Sunday, October 30, 2011

Business as usual; No Sanctions

Source: Ukrainian News

The European Union rules out imposition of any sanction against Ukraine for the jailing of former prime minister and leader of the Batkivschyna All-Ukrainian Association party Yulia Tymoshenko.

Miroslav Lajcak, the European Union's chief negotiator and the managing director for Russia, eastern neighborhood, and the western Balkans in the European Union's external action service, stated this in an interview with the Channel 5 television station on October 29.

"I do not even want to think about it, because the quality of our relations with Ukraine is much higher. We are not talking about sanctions, and we do not want to think about it. For us, Ukraine is a very important partner within the European partnership, the country with which we have made the most progress in the preparation of agreements on association and free trade area, and the country that holds the presidency of the Council of Europe," he said.

Lajcak also said that the name of the defendant in the trial of Tymoshenko does not matter to the European Union and that what is important to the European Union is compliance with European principles during consideration of this case, and European Union member states and members of the European Parliament reacted because they did not see compliance with these principles in the case.

"If a former prime minister is in court, and a court case is opened against him, that certainly prompts great interest in Europe... For us, the name is not the key. What is very important to us is the principle. If such a person is brought before a court, then, of course, everyone is watching to ensure that the court process is fair and transparent, to ensure that there are no doubts. Unfortunately, these expectations were not met," said Lajcak.

At the same time, he expressed hope for successful completion of the negotiations with Ukraine on an association agreement before the Ukraine-European Union summit scheduled for December.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the resolution on Ukraine that the European Parliament adopted on October 27 recognizes that offering Ukraine prospects for membership of the European Union serves the interests of both Ukraine and the European Union.

The resolution also states that failure to review Tymoshenko's conviction will jeopardize conclusion of an association agreement and its ratification between Ukraine and the European Union. 


Saturday, October 29, 2011

European Parliament speaks out in mooted silence.

The European Parliament passed a rather weak mooted resolution on Ukraine, holding out the possibility that it may still be a possible for Ukraine to become a member state of the EU .  But it did not provide any assurances, time lines or definitive requirements, other then weak possibilities

Foreign notes LEvko, provided a link to the resolution of the European parliament (Copy below).

Of note is

Item 7. [The EU Parliament] Takes the view that a failure to review Yulia Tymoshenko's conviction will jeopardise the conclusion of the Association Agreement and its ratification, while pushing the country further away from the realisation of its European perspective; expresses concern at some signs of decline in democratic freedoms and at the possible instrumentalisation of state institutions for partisan purposes and to exact political revenge;

In addition, is item

11. Strongly supports the recommendations put forward in the joint opinion of the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the draft parliamentary election law; considers it essential that these recommendations should be adopted and implemented in an expedient, inclusive and comprehensive fashion, involving both the opposition and civil society;

Item 11 is more strongly worded and it is important to note in that it clearly criticises the proposed changes to Ukraine's electoral laws and the return to a hybrid MMP system of Parliamentary representation.

Both the Venice Commission and the OSCE have recommended that Ukraine establish multiple local electorates with each electorate electing representatives using a system of proportional representation.

A good alternative model as advocated on this web site, is to establish 45 local electorates with each electorate electing 9 members of parliament on a 10 % quota using a system of Single Transferable Proportional Representation voting system (Meek or Wright method of counting the vote).

The above model meets the expectations of the Venice Commission's recommendations and if implemented would put Ukraine at the forefront of Representative democracy. Each electorate is equal not only the number for constituents (+/- 10%) but more importantly equal in the mandate percentage applied to each electorate. It provides for accountability at a local level and at the same time provides effective representation of Ukraine's diverse population in proportion to the support given in each region without any political bias or distortion in the results. Whilst it is possible to make some initial assessment of the outcome of this model based on the elections 225 administrative districts (5 districts make up one electorate), it would be wrong to try and base a proposed model based on the possible electoral outcome. Any model must be assessed and determined on the principle of fairness, equality and one vote one value.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ukraine's proposed electoral laws under review

The Venice Commission on October 13 published its initial review of Ukraine's proposed changes to the electoral law and representational model in the lead-up to the 2012 parliamentary elections . for those interested in democratic representation, it is a paper worth reading. The Commission's review has highlighted many of the perceived problems with the proposed model.

A number of points of criticism worthy of being noted include:

  • Limitation on the right to stand for anyone convicted of a deliberate crime, regardless of the severity of the crime committed, which is contrary to OSCE commitments, numerous recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission in the electoral field, good practice and other international standards. The Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR are aware that such limitation is based on the Article 76 of the Constitution of Ukraine and hope that this problem will be considered when the Constitution is revised;
  • Lack of clear criteria and deadlines for defining boundaries of electoral districts;
  • Lack of clarity on the possibility of challenging election results;
  • Lack of full disclosure, before and after elections, of sources and amounts of financial contributions and the types and amounts of campaign expenditures, as well as independent monitoring of the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns. The draft also lacks effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for violation of campaign funding provisions;
  • Deadlines for registration of candidates in the constituencies;
  • Removal of the right of parties to form electoral blocs;
  • Certain provisions limiting the right to freedom of expression that are contrary to OSCE commitments, recommendations and opinions of OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission and other international standards;
  • The maximum number of voters allowed per precinct is maintained at 2,500;
  • Observers are allowed to “take all necessary measures to stop illegal actions during voting and vote counting at the PEC”;
  • Two or more international observer groups wishing to co-ordinate their activities must seek prior approval of the CEC;
  • PEC members have to sign the ballot before giving it to the voter in order for it to be valid;
The draft contains provisions allowing the PECs [Precinct Electoral Committees] to declare the results invalid based on arbitrary standards of impermissible abuse, which may establish an acceptable level of fraud.

The main concern expressed during the visit is the lack of consultation with opposition parties and civil society on the change of the electoral system, the setting of the threshold for gaining mandates and the banning of blocs. Making these fundamental changes in the electoral system without broad public discussions and consultations can compromise the legitimacy of the draft law regardless of how it is implemented

Historical outline

Before 1998 all members of the parliament were elected in single-seat constituencies;

In 1998 a mixed system was introduced with half of the 450 deputies elected by proportional representation and the other half in single-seat constituencies.

In 2004 a party list proportional representation system using closed lists was introduced. It was applied in the 2006 regular and 2007 early parliamentary elections.

After the 2007 early elections the authorities of Ukraine were engaged in a dialogue with different international institutions on possible improvements of the electoral system in Ukraine, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR. During the discussions on electoral reform, the Venice Commission proposed to introduce a proportional system based on multiple regional constituencies which could avoid the disadvantages of both the single constituency proportional system and the mixed system used in the 1998 and 2002 elections.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 1755 (2010), paragraph 7.1.1. recommended that “electoral reform should not only entail the adoption of a new election code, but also of a new electoral system, and reiterates its recommendation that an electoral system be adopted that consists of a proportional system based on open lists and multiple regional constituencies”.

