What a Fine Mess
Who`s at fault in Ukraine`s current mess? The president, Yushchenko, the prime minister Yanukovych, the opposition leader Yulia Tymoschenko? Are they acting in their own interests, or the country`s? Or, are they just auditioning to be the next Curley, Joe and Moe?
Yeah, what a fine mess. I mean the sorry state of affairs in Ukraine`s "government" (sorry, but this mess requires quotes around government, while the word mess does not).
Ollie Hardy was always ascribing his and his partner`s most recent dire situation as being Stan Laurel`s` fault.
Who`s at fault in Ukraine`s current mess? The president, Yushchenko, the prime minister Yanukovych, the opposition leader Yulia Tymoschenko? Are they acting in their own interests, or the country`s? Or, are they just auditioning to be the next Curley, Joe and Moe? Throw in a speaker, Moroz…maybe the analogy should be the Marx Brothers.
Ok. The situation is serious. The president has called for new elections and dismissed the Verkhovna Rada. The prime minister has balked and says the Rada is still the Rada and still in session and alleges the president has acted contrary to the powers given him pursuant to Ukraine`s constitution. A scared group of eighteen "justices" (again, necessarily, I believe, in quotes) called, laughably, the Constitutional Court is supposed to decide.
So we have eighteen scared individuals, knees knocking, appointed by parties in interests to be equally able to produce stalemate. The deciding factors, if there in fact can be a decision, hinges on who can buy (purchase, bribe) a judge, or threaten a judge, or otherwise "influence" a judge and a "decision" (Notice: I find it difficult to write about Ukraine without putting words in quotes.) then accidentally, maybe, is produced from what had otherwise been designed as a Mexican standoff. This Rube Goldberg scheme likely won`t work. Whatever the Constitutional Court decides, that is in whose favor, which side (nothing about this having anything remotely to do with the application of legal principles or Ukraine`s constitution) it takes will not be accepted by the other side(s). This, in spite of both the president and the prime minister, sanctimoniously saying that they would abide by the "learned" court`s proclamation.
Actually, as some have said, these "learned" justices might just lay low and wait for the prime minister and the president to compromise. Then safely, relatively speaking, "decide". Such might be prudent. Actually even "healthy" for these fine "justices".
"Fortunately" Ukraine has "help" in its constitutional dilemma. I see headlines "European Lawmakers Take Ukraine to Task". PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) recently spoke; they are "concerned". They believe the current crisis is "the result of the hasty and incomplete constitutional and political reform of 2004." And they have a list of recommendations. The usual bromides. All the things Ukraine should do. All damned obvious, but totally unrelated to Ukrainian reality. Well, gee, thanks folks. What is the real problem? Well, whatever, people like me have added to it by optimistic predictions. In my case, I used to refer to the New Nation Ukraine. Fact is, part of the problem is that the area, the country Ukraine has not taken on the attributes of a nation. And, though called one, it is not a democracy. And it does not have the Rule of Law.
Democracy by one Webster definition is "government in which the people hold the ruling power either directly or through elected representatives; rule by the ruled." Literally "rule by the people", from the Greek demos, "people", and kratos, "rule (from Wikipedia quoting from somewhere else). Ukraine does not have this. Ukraine is ruled by the few. They are businessmen (and a few businesswomen), some are known as oligarchs, others, less powerful, nevertheless are business people. And they are only ostensibly indirect representatives of the people.
And this class of people, the businessman, largely occupies the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government (the judiciary by the right to select the "justices") in Ukraine. "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison.
Those in the Rada and the government are less politician than businessman or businesswoman. The same throughout the executive. Places, positions are largely bought, even sometimes sold, as on a stock exchange. Ordinary people, those perhaps with some sense of, and a desire to serve the public, for the general good of the people, are probably many among the populace. But they cannot afford the price. Those people don`t want to join an exchange; they wish to serve. Yet, it is because of price that those people are shut out from representing the people. So the people are not represented.
The Verkhovna Rada should be for the people`s business. The people that one would want serving in the Rada truly would be the elected representatives of the people. Then ideally they, at least primarily, serve the people and do the people`s business. The Rada as it now consists, or doesn`t, that depending on eighteen "brave" "justices", serves only the businesses of the business people. The moneychangers are in the temple of the people. There is no Jesus to intervene and throw them out.
What to do? What can the people do? My answer is: "I don`t know," given the current level of corruption of government. What? Maybe be proud that Ukraine is not as corrupt as, say Nigeria? That the government is not as autocratic as Belarus? That it has more press freedom than Russia?
But those things will not last. Maybe Ukraine will never be as corrupt as Nigeria, or its "leadership" as despotic as is Zimbabwe`s. But, the longer the current situation exist, the more fermentation and the end product will be more lost of liberty for the Ukrainian people.
The people that lead Ukraine now act in and for their own business interests. About the people`s business they couldn`t care less.
Ok. Again what to do? I don`t know how yet and so I`ll repeat one of the bromides.
Specifically, find a way to establish the Rule of Law. At it`s basic level the Rule of Law means that all people are subject to the same laws. The rich, the poor, the king, the pauper, the Tsar and the peasant.
As a start, immunity from the law has to be abolished for all office holders. They, of course, can have usual immunity for conduct related solely to duties of their offices, but no blanket immunity as presently exists for any and all crimes.
Further, consideration should be given to making principle office holder`s (the president, the prime minister, some others) place assets in blind trusts while in office. And other office holders, Rada members, etc. should have to file annual financial disclosure statements. The idea should be that officeholders should be doing the peoples business and not making money at the people`s expense and while being paid by the people.
The above is a start. If it could happen.
Ukraine needs an honest politician; actually Ukraine needs many of them. The current "leadership" (again the quotes) is not up to making the necessary changes to move democracy forward.
What a fine mess.
This article was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor.
By Glen Willard The Ukrainian Observer magazine, Issue 231The Willard Group, Kyiv, Ukraine, May 2007
The Ukrainian Observer magazine, Issue 231The Willard Group, Kyiv, Ukraine, May 2007