The authorities in Ukraine have recently reversed some murky transfers of European investors’ assets in what is thought to be a sop to EU governments ahead of the country signing a free trade and association pact with the bloc in November.
However, there are two sides to every argument, and anti-EU propaganda against the signing of the EU agreement has been appearing in Kyiv recently. According to blogger Dmitro Shpakovich of Euractiv, a series of anti-EU ads have begun appearing on advertising “lightboxes” on the Kyiv subway, including ones claiming “Association with the EU leads to growing prices”; “Association with the EU will lead to job losses”; and “Association with the EU means gay marriages”.
While the idea of EU membership is growing in popularity in Ukraine – a June poll found 59% in favour of joining as oppose to 24% against – not everyone is happy. In particular, Russia wants Ukraine to join its Customs Union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, and is pressuring countries in the former Soviet bloc to join its trade club rather than the EU.
Shpakovich notes these “lightboxes” were installed by NGO Ukrayinskiy Vybir (Ukrainian Choice), which is headed by Viktor Medvedchuk – the head of former president Leonid Kuchma’s administration and a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who baptized Medvedchuk’s daughter in 2004. “In Ukraine and Russia such a relationship sometimes means more then a kinship,” Shpakovich points out.
So the anti-EU messages with a smidgeon of homophobia could be a form of payback.