Sunday, October 26, 2008

Portrait of Betrayal

The saga continues

Recent events have concluded what has been an unfolding saga of betrayal and destabilisation initiated by the Office of the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko.

We take an independent look back over the last three years of Victor Yushchenko reign of terror and the consequences of Ukraine's political instability since 2004 and the tumultuous collapse of the Orange Revolution eventually leading to serious economic decline and loss of public confidence in the democratic process.

The implosion began in 2005 when Viktor Yushchenko dismissed Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minister in what was seen as the first betrayal of his supporters who help him get elected as President, replacing her with his own nominee.

Our Ukraine fails to sign up and form a governing coalition

Immediately after the 2006 Parliamentary election Viktor Yushchenko's party "Our Ukraine" who received only 14% of the vote refused to commit and sign up to a coalition agreement with his former Orange Revolution partners "Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko" and the Socialist party of Ukraine. Our Ukraine procrastinated for nearly three months whilst continuing to negotiate with Party of Regions a possible coalition between our Ukraine and Part of Regions.

In the midst of the negotiations Our Ukraine tried to force Yulia Tymoshenko from seeking the role of Prime Minister hoping to put in her place their own representative.

Our Ukraine delivers the first blow

When Our Ukraine's attempt to replace Yulia Tymoshenko failed they then sought to prevent Alexander Moroz, Leader of the Socialist Party from securing the position of Speaker of the parliament.Again Our Ukraine wanted their representative appointed to this position, The Socialist Party and also Yulia Tymoshenko was of the view that given that Our Ukraine held the position of President and Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko held the position of candidate for Prime Minister it was only fair that the Socialist Party secured the position of Speaker.

With time running out the Socialist party realised that Yushchenko and Our Ukraine had not acted in good faith and that a coalition involving the President's Party Our Ukraine would not happen

The Socialist Party, disillusioned and concerned that time had run out for the formation of a governing coalition decided to withdraw from coalition discussion with Our Ukraine and entered into an agreement with the Party of Regions and the Communist Party to form a governing coalition signalling the beginning of the collapse of the Orange Revolution partnership.

Victor Yushchenko initiates war of attrition

Viktor Yushchenko opposed to the new Parliamentary majority sought to undermine the functioning of the government and threatened to block supply in December 2006 only to back down at the last minute before midnight December 31, 2006.

The Parliament fights back with the support of BYuT

The Parliament, then with the support of Yulia Tymoshenko, in order to minimise the ongoing abuse and misuse of Presidential authority passed legislation to regulate and the powers of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers. This legislation was supported by over 360 members of parliament and as such overrode the right of veto of the President.

Yushchenko attacks democracy and dismisses his first parliament

On April 2007 Viktor Yushchenko, in order to prevent the parliament from securing a constitutional majority required to amend Ukraine's Constitution, unconstitutionally dismissed the 5th convocation of Ukraine Parliament. Yushchenko later illegally interfered with the operation and independence of Ukraine's Constitutional Court and on May 30 unilaterally dismissed three Constitutional Court Judges in order to prevent the Constitutional Court from overturning his decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected Parliament.

It was not until Yulia Tymoshenko and later members of the Our Ukraine bloc withdraw and resigned their Parliamentary mandates that agreement was finally reached for the holding of fresh Parliamentary elections which were held on September 30.

Prior to the September 2007 poll Our Ukraine joined forced with the People's Self-Defence Party a breakaway "pro-presidential" group headed by Yuriy Lutsenko

The results of the 2007 Parliamentary election

Party of Regions (34.37%) 175 seats
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (30.72%) 156 seats
Our Ukraine-People's Self Defence (14.16%) 72 seats
Communist Party of Ukraine (5.39%) 27 seats
Bloc Lytvyn (3.97%) 20 Seats

The Socialist Party of Ukraine received 2.86% of the vote falling short by 0.14% of the 3% threshold required to secure representation.

