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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

6th January 2012

Is Ukraine Democratic?

In January 2011, I wrote a blog called “Is Ukraine free?”  In it, I noted that for 2011, in the ranking produced by the US-based NGO Freedom House, Ukraine fell back into the “Partly Free” category, having been in the “Free” category every year since 2005. Being in the “Partly Free” category, with a score of 6 on the Freedom House system, put Ukraine equal with Moldova – still one of the two highest-ranking non-Baltic FSU countries, but suggesting Moldova was catching up. I noted that Ukraine’s descent into the “Partly Free” category would reinforce concerns about the development of democracy and freedom of speech. The blog included a graph showing how different FSU states had done in the Freedom House rankings over the last 20 years.

This month, someone has drawn my attention to a similar exercise by The Economist magazine, entitled Democracy Index 2011, published in December. The Economist has a different methodology from Freedom House. It groups countries into “Full democracies”; “Flawed democracies”; “Hybrid regimes”; and “Authoritarian regimes”. This index shows Ukraine as one of two countries changing category downwards from a “flawed democracy” (2010) to a “hybrid regime” (2011). Ukraine’s ranking drops from 67th out of 167 countries in 2010 to 79th in 2011.

I’m cautious about reading too much into a single index; and you can always argue about methodology. But it is noteworthy that two independent reports both show a deteriorating trend in Ukraine. I look forward to seeing how Ukraine is doing in the 2012 Freedom House rankings, due out this month.

6 comments on “Is Ukraine Democratic?

  1. Ambassador Turner, you are being very kind – and diplomatic.

    As you know, Berkut, the paramilitary police, earlier launched attacks on ——- t-shirts — that critiziced president Yanukovych.

    Now, criminal cases have been opened to try to investigate ——- billboards.

    Yes, billboards on which Yanukovych’s face appears with the message “let’s welcome Euro 2012 – this year will open Ukraine to Europe and the world.”

    What business does Yanukovych have using government resources to paste his face all over billboards announcing Euro 2012 – as if noone knows about the Euro football (soccer) tournaments that take place every 4 years, and which are very widely publicized and reported and known?

    Vadim Kolesnichenko, one of the members of the same party, Party of Regions, as the president, has introduced legislation which would make it a crime to criticize the president.

    These are but a few small examples of “flawed democracy” in Ukraine.

    It is, in fact, a sovok mafia state, sovoks being all of those who were in power and in office during the soviet union.

    Maybe if Andrei, above, put some pressure on Ukraine’s government, instead of on you, Ukrainians would have visa-free travel.

    As it is, Ukrainians seem to go about everything bass ackwards – Ukraine has a sovok mafia government, so it’s time to ask England for favors for Ukrainian citizens.

    How much trust does that show by Ukrainians in the Ukrainians sovok mafia government?

    Obviously – none.

    Just as obviously, Andrei should ask the Ukrainian government, and its sovok mafia president, to straighten up and finally take steps towards implementing democracy in Ukraine.

    Then, Ukrainians would get visa-free travel.

    1. Hi elmer,

      They used the billboards to circumvent the “90 day” campaign laws.

      Gee? I wonder who pays for this advertising {AKA : campaigning}?

      Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/120541/#ixzz1kWZXJGf1
      They used the Supreme Court to circumvent legislation which would make it a crime to criticize the president.

      2 days ago at 23:04

      Supreme Court upheld that the media is banned from writing about government officials – now and before the elections ? ? ? ? ?


      Read more: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/politics/detail/121085/#ixzz1kWXKQlXG
      They want to use visas to circumvent sending “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists” to the gulags again – because the homo-sovieticus will remain behind and vote for them.

    2. Hi Elmer,

      I believe that they found another way to circumvent the campaign “laws” – AGAIN !
      “Moreover, I do not understand this situation is also due to the fact that last year the reserve was first made about 17 million USD instead of the usual 7. Thus, the team increased the budget of the special accounts for 180%,” – she added.
      As reported, on the eve of the Epiphany deputies of the Verkhovna Rada registered a draft law № 9690 “On the return of the cultural heritage of religious organizations,” according to which the Cabinet is in charge of the 3-month period to address issues regarding the transmission facilities located in the area Kremenets, Holy Epiphany Convent of Ternopil diocese and Pochayiv Holy Assumption Laura of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and facilities located in Kiev – the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Monastery), UOC (MP), without the right of alienation and change of purpose referred to objects.

      Read more:


    3. European Studies Department

      School of International Relations

      Saint Petersburg State University

      Paper presented for the 6th Pan-European International Relations Conference

      Making Sence of a Pluralist World

      September 12-15, 2007

      Turin, Italy
      On the 4th of July 2004, the 6th Congress of the Party of the Regions elected Viktor Yanukovich as an official presidential aspirant22, and the Yanukovich’s electoral campaign began. The ROC took the most active part in it.

      The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia expressed his support to the Yanukovich’s political program and wished him to be courage and tolerant during the presidential elections.32

      Yanukovich’s response was in the end of October 2004, when the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers transferred the St. Vladimir’s Cathedral and the Temple of the Seven Saint martyrs of Khersoness in Kherson to the UOC MP. The Metropolitan of Crimea and Simferopol Lazar admitted that this decision had been a pleasant surprise for him.33
      At the same time, the Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kyivcalled the Ukrainian people to forget all political discords, and said that “the Church – is out of politics”35.
      However, the ROC remained an active actor of the Ukraine’s political scene, despite even the Basics for the ROC Social Concept. In the ROC’s cathedrals, the leaflets saying that “Yanukovich is an Orthodox president” had been distributed36. According to the statements of International Election Observation Mission, the UOC MP’s parishes had distributed the papers, which claimed Yushchenko an enemy of the Orthodoxy37

      Read more:


    4. Hi Elmer,

      I believe that they found another way to circumvent the election “laws” – AGAIN !


      Piano voting Personified ! ! ! !

      Registered in the Parliament a bill that allows the Ukrainian vote in elections and referendums from computers and mobile phones.

      Under the draft law “On state program of introduction of electronic voting,” in Ukrainian legislation will be a new term – “electronic voting”.



      Read more:


  2. Mr. Turner,

    It’s time to make it visa free for Ukrainians to travel and stay.
    You allow Bulgarians to go and live opening small businesses,
    can’t you see how strict you are to us?

Comments are closed.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.