The draft law represents a return to the mixed electoral system in use in Ukraine in 1998 and 2002. The draft law provides for a mixed proportional-plurality (majoritarian) electoral system, whereby half of the members of parliament are elected on political party lists in a single nationwide constituency and the other half are elected in single mandate constituencies (first past the post, one round).


As advocated on this site a preferred representative model is to establish 45 or 50 local electorates with each electorate electing 9 members of parliament on a 10 % quota using a system of Single Transferable Proportional Representation voting system (Meek or Wright method of counting the vote).

The above model meets the expectations of the Venice Commission's recommendations and if implemented would put Ukraine at the forefront of Representative democracy. Each electorate is equal not only the number for constituents (+/- 10%) but more importantly equal in the mandate percentage applied to each electorate. It provides for accountability at a local level and at the same time provides effective representation of Ukraine's diverse population in proportion to the support given in each region without any political bias or distortion in the results.

It is a model worth Ukraine considering.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reformist jurist removed from the bench

Ukraine Jurist, Vasyl Onopenko, has retired from Ukraine's Supreme Court, hsi appointment not renewed. report Kyiv Post

Onopenko was a modern jurist who understood the inner workings and faults of Ukraine's judicial system. He also understood how it should work. he was also a member of Parliament elected as part of Yulia Tymsohenko's bloc but he stresses that on being appointed to the Supreme Court he would not not be partisan ion his judgements.

Last year Onopenko had reported that he and his family had been the subject of a number of threats which he took seriously.

In June 2007, at the height of controversial legal challenges facing Ukraine arising from Victor Yushchenko's dismissal of Ukraine's previous parliament, Onopenko gave an interview reported by Zerkalo nedeli (24 (653) 23 — 29 June 2007)

This interview highlights a number of flaws in the Judicial process and in particular the level of political interference in Ukraine. The interview was in response to the judicial and constitutional crisis that Ukraine was facing at the time, but it is still of relevance today.

Copy of Interview

The VIII Congress of Ukrainian judges is to be held on 26 June 2007. It will be an extraordinary congress, both in form and in essence. The judges planned it for the autumn, yet in the early summer it became evident that a delay would be damaging, if not ruinous, for the judiciary, society and the state at large. What urged the traditionally conservative and apolitical judicial community to take this decisive step? What threats does the Ukrainian judiciary face? What are the implications of its further degeneration for a layman and the nation in general? ZN asked Vasyl ONOPENKO, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, to comment on these and some other pressing issues as well as lasting challenges in the judiciary.

— It is for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine that the judiciary is so deeply involved in a political conflict, which threatens to undercut the legal fundamentals of court operation. And, as far as I can remember, it is for the first time that judges have decided against keeping aloof from the processes affecting the administration of justice in the country. Your Honour, what are the motives behind the latest events?

— For a long time, public policy in respect to the judiciary has been unreasoned and inconsistent; justice has been administered in the interests of a single person or a powerful group. The nation still lacks basic prerequisites for unprejudiced and fair courts. We have not got a homogeneous judiciary system, which sometimes leads to internecine wars amongst several court subsystems. Nor have we got a uniform court practice, which breeds lawlessness. The structure of the judiciary is ineffective; it cannot ensure all citizens’ equal access to justice. The court procedures are too complicated and cumbersome; interference with court operations and political pressures on judges have intensified. At the same time, judges have assessed the situation from the inside, identified negative trends and risks that have emerged of late, and analysed their root causes.

It is important to note that the judges have come to redefine their own legal and social status, to realize the need for protecting court independence and judge autonomy guaranteed by the Constitution, and for establishing the equality among the legislative, executive and judicial branches. My colleagues want to function and feel as true judges; they are getting increasingly resistant to arbitrariness and, faced with the need to defend themselves, they better appreciate their responsibility for proper court protection of their compatriots’ rights.

All of us – from the president, a minister, an MP to a person in the street – should learn to live in a country where the court represents the deciding judicial power. For the court to make legitimate and fair decisions, we should work together to create the necessary conditions rather than interpret court decisions or evaluate them subjectively.

I spoke about it in the Verkhovna Rada in February, yet parliamentarians were so engrossed in political battles that very few heard my message, alas. We had hoped for an adequate reaction from other institutions of public administration. Instead, they responded with bringing a more cynical, systematic and undisguised pressure to bear on courts and judges, with attempts to undermine the integrity of the court system, politicize the courts and turn them from watchdogs of justice into instruments for pursuing political, corporate and private agendas. The current political crisis has exacerbated the destructive processes in the Ukrainian judiciary and generated serious new risks.

— Does it mean the courts had a chance to give up their traditional role of servicing those in power? Could they become an obstacle to illegitimate satisfaction of political and business interests, given the “change in image” of two district courts – Pechersky and Shevchenkivsky – in the capital city?..

— Indeed, over the last six months, chief judges in half the district courts in Kyiv have been replaced, which had a positive impact on the courts’ operation. It pertains to the Pechenrsky and Shevchenkivsky District Courts, notorious for corruption and unlawful judgements in the past. Chief judges are being replaced in oblast courts as well. It is a precondition for reforming the administration of courts, for putting the entire court system in order. Frankly speaking, we are confronting a lot of problems on the way; decisions are hard as they affect people’s professional reputation and future career.

HR policy is a soft spot of the judiciary, a cause of numerous troubles, including corruption, delays in case processing and hearing, and low quality of court decisions.

— Before discussing what is going on in the courts, could we look at what is being done to the courts? Among the most recent developments around the courts that come to mind is the President’s sharp criticism of the court ruling on the Kyiv Oblast governor’s reinstatement in office and your riposte to it. As a result of this and many other similar episodes, unconstitutional resolutions and laws have been passed, which are disastrous to the judiciary. Judiciary responsibilities are being misappropriated or handed over to institutions unfit and unauthorized to exercise them. I do not remember anything like this in the history of Ukraine’s independence…

— I started my career as a judge back in 1976. Since then, I have seen different approaches to courts and ways of treating them. In some periods of our history the powers that be viewed courts as an adjunct to the party or executive authorities, in others (e.g. in the 1990s) – as a nonentity that could be totally disregarded. It was at that time that the judges’ professionalism deteriorated dramatically, and the status of justices in the higher courts fell. Yet today’s pressure on the judiciary and impertinent interference with the courts is unprecedented. These wicked phenomena have transcended all acceptable bounds. Whereas in the past only individual officials interfered with the court’s activities, today this practice has become common for various institutions. Intrusion into court matters has become a policy of sorts for some bodies of state power.

The Presidential Secretariat would prepare and submit for issuance by the head of state ordinances vis-à-vis judges that are not consistent with the effective legislation, for instance ordinances on appointing acting chief judges. High-ranking officials in the Cabinet of Ministers would send letters to courts demanding that courts update them on the progress of cases to which the government or individual ministers are parties, in fact requiring preferential treatment for the government as a litigant. MPs, trampling on the principles of the division of power, would usurp the competencies of the judiciary and pass resolutions instructing courts how to rule in specific cases. Furthermore, in defiance of the Constitution and the Constitutional Court decision, Parliament would pass a resolution authorizing the High Council of Justice to appoint judges to administrative positions in courts.

