A systemic political crisis has arisen in Ukraine, caused by a whole range of factors. It has been conditioned by mass violations of civil rights and Ukrainian electoral legislation, and is a predictable consequence of attempts to artificially create a system of «manually controlled, regulated and manipulated puppet democracy», the result of «dirty» election technology, lies, falsification, manipulation of public opinion and consciousness, numerous myths which have become an everyday feature of our lives. The root cause of the crisis was the total inaction and helplessness of the head of the State, of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, of the entire system of State executive power, of law enforcement agencies and offices of the Prosecutor.

During the period prior to Ukraine’s Presidential elections and on the day of the elections, a significant part of the State executive and its officials allowed themselves to be drawn into election campaigning despite this being in breach of the law. Article 64 of the Law of Ukraine «On the Ukrainian Presidential elections» expressly prohibits «State executive bodies and bodies of local self-government, their officials and functionaries» from taking part in election campaigning (Paragraph 2 of Part 1). However not only did officials at various levels quite often engage in various types of campaigning activities themselves, but they also involved their subordinates in the preparation, organization and running of these activities, using for this purpose transport, property and material which belonged to State enterprises, institutions or organizations (in this way forcing their subordinates to make improper use of State revenue, as well as of revenue which should have been used for the development of their respective enterprise, institution or organization. Moreover, officials carried out campaigning activity among their subordinates (also in violation of the law) which often took on the form of psychological pressure or was close to it. From a legal point of view, for the director of an institution or separate department of such to express an opinion to his or her employees (colleagues, etc) as to preference for one particular candidate as being the more attractive (worthy, balanced, promising, etc) choice can already be considered a certain degree of psychological pressure. In such a case, a situation arises which does not contribute to the free exchange of views within the work collective as to the candidates, and where there can be grounds for assuming that holding a different point of view from the boss could annoy the latter and have negative consequences in future on one’s level of salary, conditions of work, career possibilities, or even, in the final analysis, on whether one keeps one’s job.

Open interference by many officials of various ranks and levels in the election process, blatant disregard by officials of the principles of election legislation, the improper carrying out by many State bodies of their functions (most particularly the offices of the Prosecutor and law enforcement bodies) make a shameful farce of the idea of free elections. It is a telling fact that only 75 State Deputies of Ukraine (of 433 present) voted on 27 November 2004 for a proposal to declare the elections lawful and democratic. This means that less than 17 percent of parliamentarians consider these elections to have been free and honest, and that a full and accurate expression of the will of the people was established. The percentage of «blind optimists» among voters is doubtless even lower.

The Central Election Commission, Territorial and District Electoral Commissions, did not ensure that election legislation was adhered to by all parties in the election process. The Central Election Commission in general failed to carry out its functional role and effectively removed itself from carrying out any supervision of adherence to election legislation. Quite often it did not notice (or chose not to notice) violations which the whole country was observing. The Central Election Commission took a suspiciously long time to count the votes after the round of voting on 31 October, and an even more suspiciously short time to produce the results of the second round, in its excessive haste again not noticing violations or events that were occurring, and demonstrating their lack of consistency, impartiality and objectivity. . By so doing, the Central Election Commission discredited not only the whole principle of free elections, but also itself.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the heads of many central executive bodies, the heads of regional and district offices of State administrations, the offices of the Prosecutor as well as law enforcement agencies did not attempt to stop the innumerable violations of election legislation and thereby discredited themselves in the eyes of the nation. As a result of such inactivity and bias from officials, an atmosphere of fear in society again appeared, and in our day, just as many years ago, on the eve of the elections a thoroughly undemocratic situation developed (which electors should not have to experience) where almost 45 percent of our fellow citizens were not only hesitant, but actually afraid to express their point of view as regards the Presidential candidate they were going to vote for. This fear remained after the elections of 31 October, and after the second round of voting. There are a number of people who even now feel compelled to conceal their political preferences. This is explained, on the one hand, by the low political culture of ordinary citizens, and by the atmosphere which has developed in many work collectives (we have in mind a situation where other employees, colleagues, members of the same group not only do not respect another person’s point of view, but actually criticize those who do not vote for ‘their’ candidate, or even insult or denigrate those who «go against the will of the collective», «step out of line»). On the other hand, voters are sometimes forced to conceal their attitude to a candidate in the awareness that this may annoy the head of the workshop, brigade, section, department, management of the enterprise, etc. Such an unfriendly, intolerant and, therefore, undemocratic political atmosphere is oppressive for voters, denigrates their dignity and has nothing in common with democracy and free elections as understood in the contemporary world. A lot of voters were forced to vote against their own convictions and preferences because they feared that it would become known who they had voted for (such fears were exacerbated by rumors about «hidden video cameras», the possibility of comparing ballot papers with verification slips and thus being able to identify voters, etc).

