Friday, September 18, 2009

The Constitutional Threat. The election of the President of Ukraine, scheduled on January 2010, may be wrecked by the Constitutional Court ruling.

The President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko appealed to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on Monday, 14 October 2009, to examine the compliance of some clauses of the Law of Ukraine on the amendments to the Law on Presidential Elections (recently adopted by Parliament) with the Constitution of Ukraine. A lot of experts predict it may cause the disruption of the Presidential election, scheduled for the beginning of 2010.

If the Constitutional Court declares that some provisions of the law are unconstitutional, the Presidential election of January 2010 will be put in jeopardy – for sure. Parliament will definitely fail to pass the amendmends to the Law (due to the requirements of the Court) before the official starting date of the presidential race – 19 October 2009. Then it will be easy to question any result of the vote if it happens on 17 January: as the election was organize according to the “old”, unconstitutional version of the law. The only way to stay within the frames of a Fundamental law of the country will be to schedule a new date for the presidential election, extending the term of office of Viktor Yushchenko.

The Speaker of the parliament of Ukraine Volodymyr Lytvyn has recently said that he is ‘convinced that there are reasons for the Constitutional Court to define some clauses of the law as unconstitutional’. He thinks it may cause a political turbulence and lengthy court battles over the election, making the situation ‘disorganized’.

The “new version” of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Presidential Elections’, in particular, reduced the time of presidential campaign from 120 to 90 days. It also allowed adding people to voter lists on the day of election (as the clear and trustable Voter Registry has not been formed in Ukraine yet), and prohibited to vote for Ukrainians living overseas, if they are not included to the Consular register (these legislative innovations are mentioned in the President’s application as one may cause a huge fraud, and another restricts the citizens’ universal right to vote).

Pre-history: On July 24, 2009 the Parliament of Ukraine passed a bill amending the Law on Presidential Elections. On 18 August Viktor Yushchenko vetoed the proposed amendments on the Law on Presidential Elections. But the Parliament convened a special session on August 21, when 325 out of 371 members of parliament override the president's veto.
The presidential election is scheduled for January 17, 2010. If required a second round ballot is expected to take place in February 2010. The President of Ukraine is elected by the citizens of Ukraine for a five-year term, on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage, by secret ballot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Lit-Crit. Reflections while reading the FT article ‘Yushchenko hits at Moscow ahead of poll’.

The Financial Times has published an article called ‘Yushchenko hits at Moscow ahead of poll’ on Monday, 14 of September. I’ve read this story only today, and couldn’t stand but to share my strong disagreement with some points, so categorically stated by the author. So, let me give some comments to this article.
‘Yushchenko hits at Moscow ahead of poll’
By Roman Olearchyk in Kiev
Published: September 14 2009 14:16 Last updated: September 14 2009 14:16
Viktor Yushchenko, the embattled Ukrainian president, complained of Russian meddling in Kiev’s domestic affairs ahead of a high-stakes presidential election, which the pro-western leader is expected to lose to a more Kremlin-friendly candidate.
---To be pro-Western doesn’t mean to be totally anti-Russian. I don’t think that the spoiled relationship with the official Moscow may be called as the advantage of the presidency of Mt. Yushchenko.
In a Financial Times interview, Mr Yushchenko said Moscow had waged a smear campaign against Kiev and could try to manipulate Ukraine’s electorate – claims that were also made in 2004 when Mr Yushchenko was propelled to power against a Kremlin-backed candidate. Voters remain split in an east-west axis between Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
--- It is wrong to state that the Ukrainian electorate is divided to Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers. The author either have never visited East of Ukraine (but I hardly think so), or just wanted to make a witty statement to attract more attention of foreign readers. I would say that there are a lot of Ukrainian speakers in Eastern Ukraine, especially in a countryside: even my own relatives who are living near Donetsk are using Ukrainian as a language of family communication. Yes, there are lot of Russian speakers in the Eastern and Central part of Ukraine – mostly due to the labor migration from other regions of Soviet Union caused by the industrialization growth. But let me assure the respected author of the article that most of the Russian speaking people are feeling themselves as citizens of Ukraine, not servants of Russia as some people want to demonstrate.
The problem of the split of electoral preferences in Ukraine is not the question of language, but sort of a regional solidarity. People from Eastern Ukraine support Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Regions, first of all, because they think he is going to support their interests, and to make their own regions more prosperous. Such an antagonism to other opponents of Mr. Yanukovych is a simple reaction to their rhetoric, which often sounds unfriendly to the Eastern regions of Ukraine – people from there had been called as thieves, extremists, betrayers, Russian henchmen and so on. The same situation we may see in Western Ukraine, when some politicians are trying to win extra-support, setting Ukrainians against each other.