The High Council of Justice, in turn, would flout the legal principles of its activities and take over powers of extra-procedural control of the administration of justice. In some cases, the High Council of Justice would make decisions on recommending to dismiss a judge within days, giving no opportunity for the concerned judge to provide explanations; in other cases – it would put off the decision for months or even years. Isn’t it an attempt to do away with “disagreeable” judges in the former case and to shield the “convenient” ones in the latter?

— How would you explain these massive attacks against the judiciary?

— A fierce political struggle is underway in the country alongside a fight for property (land, industrial assets, etc). The belligerent parties respect no rules but they want to look more or less civilized to the outside world, and they try to win courts on their side or, at least, to neutralize them.

Those who planned to politicize or “privatize” courts failed to understand the responsible stance of judges, their self-regulating bodies and leaders of the judiciary. The judicial community refused to tolerate the dictate. Do you know what the starting point was in combating the mafia in Sicily? When two famous and esteemed Sicilian judges had been killed, Palermo citizens said “Basta!” and took to the streets protesting against mafia.

Of course, Ukrainian judges could not organize the street rallies but they have their own recourses, in particular their self-regulating bodies – Judges’ Council of Ukraine, oblast councils of judges, conferences, congresses – who demonstrated resolute disagreement with the authorities’ attitude to the judiciary. A telling illustration is the conference of the judges of the Pechersky district in Kyiv held on 11 June as a forced reaction to systemic abuse of authority by some MPs, and members of the High Council of Justice directed against the judges of Pechersky District Court. In their conference resolution, the judges indicated that the concerned officials strove to establish illegitimate control over the administration of justice and secure politically motivated court decisions, thus contributing to the devastation of the judicial system in the country.

Look at the resolutions, statements and appeals made by the Judges’ Council of Ukraine over the last six months, or at the joint statement by the Presidia of the Supreme Court and Judges’ Council of Ukraine dated 21 May 2007, which analyses the worrying situation in Ukrainian courts. This statement is addressed to all those who still dream of going at war with the judiciary.

— The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as chief judges of other courts are in a predicament (are they not?) when MPs approach them, for example. On the one hand, MPs are entitled to make enquiries, and on the other, they have no right to intervene in a specific case under consideration in courts…

— Communicating with high-ranking officials I always underscore that no outside influence should be exerted on courts and judges. You are right in that MPs in Ukraine are entitled to file enquiries with any state body of power, public servant or official, including chief judges. The enquiries, though, cannot cover all conceivable matters – only those pertaining to their parliamentary activities. The MP’s right does not apply to individual court cases. In 1999, the Constitutional Court passed a relevant ruling precluding MPs from making enquiries or recommendations to courts, chief judges or judges with respect to specific court cases.

A lot of MPs, though, tend to disrespect the law and CC ruling; therefore, the Supreme Court Plenum, in its resolution of 13 June 2007 entitled “On the Independence of the Judiciary”, explicated to courts that MPs’ enquiries on specific cases are inadmissible and should not be considered. Moreover, under certain circumstances such enquiries should be considered interference into the court’s activities, punishable under the law.

Analysis of the MPs’ enquiries to courts about specific cases revealed a remarkable trend: there is a handful of MPs who regularly resort to this tool, most of them workers of the judiciary in the past. They write enquiries about commercial, corporate and land-related disputes, etc. Unless they cease this practice now that the Plenum resolution is in effect, we will publicize the information about their enquiries.

— We are all part of the society in which we live. People say one cannot be independent of the environment. Have you, number four in the YTB party list, managed to become independent of your political environment, of the bloc leaders’ interests?

— I am glad you asked this question, since the mass media keep speculating on it. According to the law, MPs are elected as part of party lists. Being the leader of the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party, a constituent of the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, I was twice elected to Parliament, where I worked as a head of the Legal Policy Committee and, later, a member of the Justice Committee.

When I was elected the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I made a clear statement that my party allegiance would not apply within the walls of the Supreme Court. The only authority for me now is that of the law. Courts are non-partisan by definition. So no one should have any doubts whatsoever: I will never give priority to any party interests.

If somebody hoped to have Onopenko as their man at the helm of the Supreme Court, they grossly misjudged me. People can have “their” doctors or lawyers but not judges. Judges work for the common good; to them, the interests of justice are above those of any political force.

— The situation in the judicial system has aggravated since 16 May 2007, when the Constitutional Court passed a ruling deeming unconstitutional the provision of the law which vests the President with the authority to appoint judges to administrative positions in courts. The coalition seems especially concerned. Although the legitimacy of the Verkhovna Rada remains uncertain, they have adopted four resolutions on this issue: first, on a provisional procedure for appointing judges to administrative positions by the High Council of Justice, then a statement on transferring these competencies to the Judges’ Council; later still they decided to set up an ad hoc investigation commission, and finally, on 15 June passed a law on granting this right to the High Council of Justice again. The impression is this topic worries them a lot. What are the legal implications of the above decisions?

— In fact, there is only one legal implication of the CC ruling – the President is no longer entitled to appoint and dismiss chief judges. Nothing else has changed: the appointment and dismissal procedures, as well as relevant decision-makers have remained the same. According to the law, the ultimate links in the above mechanism are the Judges’ Council of Ukraine and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Court recommended that Parliament adopt the necessary legislative amendments. As per Article 92 of the Constitution, the judicial system, procedures and judges’ status are regulated exclusively by laws. So in order to implement the CC recommendation, Parliament should pass a relevant law that would comply with the Constitution.

What did MPs do? On 30 May, they passed a resolution (not a law) on a provisional procedure for appointing judges to administrative positions by the High Council of Justice. This resolution, supposing it was passed in a legitimate way, is unconstitutional in and of itself; it is legally void and cannot have any legal implications. If we follow this logic, we will end up using regulations (sometimes also referred to as “secondary legislation”) to establish criminal responsibility, to change territorial borders and constitutional order, to abolish human rights and to set up election procedures. In other words, we will continue falling into the trap of unlawfulness.

— Eventually, after the judges’ protests, MPs realized that they, as their chairman put it, passed a resolution “falling a bit short of being a proper legislative act”…

— I wish they had – on 15 June, in spite of the disapproval by the judiciary community and legal professionals, MPs voted for the law cloning their previous resolution. Amazingly, the entire process – from the moment of putting the draft law on the agenda to passing the law – took them 10 minutes!

