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Ukraine’s Constitution and the “experts”

Ukraine’s Constitution and the “experts”
Article by: Oksana Syroyid
Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Oksana Syroyid, deputy speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and director of the Ukrainian Legal Foundation, had repeatedly expressed her opposition to the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine that would grant special status or privileges to the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk territories. In her most recent Facebook posting, she writes of Russia’s manipulations designed to force the changes through Ukraine’s Parliament.

Earlier this week the Russian Foreign Minister expressed his wish to discuss OUR Constitution in the “Normandy format.” The expected response from Ukraine should have been a statement on the order of “hands off the Constitution of Ukraine” expressed in beautiful diplomatic language.

Instead something quite the opposite happened. On (Thursday, August 20) in Germany, Russia “proposed amendments” to our Constitution, or, as reported by the media, “experts are analyzing the conformity of the Constitution of Ukraine with the Minsk agreements.”

Where did these experts come from and who has given them the authority to negotiate? The draft of the Constitution is currently under consideration in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament). After the decision of the Constitutional Court, only the parliament can adopt any decision on it. The Verkhovna Rada has not empowered any experts to carry out any negotiations regarding our Constitution with anyone, especially not with the aggressor country.

The cynicism of this situation does not even lie in the fact that Russia is not ashamed to declare publicly its intention to discuss our Constitution. What is humiliating is that Ukraine immediately agrees to it. And it is worrisome that this has not caused any concern among our international partners. I would like to ask Madame Merkel and Mr. Hollande if they would perhaps like to use this opportunity to discuss the constitutions of Germany and France with Russia as well? In any case, this suddenly also sparked the interest of Mr. Lavrov.

After consideration, why has Russia embarked on this process?

It was Russia that in the Minsk agreements insisted on making amendments to Ukraine’s Constitution by the end of 2015. The only way to “meet” this deadline is to adopt the draft amendments in the first reading by end of August and then in the second reading in a subsequent session of the Verkhovna Rada. In the event there are any changes, the draft Constitution has to go back to the Constitutional Court. Therefore, any changes automatically make the adoption of the amendments impossible by the end of 2015.

So, Russia is interested in the “changes” least of all. Moreover, in the draft for the amendments Russia had obtained everything it wanted, namely the “special status of the Donbas” covered with the fig leaf of “peculiarities of local self-government.”

Then why this farce?

This is to create an additional “artificial” argument “for” adopting the amendments on the order of “you see, Russia is against it.” They want to convince us to support the amendments to the Constitution, and label those “against” as “Kremlin’s agents.”

PS: In this situation one thing pleases me personally: so much effort has been expended to “force” these changes that it is becoming obvious that Russia must be uncertain about the level of support in Ukraine’s parliament for the draft amendments to the Constitution. I hope it will remain Ukrainian. At least by a third — that is the number of votes needed to reject the changes.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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