Prague refuses to welcome Yanukovych

The capital of the Czech Republic refuses to participate in organizing the visit of the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.  This was decided by the Prague city council today.

Tomáš Hudeček, the mayor of the capital, said there were no grounds for Prague to participate in the reception of the Ukrainian president. Moreover, the mayor highlighted that “it is absurd that Yanukovych will land in the airport named after Václav Havel [the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003), Chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation until his death in 2011 – euromaidanpr.wordpress].” If the President of Ukraine comes to Prague, the local government will not organise any events that typically take place during the visits of heads of state, in particular, Yanukovych will not be invited to a traditional reception held in the city hall.

Tomáš Hudeček also added that the Czech capital will transfer 500,000 Czech koruna (around 215,000 UAH) as assistance for the Ukrainian activists injured during the protests in Ukraine. The money will be transferred via the humanitarian organisation “People In Need” (Czech: Člověk v tísni).  A week ago this organisation decided to provide a similar amount to the Ukrainian “victims of violence, targeted persecutions during the protests and also their familites, if needed”.

Last week several Czeck public figues, poets, film directors, singers, sportsmen, heads of city and oblast administrations appealed to the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, to cancel the visit of Viktor Yanukovych to their country.

The President of the Czech Republic invited his Ukrainian counterpart to visit his country in response to his own visit to Ukraine last year.  Yanukovych is expected to come to Prague in April.  During the visit he will also take part in a mini-summit initiated by the European Union “Eastern Partnership”, together with around ten heads of states-participants of this initiative.

The President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, visited Ukraine last October prior to November’s Summit of “Eastern Partnership” in Vilnius.  Support for the European integration of Ukraine was one of the themes of his visit. However at the Vilnius summit, Ukraine reversed its plans to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, announcing that its Eurointegration plans were sidelined due to the difficulties that would arise in its relationship with Russia. As a consequence, mass protests began in Ukraine to support the Eurointegration of Ukraine that continue until today, evolving into protests against the regime of Yanukovych.

*Photo: Pro-democracy and human rights rally in Prague, January 22, 2013

Translated by Oleksandra Kondratenko



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