10.02.2006 | Oleksandr Severyn



Yesterday we lost a court case.  It was no ignominious defeat, having previously deflected several attempts by the respondent (representatives of the President and Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) to persuade the panel of judges to throw out the case entirely.  Nonetheless, we lost.

The Decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the Law of Ukraine “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the status of Deputies of local councils” was not declared illegal, as were not the related omission and actions of the President (as Guarantor of the Constitution) in not imposing his veto on this Law, and in signing it, respectively.  So, the immunity of “local” Deputies, introduced on the arbitrary will of our “quasi-parliament”, and which directly contravenes the Constitution of Ukraine, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and at least four decisions of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (№7-ZP from 23.12.97, №1-рп/98 from 26.02.98, №9-рп/2000 from 12.07.00, №5-zp from 30.10.97), has held its ground. For now….

During my legal career I have both won and lost cases. I can’t get away from the latter, and there would be no sense in trying to hide them, since in post-Soviet conditions a near 100% success rate is more indicative of mastery in, let’s say, using contacts than of actual professional skill. There have been enough victories and defeats to treat this calmly and philosophically.  The court has the right to disagree with me (whether in my role as respondent or as claimant), while I in turn have the right to not agree with the court and to appeal the ruling.  That’s fine. Life goes on. The universe has not caved in.  Especially since we had no illusions as to our chances of achieving a legal blitzkrieg considering the lack of precedents, and who the actual respondents were (according to information from a private source within the Ministry of Justice, up till now there have only been two cases when the President of Ukraine lost a case in the courts, and in both cases the happy, Lord help us, defender of his rights was, presumably by a rare coincidence the ex-Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun).

What is depressingly symptomatic is something else. Despite regular information being provided about how the case was proceeding in the Internet and at press conferences, as well as personal appeals to journalist acquaintances, generally recognized for their integrity and level of professionalism, the number of these fearless warriors of the pen, camera and microphone who came to the court hearings was zero.  Zero point not one of them. Thanks, colleagues. There are two possible explanations for such behaviour, neither giving cause for optimism.  The first is that these media folk don’t, excuse me, give a toss about the very issue of a flagrant, even it would seem with a certain perverted self-satisfaction, violation by the legislators of the Main Law (the Constitution) and the principle of equality of all citizens. The second is that from the very outset they didn’t for a minute believe in the possibility that two foolhardy (if not cracked) citizens would win in a legal confrontation with her Dissipated Majesty’s Regime. Because they didn’t believe[1]. Because they had grounds for this. Because they have experience. Empirica ordinaris.

And another thing.  Probably everybody has heard, especially in this pre-election time which irritates and stimulates sensitive Deputy receptors with its rustling of political campaigning material, voting papers, dreams of continuing over the next years hearing the scraping, so dear to the heart, of cushy Deputy chairs, and therefore, of other rustling in hands overworked through pushing buttons. – everyone then will have heard whether from individual very much people’s elected representatives, or from great and small Deputy choirs songs about the pernicious nature of immunity.  Majestic oratorios about the need to abolish it.  Self-glorifying odes on the theme of their own heroic (and legally meaningless) “renunciation of immunity”.  What forced them to push their buttons during the vote on the crazy law on 08.09.05? What is stopping them from submitting the appropriate petition to the Constitutional Court?  What is in the way of their inundating the courts with their own civil suits, analogous to ours (but much more professional, since they are legislators after all)?  What prevented them from demanding that law enforcement bodies when deciding whether to bring charges against “local” lesser brothers in the Deputy fraternity be governed by the Constitution, and not by a pitiful law which is in direct contravention of the Constitution (  What prevented them finally, or at very least one people’s representative, or politician so absolutely concerned in words about the “immunity” issue, to simply turn up in the courtroom?  Perhaps, though it’s unlikely, each person has their own individual answer.  There is however a general cause – political rot and political life bad to the core.  If politics is the ability to make deals with interested parties, with local Deputies, with frightened criminal elements looking for immunity; if politics is an absorbing game, hobby, style of life or a source of income, and not everyday responsible, then perhaps they’re getting us wrong?  As the year before last citizens Kuchma and Yanukovych underestimated us?  Perhaps quite simply It is time [Pora]© , It is worth © and It is necessary © to learn to demonstrate integrity towards ourselves, to society and to the State, and in every (every!) case where the law is broken by the State, officials or politicians, to ourselves do everything in our power to bring them to answer?  To shed the illusion that someone may change something instead of us doing it.  And then, and only then, the State and politicians will in turn lose their illusions about us, based on a sense that they are an all-powerful “elite (I apologize to the readership for such a dirty word), and that we accordingly … are not the elite.

I am incredibly grateful to the two young revolutionary-minded girls – Katya and Nadya who, in temperatures of minus twenty five came along to the Pechersk District Court to support us. And I will even contra spem spero [hope against hope] bring this unyielding matter to its conclusion, at whatever level, Ukrainian or European, this end will come, if only to support their belief that one can uphold the truth and win – both on Maidan, and before Lady Justice.

You’re laughing too soon in your immunity …..


From Maidan:

[1]  In these short sentences the author repeats the main slogan used by Viktor Yanukovych whose rigged election “victory” was overturned during the Orange Revolution  – tomu shcho [because].  (translator’s note)

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