Wednesday, May 30, 2007

President´s Rewording Places at Risk Accord Whilst Undermining the Independence of Ukraine´s Judicary

Ukraine´s President, Viktor Yushenko, has unilaterally reworded the agreement, placing at risk the accord agreed to last week. Concern expúressed that the Presidnet continues to interfer with the independenace and activities of Ukraine´s Constitutuional Court


Party of Regions warns Yushchenko team it could kill deal

KYIV. May 30 (Interfax) - The Party of Regions of Ukraine may withdraw its signature from an agreement with the president, prime minister, and the parliamentary speaker if the president continues to interfere in the activity of courts and law enforcement authorities, the party warned in a statement circulated on Tuesday evening.

"We deem it necessary to point out that, if the president's team continues revising the provisions of the 'statement by the three', the Party of Regions intends to insist that the party leader annul his signature on the common statement," it said

In line with Clause 7 of the statement signed by the president, the Verkhovna Rada chairman, and the prime minister on May 27, "the sides commit themselves not to overstep their authority by interfering in the activity of the judicial bodies and law enforcement agencies."

The Party of Regions said the State Security Guard Service put pressure on Constitutional Court justices and in fact paralyzed the court's work. In particular, the party said that the chief of this service stayed at the acting Constitutional Court chairman's consulting room and obstructed his work for more than two hours.

The Party of Regions also accused the presidential secretariat of attempts to revise the joint statement's provisions by trying to pressure general jurisdiction courts to legitimize the president's decrees dismissing Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun and a number of Constitutional Court justices and taking control of the Interior Forces. va md

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Poll Notes Little Change in Voter Sentiment.

A recent public opinion poll published on May 29, 2007 (Source UkrNews) prior to the announcement of the October 30 Parliamentary election confirms little change in voter sentiment with Party of Regions securing over 51% of the parliamentary seats in their own right. The polls have been fairly consistent and the only party to experience a shift in fortune is the Socialist Party of Ukraine, headed by Olexander Moroz, who is currently on 2.8% (0.2% below the 3% parliamentary electoral threshold). If the polling results hold, and all indication is that they will, then the question must be asked - for what purpose has the president initiated his actions. The opportunity for the ppposition parties to strengthen the loyalty of their nominated representatives?


* Note adjustment made for comparison to People's Self-Defence and Our Urkaine whose results have been combined in the published poll. The "split" is estimated based on previously published polls.


PartyPoll%Seats%Seats
Party of Regions35.6%51.1%230
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko16.8%24.1%109
Our Ukraine9.0%12.9%58
Communist Party of Ukraine4.6%6.6%30
People's Self-Defence3.6%5.2%23
Socialist Party Ukraine2.8%0.0%0
Natali Vintrenko Bloc1.8%0.0%0
Litvin's Bloc1.7%0.0%0
Ukrainska Pravyida1.0%0.0%0

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Ukraine leaders sign joint statement on proposed resolution of current Crisis

President Victor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Speaker Oleksandr Moroz on Sunday morning signed a joint statement to defuse Ukraine's political crisis.

Joint Statement by the President of Ukraine, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Prime Minister of Ukraine on Urgent Measures Aimed at Resolving the Political Crisis Through Early Parliamentary Elections


May 27, 2007

Being fully aware of the responsibility for the country’s social, political and economic situation, guaranteeing that there will be no escalation of the political crisis, seeking to resolve it as quickly as possible through exceptionally peaceful means on the basis of talks involving the leading political forces, guided by the Constitution of Ukraine and wishing to uphold the nation’s interests and preserve the country’s unity, the sides have agreed to:

1. for the purpose of creating proper conditions enabling the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, ensure that there are no attempts to aggravate the conflict in society and prevent all possible actions provoking the use of force;

2. hold an early parliamentary election on September 30, 2007;

3. accept that this election will be held to implement the President’s decree based on paragraph 2 of article 82 of the Constitution of Ukraine;

4. hold plenary sessions of the Verkhovna Rada on May 29-30 to adopt and enact the bills for conducting fair, transparent and democratic elections, particularly:

pass and enact the draft laws worked out by the authorized representatives of the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers, the parliamentary coalition and the parliamentary opposition;
readopt the laws passed between April 2 and May 29, 2007;
pass and enact the necessary WTO laws and other legal acts on economic issues.
5. ensure that the Cabinet of Ministers and the Central Election Commission oversee the implementation of the Law on the State Voting Register;

6. appoint new members of the Central Election Commission to fulfill the agreements reached by the authorized representatives of the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers, the parliamentary coalition and the parliamentary opposition for the purpose of holding fair, transparent and democratic elections;

7. pledge not to abuse their authority to interfere with the work of the judicial branch of government and law enforcement bodies.

President of Ukraine V.A. Yushchenko

Verkhovna Rada Speaker O.O. Moroz

Prime Minister of Ukraine V.F. Yanukovych

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Monday, May 28, 2007

New Elections Not Enough to Ease Underlying Ukranian Tensions

Key parliamentary votes are due in Ukraine this week to finally resolve a long-running political crisis by setting the groundwork for early elections. But some fear even these steps won't heal the ex-Soviet republic.

Source dw-world

The two rivals in the power struggle, President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, agreed on Sunday to hold elections on September 30 but their deal hinges on parliamentary votes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Once the votes are passed, Yushchenko is to formally set the election date.

"Agreement on the date is only the beginning of the end of the crisis and the vote in parliament will be its final point," Vadim Karasyov, head of the Institute for Global Strategies in Kiev, told reporters.

An earlier agreement to resolve the crisis fell through last month.

The votes include parliamentary approval of financing for the elections and changes in the make-up of the central elections commission to allow greater representation for members of Yanukovych's ruling Regions party.

Under the deal hammered out between the president and the prime minister, parliament is also due to approve a series of bills easing Ukraine's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Sharp differences may hinder elections

The two Viktors are still poles apart on many issues

The two Viktors are still poles apart on many issues

Political analyst Kost Bondarenko said he did not expect the parliamentary to pass off smoothly as there are sharp differences between Yushchenko supporters and Yanukovych loyalists in the legislature.

Yushchenko has set WTO membership as a key goal for Ukraine but has faced opposition among Yanukovych allies in parliament on measures aimed at liberalising the economy.

Despite the show of unity by Yushchenko and Yanukovych on Sunday -- the two even attended the Ukrainian Cup final together later in the day -- tensions were barely below the surface.

"If the opposition fulfils all the conditions to allow the president to sign the order, then there will be early elections and as lawful citizens we will take part in them," Yanukovych said in lukewarm comments about the deal.

His Regions party took the lion's share of the vote in parliamentary elections last year and is expected to do well again in any upcoming elections.

President seen as a failure by many

Yushchenko has failed on his promises, some say

Yushchenko has failed on his promises, some say

In the eyes of many Ukrainians, pro-Western Yushchenko has failed to live up to his promises of a bright economic future and international integration made during the Orange Revolution in 2004.

A poll by the Sofia research centre earlier this month gave the Regions party 41 percent of voting intentions. Another poll by the International Sociology Institute in Kiev gave it 35.5 percent. Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party scored just 15.9 percent and 12.9 percent.

