According to President Joe Biden and the media, support for Ukraine's fight against Russia is a veritable defense of democracy itself -- even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government act in decidedly anti-democratic ways.
The most recent example is the arrest and detention of a top Ukrainian opposition lawmaker on allegations of treason by way of spreading Russian propaganda, Breitbart reported.
The arrest of Nestor Shufrych, a member of the Opposition Platform -- For Life political party, follows the arrest of other political leaders and the banning of political parties, including Shufrych's party, deemed insufficiently loyal to Ukraine, as well as the consolidation of all media in Ukraine to censor and silence outlets that don't solely tout the government's approved narratives.
According to a press release from the Security Service of Ukraine, and in conjunction with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Prosecutor General's office, Shufrych, a member of Ukraine's parliament, was taken into custody on Friday based on alleged "substantiated evidence of anti-Ukrainian activities."
He was served with a notice of suspicion of high treason under Article 111 of the Ukrainian criminal code, for which he could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, following a reported 45 separate searches of his home and those of his "close associates."
Shufrych is alleged to have followed orders from former National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Secretary Volodymyr Sivkovych, who fled to Russia following the 2014 toppling of former President Petro Poroshenko and stands accused of being a Russian agent.
Per the SSU, Shufrych worked to "subvert the information space" and "systemically spread [the] Kremlin’s false narratives that the Ukrainian state is 'an artificial entity,' that Ukraine and Russia 'have one history,' and that Ukrainians and Russians are 'one people.'"
The Euromaidan Press reported that shortly after he was taken into custody on Friday, Shufrych was hauled before a court, was denied bail, and was ordered to be held in detention for two months pending a trial on the charge of treason pressed against him by the Ukrainian government.
Notably, however, it remains unclear at this point if the charge of treason encompasses any activities or statements made after the Russian invasion began in 2022 or is in regard to his reported pro-Russian commentary before the outbreak of war.
The court ordered a 2-month detention for Shufrych for the time of court hearings, with no option for bail.
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) September 15, 2023
As for the claims that supporting Ukraine is the same as defending democracy and freedom itself, such assertions are hard to square with the overtly anti-democratic actions taken by President Zelensky since the war against Russia began and he declared a state of martial law.
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty reported in May 2022 that Zelensky signed a law that banned 11 different Ukrainian political parties, including Shufrych's Opposition Platform -- For Life party, over the purported pro-Russian stance of Zelensky's political opposition.
Just a few months later, NPR reported in July 2022 that in addition to banning and dissolving his political opposition, Zelensky also ordered the consolidation of all of Ukraine's numerous media outlets into one single station that now only broadcasts approved messaging from the government and excludes any and all voices that aren't fully aligned with the preferred narratives.
To be sure, arguments can be made to justify some measure of support for Ukraine's resistance to the Russian invasion, but casting that assistance as a defense of freedom and democracy is downright laughable when Zelensky's government is arresting his political opposition for alleged treason, banning oppositional political parties, and censoring media outlets and voices that act as anything but unquestioningly loyal and propagandistic mouthpieces.