In the New Year Ukraine will descend into constitutional chaos


This gloomy prediction could be heard from virtually all those who spoke at a round table to discuss the planned constitutional amendments in Ukraine which was organized on 12 December by the Laboratory of Legislative Initiatives and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


A heated argument raged at the round table between those who want to see the “reform” revoked and those who support its introduction. However both sides were in agreement that as a result of the dramatic change in the model of executive power and in the absence of dozens of the requisite laws and procedures, Ukraine could experience constitutional and legislative chaos with unimaginably grave consequences


Supporters of the “political reform” primarily argued that supposedly it was already too late to change it. Representative of the Verkhovna Rada in the Constitutional Court, Selivanov even asserted that from now on the Constitution could only be changed through a referendum. The line that “we’ve missed the boat” was taken up by the follower of “Professor” Yanukovych[1], Taras Chornovil. It was however spurned by the Kharkiv Human Rights Group’s constitutional expert, Vsevolod Rechytsky, who compared such assertions to the well-known pronouncement: “The teaching of Marx is all-powerful because it is true”.


Political scientist, Vadym Karasyov stated that in principle it made no difference where one changed the constitution, even in the toilet. To which Karasyov’s opponents with some justification responded that what is produced in the toilet cannot become the foundation of the State and the Law.  Karasyov in addition tried to argue the “advantages” of the “political reform” on the grounds that, as he put it, any idiot can govern a Presidential state, but you try learning to govern a parliamentary one…


Professor of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and Retired Judge of the Constitutional Court, Mykola Kozyubra said that no amendments to the Constitution could compensate for the lack of political culture in contemporary Ukrainian society.  Nor would the numerous and flagrant violations of constitutional procedures by means of which and only by means of which the amendments to the Constitution could be introduced engender respect for the Constitution.  Therefore, in his opinion, the annulment of this reform was inevitable in the near future.


The most consistent and the sharpest criticism of the amendments to the Constitution came from the representatives of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) Yevhen Zakharov and Vsevolod Rechytysky. Zakharov said that they were nothing less than a constitutional coup, a revolt, since it was impossible to accept changes in the Constitution adopted with flagrant disregard for the procedure for introducing amendments to the said Constitution.  There could only be one task as far as such a “reform” was concerned, that being to revoke it. He commented that one could only agree with the reform if one removed from the Constitution the affirmation that Ukraine is a law-based country. In their opinion, the liquidation of a presidential form of government in Ukraine would render Ukraine helpless before the more mobile presidential system in neighbouring Russia. As Oleksandr Severyn, both an activist of the “Maidan” Alliance and a member of KHPG, aptly noted the “political reform” changes the powers of State Deputies and of the President before the cessation of these powers.  Those Ukrainian citizens who voted for a President and Parliament with certain powers will suddenly receive a Parliament with entirely different powers and a President stripped of the majority of the levers of power. He noted In particular that the Constitution of Ukraine, just as the constitutions of other countries, expressly prohibits the introduction of any changes during military action, state of emergency or revolution in the country. The time of voting for these amendments to the Constitution, 8 December last year, constituted precisely such a period of revolutionary upheaval.


In the opinion of the KHPG members, the very first petition to the Constitutional Court prepared in accordance with legislation will be sufficient to overturn the legality of Law No. 2222 from 8 December 2004.  Those, moreover, who believe that revoking the amendments to the Constitutions voted on as part of a package of laws will immediately make the President’s position illegitimate, are labouring under a misapprehension. KHPG’s experts who are specialists in constitutional law are confident that amendments to ordinary laws will remain in force.


At the present time a Draft Petition has already been proposed by a Ukrainian State Deputy supporting KHPG and “Maidan” Alliance’s position. It puts in question the legal force of the “reform” on the grounds of the flagrant violations of constitutional procedure which were used in the process of imposing potentially catastrophic change to the constitutional system in Ukraine.


Our information source.

[1] Viktor Yanukovych’s only educational qualifications were obtained in 2001 with a Masters in International Law from the Ukrainian Academy of Foreign Trade. He was later awarded the titles of Doctor of Sciences and “Professor” (translator’s note)

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