14.12.2003 | Sergiy Fedorynchyk, Kyiv

On the case of judge Yuri Vasilenko


The Ukrainian reality does not give us many reasons for optimism, especially regarding the people, who take decisions. But there are some worthy, wise, honest and active people among them. They can be found in public organizations, business, state agencies, political parties, Parliament, courts. And such people must be appreciated and endorsed.

Judge Vasilenko is one of the best Ukrainian judges, since, first of all, he is an honest and responsible person. This is confirmed by all facts I know about him, and these facts are rather numerous.

Institution by him of the criminal case against President Kuchma was a JURIDICAL act since the case was started as a result of the appeal of MPs and on the basis of the materials presented by them. Only those people, who do not understand what justice is (or have some reasons to be afraid of the justice), can transform this act into a political problem.

A laboratory assistant in a hospital performs a urine analysis independently of the fact whether it is the urine of a minister or a janitor. In the same manner a judge must meticulously apply the proper routine procedure in spite of ranks and names.

I am a mathematician, worked as a programmer for a long time, so I completely agree with the British fundamental idea: „ the procedure is correct, the result would be correct too“ This means that the correct procedure will eliminate all admixtures that got into the case purposely or not, will consider only significant data and will come to the objective conclusion.

If Leonid Kuchma were really not guilty, then the objective judicial procedure would confirm his innocence. This procedure was applied to different people for thousands of times and it never raised any doubts of lawyers.

The main problem of common citizens is that the judicial branch of the Ukrainian power is weak and insufficiently independent. Only one judge in the entire country dared to consider the questions put by the MPs about the President. And the Supreme Council of justice at once began to press on him.

The status of the Supreme Council of justice is described in Article 131 of the Constitution:

„ Supreme Council of justice acts in Ukraine. It is empowered: 1) to submit the proposals on the appointment or dismissal of judges; 2) to take the decisions concerning violation by judges or prosecutors of the demands on incompatibility; 3) to accomplish the disciplinary proceedings over the judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine and the judges of supreme special courts, as well as to consider the complaints against the decisions on bringing to responsibility the judges of local and appeal courts and prosecutors.

The Supreme Council of justice consists of twenty members. The Supreme Rada of Ukraine, President of Ukraine, congress of judges of Ukraine, congress of advocates of Ukraine, congress of representatives of law schools and research establishments provide three members each to the Council, and the all-Ukrainian conference of the prosecutors – two members. The Head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, Minister of Justice of Ukraine and General Prosecutor of Ukraine are also members of the Supreme Council of justice“

It is obvious that the General Prosecutor and other prosecutors, Minister of Justice, representatives of law schools and research establishments are dependent on the President, to say nothing about the three members of the Council, who are directly appointed by the President. Thus, ten members of the Council are certainly loyal to the President, that is a half of the Council composition.

The judicial branch of power (4 members) and the legislative one (3 members) are in sum (7 members) weaker than the executive power, and this contradicts the principle of separation and balance of the power branches. The juridical and business circles are represented by the lawyers’ congress (3), but civil society, in particular human rights protecting organizations, are not represented in the Congress at all.

This means that the SCJ is independent of the citizens – taxpayers, at whose expense it works, but it is maximally dependent on the executive power, which is also kept for the money of taxpayers.

Only in the case of the COMPLETE COINCIDENCE OF THE OPINIONS of all other members of the SCJ, they could oppose President’s side. But it is incredible, especially if to take into account that the President’s administration took the measures to guarantee the support of the President even among these members.

The President is the top official in the state, but he must not be a dictator, he must be liable to laws and court proceedings. Accusing judge Vasilenko of the allegedly „“ use of court procedure, the Supreme Council of justice tries to turn the President to an immune feudal lord, and the Ukrainian citizens – to his villeins. Yet, various displays of feudalism are observed in Ukraine even without that. This way of development is incompatible with joining the European community.

The SCJ undermines the authorities of the judicial branch of power instead of making efforts to strengthen it, to increase its role in protecting citizens’ rights.

Every conscious citizen may not tolerate such outrage upon the basic democratic principles and civil rights, which was committed by the SCJ members. Do not treat all Ukrainian citizens as fools! Every member of the SCJ, who voted for the blame of Vasilenko, must be deprived in future the state pension, which is paid from the money of taxpayers.

Article 131 of the Constitution must be changed so that the Supreme Council of justice would represent the Balance of the three power branches, but not the predominance of the executive power. Besides, the SCJ must include not only the state lawyers from the three power branches and businessmen from the Bar, but also the lawyers from non-governmental human rights protecting organizations, who represent the Ukrainian civil society in this sphere.

Today all conscious citizens must stand up to protect judge Yuri Vasilenko. We must turn to MPs with the demand to reject the proposition of the Supreme Council of justice about the dismissal of Vasilenko. This is the infrequent occasion, when the future of the state and society depends on the lot of one person, and we must protect this person by common efforts.

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