New unstable governing coalition formed

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine - People-Self Defence group (who together represented 45% of the electorate) held a slender and unstable majority of 228 out of 450 parliamentary seats. After two rounds of voting the parliament finally elected Yulia Tymoshenko as Prime Minister with only 226 votes and managed to form a governing coalition.

Yushchenko's policy of destabilization continues unabated

Soon after taking Office Viktor Bolaha, The Secretary of the office of the President, with the support of Viktor Yushchenko began a concerted effort to destabilize the governing coalition. Two members of the Our Ukraine - Peoples' Self-Defence bloc refused to support the Tymoshenko government preferring instead to sit on the side benches. Their refusal signalling yet again the collapse of the Orange coalition.

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko support democratic Constitutional reform opposed by Yushchenko

In April 2008 Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, to the annoyance and disagreement of the pro-presidential forces, announced her parties support for Constitutional reform that would see Ukraine adopt a full parliamentary model of governance in-line with other European States and corresponding reduction in the powers of the President.

The policy of reform and the adoption of a Parliamentary system was widely supported by all parties except Our Ukraine, however agreement could not be reached on the exact terms of the wording of a revised Constitution.

Under the provision of Ukraine's Constitution the Constitution in part can be amended by a Constitutional majority of 300 out of 450 members of a parliament.

In the meantime Viktor Yushchenko, who has been opposed to democratic constitutional reform and the formation of a European Parliamentary system since 2002, planned the second dismissal of Ukraine's parliament in as many years in order to prevent the parliament from reaching agreement and enacting change to Ukraine's constitution.

Yushchenko fans the flames of division as war breaks out between Russia and Georgia - Tymoshenko refuses to support Yushchenko's attempts to escalate regional conflict

IN August 2008 Viktor Yushchenko tried to embroil Ukraine in the regional disputation and military conflict with Russia following the Georgian Government's provocation and attack on its break-away province of South Ossetia.

Yulia Tymoshenko aware of the circumstances of the provocation refused to allow Ukraine to become involed in the dispute which would have seriously escalated the conflict and divided Ukraine bringing it close to facing its own civil war. As a result of Yulia sensable policies Ukraine's Parliamentary government prevented any further escalation of the conflict by refusing to support Viktor Yushchenko's unjustified policy of divison and conflict.

Yushchenko makes false allegations of High Treason against Ukraine's Prime Minister in retaliation for her refusal to support the war against Russia.

Viktor Yushchenko in making the allegation of treason had the security forces (SBU) prosecute Yulia Tymoshenko.

The security forces investigated the President's complaint and found that there was no case to answer and that the Prime Minister had not committed High Treason as falsely claimed by the President

Our Ukraine withdraw support of Governing coalition ending the Orange partnership

On September 2, 2008, with relations between the President and the governing coalition fuelled by bitter acrimony, Victor Yushchenko's Party 'Our Ukraine' announced the collapse of the governing coalition and the withdrawal of Our Ukraine forcing the People's Self Defence party to also withdraw from the coalition agreement.

Second Parliament dismissed one year after being elected

On October 7 Victor Yushchenko dismissed the Parliament for the second time is as many years and called fresh parliamentary elections. In spite attempts and efforts made by Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko to meet the President's demands, Victor Yushchenko refused to compromise bringing to a complete end final collapse of the Orange coalition that was formed in 2004 which saw Victor Yushchenko elected to Office.

President's support reduced to less then 5%

Victor Yushchenko's public support has collapsed and is now sitting on around 5% support according to latest public opinion polls. He is unlikely to be re-elected to a second term of office with or without the support of a major political party.

No change or a return to the past expected as a result of new poll

All indication are that the results of fresh elections will produce more or less the same outcome as previous elections in 2006 or 2007 leaving the question as to what Victor Yushchenko hopes to gain from holding fresh elections and abandoning the existing governing coalition.

Allegations of Presidential constitutional coup surface

Some claim that President is trying to provoke a constitutional confrontation in-order to justify and create a situation so that the President can call a state of emergency and install a Presidential dictatorship.