I understand that someone wishes to lay their hands on appointing chief judges. I also know whose hands these are and how they can manipulate courts and judges. But the newly-passed law is in direct conflict with Articles 8, 19 and 131 of the Constitution that do not refer appointment of judges to administrative positions in general courts and their dismissal from such positions to the competencies of the High Council of Justice. The Constitutional Court asserted this fact in a series of its previous rulings, in particular the 2001 ruling on the appointment of judges reading that, according to Article 131 of the Constitution, the High Council of Justice is not even entitled to nominate candidates for administrative positions in general courts; nor is it authorized to propose appointing and dismissing chief judges to the competent decision-makers.

Empowering the High Council of Justice to appoint and dismiss chief judges would be at variance with the constitutional principle of judges’ independence and court autonomy and would promote further interference into the court management and the administration of justice.

The new law stipulates that the High Council of Justice appoints chief judges and their deputies on the recommendation of one of its members, which means that the appointment of court presidents and their deputies will be conditional on the will of prosecution representatives (since the Prosecutor General and his two deputies are members of the High Council of Justice). How can the courts be independent? In the same vein, a practicing lawyer who is a HCJ member on voluntary basis can initiate the appointment of a chief judge. Tomorrow this lawyer will represent a litigant in the court procedure! The same applies to the Minister of Justice and his first deputy, MPs who are HCJ members. It all makes chief judges and courts totally dependent on the prosecution, the bar, and executive and legislative branches of power.

Some courts have already suspended the Verkhovna Rada resolutions of 30 May and 1 June, as well as the HCJ decision to revise its Rules of Procedure with respect to appointing chief judges.

— In your opinion, who is the decision-making authority over the appointment of judges to administrative positions?

— According to the pertinent legislation currently in effect the only institution authorized, under the circumstances, to appoint and dismiss judges and their deputies is the Judges’ Council of Ukraine. It is laid down in Article 130 of the Constitution and in a number of provisions of the law on the judiciary.

Thanks to the unswerving stance of the Judges’ Council of Ukraine and its Head Petro Pylypchuk, the judges’ opinion was made public at once. On 31 May 2007, the Judges’ Council convened and passed a legally justified resolution. In the order established by law, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court nominates candidates for approval by the Judges’ Council of Ukraine, which makes a final decision. Candidates are discussed very carefully. We meet with each of them in person, analyse their performance over the last few years. It is part of our responsibilities in terms of pursuing proper HR policy. As of today, the Judges’ Council has appointed over 200 chief judges and their deputies.

— It is no secret that top administrative positions in the courts have been, and still are, a matter of bargaining. Do you know how such positions are obtained today? What can be done to put an end to this evil tradition?

— Rumours have been circulating for quite a while that top positions in courts are often put up for sale. I think some of them are not unfounded. We can counteract this evil by joining efforts. Something has already been done towards this end but the process of judge appointment is multi-staged, which makes it difficult to identify the source of corruption. It is often unclear whence the candidate emerged in the first place, who selected him or her and by what criteria. On the other hand, when a person applies for the position of judge, passes a qualification exam, has the reputation of being a decent and consummate professional, there is no guarantee that he or she will be appointed to the sought position after all.

The ideal option, of course, is to hold a real competition for the position, with all candidates having equal rights and opportunities. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the moment. We should hurry to introduce this practice, and to amend the law accordingly.

— Courts are among the most reviled institutions in this country. Something should be done straight away to start building up public trust in courts (I wanted to say “restore” but there is nothing to restore, in fact). One of the immediate steps, as I see it, should be acting promptly, transparently and effectively to get rid of the judges who broke their oath by engaging in corrupt practices and passage of deliberately unlawful judgements. These judges should be brought to account, as soon as possible. When a local court makes decisions affecting the future of the nation, when different courts make contrary decisions in one and the same case, and the blatant injustice is left unaddressed – it leads to complete licence and, hence, disrepute of the court as an institution.

— Two factors contribute to forming a negative public opinion of courts. First, it is abuse of power by some judges. The break of oath, malpractice, bribe-taking, making of deliberately unjust decisions, misuse of status – all of it has an adverse impact of the public sentiment about courts.

Courts are slow; their decisions are often delayed due to the judges’ workload (up to 200-300 cases per judge). At the same time I know of a civil case that has been under consideration for 10 (sic!) years because of the judge’s intentional inactivity. This kind of a delay should be punishable, and the judge should be dismissed. Sometimes a litigating party would cause the delay, taking advantage of gaps in legislative regulation of the court procedure, which is also harmful for the courts’ reputation.

Every case of law violation by a judge should be thoroughly investigated and promptly dealt with. The existing mechanism of bringing judges to account is inefficient. On the one hand, the guilty judge can easily evade responsibility with the help of personal connections and bureaucratic ruses; on the other – revenge can be taken on a judge who has not violated the law but passed a judgement unfavourable to one of the parties.

Second, the poor reputation of courts and judges sometimes results from manipulations with public opinion. Judges are often attacked by politicians or other interested persons prior to their making a decision in order to force them into obedience. In this case, the mechanisms should be in place for protecting courts and judges, and the persons guilty of exerting unlawful pressure on the court should be penalized.

Greater transparency and public education about court activities could help change people’s attitude to the courts. They know too little about a real situation in the judiciary, problems that courts face and operations of a specific court.

— Mykola Shelest, representative of the judicial community in the High Council of Justice, said recently that by assuming responsibility for the appointment of chief judges this body has opted for an unconstitutional course towards interfering into courts’ activities and bringing pressure to bear on judges. According to him, the underlying reason is the formation, over the last two months, of a majority in the High Council of Justice favouring one political force…

— This statement testifies that the High Council of Justice poses a real threat to justice and society. Other judges have insisted that this body and its individual members are prejudiced and involved in political persecution. Conceived as a body seeking to improve professional skills and competencies of Ukrainian judges, the High Council of Justice is gradually transforming into an inquisition-like institution bullying and browbeating them. This situation should be remedied as the High Council of Justice has a significant role to play in shaping the judicial community, in establishing judges’ responsibility for violating the law and breaking their oath.

How can what you describe lead to the ideal Ukrainian judiciary?

There have to be fewer courts of different levels because it would more understandable for the people where to appeal to defend their rights. People are lost in the numerous court instances, and their cases are wondering from one court to another. Very often a case might reach the highest court and it would turn out that previously it was held in the wrong court (for example, the case was held in the economic court but should have been held in the administrative court). The specialization of the courts is necessary but it has to be done in those parts of judicial system and according to those jurisdictions that would contribute to a more qualitative public justice. The most important thing for the judicial system is its availability to provide accessible, fair, unbiased justice and court decisions. Those are the key characteristics of European standards.

What are the reasons for and the consequences of the present Constitutional Court’s condition?

Undoubtedly the constitutional court’s system and justice on the whole have been damaged and the Constitution Court’s authority has been undermined. The main weakness of the present Constitutional Court is in the principles and approaches of its formation. We can remember that during the first round of the court’s formation the judges were divided between the President and the parliament. And during the last round of the court’s formation that tendency took on a vivid political nature. So by doing that they put a delayed-action mine into the fundamentals of the constitutional jurisdiction. And this mine exploded when every side of the political body that took part in the judges’ appointing demanded a court decision favorable to them.

