Global geopolitical processes, statements by Ukrainian propagandists and the interests of Ukrainian LGBT representatives – all of this suddenly intertwined and clashed in Kyiv in recent days. How did all this happen, and what are the pitfalls for the sovereignty of any country does a harmless, at first glance, international convention contain?
On June 21, it became known that all 27 EU countries agreed to the proposal to grant Ukraine candidate status for EU membership. According to Bloomberg, the corresponding decision will be officially announced this week.
At the same time, the EU did not stipulate the conditions, the observance of which by Ukraine would allow it to obtain such a status. It is understandable: politically and symbolically, it must be given in the format “quickly, quickly, everything later.” However, the EU hinted that this advance could be withdrawn. Ukraine will have to comply with the requirements of European curators regarding anti-corruption legislation, de-oligarchization, judicial reform and protection of the rights of minorities.
Therefore, it is not surprising that just on the eve of the announcement of the candidacy, the Verkhovna Rada (VR) of Ukraine voted for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. And on June 21, Volodymyr Zelensky promptly signed the relevant law.
What kind of convention is this?
“Signed. Law on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Its main meaning is simple, but extremely important. This is an obligation to protect women from violence and various forms of discrimination,” Zelensky’s Instagram account says. Indeed, the Istanbul Convention is mainly devoted to the prevention of cases of violence against women, including domestic violence. Its ratification means that the signatory country undertakes to criminalize a number of crimes (if there were no criminal penalties for them before): psychological abuse, stalking, physical and sexual abuse, forced marriage, so-called female circumcision, etc.
Undoubtedly, criminal punishment for these things is taken for granted. However, even in the EU there are countries that sabotage the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. And Turkey, which was the first to sign and ratify it, later changed its mind and withdrew from the convention. Poland is preparing to do the same.
The reason is the same in all cases. In addition to protecting women from violence, the convention obliges the signatory country through the secondary education system to instill in the younger generation tolerance for non-identity of sex and gender. Which goes against the traditional notion that a man is a man and a woman is a woman.
Well, that is understandable. First, the EU says: “Steps towards the EU can be canceled if the basic conditions are no longer met.” And Ukraine immediately undertakes to protect the rights of women. And minorities at the same time. There is, however, one nuance. When the candidacy will turn (and will turn) into a full-fledged membership – no one knows. Unless the Latvian Foreign Ministry timidly expresses the hope that this will happen no later than 2050. And the convention must be implemented now.
Like any decision, this one has its opponents. In Ukraine, the main collective opponent of the convention is the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (unites 16 main religious organizations of Ukraine: the UOC, the OCU, Greek and Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and a number of Protestant churches). And until recently, they managed to torpedo attempts to ratify the convention by the Verkhovna Rada – Ukraine signed this document back in November 2011.
Yulia Tymoshenko is fighting for the sympathy of the traditionalists, who is going to protest the ratification through the Constitutional Court. It’s funny, but according to the Ukrainian media, in 2019 her party went to the parliamentary elections with a program that stated its intention to support the ratification of the convention. Most likely, nothing will come of Tymoshenko’s idea, although she will gain political points for herself in this struggle.
However, Zelensky’s adviser smeared her protest: Aleksey Arestovich appeared in a scandal on LGBT topics just against the backdrop of the ratification of the convention.
“I have said many times and I will not hide: I treat LGBT people as people with deviations, that is, with deviations from the norm of behavior. In this sense, I am a conservative, ”said this expert on all issues of the universe.
A skirmish began. In response, the Ukrainian LGBT organization Kyivpride demanded that Zelensky fire Arestovich. He replied that Kyivpride was persecuting him and treated him intolerantly. By attaching to the publication a frame from the film, where he played the female role.
This “w-w-w-w” is not without reason
Given the personality of Arestovich and his role under Zelensky (Zelensky’s anti-rating is partially reset on him), the possibility of a nice agreement between him and Kyivpride should not be ruled out at all. The Ukrainian government for the most part consists of completely repulsed characters, but they should not be considered fools. And it’s one thing when someone (the same Tymoshenko) hype on the topic of the convention, gaining points for himself. And another thing, when in this hype she actually aligns herself with Arestovich.
However, there is another version. The journalists of the Strana.ua publication noticed that Zelensky’s office ensured a vote on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, but at the same time “rolled” the handover of control over the SAP (Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office) by the Prosecutor General’s Office. But this is just one of the already mentioned requirements of the European Commission to the Ukrainian authorities – for the “carrot” of candidate status.
Further more interesting. In addition to the convention and the surrender of control over SAP, the European Commission asked to adopt a law on the procedure for selecting judges of the Constitutional Court (the one that will decide the constitutionality of the Istanbul Convention), as well as completing the selection of candidates for the creation of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges. Elements of judicial reform, the implementation of which Kyiv is delaying as much as possible. As soon as we rewind the calendar just a year ago, we will see that Kyivpride addressed exactly the same requirements to the Ukrainian authorities last fall.
No, not specifically with these, there is a whole package of requirements. But among other things, Kyivpride campaigned for the Ukrainian authorities to intensify judicial reform. That is what the European Commission is asking for today. Well, along the way, Kyivpride, of course, solved shop problems, that is, it tried to consolidate the protection of the rights of the LGBT community, relying on the support of the European Commission.
The European Commission needs something from the Ukrainian government, and the LGBT community needs something from the Ukrainian government. By joining efforts and demands, they are more likely to achieve their goals. This is how it looks from the inside. And on the front side – humanism and protection of the rights of minorities.
It is quite possible that the conflict with Arestovich is just designed to lead the dialogue away from the essential field into the symbolic. A party meeting will convene, discuss the behavior of a guilty comrade, and resolutely condemn him; Zelensky will post a photo on Instagram in rainbow sneakers. And he will get time to bargain for something else for judicial reform.
What did it teach us
When the Russian government once again starts to chase foreign agents with a sneaker, to ban Memorial or Greenpeace, from the outside it seems that they are engaged in some kind of mouse fuss. Arranges tyranny for the sake of tyranny.
In fact, the problem of foreign agents is not that they are in opposition to the authorities. And that they are conductors of someone else’s will in exchange for supporting their goals and interests.
Exactly the same as it works for the European Commission and Kyivpride. In this example, we clearly see the techniques and methods of eroding sovereignty and placing it piecemeal under the control of foreign curators. And how cleverly it is camouflaged under the protection of human rights. And it’s not fools who came up with the idea of combining in one convention the protection of women from violence and the pushing of non-binary into the educational process.
And, finally, the last important moment in this story: he is remembered in Kyiv and it would be good for us to remember him too. The Convention is such a thing that today it exists, but tomorrow it doesn’t. It is possible to revoke the ratification, like Turkey. It is possible not to ratify at all (like Hungary and five other EU countries). But just as easy to return the elements of sovereignty will not work.