West is changing attitude to Ukraine

The Council of Europe’s criticism, expressed to the authorities in Kiev over the investigation of the Odessa tragedy of May 2014, reflects the overall changes in the attitude of the West towards the situation in Ukraine, Russian experts believe.

The investigation of the May 2, 2014 violence in Ukraine’s port city of Odessa, when clashes in the city centre and the fire in the Trade Unions Building left 48 dead and several hundred others injured has been neither effective nor independent. It was repeatedly delayed and accompanied by multiple violations of the rights of victims and their families, as follows from a report on the investigation of Odessa violence by the International Advisory Panel of the Council of Europe presented in Kiev on Wednesday. The authors arrived at the conclusion that the Odessa police force, lacking the experience of preventing massive unrest, failed to forestall a tragic turn of events. The Ukrainian authorities, they said, proved unable to ensure effective investigation.

Earlier, as they looked into the investigation of the standoff and violence in Kiev’s Independence Square in 2013-2014, CE experts found that it was not effective enough, either, and failed to fully match the European Convention of Human Rights.

Russian political scientist Nikolay Zlobin is quoted by the daily Vedomosti as saying had Europe really wanted to see thorough investigation, it would have demanded it in an ultimatum-like fashion. "All along the process has been under the control of the European authorities, which were well aware that they were playing down the affair. Any insistent demands would run counter to the real aims of their policies in Ukraine," he said.

And yet, the Western public opinion of the ongoing events in Ukraine has been changing, the director of the Political Studies Centre, Sergey Markov, has told TASS. "There is no mass media freedom in the United States or the European Union as soon as it comes to Ukraine. A very firm propagandistic paradigm is effective there. First, everybody saw support for the ultra-nationalist, Russophobic regime and attempts to present it as democratic. Now the situation is changing. The Western handlers and patrons have been trying to put greater pressures on Kiev to make the regime more decent-looking. The mass media have been allowed to criticize the shortfalls of the Kiev regime, although they are not saying the whole truth yet."

The European organizations have been more impartial in their attitude to the situation in Ukraine, the chief of the regional security section at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, Igor Nikolaichuk, has told TASS. "All European countries and institutions have demonstrated a U-turn in their attitude to Ukraine. Our mass media surveys have identified a sharp decline in negative comments on Russia in relation to the Ukrainian crisis. In fact, it looked like a push-button lull. It followed on September 30, when the first air strikes in Syria were carried out. A certain geo-political shift has occurred. Many experts are certain that the Ukrainian issue as a means of pressure on Russia has been pushed into the background or forgotten altogether. There have been truly radical changes towards criticizing Ukraine."

Ukraine is no longer of interest to Europe, Nikolaichuk believes.

"Political maneuvering has begun in the media, diplomatic and other spaces. Figuratively speaking Ukraine has been asked to pay the bills, to start doing something constructive at last to fight against corruption and put its economy in order," he said.

The leading research fellow at the Russian presidential academy RANEPA, Sergey Bespalov, believes that the investigation of the Odessa tragedy looks utterly unacceptable to any impartial analyst.

"It was clear from the outset that the Kiev authorities were directly involved in bringing rampaging thugs to Odessa, who then staged a provocative street march and attacked the Trade Unions Building. Clearly, one of the organizers of the second Maidan protests, Andrey Parubyi, played a key role in that. After last year’s government coup he became one of the central figures of the new authorities in Kiev. Obviously, the patience of Council of Europe experts must be wearing thin, particularly so, if one recalls that some time ago they expressed surprise over the poor progress in the investigation of the death of demonstrators from gunshot wounds during the Independence Square protests. These two statements - one on the Odessa violence, and the other over killings in Kiev - are surely indicative of certain changes in the state of the public mind in Europe."

Bespalov believes that the European public’s reconsideration of Kiev’s role in the conflict in the southeast of the country has influenced the situation a great deal.

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