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 Ukrainian Politics
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 European Expert about Kuzmin: He Looked Like a Gangster, Behaved Like a Gangster and Talked Like a Gangster

In the end of last week the annual IX Yalta European Strategy (YES) took place.

European politicians used it for negotiations with the President Viktor Yanukovych, however, that did not lead to any agreements. According to Kommersant-Ukraine, one of the most discussed events in Yalta became the speech of the Deputy Attorney General Renat Kuzmin.

Despite the crisis in relations between Ukraine and EU, the founder of YES Viktor Pinchuk managed to maintain the theme of European integration as the main one. EU Commissar Stefan Fule agreed to come to the Livadiia Palace but warned right away that his presence does not mean a warming of relations with Kiev. During the opening reception Fule did not limit himself to standard greetings but read a long speech criticizing Ukraine. He reminded of the hopes that EU had in 2010 regarding the European choice of the Ukrainian authorities. The commissar stated that today he has to talk about these hopes in the past tense. "I had a dream… I dreamed of ending the era of divided Europe. I am talking about the most powerful tool of the European foreign currency - granting (Ukraine) the perspective of joining (EU)," noted Fule.

Joking or not, Stefan Fule supposed that President Yanukovych simply does not understand the EU demands on adhering to the democratic standards. "In 2010 I thought that our signal was heard as loud and clear. I said: "No compromises regarding values." But it seems the point was lost in translation. Let me say it again. No compromises regarding values." He then went on to repeat the phrase in Russian and Ukrainian. "Frankly I cannot even imagine how it was translated if we do not understand each other two years later." According to a source, the Commissar has agreed his speech with the leaders of the European Parliament and the European Commission.

President of Ukraine did not hear Fule's speech since he arrived to YES Forum on Saturday. Nevertheless, Stefan Fule had an opportunity to talk to Yanukovych directly. The schedule planned for a 15-minute meeting. The President needed it as a proof of continuing relations with EU and the Commissar needed it for once again announcing the list of problems obstructing EU' path to Ukraine. Instead of 15 minutes they talked for half an hour.

As it became known, the Commissar offered to expand the list of meeting participants by inviting Sweden's Foreign Minister Karl Bildt and the head of EP Committee Elmar Brok who also came to Yalta. The EU delegates talked to Yanukovych in the same cast a year ago and the Europeans were confident that the President will find a way to drop the charges against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, no specific steps were taken by Kiev.

This time the negotiations ended with failure. "Yanukovych did not hear us and talked about his stuff," noted one of the parties in conversation that wished to remain anonymous. It is peculiar that Yanukovych's public speech did not deal with European integration. The President gave a speech on Ukraine's role on the whole, and listing the country's economic integration directions noted the Eastern vector first: "Ukraine is building a model of cooperation with the Customs Union, it is studying ways of cooperation and acceptable integration forms."

On Sunday, after Fule and Brok left Yalta, Karl Bildt met with Prime Minister Mykola Azarov but it seems that this meeting did not offer any optimism either. The only Ukrainian official who stated the necessity of resolving problems with democracy and selective justice was the Vice Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy. "It is good that he said it but it would have been better if it was the President or the Prime Minister," concluded Karl Bildt.

Discussion of the criminal prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko became a topic of the separate panel within the framework of YES forum. The organizers did not disclose the name of the key participant until the last moment. It turned out to be Deputy Attorney General Renat Kuzmin. In addition the fate of the former Prime Minister was discussed by Inna Bohoslovskaia (the Party of Regions), Tymoshenko's advisor Hrihory Nemyria and EP deputy Mario David (European People's Party).

Kuzmin surprised everyone by refraining from the introductory speech and stating that he will comment on what he hears later. The Deputy Attorney General did not take part in the discussion, quietly watching the political squabble. The legal position of the regime was introduced by Bohoslovskaia. She discarded the European arguments about the articles 364 and 365 (abuse of power) of the Criminal Code that Tymoshenko was accused of violating as being Stalinist. "We have studied the European practices. The same articles can be found in the Codes of 11 EU member countries and 4 candidate countries," explained the deputy. However, David was not impressed. "If we do not have common values - forget about Association, Free Trade Area, and Visa matter," threatened the EP deputy.

Renat Kuzmin took the floor in the end of the discussion. Formally - to answer the questions but in fact - to give his prepared 10-minute speech. "The only person whose fault it is that Tymoshenko is behind bars is her defense lawyer who did not leave her a chance of staying free," quietly and with no emotions said Kuzmin. He raised his voice only when he talked about the unacceptable statements of the West regarding the political bias of the Ukrainian courts. "No one has the right to doubt the legality of the court's decision and especially insult the judicial system. And some politicians maltreat Ukraine using dirty words for the sacred things that are the basis for the state," said he.

After the discussion Renat Kuzmin went away leaving the Forum participants to share their opinions (which were negative). "This speech is the best counterpropaganda of the Ukrainian regime. He looked like a gangster, he behaved like a gangster and he talked like a gangster," said senior fellow of the Peterson Institute Anders Aslund.

"I do not understand why they brought him here. I did not find a single person he convinced," added former US ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer.

 
 
 
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