Supposedly ex-president Yanukovich was authoritarian, but political freedoms have only diminished since his ouster
With the outbreak of the Euromaidan in late 2013, the set of protests against the supposedly pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, came the hopes of ending government corruption, abuse of power and violations of human rights in Ukraine. This was a struggle to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union and away from ‘the grasps of Russia’.
However, the advertised idea of the European Union is to conform to its norms and values. These norms include freedom of speech, democratic values and political freedoms. So why is it that Ukraine which had struggled to escape the supposed grasps of Russia to ‘become European’ then turned around and banned the Communist Party of Ukraine?
The gross violations of political freedoms began in May when Kiev adopted controversial ‘decommunisation’ laws which banned Soviet symbols and limited the use of the word ‘communist’. In response, The Communist Party of Ukraine refused to conform to the new laws and continued with its name and logo, despite the threat of criminal charges and a sentence of 10 years in jail.
Amnesty International states on their website that “the moves by the Ukrainian authorities to ban the Communist Party solely on account of its name and use of Soviet-era symbols violates the rights to freedom of expression and association and sets a dangerous precedent in Ukrainian political life.”
The very overthrow of Yanukovych was apparently to move away from political restrictions he supposedly imposed. Yet two years on from the outbreak of protests, it seems that political freedoms in Ukraine have only diminished.
With the coup removing Yanukovych, Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko came to power. The hopes of European conformity followed him. He stated when reflecting on his role in the uprising that:
"From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel — Channel 5 — played a tremendously important role. ...
At that time, Channel 5 started to broadcast; there were just 2,000 people on the Maidan. But during the night, people went by foot — seven, eight, nine, 10 kilometers — understanding this is a fight for Ukrainian freedom and democracy. In four hours, almost 30,000 people were there."
However, his talk about Ukrainian freedoms and democracy did not match his actions. At least 25 statues of Vladimir Lenin have been destroyed along with countless other monuments including World War 2 and Afghanistan War memorials.
The Russian Foreign Ministry described the targeting of Russian or Soviet-built monuments as "Russophobic vandalism." But this was only the beginning of human rights and political freedoms being taken away in Ukraine.
Soon after the installation of the Poroshenko regime, Ukrainian was made the sole state language, diminishing the language and importance of Ukraine’s Russian minority that accounts for over 15% of the entire population, as well as Russian speakers who comprise the majority in the southern and easter regions.
In short, this led to the eventual annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to protect the rights of the ethnic Russian majority. It was also the precursor to the War in Donbass that has claimed the lives of over 9000 people and displaced nearly 1.5 million people. The supposed freedoms and democracy that Poroshenko promised only resulted into something that resembles a fascist regime and ethnic cleansing. Of course the usual suspects of NATO, the European Union and the United States deny that Kiev's actions were a reason for the uprisings in Donbass.
Countless journalists have been barred from entering Ukraine who do not conform to Poroshenko’s fascism. These include BBC journalist Steve Rosenberg and producer Emma Wells. A journalist may be barred from Ukraine if Kiev deems them a “threat to national interests” or promote “terrorist activities”. This is mightily convenient when Poroshenko needs to cover up his crimes against civilians and reducing political and media freedoms in Ukraine.
This brings us back to The Communist Party of Ukraine. A Kiev District Administrative Court just affirmed the ban last month. In its decision it stated that: “The court has fully met the claim,” that the Party should be banned. The lawsuit accused the Communist party of actions aimed at “amending the constitutional order by force, violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, propaganda of war, violence, incitement of ethnic hatred, encroachment on human rights and freedoms,” according to the Unian news agency.
John Dalhuisen of Amnesty International has said the court decision raises questions about Ukrainian political freedoms:
“The decision may be seen as dealing with the damaging vestiges of the Soviet past. In fact, it does exactly the opposite by following the same style of draconian measures used to stifle dissent.
Expressing your opinion without fear of prosecution, particularly if that opinion is contrary to the views held by those in positions of power, was one of the principles behind the EuroMaidan protests.
Snuffing out the Communist party flies in the face of these ideals."
However, why has it taken the banning of a political party for Amnesty International to come to this realisation when there is strong evidence to suggest that Poroshenko’s rise was in cooperation with those on the far-right political spectrum?
The Communist Party have consistently been vocal in highlighting the gross human right restrictions imposed ever since Poroshenko’s fascist regime was installed in Kiev back in February 2014. It also criticizes the military aggression in Donbass. Communist leader Pyotr Simonenko has openly accused Ukrainian authorities of the “slaughter of civilians and mass murder.”
If this precedent remains, it only serves to demonstrate that the Euromaidan uprisings were a scam and that it has not delivered what it was supposedly was fighting for. What's left then is an anti-Russian uprising that has caused the deaths of thousands of people, brought fascism to Ukraine and diminished the political and media freedoms that were enjoyed more so under Yanukovych.
Paul Antonopoulos is currently an MA Candidate, writing his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War.
He is an analysis for Al-Masdar News. Follow him on twitter.