The government of Canada should take a particular interest in the prosecution – and persecution – of the defeated Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko; after all, there are more than 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry. Ukraine’s own human-rights commissioner, Nina Karpachova (herself last month replaced by an appointee from the governing party), has confirmed that Ms. Tymoshenko appears to have been beaten in jail. On Friday, there was a degree of progress: Ms. Tymoshenko accepted a move to a Ukrainian hospital, where she will be treated by a German doctor.
“Woe to the vanquished” seems to have been adopted as a policy by the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Three weeks ago, John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was right to discern “a troubling trend” in the conviction of the former acting defence minister Valeriy Ivashchenko (who served under Ms. Tymoshenko when she was prime minister) accompanied by a five-year prison sentence – part of a pattern in what Mr. Baird called “previous, apparently politically motivated prosecutions.”
Earlier this year, the Foreign Affairs Department solicited views on the possibility of a free-trade agreement with Ukraine. As things now stand, Canada should put any such thoughts on hold. Last December, the European Union, having arrived at an “association agreement” with Ukraine, decided not to proceed with its signing and ratification, until political conditions improved there. The agreement was partly for greater economic integration but also was concerned with democracy. For her part, Ms. Tymoshenko asked that her country not be penalized for her sake. But there has been no substantial political progress since then, and Canada should follow the EU’s example.