As a result the Constitutional Court and its judges are being blamed for that. But it all has happened through the politicians’ fault. Fist of all, they couldn’t solve the political conflict in the proper (political) way and, secondly, their actions have made it impossible for this body of power to work. However, people will forget all this and blame judges who could not resist pressure and interference

What is the way out of this situation? Could it be worthwhile to use the past idea – to create a constitution chamber of the Supreme Court?

Indeed, it is just a question of expediency. There could be several options for a way out. The main point here is that there has to be no political influence on the judges’ activity. Those experienced professionals who have a good scientific background should become Constitutional Court judges because their activity mostly includes systematic analysis of legislation and the development of scientifically tenable positions in difficult legal questions. Those are the minimal conditions that could still correct the current situation with the Constitutional Court.

Considering the present situation are you still optimistic about the future of the juridical branch of power?

I am an optimist in general. Besides, there are real reasons for being optimistic today. We have no choice but to create a fair court. Otherwise the country will shiver with political fever forever. The juridical power should be independent and should act on the principals defined by the Constitution in order to carry out its primary legal and social functions.

Do you think that holding a Congress of judges would change the situation in juridical sphere?

This Congress of judges is an extraordinary measure which has emerged from the present situation. When the state bodies of power which should provide the independence of the juridical branch of power guaranteed by the Constitution do not cope with this task the judges should defend themselves, their status and the court as a body of justice. This is necessary for the court to be able to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens. And we will do that.

I had thought you were quite a tolerant person. But it looks like you are changing in this post, you are becoming stricter, you are starting to say things that you don’t really want to say. Am I right?

I have always been following some principles in my life. I am not a conflict person, I always try to reach the agreements and compromises. However, if I am sure that I am right then I would stand for my point of view firmly. I have accepted the highest post in juridical system not because I want some preferences. I have everything for the well-being of my family. But every person should have his or her life’s work. And perhaps this post is mine.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guilty of governance without a permit

Foreignnotes - one of the best blogs on what's happening in Ukrainian Politics, (thought provoking and rational insight into the Ukrainian politic) has commentary on three possible scenarios that may follow the conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko originally published by Segodnya’ newspaper , these scenarios are not so fanciful as they might seam.

Option One (60%) Do nothing and work behind the scenes to avoid the crisis and hope that the issue will die down and resolve itself in time.

Option Two (30%) Apply sanctions and run the risk of causing a economic meltdown the consequences of which are unknown

Option Three (10%) Wait for or fuel protests movements and hope for the eventual uprising of the Ukraine people that would spawn another revolution and the overthrow of the government

LEvko of Foriegnnotes thinks that the percentage of option one and two are the other way around - Option one 30%, Option two 60%

The three options are not exclusive of each other and depending on the reaction and strategy taken by the European Union could involve a degree of all three as the events unfold in the near to medium future.

The article published by Segodnya’ newspaper highlights the fact that the number of people attending the "Free Yulia" rallies in Kyiv is around 5,000 people. This is not many considering past rallies in support of Yulia's election campaign and the Orange revolution where considerably greater. This is seen as a indication as to the extent that Ukrainians are prepared to come out and defend the principals of justice and political freedom.

From the freedom loving point of view it is difficult to understand why so few Ukrainians are not out there protesting what is clearly an abuse of process and denial of an individuals constitutional rights. This is Ukraine after all and they have endured a lot or repression under previous regimes and Presidential domination. The European Union and other International states are right in criticising Ukraine for the arrest and detention of Tymoshenko for what is political persecution at its worst.

Tymoshenko is guilty of a technicality "Governing without a permit" in that the law has some ambiguity as to who had the right to sign-off on the Gas supply agreement with Russia.

The allegations against Tymoshenko came about as a result of complaints made by Viktor Yushchenko in 2009.

Instead of challenging Tymeshenko's authority to sign the agreement in the Courts, Yushchenko with the aid of his appointed National Security Council had sought to have Tymoshenko prosecuted for misuse and abuse of office.

Similar charges against Yushchenko for his misuse of office, most notable the illegally and unconstitutional dismissal of Ukraine's previous parliament and his interference in the operation and independence of Ukraine's Constitutional Court, have not been laid . Yushchenko has managed to escape persecution, unlike other members of the Ukrainian Opposition. It is the selectivity of the persecutions that has given rise to international condemnation.

The allegations and the punishment can not be justified and are considered to be designed to prevent Yulia Tymoshenko from participating and seeking election in the Ukrainian Parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2012.

The West. rightly so, say they want her conviction overturned and Tymoshenko's right to run in next years Parliamentary elections preserved.

The issue and question is to what extent will the West go to hold Ukraine to account for its obvious and selective persecution of the opposition leadership?

There is the suggestion that Tymoshenko will be released or pardoned but her conviction will remain along with the requirement that she pay-back the State the sum of 188 million dollars, the amount of money that the state claims was lost as a result of the gas agreement that Tymoshenko signed to end the Russian/Ukrainian Gas War back in 2008. How they came up with this amount is anyones guess but it is a hefty penalty never the less. The conviction and outstanding debt would prohibit Tymoshenko from being a candidate in the forthcoming parliamentary election.

Tymoshenko is still facing further additional criminal prosecution over corruption allegations dating back to her time as Energy Minister in the 1990's. This will no doubt keep her tied up in the courts for some time to come and it is not clear if she will be detained whilst these matters are before the courts or if she will be allowed out on bail.

Leader of the People's Self Defence Movement Yutri Lutsenko has been detained for just under a year on allegations that he usurped power and authority when he was Minister for Internal Affairs. His court case is still continuing. Whilst all the focus has been on Tymoshenko little media attention has been given to Lutsenko whose health is deteriorating whilst he is imprisoned waiting judgement for his alleged political crimes.

In the absence of internal support of protest it is difficult for the West to take up the Human Rights issues. Ukraine must take some responsibility for its own governance and the EU in particular can not consistently be placed in the position of having to tell Ukraine how it should govern its sovereign state.

In the background of these abuses is the question of EU/Ukrainian relationships and the proposed Free trade and association agreement. The prosecution of opposition members has certainly presented a challenge to the EU. Do they maintain their position on Human Rights and deny Ukraine association status, in which case they run the risk of pushing Ukraine back into the influence of Russia ore do they sign the agreement bring Ukraine closer to the EU and continue to try and work though these issues as a separate point of discussion.

No doubts the Ukrainian government feels it has the upper hand an that the West in the absence of a Ukrainian revolt will soon tire of trying to defend Tymoshenko and the Human Rights issues. After all the EU did the same when Vicktor Yushchenko violated Ukraine's Constitutional rights back in 2007. The EU made noises at first and soon sat back and looked on as Yushchenko continued his misuse and abuse of power and they did nothing to defend Ukraine and the principle of rule of law. in 29007 Yushchenko's actions caused seven months of political and civil unrest and the crowds in the streets were much greater then the 5000 protesting about Tymoshenko's arrest.

