Since President Viktor Yushchenko issued his decree on 02Apr2007 dismissing the Verkhovna Rada and setting pre-term elections for 27May2007, a myriad of strange and contradictory articles have appeared in the Ukrainian and world press. Some of these have been reproduced in the Action Ukraine Report. It is not clear if these are creations of serious scholars, paid shills, provocateurs or disinformation artists.
A prime example is the 16Apr2007 interview of Oleksandr Volkov (AUR#830, 19Apr2007), who claims to have supported the Orange Revolution, but has since switched his allegiance to the Party of Regions. Name-dropping that he and his buddies are good friends with Boris Berezovsky (the Jewish Russian billionaire in English exile), he then goes on to smear both Mr. Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko with gossipy tidbits impossible to verify. Whatever the veracity of his rantings, Mr Volkov does illustrate the illegitimacy of the political order in Ukraine.
In a Letter to Yulia Tymoshenko, 25Jul2006 , I wrote that the so-called constitutional "reform" concocted during the Orange crisis of the Nov-Dec 2004 Presidential elections is illegitimate, because (a) it was negotiated by politicians under duress, (b) it is inoperable and (c) it was drafted by politicians without consulting the people of Ukraine and without their ratification via a referendum.
The Constitutional Court has been inoperable since the Presidential elections in 2004. It is certainly not an independent body and, judging by the number of individual meetings with various politicians, the necessity of police protection and the mass demonstrations in front of its doors, it is certainly deliberating under severe duress. On what basis can it possibly make a rational decision on the constitutionality of the President's decree?
My advice to the learned judges would be to avoid making a direct ruling, but instead to "recommend" that pre-term elections be held at a given date subject to specific stipulations. This recommendation would be based upon the provisions that the judges expect to be incorporated in the new constitution that the Ukrainian people must formulate and adopt over the next several years. That constitution would presumably enshrine the principle that, indeed, the Office of the President has the right and duty (under certain conditions) to dismiss the government and call for pre-term elections.
Pre-term elections are utilized by many countries around the world as a safety valve to solve intractable conflicts and avoid violence and social upheaval. It is a perfectly legitimate and useful exercise -- especially for Ukraine at this moment.
I find the political mentality within Ukraine particularly worrisome. The politicians simply do not accept the concept that they are servants of the Ukrainian people and not its masters. I am convinced that the illegitimate constitutional changes in 2004 and the January 2007 law on "Cabinet of Ministers" were imposed in bad faith by the Party of Regions. These changes remove all checks and balances upon the puppeteers controlling the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada.
The parallel of these mechanations with the rise to power of the Bolshevik Party following the 1917 Revolution is frightening. At that time, the modus operandi was "kto, kovo?" -- who [will destroy] whom? And this was not just political destruction, but physical destruction -- leading to the death of millions. Once again, this is the nightmare scenario facing the Ukrainian people. Instead of "dictatorship of the proletariat", they will now be subjected to the "dictatorship of the Oligarchs".
There must be checks and balances on politicians -- and not just during election time. Appropriate checks and balances on governments, politicians and bureaucrats is lacking in many countries around the world. There is virtually nothing an ordinary citizen can do to reverse unreasonable decisions. For example, the governments of the United States, Britian and Canada are involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the opposition of the majority of the populace. Ukraine is no exception.
In my report on the 26Mar2006 parliamentary elections , I stated that "although the election procedures were fair and legitimate, the legitimacy of the politicians ranked in the "party lists" of the various Parties is questionable." I also stated that I was not impressed with the proportional representation system and even speculated on how the electorate could have an influence on the rankings in the various party lists.
These concerns are even more urgent today. It is crucial that the future constitution define appropriate election mechanisms and appropriate checks and balances on the composition of the Verkhovna Rada.
I expect that pre-term elections will, indeed, take place within the next several months. Hopefully, the constitutional question will be the main focus of the electoral discussions. In my opinion, it would not be appropriate for the President of Ukraine to participate directly in the electioneering, except as to express his views on the constitutional question. The two divisory issues of NATO and Ukrainian-Russian language must not be used to further fragment Ukrainian society. I expect to expound on these issues in later articles.
William Zuzak, Ph.D., P. Eng. (retired); 2007.04.23