But, despite Yanukovych's power, his coalition with the Socialist and Communist parties is fragile and faces a challenge from Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko, whose party is expected to come second.

In the Orange Revolution, mass street protests helped bring Yushchenko to the presidency and Tymoshenko to the prime minister's post, overturning a flawed vote initially granted to his Moscow-backed rival Yanukovych.

Dissoultion of parliament led to troop build-up

Troops loyal to the president massed at the weekend

Troops loyal to the president massed at the weekend

The latest political crisis between Yushchenko and Yanukovych began on April 2, when the prime minister defied orders from the president to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

As the power struggle escalated, thousands of protestors held rival rallies in the capital Kiev and, last week, Yushchenko and Yanukovych ratcheted up the tension still further by sparring for control of security forces.

International powers, including Ukraine's giant neighbours Russia and the European Union, have expressed concern at the crisis and urged both sides to refrain from any use of violence.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fresh Poll Date Set for September 30

An Agreement has been reached for fresh parliamentary elections to be held on September 30 following what was ¨troop movements¨ loyal to the president just outside Kyiv.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

President Appeal to Avoid Judicial Review Rejected by Kyiv Court

A local Kiev court on Tuesday rejected President Viktor Yushchenko appeal that had been seeking to prevent the Constitutional Court from issuing a ruling on political crisis.

The Constitutional Court is now expected to rule on the presidential decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament unconstitutional.

If the Constitutional Court rules against the president's decree then Viktor Yuchenko will be under pressure to resign or face impeachment procedures citing breaches of oath as the reason for impeachment.

There is concern that Viktor Yushchenko might decide to declare a state of emergency which would seek Ukraine follow in the steps of Thailand further exacerbating the political tensions and division in Ukraine today.

Yulia Tymoshenko has urged the president to ask the National Security Defence Council to force the president's decree and hold fresh elections on June 24

The Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) president, Rene van der Linden, has called on all parties to abide by the laws of Ukraine and the determination of the Constitutional Court. If the Court brings down it's ruling against the president the president would not receive the backing of the European Community for any use of military force in resolving Ukraine's political crisis.

Local court rejects Yushchenko’s appeal
Source: Ukrainian Journal

KIEV, May 22 – A local Kiev court on Tuesday rejected President Viktor Yushchenko’s appeal that had been seeking to prevent the Constitutional Court from issuing a ruling on political crisis.

In another setback for Yushchenko, the Prosecutor General’s Office closed an investigation against three judges of the Constitutional Court that he had recently fired. The judges got reinstated after a a court ruling in Luhansk region had suspended Yushchenko’s order.

The developments suggest the Constitutional Court, now totally controlled by loyalists of pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, is ready to announce the ruling that would probably undermine Yushchenko’s decree dissolving Parliament.

The ruling, however, will probably aggravate political crisis in Ukraine and may trigger a major clash between pro-Western opposition parties and the pro-Russian government.

Viktor Baloha, Yushchenko’s chief of staff, warned that the president will not accept the ruling by the Constitutional Court that will probably be biased.

“There are two scenarios for the way out of the crisis: the early election to Parliament and further monopolization of power with respective consequences,” Baloha said adding that the president will take action to prevent the second scenario. “The president will not let the second scenario.”

The legal offence against the presidential office across Ukraine comes as opposition and pro-government parties have been holding talks to end the sharp political crisis that had divided Ukraine.

The opposition parties, such as Our Ukraine and the group led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, insist that the early election must be held within the next six weeks to solve the crisis.

The government coalition, however, was split as Yanukovych’s Regions Party had been agreeing on the election at the end of October, while its two junior partners, Communists and Socialists, reject the idea of the early election whatsoever.

The failure at the talks forced Tymoshenko, a leading opposition figure, to call on the president for a tough response against the government that had been sabotaging his decree that had dissolved Parliament.

“The president’s all constitutional capacity must be used to make the Central Election Committee operational and to remove people that sabotage their work,” Tymoshenko said. “The nation must have the right to vote.”

The developments come as the Prosecutor’s General Office failed to enforce Yushchenko’s decree that had dissolved Parliament and called for the election June 24.

The failure shows that Sviatoslav Piskun, who was recently re-instated as the prosecutor general by a court ruling, has been breaking his promise given to the president to ensure implementation of the decree. This caused first sharp criticism of Piskun from the president.

“For me it is hard to admit that the prosecutor general through this day is not able to respond to the irresponsible actions by the Central Election Commission or the government for securing honest election,” Yushchenko said.

“The speculations that are currently being held around the legal system and at the level of the Constitutional Court are making Ukraine further from solving the political crisis,” Yushchenko said.

More reports: Kyiv Post

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Constitutional Court to Rule Against President's Decree

Ukraine's Constitutional Court to rule Presidents 26 April decree unconstitutional

Source: ITAR-TASS

On Tuesday, Judge of the Constitutional Court Stephan Garish noted that the court will recognize unconstitutional the April 26 presidential decree on the dissolution of the Supreme Rada. “Proceeding from the tone of discussion and issues discussed by judges of the Constitutional Court, it seems to me that this decision is ripe for a long time ago. Under these conditions the outlook is clear. I think that this court will not recognize the presidential decree as lawful,” believed Garish, who has been recently appointed as a judge of the Constitutional Court by presidential decree, but has not assumed his office yet."

The ruling by the constitutional court has been widely expected as the President has limited authority under Article 90 of Ukraine's constitution to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament.

Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's President, has gone to extraordinary efforts to try and prevent judicial review of his decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament.

It is now expected that the President will agree to an Autumn election as proposed by Ukraine's Governing Coalition. The president will have legal authority to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament in October following the mass resignation of members of the opposition. The president will only have the authority to dismiss the parliament under Article 90 section 3 of Ukraine's Constitution.

Victor Yushchenko will be under pressure to resign so as to allow for joint parliamentary and Presidential elections to be held in October or November this year.

Yushchenko has usurped power and authority of the state where he had no authority.

In doing so he has brought Ukraine into disrepute and had undermined Ukraine's constitutional order and rule of law. All of which is in direct breach of his solemn oath.

He has no other alternative but to offer his resignation and if he so decides seek reelection and renewal of his mandate.

Whether for the president or against the president does not matter, once the court rules, the fact is that the president has acted against the interests of the state.

There could not be a more serious charge that warrants the president's impeachment.

Rather then face a long and drawn out impeachment trial the president should resign in order to restore pubic confidence in the office of the president

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Battle of the courts in rule of law and defence of democracy in Ukraine

In a desperate move to prevent judicial review of his decisions, Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's President has sought an injunction against the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in order to prevent the court form ruling on the legality of the President actions.

Viktor Yushchenko had earlier given an undertaken to respect the determination of the court. Now faced with reality that the court will make a ruling against the President the office of the president continues to pursue all avenues to prevent the ruling being made.

The president tried to stop the court from considering the governments appeal and even went to the extra-ordinary step of dismissing three judges and have them replaced with those loyal to the president. The dismissal of the judges was overturned by a lower court and the judges reinstated accordingly.

