On September 23, 2011 I wrote the following letter to Bryan Adams with copies to Ukrainian community leaders, politicians and the Canadian media. I copy went to the Kyiv Post which was finally published yesterday.
Reader urges Bryan Adams to boycott Yanukovych
Yesterday at 21:51 | William Pawlowsky
Dear Bryan Adams,
I am writing to you with regard to your planned performance on Oct. 28 in the city of Lviv at the opening ceremony for the Lviv football stadium for the Euro 2012 football championship, alongside the event’s reported attendance of President Viktor Yanukovych. (Kyiv Post, Sept. 21, “Bryan Adams and Yanukovych to open Lviv stadium)
While you have been to Ukraine to perform in the past, there are a few things I am certain you stand for as a Canadian and as a member of the Order’s of Canada and British Columbia and that you should be made aware of. These are matters which not only disturbing to me as a fellow Canadian, and should be to you, but also to Members of Canada’s Parliament, as well as the close to 1.25 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent.
Bernard Trottier (Riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, Conservative Party of Canada) made the following statement to our Parliament earlier this week:
“Mr. Speaker, recently we have seen some very troubling events take place in Ukraine. The persecution, arrest and continued detention of Yulia Tymoshenko, along with many others, are cause for great concern both in Canada as well as in the international community….These apparently politically-motivated actions undermine the rule of law and human rights, which are at the core of all democracies. The Ukrainian people, having long lived under the rule of regressive and undemocratic Soviet policies, will not accept a return to darker times. Ukrainians deserve to live in a peaceful and prosperous society, where they can enjoy the same freedoms and safeties seen across other western nations.”
The conditions of the imprisonment of Tymoshenko’s and [ex-Interior Minister Yuriy] Lutsenko could all be reason enough to reconsider any dealings with Ukraine’s current regime by any Western activist or institution.
Given the political nature of these particular cases, I shall focus instead on just a few examples amongst the plethora of other examples of serious ethical, political, administrative and humanitarian wrongdoings in Ukraine directly related to Yanukovych’s regime as well as to the preparations of the Euro 2012 football championship in Ukraine, and in the city of Lviv in particular.
The first example is the completely corrupt tender process that the municipal officials in Lviv ran for the building of the stadium, where they announced a financial tender which was to be awarded to the company that could finance building the new stadium and its infrastructure without burdening the local economy and population.
The tender was awarded to a company that had no financing and was eventually given to a Ukraine based company to be fully financed at the tax payer’s expense. When the rest of the world is trying to be frugal, the powers that be in Ukraine continue to try to squeeze the most out of their populace, only exacerbating the country’s deepening economic and societal crisis.
Regarding the building of the stadium, workers who were hired to do so were not paid for four months, and then the company that they were employed for was folded, and they were left without four months of wages. To this day they have not seen compensation for their labor. A lavish opening ceremony of this stadium will be just another blow to the dignity of these workers and their families.
What you will be paid for your performance, is not clean money. It is money that has been stolen from the population and the municipal and national budgets through deep-rooted schemes of endemic corruption, by officials who from day one of the tournament’s announcement have done everything possible to reap personal advantage of this landmark event in every imaginable way. Improvements to the quality of life of the people in the host-cities of the Euro 2012, i.e. creation of job opportunities, economic growth and capital inflow are all a fairy tale that even pre-school kids will not believe anymore.
However, the problems in Ukraine are much deeper than a systematically corrupted and economically ruinous mismanagement of the preparations to the Euro-2012 football championship. There is a constantly growing opposition in all spheres of society to the current regime – a regime that cannot be labeled as anything else but criminal.
This opposition is being answered to with increasingly worrisome methods. Among many other unnamed instances, this year’s Amnesty International Report on Ukraine is filled with unaddressed cases of unlawful detainment, torture and ill-treatment of protesters and students that stood up on various occasions to voice their opinion against the current regime represented by Yanukovych.
Back in July, Sting canceled a concert in Kazakhstan over claims of human rights violations on oil workers in that country. I believe that the current situation in Ukraine gives many more reasons for the same kind of action.
As a fellow Canadian, I would very much like you to reconsider whether you will play in Lviv or not. I know that there are plenty of other performing artists out there who would support you in your stand – a stand which would be just, regarding the current state of affairs in a country with an extremely fragile democracy, and which is turning into a police state run by a few who care very little about those they were elected to represent.
I call on you and anyone who believes in democracy to boycott all events related to the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine.
William (Vasyl) Pawlowsky