Poroshenko’s Provocations

Sigh. The government in Ukraine gets stupider with each passing week, it seems like. Two weeks ago Newsweek published this gem of an article, called Ukraine Brings in Law to Try Fugitive Yanukovich in Absentia.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a move to head off discontent before an election, signed a law on Tuesday that will allow ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich to be tried by court in his absence for crimes carried out while he was in power.

Poroshenko and his pro-Western government, who are seeking a strong mandate in a parliamentary election on Sunday, face criticism from many for not being tough enough in bringing to justice Yanukovich who fled “Euromaidan” street protests last February with his family and cronies.

Kiev authorities accuse Yanukovich, who is in Russia, of involvement in the deaths of protesters who were shot dead by police at the time, large-scale theft of state property and funds, and an attempt to overthrow the new leadership.

Up to now, Ukrainian law has not allowed for the prosecution of people abroad to be tried in their absence for crimes committed in Ukraine.

But Poroshenko, who was elected in May and who hopes for a strong pro-Europe coalition of support from Sunday’s election, said on his website that he had inked amendments to the criminal code which would allow for those “who have robbed our people” and were hiding abroad to be tried by a court in their absence.

The only silver lining to this (other than the fact that I cannot see Russia sending Yanukovych back to Ukraine anytime soon) is that I’m not sure whether this law actually helped Poroshenko in the election or not. His party did not win a majority in the recent elections, nor did it receive the most vote in general (Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Narodniy Front [People’s Front; ironically this is also the name of a pro-Putin group in Russia] won the most votes, with Poroshenko’s Bloc a close second).

It seems to me that, in a time of economic turmoil, when Ukraine’s economy is under the threat of completely collapsing, the president ought to spend his time more productively than on a vindictive law like this.

And then there’s this article, which I saw at the beginning of October but completely forgot to blog about.

The status of English, not Russian, should be elevated as a second most popular language, Pres Poroshenko said, addressing Ivan Franko University students in Lviv on Oct. 3, our correspondent reports.

While the number of people realizing the important role of Ukrainian as a state-forming language is growing, many disagree with the elevation of Russian to the country’s second state language, he said.

I personally think Russian and Ukrainian should have equal status in Ukraine. Ukraine has consistently refused to give Russian official status—though if memory serves correctly, Viktor Yanukovych tried to change that.

Ukraine is such a mess right now, it’s ridiculous.