Did Ursula von der Leyen Ask the Opposition What They Think of Kiev’s “Democracy”

Following the June 23 decision of the European Council to grant candidate status to Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kiev on July 1 to dictate to the Ukrainians the “reforms” they must now carry out to qualify for membership. In her speech to the Parliament in Kiev, she welcomed them into a “democratic Europe” “You have come such a long way since 2014,” she said. “You have chosen firmly to be a democracy and to live under the rule of law.”

She did not mention (and never has) the neonazis and extremist nationalists who continue to hold key positions in the country, nor the banning of opposition parties, nor the witch hunts against Russian culture, nor the transformation of Ukraine’s courts into a political tool. One must assume that, in the EU’s view, none of that matters, as long as the regime is anti-Russian.

It was on March 20, 2022 that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suspended eleven parties, including the Opposition Platform-For Life (OPFL) of Viktor Medvedchuk (now under arrest), which held 10% of the seats in the parliament (Rada), and the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, led until it was banned by Dr. Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko, long-time allies of the Schiller Institute. Then, on May 3, the Rada banned “pro-Russian parties” by a law, which Zelenskyy signed on May 14. So far, 14 parties have been banned and orders issued to confiscate their property.

To implement the new law, the Ministry of Justice and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) brought cases against each party, which are being heard by an Appeals Court in Lviv. Defense lawyers, however, have been effectively been barred from participating… The PSPU was the only party to not only attempt a defense, but to file a counter-suit, which was dismissed on June 23. Citing violations of the presumption of innocence, of protections against the retroactive application of laws, and of numerous precedents in European Court rulings, it refutes the charges point by point – which include outright false accusations of foreign funding and allegedly “pro-Russian” statements.

Another of the political groups banned is the Party of Shariy, founded by Anatoly Shariy, a popular Ukrainian blogger and long-time crusader against corruption and neo-Nazism in Ukraine, who now lives in exile in Spain. On June 29, he posted a 20-minute video, with English subtitles, that dissects the legal travesties in the Lviv court. We recommend the video to anyone concerned about “democracy” in Europe and elsewhere.

Former MPs Natalia Vitrenko and Volodymyr Marchenko have both signed the recent Schiller Institute call for convening a new Bretton Woods conference (cf. this week’s supplement).

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