The Constitutional Court has had to take extreme measure to protect it's sovereignty and constitutional right to consider the appeal lodge by Ukraine's parliamentarians challenging the Presidents decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected Parliament.

It is understood that the Constitutional Court has in fact made a decision and is now in the process of writing up the details that outline the basis of the courts determination.

If the Constitutional Court rules against the President he will be under extreme pressure to resign, as a result is important from the point of view of the president that the Court does not rule on the case.

This is the most serious constitutional crisis facing Ukraine since independence. The President has even indicated that he will defy the ruling of the court and as such Ukraine's constitution.

There is concern that the President will seek to declare a state of emergency in which case the decision of Ukraine's National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) may take over control of the government and we will see Ukraine follow in the steps of countries such as Thailand.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Breach of Solemn Oath

Words of sincerity or expression of convenience

I, Viktor Yushchenko, elected by the will of the people as the President of Ukraine, assuming this high office, do solemnly swear allegiance to Ukraine. I pledge with all my undertakings to protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, to provide for the good of the Motherland and the welfare of the Ukrainian people, to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, to abide by the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine, to exercise my duties in the interests of all compatriots, and to enhance the prestige of Ukraine in the world."

Ukraine's President, Viktor Yuchenko, having previously indicated that he would uphold the determination of Ukraine's Constitutional Court -- faced with prospect that Ukraine's Constitutional Court will rule against him by declaring his presidential decrees dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament unconstitutional -- is now engaged in a campaign designed to undermine Ukraine's Constitution.

The president today has indicated that he will ignore the decision of Ukraine's Constitutional Court.

If the Court, as expected , rules that the president's decree was unconstitutional the president will be under pressure to resign.

Viktor Yushchenko has gone to extraordinary efforts to prevent the Court from making a determination. The president, having been informed that the Court was most likely to rule against him, issued decrees dismissing three of the Constitutional Court Judges. The President was hoping that the Court would find itself in a stalemate position, where it would be unable to bring down a ruling on the government's appeal against his earlier decrees, and in doing so would by default leave his original decrees unchallenged.

The president's dismissal of Constitutional Court judges was yesterday overturned by a local court and the judges having been reinstated took up office in Court. The reinstatement of the three Judges has once again given cause for concern by the president.

The Court was expected to announce its decision today (Friday May 18) but failed to do so. The head of Ukraine's Constitutional Court, Ivan Dombrovskyy, tendered his resignation and four of the judges loyal to the president called in sick today.

Yesterday the Court appointed Valeriy Pshenichny, one of the Judges whom Yushchenko had fired earlier this month, as acting head of the Court.

The legality of the president's decrees dismissing Ukraine's Parliament are back on the agenda with all expectations that the Constitutional Court will proceed to rule against the President.

Once the Constitutional Court rules its decision is binding on all parties. There is no right of appeal.

Rather then wait for the ruling of the Court the Office of the president, having previously indicated that he would abide by the Court's rulings, today indicated that the president will now ignore the court. If this is the case the president will be entering into unknown and dangerous territory.

Viktor Yushchenko faces the serious risk of instigating anarchy and constitutional disorder in direct breach of his solemn oath he gave in taking up the office of President and becoming Ukraine's head of State.

The statement made by the Office of the President is tantamount to treason and grounds for impeachment.

The president will face two options: He will either have to resign and seek re-election appealing to the Court of public opinion or he will try and instigate a unconstitutional coup and declare a state of emergency and the restoration of a presidential dictatorship.

Update: There is some decree of ambiguity as to whether the president has in fact advocated such or if it was the actions of an overzealous irresponsible senior member of staff of the office of the president. In any event the president must act to uphold his oath and to protect the reputation of the office of the president.

The statement attributed to the office of the president is tantamount to treason. Viktor Yushchenko must either resign and face review of his actions in the court of public opinion, distance himself from the statements made and dismiss the staff member responsible.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The system of checks and balances: Before and after political reform

The “Public Consultations and Awareness Campaign on Political Reform in Ukraine” project, being implemented by ICPS and the Center for Ukrainian Reform Education (CURE) with financial support from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), is summing up preliminary results.

Source: Ukrainian Journal

Over the first quarter of 2007, public consultations were held in five cities: Lutsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Simferopol, Mykolayiv, and Chernivtsi. Recently, two booklets were published: “Political Reform as Seen by the Public” and “Political Reform as Seen by the Government”

Ukraine’s 1996 Constitution gave the President the greatest powers and the least accountability compared with other government bodies. The political reform should have increased both the accountability and responsibility of the government to voters and, in such a manner, have brought Ukraine closer to European standards. A Law amending the Constitution was adopted on 8 December 2004 and came into force in 2006. Instead of optimizing the system of checks and balances, however, this political reform complicated relations among and within the various branches of government.

A review of reform, such as it was

The role of the President

Before the 2004 reforms, the President was able to appoint and dismiss the majority of top government officials and was de facto the Head of Government, holding the majority of political powers that normally would go to a Premier. By not signing into law the bills adopted by the Verkhovna Rada, the President could actually block the adoption of any law. At the same time, the President took no responsibility for actions of the Government.

After the Constitutional reforms, the right to form a Government was largely transferred to the Verkhovna Rada. A close political relationship was established between the legislature and the Cabinet: the Rada majority now had to form a coalition, which, in turn, formed a Government. Thus, the Government became the main executive body. The President continued to be the guarantor of the Constitution and to be responsible for foreign and security policy.

The Verkhovna Rada majority

Before the reform, the Constitution did not require that there be a standing majority in the legislature. And indeed, the Rada often operated on the basis of a strictly situational majority.

Since 2006, the Verkhovna Rada is obligated to establish a majority that forms the Government, supports its activity and is responsible for its actions. If such a majority is not set up within 30 days, the President has the right to dissolve the legislature.

Appointing and dismissing the Premier

Before, the Premier was appointed by the President, for which the President needed the rubber stamp of a Verkhovna Rada majority. The Premier could also be dismissed at any time by the President, which happened with great frequency, or by the Verkhovna Rada—but only if it failed to approve that Government’s yearly Program. In practice, the President was the main figure making or breaking the Premier.

Now, the Verkhovna Rada must establish a coalition of factions that nominates a candidate for Premier and submits this nomination to the President. The President must return this nomination to the Verkhovna Rada for final approval within 15 days. Only the Verkhovna Rada can dismiss the Premier. The President can now only submit a proposal to the Verkhovna Rada calling for the Premier to be dismissed.

Appointing and dismissing the Government

Previously, the President appointed and dismissed ministers at suggestion of the Premier. However, because the Head of Government himself could always be dismissed by the President, these nominations were largely a formality.

Now, the Premier proposes appointments and dismissals that are the approved by the Verkhovna Rada coalition. There are two exceptions: the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defense, whose nominations are submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by the President.

Appointing and dismissing other top officials

Before, the President appointed and dismissed governors of local state administrations and the majority of top officials of central government bodies at the request of the Premier. But this was frequently a mere formality. To appoint and dismiss Chairs of the Anti-Monopoly Committee, State Property Fund and State Radio and Television Committee, the President needed the consent of the Verkhovna Rada.

