Category Archives: Ukraine

Ukraine – Parliamentary election

Kyiv Post has provided the provisional result of the Ukrainian parliamentary election. The figures are based on over 97% of the votes cast. So, they are likely to change very little. Here are the figures;

  • Party of Regions, 30.25%, 188 seats
  • Batkivshchyna (the Tymoshenko opposition bloc), 25.35%, 104 seats
  • Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform Vitaliy Klychko (pro-European), 13.85%, 40 seats
  • Communists, 13.28%, 32 seats
  • All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda” (nationalist), 10.34%, 36 seats
  • Independents, 43 seats
  • Others, 7 seats

So, President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions has emerged as the largest group. If it were to go into government with the Communists, then they would have a majority.

Ukraine – Speaker announces resignation creating potential legislative deadlock

In Ukraine, political tension is mounting ahead of the legislative elections that are scheduled for 28 October.

Specifically, there is considerable unrest surrounding the passage of a new Bill that gives linguistic rights to the Russian language. As reported by RIA Novosti, the Bill gives Russian the status of a regional language in regions where it is the native language of at least 10 per cent of the population, or 13 out of Ukraine’s 27 administrative-territorial entities, including Kiev. The early discussion of the Bill provoked a fist fight in the legislature. The final passage of the Bill has now led the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament, to state that he is resigning from his position.

The Speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, has announced that he will resign to mark his opposition to the Bill. He is a member of the People’s Party that provides some support to the government of President Viktor Yanukovych whose Party of the Regions proposed the Bill.

The announcement of the resignation of Speaker Lytvyn has the potential to cause a serious legislative problem because Art. 94 of the Ukrainian Constitution states: “The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine signs a law and forwards it without delay to the President of Ukraine”. In other words, legislation cannot be passed without the signature of a Speaker. If Speaker Lytvyn does resign, then the Verkhovna Rada could elect a new Speaker, but the election requires at least two-thirds of deputies to take part in the vote. The opposition to the Party of the Regions can muster a one-third blocking minority. Therefore, it is possible that no Speaker could be elected prior to the elections in October.

All that said, as I understand the situation, Speaker Lytvyn has merely announced that he is resigning. He has not formally tendered his resignation. Therefore, if there is a compromise on the Bill or if it is dropped, then he could merely state that he no longer had any intention of resigning.

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Ukraine – Constitutional Assembly

In Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych has signed a decree creating a Constitutional Assembly. The assembly will be headed by former President Leonid Kravchuk. The text of the decree is available in English here.

The details are difficult to come by but it seems that there will be an assembly comprising around 100 people from various parts of politics and society. The aim seems to be to produce a new constitution and not just amendments to the existing one.

At the moment, it seems as if the opposition is boycotting the process.

Ukraine – President/PM relations

Kyiv Post has a brief report on presidential/PM relations in Ukraine. The tone of the report is telling.

The article reports PM Mykola Azarov as saying that President Viktor Yanukovych has “agreed to let him choose candidates to be the next First Deputy Prime Minister”. How very kind. There is, though, a caveat. PM Azarov acknowledges that he will submit the candidate of his choice to the president and that the president will then approve or reject the candidate. So, the PM’s freedom of choice is perhaps somewhat less than it might at first appear. Moreover, I have a hunch that PM Azarov will nominate a candidate that he knows President Yanukovych will approve.

As if to reinforce the point that he is more than just a figurehead, PM Azarov goes on to say that he has “enough power, and all of the ministers and vice premiers … fulfill all the orders of the prime minister”. Hmm. Methinks the PM doth protest too much. When you need to make this point and when it is reported in the main news, then, to me, this is a sign of weakness not strength.

Ukraine – Parliamentary brawl

Ukraine’s parliamentary process degenerated into farce, and worse, on Friday with deputies from opposing parties engaging in a brawl.

Should you wish to watch it, here is footage. Warning: it may offend those with a sensitive disposition!

RFE/RL reports that opposition supporters were blocking the podium in protest against criminal proceedings that have been taken against Yulia Tymoshenko. In response, deputies from President Victor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions had to break into the chamber. When they did so, fighting ensued!

