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Thursday, June 07, 2012 

Ah, consistency, pt 2.

Today: no Foreign Office ministers will visit Ukraine during Euro 2012 in protest at the "selective justice" meted out to former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. (Although, strangely, most accounts of her trial for abuse of office miss out the fact that her former coalition partner Viktor Yushchenko testified against her.)

Yesterday: Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa was welcomed into the UK for a handshake with a grinning Liz. Rajapaska's leading political opponent General Sarath Fonseka is currently imprisoned, having been found guilty first of corruption and then of daring to suggest that senior government officials were responsible for war crimes at the end of the country's civil war, something now so well documented as to be undeniable. The UN Secretary General's advisory panel found that tens of thousands of civilians died in the last 5 months of the war, with most killed as a result of Sri Lankan military shelling.

(Oh, and it does seem ever so slightly hypocritical we're not officially going to Euro 2012 when very shortly dozens of state representatives from far more repressive and authoritarian regimes than Ukraine will be coming to London for the Olympics. Ahmadinejad might not be travelling, but you can bet that the Saudis will, despite it being highly unlikely that the country will field a single female athlete.)

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On the Ukraine/Saudis/Olympic front, isn't the argument here something like the one for pressuring Israel and South Africa despite there being places that are far worse abusers - that the leaders of those countries care about what we think, about their international image, and might be shamed into changing, whereas the Saudis obviously won't...?

I'd have expected Sri Lanka to fall into the Ukraine category rather than the Saudi category in UK officials' eyes though. Odd.

The apparent reason why we won't make a stand against the Saudis is the same as when Blair/Goldsmith forced the dropping of the al-Yamanah SFO investigation: they'll just make threats like they always do. I suspect though that they would be shamed if told they couldn't attend while they're not allowing women to compete.

Incidentally, I don't think the Sri Lankans care if they're snubbed either. Like all the best loathsome regimes they've got PR firms working on their behalf; the Graun on Wednesday had a lengthy pull out on what a wonderful place the country is now the war's over.

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