If the EU and US push hard and imposed sanctions, as they have done to Belarus, they may make maters worst.

If they do nothing they could be just deferring the problem to a later date.

If sanctions are imposed and the EU/Ukraine association is put on hold this could have a serious impact on Ukraine's economy and as a number of economists have predicted could see Ukraine suffer a major financial crisis setting off an avalanche of discontent over the winter period this could give rise to public protest and my even result on the removal of the government is the crisis is as sever as predicted. Given that Europe itself is balancing an economic tight rope of its own can it afford Ukraine to fall. to add to the risks involved Ukraine is co-host to the Euro 2012 Football championship and any economic crisis would be compounded dragging Poland into a crisis situation bring the crisis to its own.

The choices are difficult. Do nothing and remain silent and hope that the avalanche will not occur or speak out and run the risk of triggering the pending disaster. It is the latter that gives rises to Option A being rated at 60%.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Free Yulia: Display of unity at opening of Lviv Stadium

The opening of the Lviv Euro 2012 stadium on October 29 is an opportunity not to be missed.

Instead of boycotts and other negative protests the people of Lviv should attend the opening of the Lviv stadium on mass, each one holding up a Yulia poster or other image of her in remembrance and defiance.

They could wear a Yulia Tymoshenko scarf or T-shirt and remain in absolute silence during the opening speech.

The image of such a protest would be significant and one that would be reported across the world.

A sea of Yulia through-out the stadium. The silence and image would be deafening.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chomsky: Taking a bite out of America's Presidential system

1:45 The 2012 US presidential election will exceed 1 BILLION dollars for each candidate
2:20Where does that come from and at what price?
2:28 Parliamentary System (Including the US)
3:30What is left of America’s democratic system ?
3:50The system is not working and the public know it


Control Alt Delete

The people of Ukraine must take collective responsibility for their own Governance.

Ukraine MUST reform its Constitution and implement a full parliamentary model of government (Along the lines of Estonia and Latvia - both former Soviet States that are now relatively successful EU member states)

Ukraine MUST remove power and authority from the office of the President  and have the parliament elect the head of state on the basis of a two-thirds constitutional majoiorty  (Again in line with Estonia and Latvia's provisions)

Ukraine MUST reform the Parliament to make it more accountable and representative of the people. (This can best be achieved by establishing 45 local electorates with each electorate electing 9 members of parliament using a single transferable proportional representation voting system)

The Executive government SHOULD be elected from and by members of the parliament (As is the case under the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy)

Ukraine MUST overhaul the judiciary and system of law to bring it in line with European values in fulfillment of the principles of rule of law. The judiciary MUST be independent and professional. (It could consider adopting the British common law system)

Ukraine NEEDS to do all the above.. and then



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Struggle for democracy, to War of attrition to arrest and imprisonment

In the analysis of David Marples published by Kyiv Post

David Marples leaves out part of the history behind Ukraine's poliical manoverings which all play a part in the events that are unfolding today. Much of it has roots to Yushchenko's failed term of office

Marples correctly stated
"The presence within this group of Firtash is possiblythe most significant. An ally of former president Viktor Yushchenko, heestablished a position for his company RosUkrEnergo as an intermediary in thebitter gas war between Russia and Ukraine. Firtash offered to buy the gas fromRussia and resell it to Ukraine."

Here lies much of the problem Victor Yushchenko, Ukraine's past President,fuelled by resentment and desire for revenge, against Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's past Prime-minster.

Yushchenko,blames Tymoshenko for his political demise and low standing in the polls. Truth is Yushchenko has only himself to blame.

Victor Yushchenko persistently attacked and undermined those who had supported hiselection.

His down fall started beforehe was elected when he opposed Ukraine becoming a parliamentary democracy backin 2002.

The compromise and changes toUkraine's Constitution that enabled Yushchenko to win the 2004 Presidential electionwas a natural progression that stemmed from the 2002 reform proposals . The amendments agreed to would become inforce following the March 2006 Parliamentary elections. Amendments that saw Ukraine shift from aPresidential-parliamentary system to a Parliamentary-Presidential system of government.

Yushchenko’s refusal to support the formation of a orangecoalition following 2006 Parliamentary election was the period that saw the beginningof the end of the Orange coalition. Yushchenkofirst tried to oust Tymoshenko from the leadership, when that failed his party then went after OlexandrMoroz. Yushchenko was not prepared to share power or support Ukraine's newdemocratic government. It was his way orno way. Yushchenko gambled with the outcome of failed negotiations and lost.Three months had elapsed and Ukraine was facing a major constitutional crises.Moroz abandoned support for Yushchenko and his party and agreed to form agoverning coalition of unity to Yushchenko's disliking. This saw Yanukovych assume the role of PrimeMinister putting Party of Regions back in government. Has Yushchenko supported the orange coalitionParty of Regions would have remained in opposition.

The events of 2007saw the whole thing blow up and collapse.

Yushchenko, facing the prospect of losing power with support growing forfurther Constitutional reform, dismissed Ukraine's parliament causing sevenmonth of political and civil unrest. Yushchenko was convinced that he, with the support of the breakawaySocialist party group "Peoples self defence" would win the majorityvote in fresh Parliamentary elections. Again Yushchenko gambled with theoutcome and lost. Yushchenko's Partywent backwards and Tymoshenko secured the majority of the Orange coalitionsupport.

The Socialist Party, whose votes were halved in the election,fell short by 0.14% from being elected to parliament. Had they secured the 3%representation threshold the overall results of the election would not havechange from that in 2006.

The November 2007 Parliamentary election result saw Ukraine’sparliament divided with the alliance between Bloc Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine combinedmanaging to win the majority vote on the floor of the parliament by thesmallest of margins.

Within days the Our Ukraine grouping, at the bequest of Yushchenko’soffice, was refusing to support Tymoshenko who had held three times the numberof Parliamentary seats then Our Ukraine. Tymoshenko lost the first round of voting on the floor of the parliamentto eventually won by a vote of one. Thisleft Ukraine in an even more unstable position then it was before the 2007elections.

Yushchenko continued to engaged in a war of attritionundermining the government at every stage.

In 2008 Yushchenko wanted to Ukraine to go to war withRussia in support of the Georgian Government, who within the support of the USAGovernment at the time had provoked Russia into a short lived civil war byinvading the autonomous regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Northern Georgia.

If Ukraine had acted on Yushchenko's orders we would have seena full scaled regional war break out. Thanks to cool heads, and Tymoshenko, the escalation of war with Russia wasavoided.

Yushchenko was alienated in the period that followed and Yushchenko once again tried to have theparliament dismissed. A move that was rejected with Yushchenko's own partysplitting down the middle. Tymoshenkonegotiated the support of block Lytvyn to shore up her government by an additional20 votes of the floor of the parliament by offering Lytvyn the position of Parliamentary speaker, a postion that Yushchenko had denied Olexandr Moroz back in 2006.

