If politicians don’t lie, they don’t survive. Voters want to hear from them promises of manna from heaven and, to get support, politicians promise to get their fellow citizens to Mars, grow apples on willow trees and turn crocodiles into domestic animals.
But even among our political liars there are truly outstanding ones. Vox Ukraine, website that specializes in fact-checking, created a rating of liars titled ‘Theory of Lying. First-ever Ranking of Populists and Liars in Ukrainian Politics from VoxUkraine’.
For two months, authors of the publication had followed statements of 20 top politicians that shaped the public agenda and checked their truthfulness. They came to a conclusion that in two cases out of three politicians ‘tell bare-faced lies, manipulate, or hyperbolize.’
Yulia Tymoshenko, Batkivshchyna leader, became the biggest liar. She was followed by two members of the Opposition Bloc, Vadym Rabinovych and Yuriy Boyko.
According to Vox Ukraine, only in 26 percent of her statements, Tymoshenko tells outright lies. In other cases, she uses more intricate verbal constructions, so that not everyone will notice being fooled.
‘Manipulations were discovered in nearly half of Batkivshchyna leader’s quotations,’ the article says. ‘The politician’s favorite rhetorical technique is to take correct statistical data and distort it beyond recognition.
Tymoshenko’s quotes can be used as the basis for manipulation guidelines:
- Omits some of the information;
- Substitutes notions;
- Overstates or understates things;
- Improperly compares data.
A striking example of Tymoshenko’s manipulation style is the way she described the pension reform this autumn. She said the authorities had raised the Ukrainians’ retirement age to 65 and reduced the pension calculation coefficient for each year worked.
That much is true. Except for a few details. Ukrainians will retire at 65 only starting from 2028. Second, the coefficient has indeed been reduced, but at the same time there is an increase in the salary rates used in the calculation of pensions. That is the way in which the pensions of those who retired at different times in the past are brought in compliance with the new pensions. That is, Tymoshenko deliberately omits a part of the information.’
Could it be that Vox Ukraine is strongly biased against Tymoshenko? She often accuses her political opponents of being biased and willing to defame her. Who knows: maybe opponents of Batkivshchyna leader bought this website and use it as a disinformation tool against her.
However, another organization, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), analyzed Tymoshenko’s speech on News One TV channel and revealed that only 20 percent of her quotes were true.
Glavcom, citing CVU, analyzes and assesses Tymoshenko’s quotes:
Tymoshenko: They wanted to keep teachers’ salaries at the level of around 4-5,000 hryvnias.
CVU: Manipulation. The draft law sets the minimum salary for the least qualified teachers at 6,400 hryvnias, without accounting for bonuses.
Tymoshenko: Our economy is spiraling downward.
CVU: False. Ukraine’s economy has been growing for past six quarters.
Tymoshenko: We haven’t made population census for many years.
CVU: True. The last census was conducted in 2001.
Tymoshenko: If you don’t have 40 years of work experience, you could forget about pension.
CVU: Manipulation. Pension reforms provide for possibility to compensate for lack of work experience with monetary contributions.
Tymoshenko: What will remain free (after implementation of medical reform)? Only few services that won’t allow people to keep themselves healthy. Probably, only some cases of emergency help.
CVU: False. Free services that patient could obtain will be called state-guaranteed package. It will include around 80 percent of most common medical services, including emergency help, primary and palliative care.
Not only Tymoshenko but also her close associates tend to make up stories. Recent example came from Olesia Yakhno-Bielkovska who made the following post on her Facebook:
‘Yesterday, during Svoboda Slova program on ICTV channel, I asked Serhiy Vlasenko, Batkivshchyna representative, very simple question: why his party leader, Tymoshenko, was absent during the vote for stripping immunity from and arrest of Nadiya Savchenko (and we all know that Tymoshenko often disappears when the parliament considers important and resonant issues such as recognizing Russia as aggressor)?
Vlasenko replied that Tymoshenko was on the business trip. Yet, the parliament’s site does not mention any of this: it only says that on March 22, Tymoshenko was absent ‘for unknown reasons’.
We also know now that there is no explanation (and there won’t be any) why Tymoshenko wasn’t present in the parliament in January when the Verkhovna Rada voted for the law on occupied territories that defined Russia as aggressor.’
Presidential campaign has not officially started yet, but Tymoshenko and her allies have already dived deep into lies and manipulations. We can only imagine what will happen when candidates start their quests for power: voters will have to defend themselves from barrages of lies from Tymoshenko. Could they get tired of it?