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25.02.2014 | Yevhen Zakharov

Come to your senses!

   

I am calling on MPs from the opposition factions to stop!  Stop making a parody of the law!  Do not spoil our joint victory! The old dragon has been defeated, yet you have already generated a new young dragon.

I understand the need for swift action aimed at making the state governable. And this couldn’t be done without breaching the Constitution. According to the latter in the absence of the president, the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada carrying out his duties cannot appoint ministers of defence, foreign affairs; the head of the SBU [security service]; dismiss and appoint heads of regional state administrations; put forward candidates for Prime Minister; etc.  You cannot, however, leave the country without bodies of power, and they have to act in this way.

That can be justified: revolution breaks down the old legal system and creates a new one. But you can’t continue to breach the Constitution and laws for the sake of imagined political expediency!

How can you dismiss judges of the Constitutional Court who voted for the return of the 1996 Constitution for breach of oath?  And in addition to instruct the Prosecutor General’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings over the issuing of what 307 MPs consider an unlawful anti-constitutional judgement! In appropriating the powers of the High Council of Justice [HCJ], parliament acted unlawfully. How are you better than the old dragon with its Party of the Regions who subordinated to themselves the HCJ and dismissed inconvenient judges for infringement of their oath?  They at least had some kind of consideration procedure!

A little over a year ago, in a similar situation, the European Court of Human Rights passed a severe judgement against Ukraine over the application from Oleksandr Volkov, former Supreme Court judge and head of the Council of Judges. One can confidently predict that in a future case brought by a judge of the Constitutional Court against Ukraine, the latter will again face fiasco. Do not shame yourself and the country and suppress your desire for revenge.  Cancel this unlawful decision!

At present so-called lustration of judges is beginning with this run not even by the HCJ, but by the parliamentary committee on the justice system. That is again lawlessness! Parliament cannot act as a court. After this execution, you can forget about judges’ independence. Lustration is indeed necessary, however it needs to be carried out in accordance with a carefully prepared law in order to not repeat the serious lustration mistakes made in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Similarly parliament cannot release political prisoners. Such decisions can only be passed by a court, having examined the relevant cases. I can myself write a list of cases of political prisoners who urgently need to be released, as well as cases where there are good grounds for questioning the legality of the sentences: the case of the sacristans in Zaporizhya [the Zaporizhya Church bomb case]; the life sentences imposed on Volodymyr Panasenko; Oleksandr Rafalsky; Maksym Orlov; Merab Suslov and others. Parliament should return all the powers of the Supreme Court which it had until 2010 and ensure a mechanism for review of such cases according to exceptional proceedings, for example, on the application of the Human Rights Ombudsperson. There can of course be exceptions, for example, the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, however the rule should be that there is a court examination of the case.

In my opinion the main task now is to establish order in the country. The euphoria and hype presently seen are only generating panic and scaring off Maidan’s possible supporters in the East and South. The demands from people with weapons to carry out only their orders; the checking of documents from all units; the setting alight of buildings; mob law; pillars of shame and harassment of families must all be stopped.

We need to also stop the constant chanting of the slogan “Ukraine above all”!  Why not use the slogan “Human rights above all” or “Freedom above all”?  Do those hysterically chanting “Ukraine above all”! not know that this is an exact translation of the first line of the anthem of Nazi Germany “Deutschland, Deutschland ūber alles”? 

Painstaking work needs to be carried out to explain that if we don’t continue according to legally established procedure, lawlessness and arbitrary rule will prevail.

And lastly: if the victors continue to so violate the Constitution, laws and principles of law, then European institutions could refuse to provide Ukraine with financial support.

Yevhen Zakharov, Head of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group

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