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Freedom House: Prime Ministers in the Dock

Author: Arch Puddington
October 13, 2011

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Arch Puddington discusses the growing list of governments that are using the criminal justice system to punish former leaders, including Ukraine which recently sentenced former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko.

About a year ago I attended a meeting whose purpose was to showcase newly elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych before an audience consisting mostly of representatives of the world's largest multinational corporations. Yanukovych's remarks were carefully crafted to appeal  to these guests. But he devoted the bulk of his presentation to an explanation of his commitment to the strengthening of Ukrainian democracy. Ukraine, he declared, would be Western-oriented under his watch. He promised to protect freedom of the press, minority rights, and—here he was especially emphatic—the rule of law.  

Following his address, Yanukovych was asked whether he felt that the Orange Revolution had left lasting achievements for the country. His response made it clear to all that, in his view, there was nothing good for Ukraine in the Orange legacy. The message was delivered cordially, but the words came from a man who deeply resented the movement's role in barring his fraudulent path to the presidency in the 2004 election.

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