Impeachment – nice word meaning nothing

Tatiana Urbanskaya
13:40, 12 December 2017
Politics
724
Opinion

It will soon be 2 months since the organizers of Kyiv protests have started luring Ukrainians to join weekend rallies with a single attractive word - impeachment. But however attractive and in demand this idea might seem, this does not mean that organizers of rallies, activists, or simply TV viewers have any clue of what these all rallies are about.

Today, this whole impeachment thing is more like a bait, or a carrot for a donkey, pulling a heavy load uphill. That’s because, in fact, the organizers of the latest protests (and those sympathizing with them) from among people's deputies did nothing to finally develop a clear algorithm for such a way of removing the president from office. So far, it’s just a theory…

In the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada, only three bills have been registered, related to the impeachment procedure.

In the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada, only three bills have been registered, related to the impeachment procedure. The first one, "On the Order of Impeachment of the President of Ukraine," was registered immediately after the snap parliamentary elections, back in November 2014. The ideologists of this legislative initiative were Yulia Tymoshenko and her party comrade Andriy Kozhemyakin. Considering the document, experts of the Main Scientific and Expert Department of the Verkhovna Rada focused the deputies' attention on the fact that the bill repeated the mistakes of earlier drafts (they were registered in 2011 and 2013). At the same time, it was suggested that it could be adopted in the first reading to be further finalized. It was then than the first embarrassment occurred - despite the fact that the bill passed promptly the relevant Rada committees, in December 2014, it was only in September 2015 when it got on the list of draft laws that the parliament intends to consider (and that’s if the deputies vote for its inclusion in the agenda). The second embarrassment was in February 2016. With the beginning of the next parliamentary session, the deputies did not have enough votes to green light even a hypothetical possibility of impeachment, not to mention the actual move. In simple words, the deputies did not include the bill in the session’s agenda at all.

It’s hardly worth guessing when deputies finally find time to vote for its inclusion in the agenda of any of their plenary weeks

Another attempt to finalize the procedure of impeachment was made by a group of Radical Party MPs who registered a bill "On a Special Temporary Investigative Commission of the Verkhovna Rada to Investigate the Dismissal of the President of Ukraine from Office through Impeachment" of March 2015. The Rada’s experts once again noted a number of inconsistencies with the current legislation, and suggested that the bill be finalized in case it was adopted in the first reading. But ... it only got on the session’s agenda on October 3, 2017. It’s hardly worth guessing when deputies finally find time to vote for its inclusion in the agenda of any of their plenary weeks.

The latest (as of today) attempt to elaborate on the impeachment procedure in the Rada was made by a group of non-factional deputies just recently. Bill "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Ensuring the Possibility of Impeachment of the President of Ukraine" was registered on December 7. But the "fate" of the previous motions casts doubt on whether this bill will be submitted to the session hall to be considered before the next parliamentary elections in 2019...

Perhaps, the organizers of rallies who over-exploit the word "impeachment" should explain this to the people they call upon to gather at city squares.

In addition, it is also important to say that, for today, according to the Constitution of Ukraine, the issue of dismissing the president from office through the impeachment is the prerogative of the Verkhovna Rada. If there is a suspicion that the head of state has committed a state treason or other crime, 226 deputies (at least) should vote for the creation of a special Commission (with the participation of a special prosecutor and investigators) and forward the Commission’s findings to the Constitutional Court. After the conclusions of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the investigation procedure by the Special Commission, as well as the Supreme Court's conclusions that the crimes the president is charged of have been committed, the deputies (three-fourths of the Verkhovna Rada) can decide to dismiss the head of state.

Another nuance, which the organizers of protests should pay attention to and announce before their supporters, is who will rule the country once the impeachment becomes reality

By the way, this does not mean that criminal cases will be opened against the president. The existing description of the impeachment process, according to Ukraine’s legislation, does not say it is mandatory. Theoretically, it is possible to prosecute a head of state, but that’s only after becomes ex-president.

You might say it's complicated and does not work? That’s right. But to make it less complicated and to make it actually work, it is not enough just to shout out slogans calling for this "impeachment".

Another nuance, which the organizers of protests should pay attention to and announce before their supporters, is who will rule the country once the impeachment becomes reality. Spoiler: it will not be the leader of today's rallies (or the one who positions himself as such).

Since Ukraine is a parliamentary-presidential republic, if the president is somehow moved from his warm chair, the acting head of state will be ... the Verkhovna Rada Speaker. Moreover, he will remain the acting president until the new presidential election.

Therefore, putting behind the brackets all the complexities and impossibility of the impeachment procedure, it would still be nice to hear the answers to at least two questions at the next rally. Are you sure you want to change Poroshenko for Andriy Parubiy (I see nothing wrong in the latter but it seems that those protesting "for impeachment" are not OK with any of the current officials in general)? Another question is: are you ready to finally admit that while promoting idea of impeachment, you actually take to the streets for this kind of a "change of power"?

Tatyana Urbanskaya

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