The procedure for appointing and dismissing governors of local state administrations has not changed: the President does this at the request of the Cabinet. But the Chairs of the Anti-Monopoly Committee, State Property Fund and State Radio and Television Committee are appointed by the Verkhovna Rada at the request of the Premier.

The President’s right to cancel resolutions by other government bodies

Previously, the President could cancel resolutions issued by the Cabinet or by the Crimean Council of Ministers. The President could also veto bills adopted by the Verkhovna Rada. In fact, the President frequently did not sign into law those bills whose veto the Verkhovna Rada had even overridden—which made these laws null and void.

Now, the President can only suspend the enactment of a Cabinet resolution, if he thinks it is unconstitutional. Moreover, the President must simultaneously submit the specific resolution to the Constitutional Court for a ruling. The President can still overrule resolutions issued by the Crimean Council of Ministers.

The President can also veto bills adopted by the Verkhovna Rada. However, if the President refuses to sign into law a bill whose veto has been overturned by a two-thirds vote, that bill can be signed and published by the Verkhovna Rada Speaker instead.

Dissolving the Verkhovna Rada

Before, the President had no specific power to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada.

Now, the President has the right to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada, if a coalition has not been set up within 30 days or if a new Cabinet has not been formed within 60 days of the dismissal of the previous Government.

Original idea of reform stillborn

The initiators of political reform had as their main objective expanding powers of the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet by shifting Presidential powers. They took as their example the model of a “parliamentary” republic, where the Government is formed by the legislature, while the President plays a secondary role and is actually appointed by the legislature.

However, fierce political competition prevented that initial plan from being implemented. The President has remained a strong political figure: the Head of State is still elected through a national election and has considerable power over both the Cabinet and the Verkhovna Rada.

The model of government that Ukraine has as a result of political reform in 2004 does not resemble most of its European counterparts. It has more in common with a fairly eccentric “semi-presidential” model. Among developed European democracies, only France has established somewhat similar relations among the Government, the President and the legislature.

The main reasons why political reform failed include:

1) Lack of institutions that guarantee democratic rights and freedoms in Ukraine. The government machine is used as an administrative resource in political competition, the Constitution Court has proved ineffective, the judicial system does offer proper justice, the rights of the opposition are not enshrined in law, the organization of political parties fails to meet democratic standards, and the instruments for civil society to influence government exist only on paper.

2) Flawed legislation. The amended Constitution still has many holes that various political players have begun to interpret to their own liking.

3) Undemocratic, untransparent political parties. The elimination of the majority system has hidden the human face of individual elected representatives behind a party brand. In voting for a party list, voters essentially choose a “black box” and after an election are soon disappointed with their own choice. The personal responsibility of every elected official to a specific electorate has disappeared. Moreover, young, innovative candidates stand little chance against the old political horses who are inevitably first on party lists.

4) Lack of party identity. In Ukraine, there are no party ideologies that are based on European values and reflect the ideological and political attitudes of a specific part of the population. Slogans like “This party represents the entire nation” are just a tactic to get elected.

Government decisions should not be made in a vacuum

The hastily adopted Constitutional amendments showed themselves for what they were the minute the President and Premier represented different political camps. Yet, in a parliamentary-presidential system, the President and Premier are forced to cooperate, even to cohabitate, when the President and Government represent political forces that are in opposition to each other.

In short, Ukraine’s political forces should begin now to work on fixing the Constitution of Ukraine in order to establish an effective system of checks and balances. Moreover, decision-making should not be in isolation from voters. Procedures for holding public consultations both at the national and at the local levels need to be entrenched in law.

For more information, please go to:
http://www.icps.com.ua/


Further reading PACE Explanatory Report

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Top Judge Quits Court on the Eve of Deliberation

Ukraine's Constitutional Court Chairman, Ivan Dombrowski, has resigned on the eve of the Constitutional Court's deliberations on the legality of the President's decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament, throwing Ukraine once again deeper into a political crisis which has divided the nation.

Ivan Dombrowski's resignation (submitted for a second time) comes amidst concern that Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko, has been applying pressure on the court in order to prevent the court from ruling on the constitutionality of his decree made on April 2 and a second decree on April 26.

The president, who summarily dismissed three constitutional Court Judges, citing breach of oath violations, has been accused of undermining the independence of the court which under Ukraine's constitution is strictly prohibited. President Yushchenko continues to politicise the court with the aim of making it dysfunctional.

The Constitutional Court was expected to rule on the President's decree later today (Friday May 18). Reports in the media indicate that four pro-presidential judges have reported sick and are currently on leave. With ongoing disputation over the President's dismissal of three Constitutional Court judges, four on sick leave and now the resignation of Ivan Dombrowski, who also is considered a supporter of the president, the ability of the court to pass judgement on the presidents' decree is in doubt.

If the court rules against the president, Victor Yushchenko, will be under pressure to resign having failed to fulfill his oath to protect Ukraine's Constitutional order.

All expectations are that the Court will rule the president's decrees unconstitutional in that the president has no authority under the constitution to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament under the current circumstances.

To this extent it is imperative for the president to ensure that the Court does not function and is unable to make a ruling.

The President has also scheduled a meeting of Ukraine's powerful Security Council tomorrow. The Security Council, which includes Ukraine's prime-minister, is made up of primarily of nominees of the president. The Security Council is expected, in the absence of a ruling by the Constitutional Court, to enforce the president's original decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically parliament.

In the absence of rule of law in Ukraine the President could very well seek to declare a state of emergency and as such re-instate a presidential dictatorship in Ukraine further exacerbating Ukraine's political crisis and the ongoing power struggle between Ukraine's President and Parliamentary government.

Links:
Ukraine's Constitutional Court Head Resigns - HULIQ, NC
Ukraine's Const. Court chairman resigns amid crisis - RIA Novosti, Russia
Ukraine's Const. Court chairman resigns amid crisis-2 - RIA Novosti, Russia
Ukraine judge quits; no letup in political crisis - Reuters
Pukshyn calls Kirov Court ruling ‘legal gaffe’ - President of Ukraine


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Struggle for Democracy

An analysis of political instability in Ukraine after the Orange Revolution

by Kateryna Malyhina and Morten Larsen Nonboe
Source APEM


The Ukrainian Orange Revolution tends to be viewed in a somewhat romantic light. Particularly in the West, the election of pro-Western president Viktor Yushchenko and the defeat of pro-Russian candidate Yanukovych are often seen as a victory for democracy promising a brighter future. Viewed from abroad, it may therefore appear highly peculiar that the streets of Kiev are now once again full of demonstrators. This article gives an account of the events leading to the current Ukrainian political crisis and tries to explain the causes of the political instability that is once again tormenting Ukraine.


The Orange Legacy and the Quest for Power

The current political crisis in Ukraine must been seen in the context of the general political situation in the country. In particular, the crisis is closely intertwined with the well-known events in late 2004 and early 2005 commonly referred to as the Orange Revolution. The intricate political games which took place not among the campers on the Independence Square in Kiev, but backstage among the different political fractions are perhaps a less well-known aspect. One of the deals struck was between Yushchenko and the Socialist Party’s leader Moroz. In exchange for the Socialist Party’s support, Yushchenko promised to change the constitution to transform Ukraine from a presidential-parliamentary republic to a parliamentary-presidential.