The issue of Russian interference in Ukraine’s election emerged last month when Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, accused Mr Yushchenko of waging “anti-Russian” policies by seeking membership in the Nato military alliance, and urged the country’s future president to be more friendly.
--- What is a problem with being friendly to your neighbors?
Mr Yushchenko said he expects Russia to stir up separatist sentiment on Ukraine’s Russian-leaning Crimean peninsula. But he ruled out escalation into a military conflict of the kind seen last summer in Georgia, another pro-western ally on post-Soviet turf. Moscow continues to firmly back the independence aspirations of two Georgian breakaway enclaves, one of which, South Ossetia, was at the centre of the war.
Many in Kiev fear a similar scenario in Crimea.“They will try to exploit the ‘Crimean Card’. But, I don’t see a risk that the situation in Georgia would repeat,” said Mr Yushchenko when asked if separatism or military clashes could erupt. “Ukraine is not Georgia,” he said, referring to the country’s larger population, military and geopolitical significance.“Strength today is not in a military position. Employing it would be complete stupidity,” he added.
--- I agree with the statement about the ‘Crimean Card”. Nevertheless, the military scenario in the Crimea is unfortunately possible, but rather in a form of a provoked inside disorder.
Referring to last January’s natural gas stand-off between Kiev and Moscow, which disrupted European supplies, and relentless Russian warnings that recession-battered Ukraine was unable to pay its gas bill, Mr Yushchenko said: “There are a lot of hidden and cynical schemes being played through information airwaves, aimed at discrediting Ukraine” in the eyes of Europe and the world.
Mr Yushchenko said: “We are witnesses of how the politics of totalitarianism is reaching its apogee against the principles of democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Georgia is a sign of how, unfortunately, the Pan-European community did not stand up to defend these fundamental principles. It was a setback,” he said.
--- Nothing to say. Was the EU supposed to dig up the hatchet against Russia?
The Ukrainian president said he hoped soon to meet US President Barack Obama to discuss these and other issues and expressed solidarity with a plea to Western leaders made last week by members of Ukraine’s intelligentsia. In an open letter, politicians, artists and experts had called for western leaders to provide Ukraine with stronger security guarantees against an increasing threat from Russia.
--- ‘to discuss these and other issues’ – it’s rather strange interpretation of the interview with the President of a country.
Mr Yushchenko trails three frontrunners in the election who are actively seeking to harmonise relations with Russia. They include Yulia Tymoshenko, prime minister and erstwhile Orange Revolution partner, and ex-prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, the Moscow-backed candidate in 2004. Mr Yushchenko accused them of pandering to Moscow, selling out Ukrainian interests as “trading cards” to get Russia’s support for their candidacies.
--- Is it bad to seek to harmonize relations with a neighboring super-power? I think that the most preferable way for Ukraine to build its foreign policy and strategy of its implementation is making friends, not enemies. Russia will never disappear from Ukrainian border, and the smartest way is to try to build a system of checks and balances based on the multi-vector policy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time management. The highweighters of Ukrainian politics have opened presidential race long time before its official start.

There is no such a thing as “a lack of time” for a person who understands, what the time-management is. That’s why I’ve decided to come back to blogging, despite of a pretty much pressed working schedule. Ukrainian politicians don’t want to waist the time left before the official start of the presidential race also (according to the 'new edition' of the Law on elections, it's 19 October 2009): streets of the cities, towns and villages of Ukraine, as well as the sides of big roads, are already stuffed with the billboards with political promises.

To my impression, the most active in the pre-electoral advertising are the Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko and ex-Chairman of Parliament Arseniy Yatseniuk. Their PR-ideas are rather original as well. Though, it seems to me that Mr. Yatseniuk is simply wasting money: his strangely colored boards and bizarre slogans are kind of shot in the eye for his ratings, imho.

So, Yulia Tymoshenko plays with contraposition. 'They promise, she works', 'They block, she works', 'They obstruct, she works', 'They ruin, she works', etc, her billboards are declaring. No names, but everyone understands, who is She.

The visual messages of Arseniy Yatsenyuk are supposed to use a kind of military symbolism to emphasize his willingness and ability to become a strong leader. But, frankly speaking, it doesn't look very convincing.