President asserts Vlasenko lawfully stripped of his mandate
Ukrainska Pravda reports that at a press conference with a Latvian colleague on Thursday, President Yanukovych acknowledged that the revocation of Vlasenko’s mandate had adversely affected relations with the EU but nonetheless endeavoured to justify the move. He asserted that in no European country are deputies able to combine their deputy activities with work as a lawyer, for example.
“With regard to the deputy (Seriy Vlasenko), there was this combination with work as a defence lawyer, that is, he had a licence and he carried out defence lawyer activities”.
He said that if it had been possible to defer this ruling, that would have given the deputies the opportunity to determine where they wanted to work, that would have been correct.
The President then said that he had spoken with the Parliamentary Speaker who asserted that he had warned the deputies many times over more than 3 months. As reported here, the High Administrative Court first speedily strippeParty of the Regions MP Andriy Vereyevsky of his mandate, then moved on to the opposition Batkivshchyna MP, Vlasenko.
The President’s explanation diverges on many points from that given by Vlasenko himself and widely reported in the media. Since the latter has prompted consternation abroad and warnings about the likely effect on prospects for the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, it may be useful to highlight the main differences.
Serhiy Vlasenko had indeed not suspended his defence lawyer licence until 22 February, roughly a week before the Parliamentary Speaker applied to the High Administrative Court for his parliamentary mandate to be revoked.
There was therefore no reason for Speaker Rybak to “defer” further action until Vlasenko “made up his mind”.
Vlasenko is Yulia Tymoshenko’s defender – this is not the same as her defence lawyer.
There is no evidence at all that Mr Vlasenko had engaged in any paid defence lawyer work. None was provided during the court on 6 March.
Speaker Rybak’s application to the court asserts that he is responding to a decision taken by the Parliamentary Regulations Committee. The opposition is adamant that the meeting which is alleged to have occurred in February did not take place and that any decision can have no legal standing since no opposition members of the committee were informed that it was taking place.
There has been no mention at all of three months of efforts by Rybak to encourage the two MPs to make up their minds. In fact, if it had been clear for so long that there was a problem, then why is there no complaint about the Central Election Commissions work?
As noted already, there are also a very large number of other MPs who combine business and deputy activities. There are some, in fact, who are virtually never present in parliament at all, with their cards being used by their party colleagues to “vote” for them (this, of course, being entirely in breach of the Constitution).
As well as the clearly selective nature of this move, which has stripped Yulia Tymoshenko’s defender of his MP status and parliamentary immunity, there is also another key point which makes it impossible for EU observers to accept the latest move as lawful. The High Administrative Court has stepped in and revoked the parliamentary mandate of MPs who were recognized as properly elected by the Central Election Commission. The voters’ choice of MPs has thus been disregarded.