The Corner

Ukraine goes Belarus?

Writing in the New York Review of Books, historian Tim Snyder takes a look at where things stand in Ukraine:

On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship. President Viktor Yanukovych, in having the deputies of his Party of Regions endorse an extraordinary packet of legislation, has arrogated decisive political power to himself. After hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent weeks in the cold demonstrating for basic human rights and a stronger association with Europe, the president has responded with a violation of human rights and a rather sad imitation of Russia.

In procedure and in content the laws “passed” by the Ukrainian parliament this week contravene the most basic rights of modern constitutional democracies: to speech, assembly, and representation. Although they concern the most basic aspects of political life, and transform the constitutional structure of the Ukrainian state, these measures were not subjected to even the barest of parliamentary procedures. There were no public hearings, there was no debate in parliament, and there was no actual vote. There was a show of hands in parliament and an estimate of how many hands were raised. The standard electronic voting system, which creates an official record, was not used…..

And it gets worse from there.

It’s hard not to think that one way or the other matters have passed a point of no return. Unless he’s prepared to spend the rest of his life exiled in Russia, Yanukovych now has only one direction in which he can go—towards further repression.

So what does the opposition do now? 

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