One year on: President gets D grade in most crucial areas
The results have been announced of a survey of media and other specialists carried out by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation assessing President Yanukovych’s first year in office. The assessment was in general negative: on a scale of 1 to 10, the President scored 2.9.
The basic changes which took place during the first year were seen as largely negative. Most criticism was elicited by the politically motivated prosecution of members of the opposition and the pressure which the regime was putting on members of civil society, including members of the Tax Code Protest.
There was also considerable criticism of the reduction in democratic rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly.
Another important trend noted was the concentration of power in the hands of the President and the creation of a strict executive vertical line which, in their view, has both negative and certain positive aspects to it. At the same time the methods for creating a majority in parliament and parliament’s work as a whole received a purely negative assessment since that demonstrated the loss by the legislative body of its independence.
The return to the 1996 Constitution pursuant to the Constitutional Court judgment was also assessed very negative since that had taken place with flagrant violation of current legislation and as the result of political pressure on the court.
The new direction in humanitarian policy also received criticism, being perceived as anti-Ukrainian. The attempts to change the content of Ukrainian history textbooks, the denial of Holodomor, the reduction in the role of the Ukrainian role and general dilution of Ukrainian national identify were seen as the most important manifestations of this.
The experts surveyed saw no real fight against corruption during the first year of Yanukovych’s presidency despite the declarations made. The level of corruption had only risen.
The court reform carried out received negative comments since it has increased the dependence of the judicial system on the executive branch of power.
On the international scene Ukraine’s re-orientation towards Russia was not and seen in a largely negative light since it had led to a certain subordination of Ukraine’s national interests to those of Russia. The most criticism was aimed at the Kharkiv Accords which had extended the presence of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and thus partially restricted Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Among the few positive changes the experts mention the accelerated pace of preparation for Euro 2012; the regime’s declaration of the need to carry out reforms; the adoption of the law on access to public information and strengthening of public self-organization.
The key ratings were on the whole negative.
The worst score was for the regime’s humanitarian policy (1.7), whereas the level of corruption was assessed as extremely high (8.9).
Other bad ratings:
observance of lawfulness 2.4
the government’s social policy 2.6
upholding Ukraine’s interests on the international scene 2.6
freedom of enterprise 3
the economic situation 3.1
the level of democracy 3.2
the situation with freedom of speech 3.8
Asked which areas the experts would focus on in the President’s place, the following were mentioned:
Carry out real measures on fighting corruption;
Create favourable conditions for the development of small and middle-level business;
Make changes to the Constitution and carry out court reform;
Carry out a number of reforms in the social and humanitarian spheres;
Restrict power of the oligarchs and carry out lustration of the political elite.
They also stressed that the government should listen to the opposition and representatives of civil society when preparing and adopting important decisions.