Human Rights in Ukraine

Politics and human rights

Civic Assembly of Ukraine speaks out on reforms needed to make elections mean something


The fierce political battle raging among the leaders of the country and the main political forces supporting them has degenerated into a legal free-for-all which is destroying the remnants of the country’s legal system as well as the foundations of social coexistence. Such action, whatever noble intentions they may be cloaked in, are in their very essence anti-social.

The political inadequacy, confrontational attitude and helplessness of those politicians when it comes to developing and implementing national strategies have been especially exacerbated in the face of the world economic crisis. Even this crisis has not had an impact on our ambitious and self-obsessed politicians who are waging a war of self-destruction, not balking at the destruction of the country’s very statehood.

The members of the Civic Assembly of Ukraine has since July 2007 been warning that without a change of Constitution, without establishing clear rules and frameworks for political activities shared both by members of the public and politicians, any pre-term elections cannot provide a way out of the crisis.  It is for this reason that we are proposing carrying out radical constitutional reform by implementing citizens’ constituent by the adoption of a new Constitution by a special constituent – a Constitutional Assembly.

Yet the President and parliamentary forces in their efforts to use the Constitution in their own party-political interests have undertaken inept attempts to implement constitutional reform via the so-called National Constitutional Council or inter-factional parliamentary conspiracies, closed to any impact from citizens who are the only source of constituent power in the country.

All subsequent events have proved our warnings justified, and the crisis has merely intensified.

The snap elections declared by the President in conditions where the legal system has been half ruined by politicians themselves and with a deepening of the socio-political crisis, will not be able to improve the situation if they take place under the system of closed party lists which are advantageous only to political leader-oriented, oligarchic corporations and their sponsors.

Current electoral legislation de facto deprives an absolute majority of the public of active electoral rights and significantly restricts the practical exercising of passing electoral rights. This results in the alienation of those in power from the population, disorientation and the collapse of the state mechanism, as well as the substitution of the rule of law for political, or more precisely, clan expediency and the rule of the strong, and systematic violations of human rights and civil liberties.  There is no other way of overcoming the crisis than to create real, reliable and effective mechanisms of influence of the public on the political processes and on the authorities at all levels in a legal, democratic manner.

We therefore demand from the President, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Verkhovna Rada that before any elections, including snap parliamentary elections are held, that they see to the following as a matter of urgency:

  • Stop violating the laws and Constitution, abusing the law and legal procedures, the destruction of the judiciary, manipulations with court appointments and court bodies, and stop exerting pressure on the courts;
  • Pass a law allowing for a Constitutional Assembly as the single body of constituent power;
  • Pass new electoral laws which envisage the introduction of open regional electoral lists and preferential lists for parliamentary elections, and the majority system for elections to bodies of local self-government;

In our view the optimum solution would be to hold elections after a change to the whole system of power, while the absolute minimum which is acceptable is to hold snap parliamentary elections under a new electoral law.

The elections should lead to an improvement in the quality of those in power through renewal by members of the public.

In order to defend the principles of democracy, the law and of Ukrainian statehood, we announce the calling of an Extraordinary Civic Assembly of Ukraine. We call on all civic communities to consolidate for the sake of Ukraine. In the event that our demands are ignored, and the destruction of the principles of Ukraine’s statehood continue, we reserve the right to any action aimed at restoring citizens’ power and the principles of the rule of law, based on the principle of the sovereign power of the people.

24 October 2008

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