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Der Standard - Austria | Friday, April 27, 2012

Using sport to put pressure on Yanukovych

German President Joachim Gauck has cancelled his planned May visit to Ukraine in protest against the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko. Gauck's gesture is a good moment to consider a boycott of the coming European Football Championship in Ukraine, opines the left-liberal daily Der Standard: "As always in such cases, we are warned not to instrumentalise sport for political purposes. Since the Ukrainian leadership is itself using the EURO games for propaganda, this argument makes little sense. … Yanukovych's electoral victory of early 2010 (this time on the up-and-up) had a lot to do with the failure of the Orange revolutionaries and their internal rivalry. But that is no excuse for what has happened since then in Ukraine, which can be compared with the Putinisation of Russia: politicized justice, even more rampant corruption and the obscure sleazy connections between politics and business with oligarchs as the grey eminences. Against this background, to act as if one could separate sport from politics is either naive or downright hypocritical."

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