Vol 2, No 13
3 April 2000
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
News Review for Ukraine
All the important news from Ukraine
since 27 March 2000
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine finally announced its decision concerning the legitimacy of the April 16 referendum (see back issues). Although a decision was ready on Monday, the press conference where it was officially proclaimed took place two days later. The Constitutional Court found a wise Solomon solution: the referendum can take place, but the two most provocative questions about dismissal of the current parliament and changes in the constitution through the referendum must be removed. The remaining four questions about deputies’ immunity from criminal prosecution, reduction of the parliamentary seats from 450 to 300, introduction of a two-house parliament and about the presidential right to disband the parliament if it fails to form a majority within a month or adopt a budget within three months will be brought out in a national plebiscite.
The diplomatic decision of the Constitutional Court has generated different reactions. Myroslav Popovych, a famous Ukrainian philosopher and political scientist, sees in the Court's decision a true sign of the democratic development in the country. Olexandr Lavrynovych, a member of Parliament, says that by this action the Constitutional Court has proven the priority of the law in the country and defence of the national constitution. Even Rassel-Johnston, the head of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, in his telephone conversation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cited the Court’s decision as evidence of this democratic institution's maturity in a democratic society.
Olexandr Martynenko, the president's press-secretary, noted that President Kuchma accepted the Court’s decision and did not express any special emotions concerning it.
Representatives of the parliamentary minority and political opposition are disappointed with the Constitutional Court’s final statement. The major criticism is that the Constitutional Court was not looking for a fair, objective decision but tried to satisfy everybody with its legal conclusions. Olexandr Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party, said that the Constitutional Court has demonstrated itself as the most constructive one in the world, "because by its decision it has satisfied everybody but at the same time has demonstrated that it truly remains a court". Georgy Kruchkov, a representative of the Communist Party, sees in the Constitutional Court’s action the effects of compromise, where the Court tried to find a constitutionally proven solution which cannot offend the president, which will not disappoint Europe and which will simultaneously "blow away" the real essence of the referendum.
As a member of Parliament, Serhyj Golovatyj (see previous issue) took issue with two of the Court’s decisions. In the decision about the anticonstitutional nature of the referendum’s questions on parliamentary dismissal and changes in the constitution, the Constitutional Court demonstrated its objective legal approach to the problem. On the other hand, acceptance of the rest of referendum’s questions by the Court can be considered as a purely political decision.
At the same time, as a member of the Venetian commission, Serhyj Golovatyj hopes that after such a decision by the Constitutional Court he can convince the Council of Europe of the true desire of the country to follow a path of democratic development.
In this concern, everybody is now interested in the opinion of the Council of Europe concerning the Constitutional Court's recommendations. Will the Council still be against the idea of a referendum in general or will it be satisfied with the exclusion of the two questions?
On 27 March 2000 the Tisza river was polluted for the fourth time. A discharge from a dike near a Romanian mine was again the culprit in this latest incident. This time instead of cyanide, the waters of the Tisza were polluted with iron, lead and copper. Specialists did not register the death of fish in the Ukrainian part of the river but local inhabitants say that everything had already died during the previous incidents.
Natalya Krasnoboka, 27 March 2000
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