This idea was originally proposed by ex-President Kuchma, but caused many debates and included many drafts. One of these drafts came from the opposition to Kuchma, at that time consisting of such parties as Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, Yulia Timoshenko’s Block and the above mentioned Socialist Party. However, when it became clear that Kuchma was not going to run in the upcoming presidential elections, Yushchenko decided to concentrate on winning the elections himself and stopped insisting on political reform. Having fair chances of winning the election, he counted on being able to exercise the same powers himself.

Timoshenko abstained from running for president in exchange for the position of Prime Minister. The Socialist Party was therefore the only political power left that still insisted on the political reform. The primary cause, however, was hardly the wish to give equal powers to president and parliament, but rather the ambitions of party leader Moroz. Having previously been the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Moroz hoped to get this seat again. The speaker in a parliamentary-presidential republic, of course, plays a bigger role than in a presidential-parliamentary one.

Hence it appears that power ambitions were the driving force uniting the Orange coalition: Yushchenko became president, Timoshenko got the prime minister post, and Moroz had the prospect of becoming speaker with strengthened powers. Having finally achieved his ambition of becoming president, however, Yushchenko was reluctant to give up these powers. Initially “the need to establish order” was used as an excuse to delay the political reform.

Thus the year 2005 passed in a post Orange Revolution euphoria. People were inspired by the Orange Revolution and hoped for change. But in the course of time they became disillusioned and disappointed. Timoshenko’s government showed its incompetence and unprofessionalism with its almost planned regulations of the economy. In September 2005, Yushchenko changed the government, but the new one also failed to solve the country’s major problems. Parliamentary Elections.

At the beginning of 2006, Ukraine was filled with slogans for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The political reform finally came into force: Now the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers were to be appointed not by the president, but by the parliamentary majority that needed to be formed within 60 days. Unexpectedly, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions gained most support (32.14%), while Yulia Timoshenko’s Block got 22.29% and Yushchenko’s “Our Ukraine” was backed by a mere 13.95%.

Yanukovych, nevertheless, had low chances of forming a parliamentary majority, as the former Orange Coalition trumpeted they unite again. But this time the coalition members’ power ambitions were not compatible, since Yushchenko was reluctant to give Timoshenko and Moroz the positions as prime minister and speaker, respectively. Yanukovych, on the other hand, was clever enough to give Moroz the speaker’s post, and so they formed a new government with Yanukovych as Prime Minister.

With the return into high politics, Yanukovych now wanted to fulfill his own ambitions and did not miss the opportunity to use the weak sides of the constitution. The first dispute between President and Prime Minister came in September 2006. Yanukovych refused to carry out seven presidential decrees, claiming they violate the constitutional procedure. The constitutional court was called upon, but the court has yet to issue its verdict. Several similar disputes followed, the last of which resulted in the current deadlock: In March 2007, deputies started to change their affiliation from the fractions of Timoshenko and Yushchenko to Yanukovych’s. Facing the threat of a parliamentary majority allowing Yanukovych to override the President’s vetoes, Yushchenko published a decree which dissolved the parliament and called for elections ahead of time.

Politics against the Rules

The decree, however, was published in a newly created newspaper and not in the official newspapers, which questioned its validity. The constitutional court was once again asked to check the presidential decree’s legitimacy. As of now, Ukraine is still awaiting the court’s verdict, not sure if there will be new elections or not. Meanwhile, supporters of all fractions have taken to the streets and the Independence Square in Kiev once again sees camping crowds protesting for political change. From the events described above it follows that power ambitions go a long way in explaining the continued political instability in Ukraine. Most politicians in Ukraine seem to pursue only their own interests to gain power, even if it means violating the basic laws. All countries have ambitious politicians, but not in all countries do politicians disregard of the laws. Most politicians in Ukraine are playing not by the rules, but against the rules. This is a severe problem and it goes without saying that it is bound to create instability.

Structural problems

Furthermore, the political instability in Ukraine is to some extent caused and exacerbated by structural aspects. In particular, the uncertain distribution of power and Ukraine’s delicate ethno-cultural composition constitute factors which contribute to the instability and, in turn, skilfully are used by the political fractions to promote their interests.

For obvious reason, Ukraine, like other post Soviet countries, faced a range of obstacles in establishing statehood upon its 1991 declaration of independence. It took five years before an actual constitution was agreed upon and even then it was supported only by some 2/3 of the members of the parliament. The constitution stipulates basic freedom rights (chapter two) and the division of power between parliament, a powerful president with far-reaching authority, and supreme and constitutional courts (chapters four, five and eight). Despite amendments in 2004, however, the constitutional framework still seems inadequate as demonstrated through the current crisis. Another struggle between president and prime minister arose over the right to dismiss the minister of foreign affairs, for while the appointment procedure is clearly stated in the constitution, nothing is mentioned about the dismissal procedure.

The constitution’s provisions for a powerful president are, moreover, potentially troublesome due to Ukraine’s ethno-cultural composition. According to the Ukrainian census of 2001, 77.8% of the population are ethnic Ukrainians, but Ukraine is nevertheless not an entirely homogeneous country. The Western part of the country, on one hand, is the home of Ukrainian nationalism and people there mainly speak Ukrainian. The Eastern part, on the other hand, is culturally and historically more connected with Russia, and there is relatively high levels of support for making Russian an official language alongside Ukrainian. While the wish to integrate more with Western Europe can be found in both parts of the country, the Eastern part is therefore anxious not to cut ties with Russia. Such differences, obviously, make it hard for the two parts to agree on the direction of the country, let alone a joint president. Empirically, the division has been demonstrated at every single election since 1991 where there has been a marked tendency for each part of the country to vote for its own candidates and parties. This division is obviously not conductive to political stability either. At the same time, the various players in Ukraine’s intricate political life often use this division for campaign purposes, as witnesses in Yanukovych’s calls for the introduction of federalism prior to the March 2006 parliamentary elections.

Ukraine in Search of its Future

In conclusion, continued political instability in Ukraine is caused by both individual and structural factors. On an individual level, most leading Ukrainian politicians, as described above, seem primarily preoccupied with securing and expanding their own power even if it means manipulating and violating basic laws. On a structural level, on the other hand, the uncertain distribution of power and the ethno-cultural composition of Ukraine facilitate political instability and create ideal circumstances for politicians to promote their own power through conflict and confrontation. Hence, individual and structural factors continue to interact in a potentially dangerous way which threatens to torment Ukraine for many years to come. Whatever decision the constitutional court reaches, it will only create the precondition for another crisis, as any decision would be disputed later by the losing party.