Various commentators have noted that there was a similar scene just a few months earlier. So, this is not an isolated incident. Should you wish to view that particular conflagration, then here it is.

Ukraine – Presidential veto

Following on from a previous post, Kyiv Post is reporting that President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine has vetoed a law on security activities.

The website of the Verkhovna Rada (legislature) of Ukraine gives the current numbers of deputies in each parliamentary group. The figures in the English version here are almost exactly the same as the figures in the Russian version here. They are:

Faction of The Party of Regions – 193 deputies
Faction of “The Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc-Batkivshchyna” – 103
Faction of The Bloc ”Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence” – 66
Faction of The Communist Party of Ukraine – 25
Faction of the People’s Party – 20
Group “Reforms for the Future” – 20
Non-Affiliated – 23

So, assuming party loyalty, President Yanukovych does not have the support of a majority of deputies, which presumably at least partly explains his frequent use of the veto.

Ukraine – Further presidentialisation?

I don’t know the background to this story, but it looks like a further presidentialisation of the system in Ukraine.

Following the Constitutional Council’s decision returning Ukraine to a president-parliamentary form of semi-presidentialism, Kyiv Post is now providing some details of a change to the regulations of the government of Ukraine, or what I understand as the ‘Standing Orders’ of the government.

Anyway, the report states: “The regulations … contain a paragraph related to the program of activity of the government. It is stipulated that the program, which determines the cabinet’s strategy, will be developed on the basis of the election program of the president of Ukraine and proposals from members of the government.”

So, this suggests that from now on the president will formally set the government’s legislative agenda for the parliamentary term. I am not sure whether this is a significant change, but it does seem to me to be another move that strengthens the legal authority of the president.

Ukraine – Presidential vetoes

Information is difficult to gather systematically, but President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine seems to have been using his power of veto quite actively in recent times.

In November 2010 he vetoed reforms to the tax code, reported here.

In March/early April he is reported to have vetoed the law “On the regulation of urban development”, the bill “On amending some laws of Ukraine to improve the procedure of procurement of state ordered publishing industry products”, as well as the law “On the Commercial Account of Natural Gas”.

In April 2011, there is a report here that he vetoed the law “On making of amendments to several laws of Ukraine to ensure the State support for development of the agriculture”, and his website reports that he also vetoed the bill “On amendments to Article 143 of the Family Code of Ukraine obliging unmarried fathers to collect their newborns at the maternity hospital if their mothers fail to do so”.

In May 2011 his website reports that he vetoed a bill “On Amending the Law of Ukraine ‘On Securities and Stock Market’ regarding the Financial Photo Gallery Monitoring of Professional Stock Market Participant”.

In June 2011 his website reports that he vetoed the law “On Amending the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Violations regarding the Responsibility for Contaminating Forests”.

In July 2011 he reportedly vetoed an amnesty law.

In July his website reports that he also vetoed the law “On Record Keeping and Technical Inventory of Real Estate”.

The president’s website now reports that he just vetoed five laws: “On Amending the Law of Ukraine On Public Procurements of Crude Oil and Oil Products”; “On Amending the Law of Ukraine On State Budget of Ukraine for 2011 regarding the Repayment of Debts to the State Budget of Ukraine Made under Sub-loans Granted to Power Generating Companies”; “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Normalization of Relations between the Creditors and Consumers of Financial Services”; “On Amending the Land Code of Ukraine to Bring it in Compliance with the Code of Ukraine on Mineral Resources”; “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine to Simplify the Procedure of Land Plots Allotment for the Purposes Related to Subsoil Use”.

Again, I am not claiming that this is an exhaustive list of vetoes, but most are mentioned in at least two sources, or one official source.

Ukraine – Various developments

There have been various developments in Ukraine.

At the end of last year, President Viktor Yanukovych reshuffled his government, decreasing the number of ministers. There is a report here.

In February the constitution was amended. The reform concerned the dates on the next elections. This issue was under debate following the controversial return to the previous constitution. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 2012 and presidential elections for March 2015.

Finally, President Yanukovych has issued a decree “On Supporting the Initiative to Establish the Constitutional Assembly”. There is a report here. The Constitutional Assembly will propose constitutional reforms to the president.