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A closer look at Presidential Decrees

Roman Romanov, Sebastopol
The legislative activity of the President of Ukraine embodied in issuing decrees has been recently often criticized. Having read some opinions of Leonid Kuchma. s political opponents, I decided to draw my own conclusions, attempting to be quite objective. To this end I tried to generalize all the decrees issued by the head of the state in recent 18 months. Having reached the web-site of the Supreme Rada in the Internet, I got a list of 833 Presidential decrees issued from January 1998 to July 1999.

At once I found that the largest group of the decrees concerns appointing and replacing the officials. The President. s passion to replace and change state officials like gloves is quite explainable. The work of the executive power, judging by the real situation in the country, is hardly efficient. Very frequent replacement and changes of the personnel confirm that the President assesses the situation as unsatisfactory.

The next numerous group of the decrees (about one third) concerns awarding citizens with orders, medals, honorary titles, etc. Soon, perhaps, we shall have more people awarded with the Ukrainian order . For distinguished work. than the population of several European countries rolled together. This is a tradition from our recent glamorous past, the tradition preserved and multiplied by the head of the Ukrainian state.

More than 30 times the President had to change, cancel, specify and even interpret his previous decrees. There are some curious ones. For example, the decree . On confirmation the operation of the decree of the President of Ukraine of 8 August 1996 No. 671. . The order of coming to effect and terminating normative acts is determined in the legislation. Yet, relative his own decree, the President decided to establish a special procedure.

The contents of 24 decrees are quite unknown, because they bear the note . Not for print. . The rate of issuing secret decrees varies in time. For example, in February 10 secret degrees were signed. So we must hope that our guarantor of the Constitution obeys Article 57 of it, which stipulates that any normative legal acts treating the rights and duties of citizens come into effect only on their publication.

It is noteworthy that in June 1999 the President signed more decrees concerning social and economic aspects, than in all previous months of this year. It is natural: soon the election campaign will begin. Under the conditions of the permanent financial crisis the President increases the minimal pension (decree No. 753/99 of 28 June); he also orders additional measures aimed at liquidation of pension pay arrears (decree No. 750/99 of 28 June); he cares about the compensation of losses for citizens as a result of the devaluation of deposits in the Saving bank (decree No. 756/99 of 28 June); he takes measures for supporting pharmaceutical industry (decree No. 757/99 of 28 June) and high school (decree No. 762/99 of 28 June); he stabilizes the social-economic situation in Dnepropetrovsk region (decree No. 719/99 of 26 June). The regional elites obtain form the President unprecedented opportunities. Throughout Ukraine the President began to create territories . with the special regime of investment activities. . The President never granted regions such financial privileges. It is interesting how will the local authorities and businessmen express their gratitude to the President for his generosity?

The President is not quite consequential. For instance, the decree . On the Day of church unification in Ukraine. goes side by side with the decree . On the Day of defenders of Motherland. , and the decree giving the top state award to the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro goes along with a number of decrees on the concordance of internal laws with the obligations to the Council of Europe. It is not quite clear how the President plans to agree the integration of Ukraine to the Council of Europe (degree No. 151/99 - ?i of 27 June) with the friendship with Castro and Lukashenko.

It is worthwhile to dwell on one of the Presidential decrees. While in Russia the suggestions of Stanislav Govorukhin on the creation of public councils for protecting morals were energetically rejected, the similar structure in Ukraine, state-obeyed and having wide powers was created by the Presidential decree without extra noise. The name of this organ is clumsy as usual: . All-Ukrainian coordination council in charge of the development of spirituality, protection of morals and shaping the healthy way of life. . Branches of this council are created at local state administrations in all regions of Ukraine, in the Crimea, in the cities of Kyiv and Sebastopol. Now tax-payers will feed bureaucrats who will breed among us the . social optimism, patriotism and toilers. moral. , as well as . will implement the energy and efforts of citizens in useful public initiatives. . The newly formed organization must oversight public and religious organizations and activate their work to make them . carry out the propaganda of the best achievements of the Ukrainian society, to breed pride of the citizens with their Motherland. . It seems that rights protecting and ecological organizations have to look for another Motherland, such that they will be proud of it. The decree anticipates the introduction of censorship, the President entrusted the newly formed council to prepare changes to the current laws . On television and radio broadcasting. and . On the national Council of Ukraine in charge of television and radio broadcasting. .

This February the President issued the decree . On measures for perfecting legislation activities of the executive power. . This is a worthy occupation.
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