Yushchenko's public support slumped to below 5% and he neverrecovered with over 85% of Ukraine actively opposed to his continued presidency.

Efforts to revive the prospects of further constitutionalreform and the removal of Yushchenko from office came close but fell apart inteh last minute with the various parties failing to agree on the detail and structureof the new parliament.

The rest is history.

Yushchenko tried to cling on to power until the last minute, knowing thathe was going to be defeated. His targetof revenge was Tymoshenko.

In 2009 Gas wars broke out between Ukeaine and Russia, with Dmitry Firtash, an ally and closefriend of Yushchenko, seeking to be set himself up as a middleman energy broker for the sale and supply of gas to Ukraine. A contact that stood to win himhundreds of millions of dollars in profits taht naturaly would benefit Yushchenko as well..

Yulia Tymoshenko was opposed to Ukraine having to deal with a thirdparty broker in the supply of gas to Ukraine. This precipitated the so called gas wars between Russia and Ukraine thatfollowed as a result.

Firtash's companylost out and a negotiated contract between Ukraine and Russia was agreed toending the standoff that saw Europe's denied the supply of Russian gas.

Yushchenko, who was backing Firtash's gas takeover, and seeking revenge against Tymoshenko enaged the National Security Council to initiate allegations andcharges of abuse of office against Tymoshenko arising from the signing of the gas contract between Russia and Ukraine. The Natuional Security Council is a presidential executive body appointed by Yushchenko at the time.

It is these charges and allegation made by Yushchenko and the National Security Council that saw Tymoshenkoimprisoned on October 11, 2011


Friday, October 14, 2011

Venice Commission advises Ukraine against returning to mixed electoral system


Venice Commission advises Ukraine against returning to mixed electoral system 
He noted that the Ukrainian authorities, the Justice Ministry and the working group have done good work to improve the electoral law, although it still has many flaws.

Markert recalled that Ukraine currently has a proportional election system with a 3% election threshold.

"What we do not like in this system, and what, I think most people in Ukraine do not like in this system, is that it is a system with a single election list, without any constituencies, which means that whether you live in Kyiv or in Donetsk, you still have the same candidate," the commission's secretary said.

He recalled that the Venice Commission recommended Ukraine should retain a proportional system and then gradually introduce regional lists and open lists, in which voters will be able to decide who will be their candidate.

At the same time, the proposed bill greatly changes the election system and envisages the return to mixed-member proportional representation, increases the election threshold to 5% and bans the participation of blocs of political forces in the election.

"So it will be harder [for political parties] to get seats in parliament, and the other half of deputies will be elected in single-mandate constituencies," he said.

According to him, the Venice Commission recommends Ukraine should not return to a mixed election system.

"Also, Ukraine's united opposition clearly told us that they are absolutely against changing the system, and that they want to maintain the existing electoral legislation. In our view, the electoral system has to be changed under the broad consensus of political forces," Markert said.

The Venice Commission secretary said that another problem was defining the boundaries of single-mandate constituencies because each party will try to move them in favor of their candidate, since there are no criteria for determining their borders.

"This is our main concern. As for the rest, the bill provides a good foundation for the upcoming elections," he said.


Key Dates to Watch

Donetsk, Kyiv, Brussels

Oct.18, Donetsk

President Viktor Yanukovych is to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Donetsk. The talks are part of Ukraine's latest attempt to get lower prices for Russian natural gas imports vital to the nation's economy.

Oct.18, Kyiv

Parliament reconvenes to consider changes to the 1962 Soviet criminal code that still governs Ukraine today. Talks center on decriminalization of economic crimes and political decisions of the type that Tymoshenko was convicted of committing.

Oct.20, Brussels

Yanukovych is tentatively scheduled to visit Brussels, the administrative capital of the 27-nation European Union, for more talks on a free-trade agreement. However, some in Europe want to boycott meetings with Yanukovych until Tymoshenko is set free. Others want to conclude free-trade negotiations, but withhold ratification of an agreement.

Oct.24, Kyiv

A delegation of the International Monetary Fund is scheduled to arrive in Kyiv in an attempt by Ukrainian authorities to restart an urgently needed lending program. The IMF froze loans in March, after disbursing $3.4 billion of a possible $15.6 billion, because Ukraine's government did not meet budget austerity requirements.


A manefesto for reform

The flawed systen of governance in Ukraine has been in place much longer then Yanukovych.Even under Yushchenko the system was corrupt.What is not reported is that the media is that the persecution of Tymoshenko in relation to the Gas negotiations was initiated by Victor Yushchenko and his self appointed National Security Council.

The allegations that the gas suppply contract entered into by Tymoshenko was detrimental to Ukraine's interests is very subjective.

The damage and economic cost arising from Tymoshenko's persecution is far greater than the claimed loss of 188 Million. Ukraine relationships with the international community is on the edge of collapse, investments are placed on hold and the value of the Ukrainian hrivina is under pressure teetering on collapse. There are even suggestions that the fall out of this issue may seriously impact the proposed Euro 2012 football championship.

I, like many had grown weary of Yulia's antics and inconsistent policies, but I am shocked at the inhumane treatment that she and other members of the opposition have had to endure.

Yuri Lutsenko has been imprisoned for over 10 months waiting the outcome of his trial whilst his heath deteriorates and he has not been found guilty of any offence. Releasing Tymoshenko on a suspended sentence is not good enough. She should be cleared on appeal without conviction. The abuse of process in the trial alone is grounds for acquittal.Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutly.

The real problem facing Ukraine is the presidential system of governance. it is teh foundation of Ukraine's governance.

If Ukraine is to become a democratic state it must remove power and authority from the President and embrace a parliamentary democracy based on European values.

The opposition MUST start campaigning for reform of the whole system of government Top to bottom.

It should look to Estonia and Latvia, both former soviet states, that are now successful EU member parliamentary democracies.The head of state should be elected by a two-thirds constitutional majority of Ukraine's parliament with limited power. The cost alone (estimated at over 350 million dollars in administration and campaign cost) of conducting a presidential election is prohibitive and open to misuse and abuse.

The Ukrainian Parliament needs reform so as to ensure that it is representative and accountable to the people of Ukraine.

This can be nest achieved by establishing 45 local electorates of equal size with each electorate electing nine members of parliament on a 10% quota using a system of Single Transferable Proportional Representation voting.A single chamber parliament with equal mandates.

The judiciary and system of law in Ukraine MUST be also overhauled from top to bottom to ensure that it is functioning as a means of providing justice and not a tool of repression and oppression.

Ukraine should look to other European states and seek assistance from the Venice Commission in how best to achieve this goal.

Sadly Yanukovych has taken a back ward step away from democratic rule.

The consolidation of presidential power must be rejected and reversed.Unless the opposition parties can stand united on a common platform and policy for reform there is little hope for Ukraine's immediate future.

