Ukraine scores ‘own goal’ as Euro debacle looms
UKRAINE: Ukraine failed to anticipate the angry Western reaction to
its treatment of jailed ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the
dispute risks ruining its hosting of the Euro 2012 football, observers
The Euro 2012 tournament co-hosted with Poland was set to be a
glorious showcase for the ex-Soviet country: but President Viktor
Yanukovych appears to have scored a massive own goal by allowing it to
be overshadowed by the Tymoshenko case. Austria has announced it will
boycott all matches hosted by Ukraine, a move that reportedly could be
matched by Germany.
All European Union commissioners will also be absent, while at least
seven EU heads of state are shunning a summit to be hosted by Yanukovych
in Yalta this month. “Ukraine has ended up in an impasse which is going
to be difficult to get out of,” said Olga Shumylo-Tapiola of the
Carnegie Europe Centre in Brussels.
“The logic of those in power in Ukraine is hard to understand from
the point of view of common sense,” she added. Tymoshenko, who was
jailed for seven years on charges of abuse of power in October, upped
the stakes in her standoff with the authorities last month by going on
hunger strike and claiming she had been beaten by prison guards.
With an efficient PR machine fronted by the opposition leader’s
telegenic, London School of Economics-educated daughter Yevgeniya, the
Western reaction led by Germany has been tough. And it clearly caught
the Yanukovych government off guard.
The most obvious solution for Ukraine to prevent its Euro turning
into a fiasco is to take up an offer from Germany or Russia to allow her
to travel abroad for the medical treatment that her supporters say she
But Yanukovych has so far shown no sign of wanting to make
concessions, saying he cannot interfere in the legal process. AFP