News

    Leaders Threaten Euro 2012 Boycott Over Alleged Ukraine Abuses

    Henry Ridgwell

    A number of European leaders say they plan to boycott the Euro 2012 football tournament next month in Ukraine to protest the alleged mistreatment of the country's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently in jail.  A new report also raises concerns about the conduct of the Ukrainian police, just as the country prepares for the arrival of soccer fans from across Europe.

    May Day brought communist demonstrators onto the streets Tuesday in Kiev - as news of the threatened Euro 2012 boycott spread. Marchers voiced their support for Yulia Tymoshenko and for the boycott - 15-year-old Serhiy was among them.

    "It is not right, of course, what they are doing with Yulia Tymoshenko," he said.  "Everybody needs to sort it out, and that she is being defended by the European Union is right."

    Key Dates for Tymoshenko

    1995-1997: President of United Energy Systems of Ukraine
    1996: Becomes member of Ukraine's parliament
    1999-2001:
    Deputy prime minister in charge of energy
    2004:
    Co-leads Orange Revolution that secures presidential victory of Viktor Yushchenko
    2005:
    Prime minister, relationship with Yushchenko becomes strained
    2007-2010:
    Prime minister, signs controversial gas deal with Russia
    November 2010:
    Loses presidential election to Victor Yanukovych
    December 2010:
    Charged with misusing state funds
    May 2011:
    Charged with abuse of power for Russian gas contract
    October 2011:
    Sentenced to 7 years in prison for abuse of power

    Photos show former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on a hunger strike, with bruises on her arms and stomach that she says were inflicted by prison guards - a charge the government denies.  She is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of office, charges she says are politically motivated.

    The photos prompted several European leaders and ministers, among them the entire Dutch government and the president of the European Commission, to pledge a boycott of next month's Euro 2012 soccer matches in Ukraine.

    Germany's Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen urged others to join.

    "At the moment I do not think it is feasible for ministers or state prime ministers to take part as visitors [in Euro 2012] because I fear this poses the danger of justification of a regime, a dictatorial regime," said Roettgen.

    Other European leaders, including the foreign ministers of Germany and Sweden, have rejected calls for a boycott.

    Ukraine analyst Orysia Lutsevych, of the London-based research group Chatham House, says a boycott would hurt all Ukrainians.

    "I think there could be better ways around sending a signal and putting pressure on the government other than a boycott," said Lutsevych.  "By having so many journalists in the country and by having so many celebrities in the country we can raise an issue of human rights and democracy in another way."

    As Ukraine rushes to complete its new stadiums in time for June, the government hopes Euro 2012 will be a showcase for the country with up to a million visitors expected.

    But a new report is raising concerns about the the conduct of the Ukrainian police force.   

    Max Tucker of human-rights group Amnesty International points to CCTV footage posted on the Internet, allegedly showing police beating a man in a bar before forcing him to hand over $2,500.  Tucker says the police service needs urgent reform.

    "Police are torturing people in order to extract a confession, in order to kind of extort money or simply because of the ethnicity or sexual orientation of the person that they have in custody," said Tucker.

    Opinion across Europe appears divided; some argue a Euro 2012 boycott would serve to raise awareness of alleged abuses in Ukraine, while others say the presence of so many foreign journalists and visitors will put a spotlight on the country, perhaps leading to change.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora