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Protest exodus from President’s Constitutional Assembly


On Monday six members of the Constitutional Assembly under the president announced that they were leaving. . In their statement they write that they always had doubts as to the sincerity of those in power regarding plans to carry out legitimate constitutional reform in the public’s interest.  Their doubts were confirmed by the adoption of the unconstitutional law on a national referendum, and the submission by the president of a draft law on amendments to the Constitution regarding independence of judges which did not take the position of the Constitutional Assembly into account.

They do not see the work they carried out in various committees and working groups as having been in vain.  They say that the ideas and approaches they developed could form the basis of constitutional amendments which the country really needs on its way to European integration.

They write that the latest events in the country have dispelled any hope of continuing constructive collaboration with those in power.  This refers first and foremost to President Yanukovych’s rejection of a course based on European integration. Instead of signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, they say, the country’s leaders have resorted to cynical bartering of Ukraine’s strategic future. They add that Yanukovych’s proposal to continue negotiations with the EU regarding European integration with the participation of the Russian Federation is effectively equivalent to rejecting Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“Flagrant violations of the Constitution which have always been typical of the current regime were particularly clearly demonstrated in the brutal beating of participants in a peaceful protest in Kyiv on Nov. 30.  This shows that those in power plan to hold onto control at any price and establish dictatorship in the country.

There are presently all grounds for asserting that the greatest danger for the constitutional order and for Ukrainians’ fundamental rights comes from the current regime headed by Viktor Yanukovych.

All of this has convinced us that the creation of a Constitutional Assembly was from the outset envisaged as a smokescreen, to give the appearance of a democratic process in preparing amendments to the Constitution and to deceive the Ukrainian public and international community. “

They therefore announce that they are leaving the Assembly but express willingness to continue work in other organization form on developing proposals for improving the Constitution in order to build a law-based and democratic country.

They call on colleagues who share their democratic and legal values to support their decision since under present socio-political conditions, the activity of this Constitutional Assembly has lost any sense.

The statement is signed by: Oleksandr Barabash from the Association of MPs from the first convocation; Ihor Kohut, from the Legislative Initiatives Laboratory; Ihor Koliushko, from the Centre for Political and Legal Reform; Mykola Kozyubra, from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and retired Constitutional Court judge; Volodymyr Kryzhanivsky, from the Association of MPs from the first convocation; and Mykola Melnyk, Razumkov Centre.

As reported, one member of the Constitutional Assembly – former European Court of Human Rights judge Volodymyr Butkevych resigned from the Assembly the day after Prime Minister Azarov announced that Ukraine was suspending preparations for signing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.  He stated that according to both the Constitution and relevant legislation, changes in foreign policy are exclusively the prerogative of parliament not the Cabinet of Ministers.  

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