Date tentative set for new poll

Elections were schedules for December 7, 2008 but following another round of court challenges and further interference in the judicial process by the President, the latest round of Parliamentary elections are now scheduled for December 14 with expectations that this date will also be postponed

The saga of the President's betrayal continues with Ukraine now suffering serious economic decline as a result of the enforced political instability initiated by the Office of the President, Victor Yushchenko


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ukrainian leaders should respect the independence of the judiciary

The Human Right Organization has come out and published a scathing report criticising Ukraine's President, Victor Yushchenko for his political interference in the independence of Ukraine's judiciary. This criticism comes following Yushchenko's dismissal of another judge that ruled against his presidential decrees.

“As president of a democratic country, Yushchenko should observe and respect the independence of the judiciary, and not interfere with courts when they issue rulings he doesn’t like,” said Allison Gill, Moscow office director at Human Rights Watch.

Referring to Yushchenko ordering SBU agents to oversea the Courts deliberations

“It’s one thing for the security services to provide protection for judges,” said Gill. “But it’s quite another when they’re actually in chambers during deliberations. At a minimum, this creates the appearance of potential intimidation or even interference with a pending decision.”

Nihilism on high

Kyiv Post has also published an editorial peace by Katya Gorchinskaya attacking the President's annihilation of justice in Ukraine. She headline the article with the question "When leaders don’t even obey the law, what hope is there for the rule of law?"

The executive branch cannot legally dismiss the judicial branch at will. There is a procedure for it, and it has to be observed by all political players, including the president – but it was not. There are strong calls to restart the long-postponed judicial reform, but it’s unclear how it would help in this mess and who would be able to carry it out in the first place and then implement it, if the country’s top officials so readily ignore laws, apply pressure and intimidate judges.
Unless judges are free of fear and pressure, there is no justice. Unless all branches of power observe law, democracy becomes an oxymoron. Unless all political players sacrifice their ambition and do their job right, it doesn’t matter how many parliamentary and presidential elections are held and how often – the country will stay in a mess.

The criticism of the Human Rights Umbrella group echos the concern expressed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2007 in which PACE was highly critical of Victor Yushchenko's interference in the operation of Ukraine's courts.

“The Assembly deplores the fact that the judicial system of Ukraine has been systematically misused by other branches of power and that top officials do not execute the courts’ decisions, which is a sign of erosion of this crucial democratic institution. An independent and impartial judiciary is a precondition for the existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law."

The independence of the courts is enshrined in Ukraine's Constitution.

The recent interference in Ukraine's judiciary is made worse by the fact that it is Ukraine's head of State that has compromised the constitutional independence of Ukraine's judiciary. In a western democracy interference in the courts is an indictable offence and certainly grounds for impeachment of the head of state.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

History repeats: Victor Yushchenko interferes with Ukraine's judicial process.

The Kyiv Administrative court has issued a injunction suspending the Presidents decree dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament.

In what is reminiscent of events unfolded last year, Victor Yushchenko has again interfered with the independence of Ukraine's judiciary.

In April 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a resolution in consideration of a report titled Functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine. (Items 13 and 14) stated:

“The Assembly deplores the fact that the judicial system of Ukraine has been systematically misused by other branches of power and that top officials do not execute the courts’ decisions, which is a sign of erosion of this crucial democratic institution. An independent and impartial judiciary is a precondition for the existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law."

The associated explanatory report under the sub-heading of Pressure on the courts expressed concern that

"Several local courts have made decisions to suspend the Presidential Decree only to then withdraw them, allegedly under pressure from the presidential secretariat." (item 67)

In emphasis the report (item 68) stated

"This is a worrying tendency of legal nihilism that should not be tolerated. It is as clear as day that in a state governed by the rule of law judicial mistakes should be corrected through appeal procedures and not through threats or disciplinary sanctions ”


Friday, October 10, 2008

Fresh Elections Single the Death of President's Our Ukraine Party

Victor Yushchenko's dismissal Ukraine's Parliament and the holding of another round of Parliamentary elections will single the death of the President's Political Party Our Ukraine.