Sadly Ukraine will be seen as a dysfunctional state of it is not already one. Yanukovych term of office has been dealt a serious blow and it is now doubtful that he will be able to negotiate any meaningful or significant changes in Ukraine. Yanukovych’s administration have dug themselves into a hole, one that they will not recover from. The best outcome he can hope for now is that the Court of appeal will rule in Tymoshenko's favour.

Whereas before Tymoshenko was losing ground Yanukovych and Yushchenko have breathed life back into her campaign by making her a martyr.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yushchenko's planed revenge to blame for the current pending crisis

The  current crisis that has engulfed Ukraine is as a result of actions taken by Victor Yushchenko and his appointed inner executive, the National Security Council.

According to Yanukovch who has denied any responsibility the persecution of Yulia Tymoshenko arises form the decision taken by the previous President advisory board. 

This is no sudden comfort to Yanukovych as his presidency losses respect or support.  The actions of the current government have cost Ukraine much more then  the amount claimed to have been lost by bad gas deals and limiting contracts.

The current crisis even threatens the success of Ukraine's Euro 2012 football championship.

Is there no end to the crisis Ukraine faces. Much of their own doing arising form their failure to act on the solutions put forward by the European union.

Ukraine/s hopes of joining the EU are now more distant then ever.


Ukraine - A failed State: It's time to hit the reset button and reboot:

Ukraine is facing another  major crisis.  This time it is Yanukovych that is at the helm.

Ukraine is bouncing form one disaster to another with not indication of any meaningful long term solution in sight.

The persecution of Ukraine's opposition leaders  has brought to the point of collapse with no chance of salvation.  It is as though Ukraine is hell bent on traveling a road of self annihilation.
In 2004/5 The Orange revolution held out some hope that change was on the horizon.  By 2006 it was clear that this was not going to deliver Ukraine from the abyss with  Viktor Yushchenko and Our Ukraine refusing to support the formation of a Orange governing coalition,,. Come 2007 Yushchenko undermined confidence in the democratic process by Ukraine's stability.  Yushchenko steered Ukraine towards the rocks hell bent on preventing Ukraine from becoming an independent democratic state unless it was done his way. Yushchenko was eventually thrown overboard but the boat continued to sail to towards its doom  and pending disaster.

Yanukocych who took over from Yushchenko has made things worst. His Presidency being undermined by his own actions.  The recent persecution of  leader so the opposition has set Ukraine at odds with the rest of the world, with Russia siding with the EU and the USA in condemning the directions Ukraine has taken,.  Yanukovych's presidency has reached the point of no return, His credibility and presidency having been brought into disrepute it is unlikely he can regain control as things go from bad to worst.

The solution remains the same as is the destination. The question is how to you get there?

Ukraine needs to hit the reset button, It needs to start from scratch, relay the foundation stones and rebuild the state, starting with it's constitutional reform and the establishment of a full parliamentary system of government along the lines adopted by Estonia and Latvia when they declared independence from the Soviet Union. Both Estonia and Latvia made the right decision and embraced a democratic parliamentary "rule of law" system.  Ukraine on the other hand  retained the presidential "rule by decree" soviet option.

The next step would be to reform the Parliament and overhaul the judiciary,  It need to get the foundations and design of the State right before it can begin to rebuild.   The problem is the various political parties and war lords are so entrenched in crisis mode they can not find any respite. the opposition has no united policy or direction for fixing the problems Ukraine now faces.  The only solution being voice are the screams for help people lost in the fog. Whilst the State ship sails towards it's pending doom the crew and passengers are left with no other option but to pray.

In the end Ukraine must take collective responsibility for its own future and governance and it must stop waiting and relying in some single saviour to answer it's cry for SOS.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former Prime-minister and leader of the Opposition in Ukraine has been sentenced to seven years jail on the allegations that she had misused and abused her authority whilst Prime-Minister.  The prosecution was bought about by allegations made against her by Ukraine's former President Viktor Yushchenko.

Tymoshenko was ordered to pay 188 Million dollars in costs even though she had not profited from the deal stuck between Ukraine and Russia for the price of gas.

The prosecution and jailing of Tymoshenko is seen as being politically motivated and has been condemned by the international community.  Trade association deals between Europe and Ukraine are now expected to be effected as Ukraine becomes isolated as a result.  The conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko is designed to prevent her from seeking election at Ukraine's parliamentary elections  scheduled to be held in October 2012.


Political Show Trail: Guilty as Charged

The politically charged trail against Ukraine's former Prime-minister has delivered a guilty verdict.

Tymoshenko had been charged with misuse and abuse of public office whilst she was Prime-minister. The prosecution claiming that Tymoshenko had no authority to sign a contract with Russia for the supply of gas to Ukraine. They claim that as a result of the unfavourable contract Ukraine has lost over 200 million dollars.

This is in spite of the fact that the trial itself has caused untold damage to foreign relations and may even derail or delay implementation of negotiated trading agreements with Europe and Russia.

The charges brought against Tymoshenko are seen as an act of political persecution of members of the opposition.  Tymoshenko has been imprisoned for the last two months and her ally Yuri Lutsenko has been detained since December 2010.

European and Western leaders have all warned Ukraine of the consequences that would arise if Tymoshenko is found guilty and prevented from running in next years parliamentary elections.  Yulia Tymoshenko has accused the courts of doing President Yanukovych's bidding in an effort to prevent the opposition from campaigning and winning the Parliamentary  elections scheduled for October 2012.  The international community has in a rare expression of unity all condemned Ukraine for its actions and the conduct of the trails against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko.  Both had been denied freedom whilst their trails have been conducted.

The repercussion of the verdict that has been read out today will surly cost Ukraine much more then the 200 Million dollars that the authorities claim Tymoshenko lost.  The claim itself is subjective as the deal that was agreed to between Ukraine and Russia was the only deal on the table.  Russia had indicated that it was no longer going to subsidise Ukraine's gas consumption and that it expected Ukraine to pay market rates for its gas supply. The price paid for by Ukraine is still considerably less then the market value.

Time will tell how serious Europe and the west is and if they will in fact follow through with action and sanctions against Ukraine or if they will once again turn a blind eye to the misuse and abuse by Ukraine's Presidential office.

The stupidity of it all is that this action was unnecessary and lacking any merit.  It has once again brought Ukraine and Viktor Yanukovych's presidency into disrepute making that much harder for him to negotiate international trade agreements.   It also begs the question what will happen when and if Yanukovych loses office in 2015.

Noticeable in the administration of selective justice is the fact that former Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko has escaped prosecution for his misuse and abuse of office when he was President.  Many commentators are of the view that Yushchenko has been spared prosecution in return for the support he provided that saw Yanukovych win the presidency in 2010.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Trial of attrition:Video report on Tymoshenko trail

Justice or political persecution?

Thanks to LEvko of Foreignnotes