The vast majority of state executive bodies and officials, beginning with the head of the State and ending with the district police officers, who during a time of heightened political crisis «forgot» to carry out their functions and to use their authority, showed total helplessness, inertia, inaction and lack of integrity.

Ukraine is not facing political crisis for the first time. We can give several examples. In the Autumn of 1990 mass protests by students forced the government to resign. On 23 October 1990 the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic decided to «meet the request of Comrade Vitaly Andriyevych Masol and relieve him of his duties as Head of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR»

In 1992, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, having acknowledged their own inability and helplessness, vested in the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine the right to issue decrees which would have legal force. For six months the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine hurriedly «produced» decrees, many of which remain current to the present day. In Summer 1993, immediately after the end of the «decree period», there was a wave of powerful, mass miners’ strikes. To find a way out of the deep political crisis «considering the socio-political situation which had arisen in Donbass and other regions of Ukraine», the Verkhovna Rada on 17 June 1993 actually called a nationwide referendum for 26 September 1993 «as a vote of confidence (or no confidence) in the President of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada». However soon, after political consultations, the President and the Verkhovna Rada agreed to hold early parliamentary and presidential elections, and the referendum became redundant. In this they managed, first of all, to still the heightened strike sentiments and emotions, and secondly, to extend the term of their authority (the Verkhovna Rada for 6 months, and the President of Ukraine for almost a year, so that the newly elected President of Ukraine assumed office on 19 July 1994.).

The present political crisis in Ukraine is the most serious and large-scale since independence. There can be no doubt that, thanks to the mass actions of civic disobedience, which began on 22 November of Independence Square and spread over a large area of Ukraine, our society has radically changed. The shift in public awareness brought about by these actions need the separate attention of sociologists, political scientists, philosophers and other researchers.

Together with this, it is worth pointing out some direct adverse effects of the political crisis, first of all for the budget. It is well-established that during the run up to the elections, and the elections of 2004 themselves, massive funds both from the State budget and non-budget sources were wasted, effectively «poured down the plughole». Under these circumstances, in any modern civilized country the government, as well as high-ranking officials, would have resigned, acknowledging their culpability for having brought the country to a state of being ungoverned and having squandered taxpayers’ money. However, if they lack the conscience or awareness of their own responsibility for these events, then the Head of the State and Parliament must take this step. Their inability to govern the country is demonstrated further by the fact that Parliament reacted to the numerous violations of citizens’ voting rights and the attempts to falsify the results of the elections only when forced to by the acts of civic disobedience, and then only on the sixth day after they had begun, with the Council of National Security and Defence of Ukraine reacting only on the seventh day.

However the time for political manipulations, political games and attempts to «outdo» one’s political opponents has passed.

Therefore, in order to resolve Ukraine’s deep political crisis, the President of Ukraine should dismiss the entire government, the Central Election Commission, the General Prosecutor, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the heads of particular regional and district administrations, and appoint acting officials to fulfill the above-mentioned roles, with a list of these people being agreed during the process of political negotiations. Incidentally, it is surely Leonid Kuchma, who should have the greatest objective interest in these steps, since it is only by such measures that he can hope to restore his authority as Head of the State, and hope that his previous miscalculations and mistakes may be forgiven. His fellow citizens will be able to forget particularly about these (mistakes and miscalculations) for a time, and be grateful to him for resolving the crisis. In the eyes of the international community he will also be seen as a politician who stilled passions by peaceful means and was able to bring a great (in the first instance, in terms of size) central European country from the brink without bloodshed.

The second stage in resolving the crisis must be the formation of new territorial and district electoral commissions, and also the implementation of a range of measures which will make a repetition of mass, systematic and flagrant violations of election legislation and the distortion of the will of the voters impossible during a re-run of the elections. The third stage should be the re-run to be held on 19 December 2004.

Mykhaylo Buromensky, Doctor of Law

Fedir Venislavsky, Candidate of Law

Viktor Kychun, Candidate of Law

Viktor Kolisnyk, Doctor of Law

Pavlo Lyubchenko, Candidate of Law

27 November 2004
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