Constitutional Court: Chronicle of commentary or pressure


Given the rapid flow of information, some conflicting, some almost immediately refuted, it has seemed misleading to merely present readers with this or that report on the Constitutional Court and its likely role in determining whether or not the President’s Decree of 2 April 2007 was constitutional.  The following is a brief summary of key events and statements over the last week.

On 11 April five judges of the Constitutional Court – Yaroslava Machuzhak, Viktor Shishkin, Volodymyr Kampo, Petro Stetsiuk and Dmytro Lypak - publicly stated that they were not prepared to take part in a judicial examination of the Decree dissolving parliament due to pressure on them from particular political forces. They said that pressure had been brought to bear on the Court as a whole, and on individual members.

Throughout the week, various political forces accused each other of trying to influence the Court.

On 13 April Viktor Yanukovych made the following statement to Polish journalists:’

“If we become convinced that the Constitutional Court is not capable of making a decision, and that it is under the influence of this or that political force, we will be forced to pass a resolution dissolving this Constitutional Court”.  He stressed that after the dissolution of the Constitutional Court, if politicians adopted this decision “the question would definitely arise of early elections.  “However on what conditions?” he added.

Yanukovych said that the Law on the Elections needed to be brought into compliance. Later the Law on the Central Election Commission would also need to be brought into compliance[1].

Leader of the Party “Vpered Ukraina!” and lawyer Viktor Musiyaka, commenting on the statements made by Viktor Yanukovych about the possible dissolution of the Constitutional Court, stated that it was not possible to suggest disbanding the entire composition of the Court.

He added that according to the Law on the Constitutional Court, one could only consider the early termination of powers of a specific judge, with the legally justified grounds being given. 

“In general there are no grounds for dissolving the whole Constitutional Court. Of course there are problems with it. It hasn’t worked for almost a year, and at the moment it is demonstrated that it is effectively hiding somewhere. That question could and should be raised, but not in this turmoil.”

At present examination of the President’s Decree of 2 April is scheduled for 17 April.

In an interview published in “Gazeta po-kievski” on 16 April Constitutional Court Judge Viktor Shishkin spoke of pressure being exerted as well as about the legal force of the President’s Decree.

He stressed that the Decree from 2 April dissolving parliament was in force until the judgment of the Court.

When asked about pressure being brought to bear on the Constitutional Court, Shishkin stated that this was being exerted also by the Verkhovna Rada.

He pointed out that submissions to the Constitutional Court can be put forward by the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Crimean Parliament, the Supreme Court and by National Deputies.

“I would draw your attention to the fact that the Verkhovna Rada is not in this list. On 3 April 53 Deputies sent such a submission and the Court accepted it. However on 2 April, during the night, the Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution asking the Court to expedite a judgment on this issue.

The Verkhovna Rada is not entitled to make such submissions. The entire Verkhovna Rada is a political body, and such a Resolution is political pressure”.

As other examples of pressure he gave the statement by Yanukovych about the resignation of the Head of the Court Judge Dombrovsky, as well as statements that Yushchenko was recalling his judges (the President puts forward 6 judges, the Verkhovna Rada – 6, and 6 are suggested by the High Court of Judges.)

He mentioned also how the head of the Socialist faction had stated that the judges had been called to the President’s Secretariat for talks. On that day, 26 March, he was scheduled to give an exam at 12.20, yet his students said they had been told the exam was postponed, since he had been called to the Secretariat.

He also quoted the words of the Communist leader Symonenko: “orange terminators” can act through the dirtiest provocation, even by organizing an attempt on their own people in the Constitutional Court”. “The main communist in the country is trying to intimidate us! Here you have “overt public threats”, Judge Shiskin stated.

compiled by Halya Coynash

[1]  The reported text does not specify what they should be brought into compliance with.  At the special session held after the President’s Decree dissolving parliament, the coalition who remained in the Verkhovna Rada passed a number of resolutions, one of which reinstated the composition of the Central Election Commission from 2004 under the old leader Serhiy Kivalov, now a National Deputy from the Party of the Regions. 

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