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Ukraine May Backslide In Just One Day

Filed under: Ukraine

In perhaps the ballsy-est move he's made since gaining the presidency, Orange Revolution President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree disbanding the parliament and calling new elections.

April 2, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a decree dissolving parliament and ordering new elections, RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reported.

Yushchenko made the announcement in an address on television today after hours of talks with parliamentary leaders failed to resolve a political standoff in the country.

"My actions were dictated by the urgent necessity to save the state, its sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and to ensure the constitution of Ukraine, the rights and liberties of people and citizens are upheld,” Yushchenko said during his address. “I would like to underline that this is not only my right -- it is my duty."

"I am calling on the Ukrainian people to make a fair, conscious, and responsible choice which will end this stage of political conflict and will open a new perspective for Ukraine," he added.

The president accused the parliamentary majority led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych of seeking to expand its power base in violation of the constitution, and of making decisions that violated the law.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich had been accused of unconstitutionally building up his power base in the parliament by convincing individual members to join his coalition. According to the constitutional changes made during the Orange Revolution, members of a bloc join coalitions together. That is, individuals members cannot break off from their elected bloc to join another one. I can imagine the purpose of this is to solidify the power of parties against temporary electoral crises which can provoke opportunism and payoffs. But that's what Yanukovich has been tempting people with, and a steady stream of opposition lawmakers have left their original parties. If Yanukovich can get less than 50 more then he will have complete ability to rewrite the constitution.

Given that the hostility between Yanukovich and Yushchenko has already provoked the former into decreasing the powers of the latter, Yushchenko was in a real bind. If he didn't stop this from happening, Yanukovich would unconstitutionally usurp more power and crush him.

There have also been rumors of late that say Yanukovich and Moroz were meeting with Putin on whether or not to seek Yushchenko's impeachment. If that's the case, self-defense would be the biggest reason why he finally acted. Impeachment would mean total destruction of the Orange forces.

The only question is, what is the constitutionality of Yushchenko's own decree, and will anyone follow it?

I see no reason why the pro-Yanukovich members of parliament would simply back down and comply with the order for new elections. With no firm legal mechanisms in place to enforce the constitution or even make constitutional judgments right now, everything is up in the air. The president and the parliament are operating on two completely separate wavelengths of power and sovereignty. It will all come down to who has control.

And according to Peter Byrne, chaos has basically enveloped the parliament, with the pro-Yanukovich coalition unraveling reforms and reversing every last democratic gain made since 2004 in one fell swoop.
it's almost midnight and the rada is still in session, busy being destructive and rescinding previous legislation.

pro-yanukovych lawmakers led by parliament speaker have no intention of complying with the president's decree dissolving parliament and holding new elections on may 27.

deputies (a very glum looking bunch) just reinstated members of the central election commission of 2004, chaired by serhiy kivalov. can't get more destructive than that.
I wonder if the obvious needs to be said here. Back in August, when Yanukovich became prime minister, the generally accepted knowledge was that no matter who gained power, the gains made since the Orange Revolution could never be reversed. But how can the biggest gain, free elections, ever be repeated if the old and corrupt election commission is in place?
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