The Our Ukraine - People's Self-defence faction is no longer. Representatives of Peoples-Self Defence are expected to vote on withdrawal from the President's faction over the weekend.

All expectations, assuming the President will not falsify election results, is that Party of Regions will secure a majority in the next convocation of Ukraine's Parliament. The President's Party, Our Ukraine, is struggling to maintain over 3% support necessary to secure representation and there is no natural alliance or political partners that would be willing or prepared to enter into a coalition with the fledgling Presidential party.

Already members of Our Ukraine are engaged in negotiations to abandon association with Our Ukraine and are seeking a safe haven and support of other political factions.

The election scheduled for December 7 will be, by default, a referendum on the President himself, A referendum that Victor Yushchenko can not not win.

Ukraine will most likely see a return to the 2006 election results with Party of Regions expected to be a good position to form the next governing coalition. Party of Regions will be in a strong position to seek change Ukraine's Constitution and implement a European Parliamentary system of governance that would leave Victor Yushchenko powerless and out in the cold.

Yushchenko has made a serious error of political judgment, one that will see a quick end to his Political career.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who is expected to be the second highest polling party, free from past constraints and coalition agreements, is expected to support constitutional reform that would see Victor Yushchenko lose all power and face impeachment.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

President's Faction Splits

New members desert Our Ukraine

The President Viktor Yushchenko loses support with representatives of People's Self-defence Party abandoning the Pro-presidential faction preferring to go to the polls alone.


Election to be a referendum on the President and his polices of divison

Yushchenko hammers in the last nail into the Orange Revolution's coffin

"The Democratic Coalition in name alone was destroyed by one thing – by human ambition. By the human ambition of a single person. By thirst for power, divergence of values, priority of personal interests over national interests."

The coalition agreement and coalition concords are destroyed, economic reforms are not conducted, election-aimed calculations transformed into lust for presidential absolute power that yielded the highest inflation rates in Europe and deterioration of social standards – wages, retirement payments and many other social programs.

Block of Yulia Tymoshenko and Ukraine's Parliamentary government have become hostage to the President. Yushchenko is ready to sacrifice everything: language, security, European integration in order to cling on to power.

Last night Viktor Yushchenko sacrificed the idealism and faith of those that supported his election and the Orange revolution. His party Our Ukraine have betrayed that revolution and Ukraine's quest for democratic values. They were the party that caused the collapse of the Orange coalition in 2006. Last night Vicktor Yushchenko hammered in the last nail in the Orange revolution's coffin and democracy in Ukraine.

Victor Yushchenko would not listen or share the belief of a majority of Ukrainians who want honest and democratic government. He has clung on to the past and struggled to hold on to soviet presidential authoritarian rule as opposed to embracing European values and a system of Parliamentary democracy in line with other European States. He has put his own personal interests and lust for power ahead of the long term democratic interests of Ukraine.

Instead of facing the people of Ukraine himself, instead of seeking to renew his fledgling mandate Victor Yushchenko has for the second time dismissed Ukraine's Parliament.

The Elections which have been called for in December, the on set of winter, further undermine Ukraine's economic development. At a time when the world is facing financial challanges as a result of the collapse of the United States financial system, Ukraine needs stable governance.

The election scheduled for December 7, will become a referendum on Yushchenko and Ukraine's future direction. It can decide to forgo all democratic reforms and revert back to a soviet dictatorship under Presidential authority or it can embrace a European Parliamentary democracy.

The results of the election are unlikely to change but support for Yushchenko will cease. His term and effectiveness of leader of Ukraine will have come to an end.

The parliament and people of Ukraine must call for Yushchenko's resignation or seek his impeachment. As long as Yushchenko remains in Office Ukraine will never be a democratic state holding true European democratic values.

