Global Voices Online
Saturday, May 31, 2008
On May 12, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov was declared persona non grata in Ukraine, following his calls for Russia to take ownership of Sevastopol, a Ukrainian Black Sea naval port. (Earlier GV translations about the incident are here and here.)
On May 15, Russia denied entry to Vladyslav Kaskiv, one of the leaders of the 2004 protests in Kyiv and member of the Our Ukraine/People's Self-Defense faction in the Ukrainian parliament. Kaskiv was traveling to Moscow to participate in a TV talk show, in which his opponent would have been Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
LJ user varfolomeev66, a Russian journalist, compared the two cases (RUS):
Feel the difference
Today, Ukrainian MP Kaskiv was not allowed to enter Russia. It appears to be a rather adequate response to Ukraine's decision to ban mayor Luzhkov.
But let's pay attention to the details and consider just how it was done in each of the cases.
1. [...] Luzhkov had been warned in advance (in written form!) about unacceptability of "extremist speech." [...] Kaskiv was detained at the airport without any prior warning.
2. We know well about the reasons for attacks on [...] Luzhkov: his doubts on whether Sevastopol belongs to Ukraine and his threats to annul [the 1997 Russian-Ukrainian "Big Treaty" on friendship and cooperation]. What [...] Kaskiv is guilty of is not known, however; the official explanation only states that he "presents a threat to security" - but what's behind that?
3. [...] Luzhkov's persona non grata status was announced by a totally real [Security Service of Ukraine] employee, Maryna Ostapenko. About [...] Kaskiv, no official representative (whose actions could then be appealed] has made a statement, and all accusations against him were attributed to "sources" in the border control service and Sheremetyevo [Airport].
Doesn't look like a big deal. But in reality, it shows the principal differences between the two regimes. The Ukrainian one, where officials have to explain themselves to the public and the media, and take responsibility for their actions. And the Russian one, where state employees are free to take any decisions they like without providing any kind of coherent public explanations.
This, among other things, is why Ukraine is labeled as a "free country" in international rankings, while our [Russian Federation] is "not free." All is obvious and justified. And it is very sad.
Here is part of a discussion following this post:
And Kaskiv is like a saint, right?
It's possible that he is indeed some terrible enemy of Russia. But I, as a citizen, would like to know: what kind of threat, exactly, he poses and what crimes he has already managed to commit. But there are no explanations. Perhaps, because there is simply nothing to accuse him of?