From the start of the recent turmoil in Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych had said he was committed to democracy and to closer ties with the European Union, things that most of his fellow Ukrainians say they want. That pretense has now collapsed.
Yanukovych's decision in November not to sign a trade agreement with the EU and instead cut a deal with Russia sparked protests. These turned violent last week after the government announced new laws to criminalize demonstrations and make it easier to prosecute opposition politicians who support them. Police have shot dead at least two protesters.
The new laws won't just turn Ukraine toward Russia; they will turn Ukraine into a version of Russia. Following the example set by Vladimir Putin, they provide the tools for suppression of protest and political opposition at will. With these laws in effect, a $15 billion loan from Russia to use as a campaign fund, and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko in jail on trumped-up charges, the idea that elections next year could be free and fair is absurd.