To avoid such a scenario, the problems of Ukraine need to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. It seems futile to carry out new elections as polls indicate that they will not dramatically change the results of the previous elections. Moreover, it has many times been repeated that there is simply no money on the budget for another expensive election. Instead, the only possible way seems to be renewed negotiations, for a consensus must be found between the two parties, between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, between West and East. The present instability and possible re-elections seem beneficial only for Timoshenko, as she is desperately fighting for power. To create long lasting consensus and stability in the country, the politicians need to review the constitution immediately after the current crisis is settled and once and for all eliminate the uncertain distribution of powers. Moreover, an effective system of compliance with laws should be enforced. For that, it is hardly enough if the constitutional court finally starts working properly. The opposition and mass media should become watchdogs of all misdoings of power. While mass media is already increasingly fulfilling this task due to the expanded freedom of speech following the Orange Revolution, it is of outmost importance that they are not deprived of this right in the future. The opposition, on the other hand, cannot be said to perform its duty as it tends to concentrate on pointing out mistakes that suits its agenda, while not fulfilling its watchdog role in other areas.

Contrary to the widely held view that the Orange Revolution lead to immediate transition to democracy, Ukraine continues its struggle on the road to become a truly democratic country. This road is presumably still long, since Ukraine has got neither a long experience of statehood nor widespread governmental skills.

However, the political instability need not be only a negative phenomenon. The processes that Ukraine experiences now – state formation – are the same that other countries went through centuries ago, but the state formation is now happening under new and accelerated conditions. Rather than emulating other countries’ democratization patterns, Ukraine seems to follow its very own. Therefore such political instability could be viewed as partly a positive phenomenon. Instead of choosing the easy way of autocracy, Ukraine tries to evolve along its own path. In this perspective, the Ukraine of today could be described as a country of experiments: learning from its own mistakes, Ukraine is slowly but steadily developing.

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Ukraine's Constitutional Court reconstituted


Ukraine's Constitutional Court judges that were summarily dismissed by Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, two weeks ago have been reinstated following an injunction issued by a lower court, in what is seen by some as a controversial decision and by others as a win for democracy and rule of law.

By summarily
dismissing three Constitutional Court Judges, Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, had compromised the independence of Ukraine's Judicial system and denied the Judges concerned natural justice.

Details of the courts ruling are unclear but it was earlier stated that the President had acted unlawfully in that the dismissal of the judges in what was considered by many as an act of deliberate interference in the deliberations of the Court's consideration of the presidential decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected Parliament.

It is expected that the decision of the lower court will be appealed in Ukraine's supreme court.

Ukraine's Constitutional Court reconvened today to consider it's deliberations on the legality of the Presidents decrees. Media reports suggest that the announcement of the Courts decision could be postponed once more and will now be made on Friday May 18.

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China Syndrome. Ukraine facing a political meltdown.

As Ukraine waits for further development and announcements from either the waring parties or Ukraine's Constitutional Court (which is expected to make an announcement tomorrow May 17)

I thought the following article from China to be of interest. There are some errors of facts in the commentary but overall it is a fair and honest report on the current political power struggle that has enveloped Ukraine.

A president that shows little sign or concern for Ukraine's economic or democratic development or respect` for the principle of democracy or rule of law.

A president who is more concerned about pushing forward his political agenda for Ukraine to join NATO then he is about representing the wishes and aspiration of a majority of Ukrainians.

A power struggle between a would be presidential dictatorship and Ukraine's democratically elected Parliamentary government.

It was pleasing to see a little more balance and less stereotypical east versus west reporting that invades most of the western media. Yushchenko is all to often portrayed as being the pro-west advocate but in reality his actions are more related to being pro-US as opposed to being supportive or European values and ideals. The President's attacks on Ukraine's legal system have come at the wrong time and can only be seen as a direct` attempt to effect` the outcome of the Constitutional Court's deliberation and ruling on the legality of his recent decrees and his undue haste to see Ukraine's parliament go to the polls just over one year from their last election.

Missing from the President's proposed solution is the ability for Ukrainians to pass judgement on the President himself and Yushchenko refusal to put his faith in the Ukrainian people. The President has refused to consider offering his resignation and the holding of joint Presidential and Parliamentary elections to help break the political deadlock in what is a simple power struggle President versus parliament. Both the president and the Parliament should agree to put their faith and trust in democracy and bit should face the people and seek to renew their respective mandates in Autumn. There is no need for haste and ongoing division.

From color revolution to Ukraine political blues

By YU SUI (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-16 07:03
Source: China Daily

Ukraine was plunged into yet another political crisis in early April, but few news sources have had the time or patience for anything more than an occasional headline.

Since the heady days of the "color revolution" and the year of political turmoil that followed, the rest of the world can be forgiven for having lost track of the endless twists, turns and dead ends of Ukrainian politics. But as the date for a possible new election approaches, it is well worth sorting out the complexities.

On April 2, President Viktor Yushchenko issued a presidential decree to dissolve the country's legislature, the Verkhovna Rada (VR). He set May 27 as the date for a new parliamentary election.

The VR and cabinet of ministers immediately rejected the presidential decree, which they deemed "unconstitutional".

The parliament also demanded that the constitutional court rule on the legitimacy of the presidential decree. The president and prime minister reached a tentative compromise on May 4 agreeing to hold early elections, but they have yet to decide on a specific date.

Ukraine's constitutional court is still deliberating over the legitimacy of the presidential decree. The country's political turmoil seems set to continue.

Ukraine has experienced three major political crises since the 2004 color revolution, all resulting from power struggles at the highest level.

Three major forces are currently fighting one another in the country's political arena. The Party of Regions (PoR) headed by current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, has its main base in industry-heavy eastern Ukraine and is known for its pro-Russia political lineage.

Its two major rivals are former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko namesake Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (YTB), which is unflinchingly pro-US (West), and President Yushchenko Our Ukraine Party (OUP). Both YTB and OUP get their support from western Ukraine. OUP walks a somewhat middle path between PoR and YTB.

There are a few other parties, including the Socialist Party of Ukraine, led by VR Chairman Oleksander Moroz, the People's Party of Ukraine, and the Communist Party, all pursued by the three heavyweights as potential allies.

In October 2004, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets and brought the presidential election to a dramatic conclusion. Early favorite Yanukovych was unexpectedly defeated by Yushchenko in the second round.

The country's political scene caught world attention with the series of conflicts and confrontations that followed. In September 2005, Yushchenko disbanded the cabinet of ministers headed by ambitious former ally Prime Minister Tymoshenko in order to shore up his presidential authority.

In the parliamentary elections of March 2006, the Party of Regions emerged on top, resulting in a new legislature without a chairman for more than 100 days. The country reeled in confusion for more than four months without a government, until the PoR, Socialist Party, Communist Party and OUP signed the Declaration of National Unity and reappointed Yanukovych as prime minister.

Then, according to President Yushchenko promise to the people, the country began the transformation from the president-parliament system to parliament-president system, which puts the prime minister in the political spotlight. This change triggered a fresh round of power struggles among the president, parliament and government. The conflicts continue.

The adoption of the parliament-president system left President Yushchenko with only the power to nominate the foreign and defense ministers plus veto power over legislative decisions.

After the parliament passed the Cabinet Law by overriding a presidential veto, the fight between the president and cabinet was focused on the power to appoint regional government leaders.

The parliamentary majority, consisting of the Regions, Socialist and Communist parties, tried to further weaken the president's power as VR Chairman Moroz claimed he would expand the VR majority to 300 deputies.

