Friday, December 03, 2004

Follow-Up: Viktor Yushchenko, Democrat and Anti-Semite? - Two Important Links

Two informative articles on the Silski Visti affair can be found here and here. Remember that Silski Visti is the pro-opposition Ukrainian paper that in January was ordered closed down under anti-incitement laws by a Ukrainian court following its publication of anti-Semitic materials. (As far as I understand, the court order has not been implemented and the paper continues to publish.) Before the court decision was issued, Viktor Yushchenko and his leading associate in the Our Ukraine coalition, Yulia Timoshenko, issued a statement defending the paper under the heading "Hands off Silski Visti". Yushchenko would later attempt to distance himself from the content of the Silski Visti materials and say he was only defending the paper in the name of freedom of the media. Perhaps so. But as Yushchenko is reputed to be the "pro-European" candidate, it should be noted in this connection that Germany, like Ukraine, has anti-incitement laws and that these have not been found to be incompatible with the guarantees of freedom of the media contained in European law (notably, Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention, which explicitly authorizes states to place restrictions upon the exercise of such freedom). Moreover, as cited in my previous post on the Silski Visti affair, Yushchenko's initial reaction to the January court decision - "The government will get more and more upset with truthful information in mass media..." - suggests something other than just a content-neutral defense of principle. Perhaps a complete English translation of the "Hands off" statement would help to clarify this matter.

I can well imagine that the first of the links I have provided, from the website Ukraine Now, will be dismissed as "pro-government" by those well disposed to Yushchenko and "Our Ukraine". Perhaps it is. But that is irrelevant. The link contains numerous citations from Silski Visti - such as this one:

...Jews today strive to rule over Ukrainian people and enrich themselves at their expense. One of the ways of achieving this is demoralization, deprivation of cultural wealth and denationalization, and another is capturing political power. Both the first and the second ways are functioning perfectly today... the phantom of Zionism in Ukraine has turned into abnormal reality....;

or this one:

...Today the Jewish community in Ukraine is not experiencing the rebirth of a national minority but is in the process of legalizing its dealings as an apolitical and economic structure, which is well planned, organized and financed. This so-called minority exhibits extreme aggression. It poses an elevated threat to the national security of Ukraine. As a foreign political body that practically oversees international trade, national finances, mass media and publishing, it must be placed under strict government and sate [sic.] control, and must be regimented and regulated.

Is this what Viktor Yushchenko calls "truthful information in the mass media"?

The link from Ukraine Now also alleges that in response to the controversy provoked by the Silski Visti articles, Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine coalition launched a forum on its website under the title "Beware of Jews: Ukrainians Must Read This."

With all due respect, the blogosphere should stop allowing itself to be hypnotized by inspiring images of young people in orange scarves. These allegations are far too serious to be dismissed. They need to be investigated.