BRAMA, February 24, 2012, 9:00 AM ET|
Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
By Bishop Paul Peter Jesep
In January 2012, I asked a very provocative question in an Open Letter to Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych: “What if Yulia Tymoshenko dies while in prison?” The international media continues to report that she is in declining health. Reasons include abuse, substandard care, and intentionally withholding proper medical assistance. Viktor Fedorovych may think he’s handled the matter with cunning, but in reality it’s a circus with him driving a little car wearing a clown’s outfit.
Although some may have “Yulia fatigue” because of the constant attention given to the former prime minister, there is something far worse – Viktor Fedorovych Circus Fatigue. His stewardship of the country is baffling. It’s been a three ring circus with his decision to keep Ms. Tymoshenko in the center ring of intentional attention.
Meanwhile the left ring features exorbitant natural gas prices from Muscovy. Let’s not forget that Viktor Fedorovych allegedly cut a sweet heart deal for low gas prices in exchange for letting the Russian Black Sea Fleet remain in the Crimea. Yet he blames Ms. Tymoshenko for Ukraine’s predicament. In the other ring are ongoing efforts to consolidate power, stifle free press, and lay the foundations to rig the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Putin the Muscovite, plotting his own staged election, has the dubious distinction of being the ring master in the Yanukovych circus. On reflection, it’s probably not fair to liken Viktor Fedorovych to a circus clown. After all clowns have more polish, common sense, and much better timing.
Ms. Tymoshenko’s shadow has haunted the entire Yanukovych presidency. It will continue to do so until he’s defeated in the next presidential election. If he rigs it a la Belarus or Muscovy then he should expect more of the same. Ukraine may have Yulia fatigue, but the world doesn’t. More important those in Ukraine with Yulia fatigue and who just want to move on should think twice. This is much bigger than one person. Ms. Tymoshenko may be the public face, but beneath the surface are issues like free press, fair elections, and an impartial justice system.
Regardless of what you think of Ms. Tymoshenko she’s is now a larger than life figure. If she dies while in prison due to Yanukovich’s earlier show trial she’ll become a heroine of mythical proportions. This is the stuff of Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals. Think Eva Peron. Evita!
Whatever flaws, political indiscretions, and misuses of power or money that occurred under Eva Peron’s watch, the former First Lady of Argentina still casts a very long shadow over the country more than a half century later. She is remembered as a charismatic, no-nonsense fighter for the people. Is it myth? Perhaps. But this is why they’re called myths and people come to idealize such figures. They are symbols of something bigger, better, and brighter than the social and political malaise of the era.
One of the most remembered songs from the movie with Madonna and the Broadway musical that starred Patti LuPone is “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Ms. Tymoshenko knowing full well that she wasn’t going to get a fair trial refused to seek political asylum in another country. She pledged undying love to Ukraine, its People, and to God. Ms. Tymoshenko refused to abandon the nation as it slid into political decay. She now urges opposition parties to put aside differences and unite against the growing tide of authoritarianism.
Hopefully, Ms. Tymoshenko will receive proper medical coverage, make a full recovery, and be released from prison where she never belonged. Let’s all pray this happens. Sadly, however, there seems no limit to Viktor Fedorovych’s stubbornness.
It reminds me of an angel of the Lord who visited Volodymyr the farmer. “God is pleased with you,” the angel told him. “God wishes to reward you for your faith, honesty, and hard work.” The angel added, “You may have anything you want, but only on one condition. Your worst enemy will have it doubled. So, if you want a mansion, he or she gets two. If you want a hundred cows, he or she gets two hundred.”
Volodymyr scratched his beard. He stood looking reflectively into the sky toward God. He then pulled gently on his gray beard to help him think. “Anything? I can have anything?” Volodymyr asked, looking at the angel. “Yes,” the angel said. “You can have anything. Just remember your enemy gets twice as much.”
The farmer smiled. “I wish to be blind in one eye.”
Viktor Fedorovych has already missed several opportunities to save face and appear statesman-like. The longer it takes him the harder it will become. Part of the 2012 World Soccer Championship will be held in Ukraine. God help Viktor Fedorovych if Ms. Tymoshenko’s health takes a turn for the worst and she dies in prison during the games. Ukraine will have its first modern political martyr who will be a personality larger in death than life. If you haven’t signed the online petition "Free Yulia!" please add your name to it.
Paul Peter Jesep is a New York lawyer and bishop in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). He started the online petition "Free Yulia!" In addition, Metropolitan Myfodii UAOC-Kyiv Patriarchate appointed him spokesperson and government relations liaison for the Church in the United States. The views expressed here are personal and in no way reflect those of the UAOC. He may be reached at VladykaPaulPeter(at)aol.com.
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Mar 23 12 - Friends of Ukraine Take Action
Feb 24 12 - Will Ukraine have Its First Modern Political Martyr?
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