Zelensky's record on democracy is looking very dubious

If you have been following the global mainstream media or listening to the utterances of the powerful in Washington, you will be convinced that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the sole hope for mankind.

Zelensky recently received standing ovations for his rousing speeches delivered via satellite to the British Parliament in London, the E.U. parliament in Brussels, and Congress in Washington.  European politicians were so overwhelmed that they nominated him for a Nobel prize.

The likes of David Frum are claiming, "Ukraine may be the first example in human history of a country that under the pressure of war is becoming *more* tolerant and *more* liberal[.]"

Most of Washington, across party lines and the media organizations, has a consensus on Ukraine.  These people want to send millions of dollars worth of weaponry to Ukraine.  Some even want boots on the ground in Ukraine.

The recent bipartisan 1.5-trillion-dollar spending bill dedicated $14 billion in emergency funding for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and $3.5 billion for sending new military equipment and $3 billion for deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine.

They reiterate that the U.S. is duty-bound to defend Ukraine because Ukraine is a democracy, while Russia is a totalitarian state. 

So what has been Zelensky's and the Ukrainian regime's record on democratic values?

Whenever a democratic nation is at war owing to an attack, the leader attempts to unite the country.  This includes citizens and equally important opposition leaders, and the media.  The media and the opposition are free to say what they please, but the leader urges them all to unite for the country.

Over the weekend, Zelensky invoked his emergency powers under martial law to suppress several opposition political parties and implement a "unified information policy."

In a national address, Zelensky announced a temporary ban on "any activity" by 11 political parties.

This ban applies to Ukraine's largest opposition party, "The Opposition Platform — For Life," which has 44 seats in Ukraine's national parliament — i.e., the Ukrainian people elected them to parliament.

According to Ukrainian news outlet LB, the leader of the For Life party, Yuriy Boyko, had demanded that Russia "stop the aggression against Ukraine," but the party has been accused of being pro-Kremlin.

Much before the Russian intervention, in May 2021, Viktor Medvedchuk, another the leader of For Life party, was accused of treason against Ukraine.  Russian president Vladimir Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk's daughter.

Ukraine's National Bureau of Investigation has accused the former president, Petro Poroshenko, of corruption, treason, supporting "terrorist organizations" and being pro-Kremlin.

Critics have said that anti-corruption laws were used to restrict the activities and punish anti-Zelensky oligarchs.

One has to remember that Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union; there are myriad Ukrainians who still have relatives in and other ties with Russia.  Yet this was used to suppress political opposition.

The media weren't spared, either.

Zelensky's news information policy involves "combining all national TV channels, the program content of which consists mainly of information and/or information-analytical programs, [into] a single information platform of strategic communication" to be called "United News."

Zelensky cited the measure as essential to fight Russian disinformation and "tell the truth about the war."

This muzzling of the press isn't a recent ploy.  Last year, Zelensky was accused of using draconian measures to restrain the press.

In February 2021, the National Security and Defense Council at Zelensky's initiative banned three TV channels — NewsOne, Channel 112, and ZIK, owned by Ukrainian lawmaker Taras Kozak — for being pro-Kremlin.

Kozak was also charged with treason for Kremlin ties.

Last year, the Kyiv Independent reported that Zelensky demanded that news outlets have pro-Ukraine (read: pro-Zelensky) coverage.  There were also attempts to cancel the screening of a documentary film critical of the Ukraine government.

Beyond media muzzling

When war broke, Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 were banned from leaving after Zelensky enforced martial law.  There was also conscription of reservists of the same age group.

In a democratic nation, the leader may urge his citizens to take up arms, but force can never ever be applied.

To understand this better, consider a hypothetical scenario in the U.S.

What if the Biden administration or its allies accused a critical media figure such as Tucker Carson or a political rival such as President Donald Trump of treason?  What if Democrat-supported government agencies began investigating President Trump by accusing him of financial impropriety or colluding with a foreign power without any valid evidence?  Imagine that Democrat allies begin cheering for the arrest of both Trump and Carlson. 

Well, you don't have to imagine that...

But imagine if Biden actually went one step farther and arrested Republicans and shut down Fox News.

Zelensky seems to be doing exactly what liberals have always intended to do.  Perhaps that is why they are fond of him.

Zelensky recently berated the Israeli Knesset for enabling a second Holocaust ("Final Solution") by not providing the Ukrainians with advanced weaponry.  Israeli officials and Israel's national Holocaust Memorial condemned Zelensky's statements as a trivialization and distortion of the historical facts of the Holocaust. 

Zelensky also blasted Swiss banks and Nestlé for business with Russia.

Perhaps the war has driven him to desperation, but Zelensky is increasingly sounding like a tyrant, the very force he claims to be standing up to.

What about the Ukraine regime's human rights record?

Indian students and African and Asian individuals have described the racist behavior meted out to them by Ukrainian authorities as they attempted to escape.

The Azov battalion, a unit of the Ukrainian army that uses the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol as its emblem, has been accused of having neo-Nazi links.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights accused members of the Azov battalion of war crimes in the early stages of the conflict in Ukraine.

Following Russia's invasion, there have been reports of the Ukrainian government using citizens as human shields

War-torn Ukraine is now a hotbed for mercenaries, defense contractors, and prison inmates who were released by the Ukrainian authorities to fight Russian forces. 

What happens when these individuals get their hands on advanced weaponry sent by the U.S.?

What are the odds that they may seize this weaponry and resell it to terrorists or criminal elements?

What cannot be denied is the plight of millions of Ukrainian people, who are suffering because of this war.  Words cannot describe their pain of being displaced, abandoned, orphaned, and wounded.

But there has to be a distinction between the people and their governments.

Given Ukraine's record on corruption, global powers must ensure that aid and support reach the Ukrainian people and are not siphoned off by Ukrainian officials.

The media are attempting to make the case for war, painting Zelensky and the Ukrainian regime as spotless white and Putin and Russia as pure black.

The truth, as always, is the grays.

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