thus far, it appears that the prosecution’s only charge against Medvedchuk is that he has business ties to and from Russia. Legally speaking, such a claim may be exceedingly difficult to justify. However, this is not a legal case in the conventional sense. It is unmistakably a political case brought by President Zelensky’s government at a time when he is facing grave political difficulties.
Following the failure of his attempt to pressure Russia, any negotiations between Kiev and the various factions in eastern Ukraine to agree on a ceasefire are clearly doomed. It is also true, of course, that Zelensky is discovering that the support from Western powers that he anticipated is far from resounding. And he has recently been told unequivocally by the US, following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland’s visit to Kiev, that Ukraine’s prospects of joining NATO and the EU are currently non-existent. Additionally, Zelensky was informed that the US will not come to Ukraine’s rescue if the latter becomes embroiled in an active shooting war with Russia.
Faced with all of this, Zelensky has acted in the typical way of
a desperate politician in trouble.
He has lashed out against a political rival, in this case, by bringing treason charges against him. For the moment it looks highly unlikely that any other charges against Medvedchuk can be made out and those in place look entirely political. By the way, the head of Ukraine’s all powerful National Security Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov has essentially confirmed it when he said that if Medvedchuk is indeed found guilty, then the Ukrainians would be happy to exchange him with Ukrainian figures who are in detention on various crimes in Russia. It takes a lot of bad will not to see that this confirms that the charges brought against Medvedchuk are purely political ones. But even if someone disagreed, there is no discussion of this in the mainstream media. None of those Western newspapers that have been frothing at the mouth about Navalny have condemned the prosecution of Medvedchuk and none of those Western governments that have imposed sanctions on Russia over Navalny, are saying anything about this far more blatantly political, by any stretch, prosecution.
One country has made a strong statement about this, and that country is, of course, Russia. Additionally, President Vladimir Putin made that remark. Putin is a close personal friend of Medvedchuk. He is even said to be the godfather of one of Medvedchuk’s children. The fact that
Putin has a private reason to be enraged
further establishes that the prosecution of Medvedchuk is a provocative political maneuver with little, if any, connection to legal violations. According to Russian media reports, the Russian Federation’s president has gone out of his way to make comments about the prosecution of Medvedchuk and the general deterioration of the situation in Ukraine. He did so during a weekly meeting of Russia’s Security Council, the country’s highest decision-making body.
The Kremlin does routinely confirm the date and time of meetings and provides a very brief readout. However, there is frequently a dearth of detail regarding what was said during a meeting. However, this time is different. Putin’s remarks at this meeting regarding the prosecution brought against Medvedchuk were made public in detail.
“I would like you to comment on the current developments in a neighbouring state, Ukraine. It appears, and this is highly regrettable, that Ukraine is being turned, slowly but steadily, into an antipode of Russia, an anti-Russia, a territory from which, judging by all appearances, we will never stop receiving news that need to be given special attention in terms of protecting the national security of the Russian Federation.
As you are well aware, they are purging their political environment. They are banning national media outlets, and our Western partners have not batted an eyelid, or have even supported these decisions. Some people have been accused, selectively and for political reasons, of maintaining economic ties with Russia, even though many others, including some members of the country’s top political establishment, have been cooperating with Russia, including Crimea, for years, and this is regarded as normal. In other words, these clearly politically-laden and selective decisions have one goal: to cleanse the political environment of the forces that call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in southeastern Ukraine, Donbass, and for good-neighbourly relations with Russia.
This is definitely an issue we must never lose sight of, an issue to which we must respond promptly and with due regard for the threats that are being created for us.
As I have already mentioned, members of the opposition are being accused of cooperation with Russia, including in the economy, while members of the authorities have been doing the same for years. Our trade last year amounted to $9.9 billion. I cannot imagine that, if such matters are dealt with objectively, everyone who works with Russia will be charged with criminal offences in Ukraine.”
This is a significant development, and it appears to be a veiled announcement of
impending Russian sanctions against Ukrainian political leaders
conducting business in Russia. Among the individuals who are likely to be included on this list are Ihor Valeriyovych Kolomoyskyi, a Ukrainian oligarch who is believed to have facilitated Zelensky’s political career.
The message appears to be quite clear: if you wish to continue on your current path, you must abandon your business dealings in or with Russia. Or, in fact, given the broader context, that may mean abandoning all business dealings, including those in Ukraine.
Moscow’s ability to convey such messages should come as no surprise. Again, a closer examination reveals that Kiev has effectively lost all friends at that point. Both in Russia and in Western Europe. If they truly wish to survive in any form, they must alter their course. And that means confronting not only the Americans, but also this extremist right-wing movement that originated in Ukraine and has brought relations with Russia dangerously close to war and transformed the country into a neo-Nazi Mekka.
A $9.9 billion trade surplus between Russia and Ukraine may seem insignificant to the first, but it means a great deal to the second. And if the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is completed in September, as appears increasingly likely, Ukraine’s significance to Russia will be zero, leaving no future for the oligarchs who have dominated it. That is the reality that Ukraine faces in the post-Maidan period.
Photo: Victor Medvedchuk (source: kremlin.ru, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Bulgarian and Polish activist, journalist, editor, publisher and translator. In the late `90 active in the Polish left and later in the labor movement, particularly the biggest Polish labor confederation — The All-Poland Trade Union Alliance. Until 2012 editor-in-chief of its weekly magazine. Contributor at Baricada.org and Strajk.eu, Polish correspondent for the Bulgarian National Radio.
Currently working as an editor and journalist for the Polish labor portal Strike and as a correspondent to the Bulgarian National Radio in Poland.