Region: New year brings new aims, diversions
Euro 2012 went well, but it also drew more eyes to jailed opposition leader Tymoshenko
Posted: January 2, 2013
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has declared 2013 the year of children's creativity. The announcement followed shortly after the 10-year-old Ukrainian Nastya Petrik won the Children's Eurovision Contest. 2012 was officially the year of Sport and Healthy Lifestyle. These were not the things Ukraine has been most talked about recently, though.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison Oct. 11, 2011, for abuse of power in handling Ukraine's gas deal with Russia. Despite being in prison throughout 2012, Tymoshenko was constantly in the world spotlight media.
First, Tymoshenko's husband, Olexandr, received asylum in the Czech Republic after a yearlong wait. Next, Tymoshenko went on a 20-day hunger strike starting April 20, protesting against "what is happening in the country, and what is happening to me in prison," as she stated shortly after she had allegedly been beaten by guards. Throughout the year, Tymoshenko voiced complaints about her health, seeking the attention of medical personnel from Germany and Canada. They confirmed the former prime minister's poor health condition, raising concerns on the world political stage about the fairness of Tymoshenko's treatment and imprisonment. Tymoshenko declared another hunger strike from Oct. 29 to Nov. 16, this time protesting against fraud in the Oct. 28 parliamentary elections. Further controversy erupted when Tymoshenko's political party, Batkivshchina, or Fatherland, nominated her to be its presidential candidate for the 2015 election.
Because of international attention on Tymoshenko, Ukrainian officials were forced to cancel the yearly Yalta summit for Central and East European leaders. Eight heads of state, including the leaders of the Czech Republic and Germany, refused to travel to Ukraine.
Tymoshenko's imprisonment put the country's joint hosting of the European Football Championship with Poland in danger, as some world leaders threatened to boycott matches held in Ukraine. Football fans were also worried after a series of explosions that took place April 27 in Dniepropetrovsk. Four bombs exploded in public places, leaving 26 people injured. The event was pronounced an act of terrorism. Three suspected bombers at first denied their guilt, but then admitted the explosions were a way to voice their anger with the social situation in the country.
Still, "we succeeded in having a fantastic Euro 2012," UEFA Operations Director Martin Kallen said after the tournament's closing.
For the fragmented opposition, however, 2012 was not so successful. Those Oct. 28 parliamentary elections gave 187 seats, a plurality, to the ruling party, Regions, followed by Tymoshenko's Batkivshchina with 102 seats, the boxer Vitali Klitschko's Udar with 40 seats, the nationalist Svoboda party with 38 seats and the Communist party with 32.
Next year, the Ukrainian political scene may be even more tense. Gennadiy Balashov, head of the School of Political Psychology, has predicted fresh and vigorous unrest: "Ukraine is on the verge of realizing the need of the economic revolution. The people's discontent with the current economic order will grow, and people may go to the streets to demand more economic freedoms."
Anna Shamanska can be reached at
- A lawyer representing Tymoshenko -- who is currently in the city of Kharkiv, where ...
- "Ukraine is on the verge of realizing the need of the economic revolution. The ...