Disappointed Ukrainians turn fire on leaders after Dutch vote

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Mark RuttePrime Minister of the Netherlands.

KIEV: Ukrainians blamed their politicalleaders on Thursday for not doing enough to tackle corruptionand improve the country's image after Dutch voters emphatically rejected a treaty on closer ties between the European Union andUkraine.

The Association Agreement which aims to forge closerpolitical and trade ties was the spark for the pro-EuropeanMaidan protests in 2013/2014 that brought down a Kremlin-backedpresident and triggered Russia's annexation of Crimea.

In the Netherlands the non-binding referendum could spelltrouble for the increasingly unpopular government of PrimeMinister Mark Rutte. It could also fuel an anti-establishmentmood ahead of the Brexit vote in June.

In Ukraine the disappointment reflected disillusion withWestern-backed leaders who came to power after the Maidan ascorruption scandals and party squabbles stymied reforms.

"People there in Europe understand the level of corruptionthat the authorities are now simply incapable of doing anythingbetter for their own citizens" said Ilya Zhyzhyyan a29-year-old Kiev resident. "So the Dutch probably think - why dothey need a country that can't do any good for its own people?"

With its ties to Russia ruptured and Kiev still fighting aRussian-backed insurgency in its eastern industrial heartlandUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the Dutch result would

not blow his country off a European course.

Poroshenko's predecessor Viktor Yanukovich fell after mis-calculating the cost of bowing to Russian pressure andbacking away from signing a political and trade deal with the EU

which had been long in the making.

His swerve away from Europe towards closer ties with Moscowbrought thousands out on to Kiev's central Independence Squareand after 100 protesters were shot dead in February 2014 hefled the country.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Dutch votereflected Europe's opinion of Ukrainian politics.

"The result doesn't affect Ukraine's European integrationbut in the long-term it shows that not all of Europe is waitingfor us with open arms" said political analyst VolodymyrFesenko.

"Our European prospects will not depend on the result of thereferendum but on how successful our reforms will be our fightwith corruption and whether Ukraine will become a democratic


The vote came days after disclosures in the so-called"Panama Papers" that Poroshenko had set up an offshore companyin 2014 at the height of Ukraine's battle against theseparatists. He has denied wrongdoing.

Iryna Herashchenko a lawmaker with Poroshenko's party andthe head of the Ukrainian parliament's committee on Europeanintegration blamed the fallout from the Panama leaks for

negatively influencing the Dutch vote.

She also blamed "other developments in Ukraine - theincapacitated government the populist parliament the lack of acritical mass of responsible politicians and officials in allstate institutions corruption irresponsibility 'technocrats'who screwed up and disappeared on holiday wimps poorcommunication and a lack of dialogue with the people."

"It is a very poor reflection of anyone linked to governmentinstitutions in Ukraine" she wrote in a Facebook post.

Ukrainian opinion polls show that for many corruption hasstayed the same or even got worse and support for Poroshenko andPrime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk is in single digits.

The vote "means that they probably don't really want towelcome us in Europe" said Taras Voychenko a 50-year-old Kievresident. "That's all. Why? Who needs a country that is sinking

into the mud?"


The Peninsula

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