George Clooney Personally Endorses Ukrainian Protesters' Democratic Efforts
Opening himself up once again to the inevitable “shut up and sing” critiques that follow earnest displays of political concern by celebrities, actor, director and self-appointed democratic ambassador to Ukraine (oops — it begins) George Clooney sent a personal message Monday to the protesters who have taken to the streets of Kiev to push President Viktor Yanukovych to dissolve his government and call for new elections.
After saluting the “brave citizens of Ukraine” in his video address, Clooney embarked on a brief and vaguely historical rundown of what does and does not make for a successful democratic system, inferring that the U.S. might actually have realized this political vision: “We have learned through trial and error that true democracy cannot exist without a free and fair and honest election. You cannot have a democracy when you arrest and harm its peaceful protesters,” he said.
The Ukranian opposition was also rallying to show support for jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, which the Oscar™-winning actor echoed, offering: “You cannot have a democracy when you arrest and harm its peaceful protesters. You certainly cannot have a true democracy if you take political prisoners like Tymoshenko simply because you disagree with the way they want to govern.”
Here’s Clooney’s salvo in full, courtesy of The Guardian:
Your move, President Yanukovych.
This latest unrest in Ukraine bubbled up after Yanukovych balked at signing an agreement with the European Union in November, citing trade relations with Russia as the reason for his refusal. Protesters were still clashing with government forces as of press time.
And lest we dismiss Clooney entirely out of hand, he is also responsible for this rather clever feat of diplomatic gymnastics.
Finally, making the melding between the worlds of celebrity and politics even more confusing, one of the top contenders in the struggle for power in Ukraine is heavyweight boxing champ Vitaly Klitschko. “We call on people to stand their ground, and peacefully, without using force or aggression, to defend their right to live in a free country,” Klitschko said Monday.
Added to the mix is the fact that Klitschko’s brother Wladimir, also a celebrated boxer, is engaged to Hollywood ingénue Hayden Panettiere, star of TV’s “Nashville.” She also endorsed the demonstrators’ efforts during an in-person appearance last week, during which she told the crowd, “Your struggles and your fight is [sic] not falling on deaf ears. You are being heard. The world will hear you.”
–Posted by Kasia Anderson.