The divisons and personal power struggle of the President must come to an end. Ukraine needs to send a clear message that Yushenko's personal ambitions are not in Ukraine's best interest. Ukraine must vote against the President, his Party Nasha Ukraina (Our Ukraine) and any supporter of the President.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Viktor Yushchenko kills off democracy in Ukraine

Ukraine faces its third Parliamentary election in as many years

Viktor Yushchenko has dismissed Ukraine's Parliament in what is a planned execution and power play in a battle of supremacy - President versus Parliament struggle for power.

Yushchenko has undermined Ukraine's parliamentary system of governance from day one.

His latest attack on democratic values came minutes after the President meet leaders of the parliamentary factions.

In what was a calculated and deliberate blow to the "democratic alliance" and ideals portrayed by the Orange revolution Viktor Yushchenko's party, Our Ukraine, exposed their true persona and colors. Yushchenko has turned on his former revolutionary comrade and previous supporter, Yulia Tymoshenko, and hammered in the last nail in the Orange Revolution's coffin. There is no turning back and there will be no reunited push for change. As long as Yushchenko remains in office Ukraine will never be a true democratic state.

Link to Yushchenko's pre-recorded speech (Russia Today)

A Case of the tail wagging the dog

Our Ukraine was the cause of the collapse of the Orange Coalition in 2006. At every stage they have acted to undermine Ukraine's Parliamentary System

Viktor Yushchenko, who has less then 5% support in the public opinion polls, has pinned his colors to the mask and declared war on democracy.

A President in denial suffering from delusions of grandeur.

In an incredible display of self deceit Yushchenko tried to rewrite history and deny facts by claiming the he did not dismiss Ukraine's Parliament in 2007.

On April 2 2007, Viktor Yushchenko unconstitutionally dismissed Ukraine's democratically elected Parliament. In doing so he brought the country close to civil war, dividing and destabilizing the country like no other person in Ukraine's short history of independence. In June 2007 he illegally interfered with the independence of Ukraine Constitutional Court to prevent the Court from ruling against his decree. To this day, following Yushchenko's interference, the Constitutional Court has not ruled on the rights or wrong of the President's actions.

Today's announcement is a further power play and another attempt to undermine Ukraine's economy and political stability. Ukraine is left to suffer and pay the cost of Yushchenko's divisive action.

It is too early to say how the Parliament will react to this latest act of lunacy. Short term gains and self interests prevent Ukraine's Parliamentary factions from uniting to defend democratic values and the nation itself.

If the polls are a true indication of voter's intention then it will be back to square one. The President's faction may yet pay the ultimate price as the electorate rejects Yushchenko's latest ploy. It may abandon the political process, disillusioned and in despair. Ukraine could transit into anarchy, reminiscent of the Yeltsin years.

The Winter election comes at the worst time as Ukraine's economy takes a beating along with the world following the collapse of the US financial system. A time when Ukraine needs stability first and foremost.

Fresh elections will not resolve the underlying structural issues facing Ukraine.

The likely outcome, as has been forewarned by many commentators is that Yushchenko may try an instigate a Presidential coup. If the current political crisis results in civil disobedience, as was the case last year, Yushchenko may use that as the excuse to declare a state of emergency and impose presidential rule. Should any united opposition to the President manifest itself the president will try and use force to assume control as was the case in Georgia earlier this year. It is unclear if the army will follow his orders or if they will side with the Parliament.

Yushchenko's decision to prolong political instability in Ukraine has been a deliberate attempt to prevent Ukraine from taking decisive steps to limit the President's power and adopt a European Parliamentary system of governance.

A majority of the Parliament supports Ukraine becoming a parliamentary democracy but they can not come together and remain united in order to bring about change. Yushchenko by dismissing the parliament hopes to prevent Ukraine from becoming a parliamentary democracy.

Without constitutional reform and limitations to presidential power Ukraine will continue to suffer political instability for many years to come. Irrespective of the outcome of the fresh election Ukraine will remain seriously divided with a loss of confidence in the democratic process and systems that bind a democratic nation.

Yushchenko has done more harm to prevent Ukraine's European integration and democratic development then any person in the history of Ukraine.

If anybody should be facing the people of Ukraine it should be the President not the Parliament.