President Yanukovych of Ukraine would be well advised to read the report put together by the United Nations on North Korea and the prospect of members of that regime being tried for crimes against humanity.
His regime and interior ministers could well end up charged with crimes against their own people. At present the Ukrainian parliament including some members of Yanukovych’s party have approved a resolution to pull back troops.
The civil disorder and bloodshed in the capital Kiev are a direct result of Yanukovych’s authoritarian rule. The Ukrainian experience with democracy over the last decade has been mixed to say the least.
Unlike the regime in nearby Belarus, however, Ukrainians have tasted an alternative from one-party rule.
Since the election in 2010 of Yanukovych, the Ukraine has seen show trials, imprisonment of opposition leaders on dubious charges, and a strategic move closer to Russia. The people of the Ukraine have also seen a small group of powerful oligarchs, along with members of the wider Yanukovych family, get wealthier and wealthier.
This is, of course, consistent with any major power-smaller neighbour relationship, especially where there is a background of autocracy. The exception is US-Israel where the latter calls the shots.
The question is: what to do? I have never believed that advising ‘the West’ is the answer, because of its own unedifying imperial baggage and because is will always be strategically second-guessed.
Ideally the UN Security Council would apply pressure, derived from the Human Rights Council. But the obvious obstacle is the veto. No resolution has been passed, though submitting one and witnessing a Russian veto would have its own political force. To my knowledge, not even the General Assembly has handled the issue.
A joint initiative by the UN Secretary-General and the European Commission President could just possibly begin to thaw things. Perhaps the UN/EU could call upon Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to cooperate with it.
The latest reports that an early election could be called ups the ante for everyone, not least the President himself. Should he lose any upcoming election Yanukovych must realise that he could well face charges for the carnage of the last few days.