With the total number of seats standing at 450, the VR majority would be able to amend the Constitution, fire the president and override his veto if it had 300 votes.

Under the circumstances, President Yushchenko signed a decree to dissolve the less than year-old parliament with the excuse that "it is unconstitutional for some lawmakers to quit their parties to join the parliamentary majority as independents."

The New York Times commented afterwards that when President Yushchenko dissolved the parliament on April 2, the fragile power-sharing deal within the government collapsed.

The precarious political situation in Ukraine can be traced back to very complicated origins.

In 1645, Ukraine's eastern region formed an alliance with Russia to become part of the Russian empire and later of the Soviet Union.

For centuries the western half of Ukraine was under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland till it joined the Soviet Union after World War II.

Eastern Ukraine is mostly populated by ethnic Russians, who are Eastern Orthodox, while Christian Ukrainians are the majority in the western region. Thus, the nation has long been divided into east-west blocs.

In terms of geography, Ukraine borders Russia to the north and east; Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the southwest and west; and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south with Turkey on the other shore.

Its location makes Ukraine a buffer between NATO and Russia. NATO has been trying to turn Ukraine into one of its own, while Russia does its best to keep Ukraine as a barricade against Nato eastward expansion.

Both Russia and the United States responded swiftly when President Yushchenko dissolved the Ukrainian parliament. The Russian Duma (parliament) issued a statement accusing Yushchenko of violating the country's constitution, while the US State Department called on the leaders of Ukraine's political parties to remain calm.

Both powers pleaded with the Ukrainians to solve their problems peacefully. As The New York Times pointed out at that time, Ukraine's political turmoil reflects the conflict between the West-leaning president and pro-Russia prime minister.

The country has to depend on the US without upsetting Russia. For this reason Yushchenko is playing two hands. He has reiterated that Ukraine is still pursuing the goal of integration into NATO and the European Union and promised that talks on Ukraine's joining NATO and establishing a free trade zone with EU will proceed as scheduled.

On the other hand, he has repeatedly emphasized that Ukraine attaches great importance to its ties with Russia and will actively cooperate with Russia, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan within the framework of the United Economic Space and respect the interests of its giant neighbor Russia.

Needless to say both the US and Russia are sparing no effort to get Ukraine to head in the direction that serves their interests.

Currently, with the political stalemate yet to be broken, the development of the situation in Ukraine will be determined by the following factors:

First, people have grown tired of elections. According to Ukrainian media reports, the great majority of Ukrainians have lost much of their political enthusiasm after two turbulent years.

Some political organizations have resorted to offering people 50 to 100 hryvnia (about $5 to $10) a day to join marches and rallies. The latest opinion polls indicate more than half of the Ukrainians are opposed to early elections. Many of them are worried early elections might ruin Ukraine's efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

Second, all political parties have to weigh the pros and cons of competing in the power game. Recent opinion surveys show that support for the pro-president OUP is very low and the possibility of the president reaching a compromise with the parliament cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, US and Russian media maintain that the Tymoshenko Bloc could win more seats in parliament than other parties if an early election is held. The PoR and OUP cannot afford to overlook this possibility.

Third is the economy. The country's annual economic growth averaged 10 to 11 percent during the administration of former President Kuchma. It has slowed to merely 3 percent since Yushchenko took over, with 10 percent of the population watching their standard of living sink below that of the Soviet era.

A re-election requires a huge amount of money, which is not included in the 2007 state budget. Even if money were available, the cabinet, which reports to the parliament, would not dare to spend it on the re-election.

Fourth is the diminished intervention by outside forces. Earlier, the US pushed for Ukraine to join NATO, but it is now reluctant to do so because the country cannot be expected to meet the necessary conditions.

In his telephone conversation with Yushchenko on April 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphatically told his Ukrainian counterpart he sincerely wished for Ukraine to return to normal and all parties concerned help end the crisis through political consultation.

Ukraine stands to lose a lot in terms of national development as long as the political turmoil persists. The only way out is to stabilize the political situation, which is easier said than done.

The author is a senior researcher with the Beijing-based Research Center of Contemporary World


(China Daily 05/16/2007 page11)

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ukraine Eurovision 2007

Ein swine dri... Ukraine comes second in the Eurovisison song contest with a risque Drag Queen Comedy act.

Ukrainian comedian Andriy Danylko alias Serduchka No 18 in the contest has come second (235 points) in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. This is the second time that Ukraine has been in the finals this prestigious event.
Dame Edna Everage would be proud of the Generation X winners.

Do not expect the runner-up of this years contest to front Our Ukraine's Parliamentary list.




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Friday, May 11, 2007

Yushchenko sackes 3rd Constitutional Court Judge raising serious concerns about the independence of the Ukraine's highest Court

Victor Yushchenko has threatened on Thursday to summon Ukraine's security council to break the deadlock. Once again escalating the Ukrainian political crisis.

The
dismissal of a third Constitutional Court Judge is seen as a direct attempt by the President to avoid accountability and review of his earlier decrees top dismiss Ukraine's Democratically elected Parliament The Constitutional Court was expected to announce its decision on the legality of the Presidents decree tomorrow. The interference of the Presidents has seriously undermined confidence in the Courts deliberations and the rule of law in Ukraine. Both the EU and Russia have adopted a stand back and watch approach stating that Ukraine should find a way to resolve this crisis by itself.

Late last week there was hope that the crisis would come to an end with the prime minister agreeing to the holding of early election before the end of the year. The government had previously advocated joint Presidential and Parliamentary elections to he held in October 2007 allowing a clean sweep of both arms of power, Victor Yuschenko who signed a decree on April 2 and again on April 26 has rejected the cal for his resignation and fresh Presidential elections to end the dead lock.

The deadlock and potential collapse of the agreement has come following the refusal of the President to accept an October election date. Victor Yushchenko and the opposition are pushing for a snap poll and elections to be held during Ukraine's summer holiday break.

Under Ukraine's constitution (Article 90^3) the President can legality force fresh elections following 30 days of the Parliament being unable to form a statutory quorum at its next parliamentary session which begins in September this would mean that election would have to be held in November at the latest.

Russia has indicated that it will assist Ukraine if it is asked to assist. Europe is yet to respond.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Poll shows no major shift in electoral fortunes with Party of Regions still securing the majority vote

An opinion poll published May 7 shows that had an election been held in Ukraine there would be little change in the elections outcome with party of Regions securing 212 (47.2%) Parliamentary seats in their own right and with the support of the communist bloc (5.8%) would secure an absolute majority of parliamentary positions.

Source: UNIAN News


Poll 20 April 2007 FOM-Ukraine

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Friction within Coalition Factions facing agreement for new elections

Prime-Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, have agreed to put an end to the ongoing political conflict that was dividing the nation.

Following last Friday's announcement that an agreement has been reached to hold fresh elections in Ukraine before the years end has began to create disagreements and friction within the governing coalition.

Election Free Summer Holiday with politcal discord

Whilst Ukraine can look forward to an election free summer holiday the political game play is far from over as the politicians try to come to agreement over the details of putting the peace plan into effect.

