President Volodymyr Zelensky says he is not afraid of political crisis amid the ongoing row regarding the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and its recent rulings on anti-corruption reform.
Speaking at a panel show on ICTV on Monday, the head of state outlined what he called "red lines" for the Constitutional Court Chair Oleksandr Tupytsky that cannot be crossed, an UNIAN correspondent reports.
The head of state said this on the air of the Freedom of Speech program on the ICTV channel.
"As for political crisis, I'm not afraid of it. I acted in president's capacity, defending the state of Ukraine. This is point 1. Secondly, as for 'usurpation of power', I haven't met any of these judges for a year and a half. I did not see them, I didn't know their names." We didn't communicate. I spoke only with the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, and it's true that I told him there are red lines for the Ukrainian society if we don't want to go back 10 years back due to your decisions," Zelensky stressed.
In particular, we are talking about the importance of reforms related to the High Anti-Corruption Court, land reform, and banking reform.
The president also spoke of the stance of Ukraine's key lenders - the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Zelensky says partners have warned that further cooperation with Ukraine was off the table over the CCU ruling regarding e-declaration of assets by the country's officials.
"After their [CCU's] ruling, what did we receive? We received multiple signals coming from our Western partners. We got a signal from the International Monetary Fund – there can be no cooperation, you shouldn't wait for any mission - and I don't want to conceal it from public what this implies – if there's no mission, we will, and we already have a hole in the budget, of which we can all talk frankly because of the crisis, the global crisis, the crisis in the Ukrainian economy, the coronacrisis, so we do need help of our partners," Zelensky said.
The head of state said that similar signals came from the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. "From all the ambassadors of the Great Seven in Ukraine, so I urgently introduced the bill [on restoring public confidence in constitutional proceedings] to stop their actions. I think this is a statist position," the president said.
Read alsoZelensky sees demarche, conspiracy against president, society in CCU's decisionsAlso, Zelensky spoke of forces standing behind the CCU move.
"I'm sure that many people are behind this. We can already see openly through an appeal to the Constitutional Court what exactly those parties are. I don't want to talk about it. Or perhaps we can speak up openly as the election is over. So, we all know that these are people with the Opposition Bloc – For Life and 'Maybach' – Za Majbutne," said Zelensky.
Constitutional Court row – Background
On September 16, the Constitutional Court ruled that certain provisions of the law on the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) are at variance with the country's Constitution.
In particular, the provisions on empowering the President of Ukraine to form NABU, to appoint and dismiss its director, to appoint three persons to the commission for holding a competition for the position of the bureau's director, to appoint one member of the external control commission to conduct an independent assessment (audit) of NABU's effectiveness, its operational and institutional independence and approve the provisions on the Civil Oversight Council and the procedure for its formation.
On July 28, the Constitutional Court declared a presidential decree dated April 16, 2015, on the appointment of Artem Sytnyk as NABU Director as unconstitutional. The decision was taken on a motion filed by 51 lawmakers. According to them, the then President Petro Poroshenko went beyond his constitutional powers and violated the ban on usurpation of state power. Also, the lawmakers argued that the decree contradicted the provisions of the Constitution, which contain an exhaustive list of the powers of the President of Ukraine.
On October 27, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling on a motion filed by 47 Members of Parliament, having repealed Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code, which provided for criminal liability for inaccurate declaration by government officials of income.
On October 28, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) shut down access to the State E-Declarations Register. Yet on October 29, the Ukrainian government obliged the NACP to restore such access.
NABU said that pursuant to the Constitutional Court's decision, all cases of inaccurate declaration of assets would be closed, and government officials convicted of abuse would thus evade liability.
President Volodymyr Zelensky tabled a bill in parliament to terminate the powers of all CCU judges. The document states, in particular, that the decision of the Constitutional Court of October 27 is "null and void" (such that it does not create legal consequences) as such that was adopted by the CCU judges in conditions of a real conflict of interests." Zelensky proposes the termination of the powers of CCU judges from the date when the law becomes effective, suggesting that subjects authorized to appoint new judges should immediately begin the procedure for the competitive selection of the court's new members.
In an audio address to members of the ruling Servant of the People parliamentary faction, Volodymyr Zelensky has called on them to support the bill on dismissing all CCU judges: "If we don't stop the chaos that the Constitutional Court has been creating for money, we will see clashes in the street."
Constitutional Court Judge Ihor Slidenko has threatened President Volodymyr Zelensky with grave consequences if Parliament moves to pass the president's bill on sacking all CCU judges – including "war" and the country's "disintegration".