Member's of the coalition parties have expressed concern that they have not been fully consulted and that the Prime-Minister has given credence to the President's demands which they say are unconstitutional and should only be agreed to if and when Ukraine's Constitutional Court rules in favour of the President which is unlikely.


President Opposition Victory Spin

Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko have been quick to claim a victory putting a spin on the peace deal agreement.

The President is hoping to hold fresh elections in July/August where the Prime-Minister is advocating an October/November poll.

The conflict resolution has come after 40 days of bitter divisions and political conflict following the President's unilateral decree to dismiss Ukraine's democratically elected parliament following unity with the opposition coalition with a number of members of the opposition crossing the floor to support the parliamentary majority.

The constitutional authority of the President was on shaky grounds and members of the governing coalition had appealed to Ukraine's Constitutional Court against the authority of the president to dissolve parliament.

Shoring up fresh elections by resignation

Members of the Opposition blocs Yulia Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine had tendered their resignation from Parliament in order to ensure the dissolving of the parliament.

Under Ukraine's Constitution the parliament needs to have more then 300 elected members of Parliament in order to hold a plenary session. If less then 300 members of parliament are available then within 30 days the President under the terms of Ukraine's constitution (Article 90) can legally dismiss the Parliament and call for parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days from that date.

Plenary session are organised into half yearly periods with the next session due to start in September.

Constitutional deliberations

The ongoing political conflict was not in Ukraine's best interest and whilst the Constitutional Court is still deliberating on the merits and legality of the President's decree there was little to gain in perpetuating the conflict given that, even if the Constitutional Court ruled against the President's decree, the president in the future would have the constitutional right to call for early elections in late October/early November.

Extending disputation

The longer the disputation the worst it with the government losing support as the crisis is allowed to fester.

The prime-minister and the president have rightly agreed to end the conflict by agreeing to hold fresh elections before the end of the year. Although the date and details had not yet been finalised.

Legislative reform

The Parliament needs to put in place a series of amendments to Ukraine's constitution and and legislation to facilitate the financing and holding of the elections. In order to do this the president has to revoke his decrees and reconstitute the old parliament (Including rescinding the President's earlier acceptance of opposition members resignation for the parliament - although there remains many question as to the legality of such moves pragmatism should prevail in the end of the day)

Issues such as the date for elections, whether the forthcoming election will also include fresh presidential elections along with the desired changes to Ukraine's constitution all need to be resolved.

All issues will add to the increasing friction within both the opposition and governing coalitions .

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Second Decree on the rocks

President Yushchenko faced with reality revokes his decree disbanding Parliament

The President of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko, and Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, today announced an agreed position that will see the president of Ukraine revoke his second decree dissolving Ukraine's democratically elected parliament putting an end to the ongoing political Cruise's that has engulfed Ukraine for the last 4O days.

Details of the proposed settlement are sketchy but it is understood that the President has agreed to a compromise position where early elections will be held in Autumn (October).

It is unknown if the agreement includes the holding of fresh presidential elections as was original proposed.

The proposed compromise settlement is in line with the proposal put forward by the Government early on in the crisis which followed the President's first decree on April 2 dissoloving Ukraine's Parliament.

The Government considered the actions of the president was unconstitutional and members of parliament lodged an appeal with Ukraine's Constitutional Court.

One April 26 the president faced with the prospect of the Constitutional Court ruling against his April 2 decree revoked his original decree only to make a second decree seeking fresh parliamentary elections on June 24. The president's second decree only exacerbated the current crisis and gave rise to a second appeal against the president's decision.

Viktor Yushchenko, in a highly controversial move, dismissed two judges from the Constitutional Court in what has been portrayed as a direct attempt by the president to illegally influence the deliberations of the court in order to avoid accountability or judicial review. The President actions had promoted calls for the president to resign or be impeached.

The unscrambling of the egg

The break though that was announce today followed discussion between the opposing forces. It is understood that various foreign representatives ahead avoided the president that his position was untenable and that both parties should seek to establish an agreement and avoid the ongoing destabilizing conflict facing Ukraine.

The agreements reach requires that the president revoke his earlier decrees and re-instates the parliament who will consider necessary legislation and constitutional amendments to allow for fresh elections to take place in October/November this year.

Yulia Tymoshenko bloc

The views of Yulia Tymoshenko bloc and their response to the latest proposal is unknown as is her status as a member of Parliament.

Earlier last week Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of the opposition forces resigned from the Parliament with their resignations having been accepted by the president. The legality the resignations has not been addressed although there are suggestions that their resignation was not in accordance with the provision of Ukraine's constitution and as such the parliament and the president could resolve to not accept the resignations, even though the president is on the public record as previously stating that he had in fact accepted their resignation.

The game play is far from over.

The situation is far from clear as is the outcome of the agreement which is lacking in detail and still to be finalised. The other unknown factor is the attitude of the parliament, if and when they are officially reinstated. The parliament needs to consider a number of legislative and constitutional changes in order to resolve the problems foreseen before fresh elections can take place.

What is clear is that the president and the governing coalition have agreed to a political free summer holiday and an election to follow soon after.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Viktor Yushchenko traveling the road to anarchy and chaos

Extract from Foreign notes: Translation of response by VR coalition leaders Yanuk. Moroz, and Symonenko to Stanik's sacking (signed and addressed to: 'The Ukrainian nation, PACE [council of Europe], the EU, all international organisations, and ambassadors accredited in Ukraine', from Yanuk's official website: - posted by LEvko @ 7:24 PM

"Viktor Yushchenko by his anti-constitutional acts is pushing Ukraine along the road to anarchy and chaos...

We are convinced that the president is realizing an anti-constitutional rebellion. The next step of the president could be an ukaz ordering tanks onto the streets..

The actions of the president of Ukraine are becoming dangerous for the state and the nation. Ukraine is threatened by legal disorder and civil war.

We appeal to the Council of Europe with a call to support us in our demand against the return of authoritarianism in Ukraine. We call upon the world to remind president Yushchenko about democratic principles, about the supremacy of law, and that Ukraine should remain a region of peace and stability in the centre of Europe."


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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2nd Judge Faces the Axe

Yushchenko acts to shore up his position and control over Ukraine's Constitutional Court

Viktor Yushchenko has dismissed a second judge in what is seen as a political purge in order for the president to shore-up his position of authority and limit judicial accountability.

The president's latest maneuver, on the eve of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the appeal against his decree,dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament, seriously undermines the independence of the Court.


On April 2 the president issued his first decree dismissing the parliament which resulted in stand-off and struggle for power between the Office of the President and the elected Parliament.

The parliament, arguing that the President's decree was unconstitutional, lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court. The court was due to hand down its ruling later this week. On April 26, soon after the Court moved into closed session, the President cancelled his first decree and issued a second decree with an additional citation alleging breaches under Article 90 of Ukraine's Constitution.

The dismissal of two Constitutional Court judges has exacerbated the political crisis facing Ukraine with the president standing accused of directly seeking to influence the outcome of the Constitutional Court's deliberations, prior to their verdict, by dismissing judges considered to be opposed to the president's decrees.

Related Story: Political Corruption in Ukraine's Highest Office Threatens Ukraine's Democracy

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