Well, the RADA holidays have begun, and the last week was a particularly busy week for the first readings and passings of new laws, many of which are poorly written, open to nefarious interpretations and corruption and some seemingly unworkable in practice.
This was allowed to happen because the United Opposition parties allowed themselves to be solely focused on the language law which raises the 18 minority languages of Ukraine to that of regional language status, meaning local authorities could use them in written official local authority business.
To be quite frank, the ability for a regional authority to reply or make proclamations in those languages in writing alongside (not instead of) Ukrainian would really be the only change from the introduction of such a law. All other issues such as politicians, civil servants and regional administrations speaking in those languages to their regional populous, tv broadcasting, schooling etc was de facto anyway. The new law would make it de jure in those regions that qualified. As the statistics gathered over the past 10 years show, most Ukrainians don’t consider language a major issue anyway.
Meanwhile, whilst an outraged opposition gathered their 1000 or so protesters, which either underlines the fact that most Ukrainians aren’t that bothered over the language issue as seems statistically the case historically, or the fact that the opposition really is incapable of generating any serious form of public rally, the RADA pushed through some very poor laws in their absence – dozens in fact (although amongst that number they range from good, to indifferent to bad).
I should perhaps also point out that the language law is still not law. For it to become so, the Speaker of the RADA must sign the bill and then send it to the President who must sign it and publish it. None of this has happened as yet, and the RADA is now on holiday until the middle of September, at which point it returns with a parliamentary election at the end of October.
As an aside, the Speaker, Mr Lytvyn and his party, although allied to the majority PoR, comes from a region where Ukrainian is mostly spoken. Threatening to resign and standing firm in refusing to sign the law, thus preventing it from reaching the president, will no doubt do him some good with his voters with elections coming in October. If so, then his 44 MPs (if they all survive the electoral vote – and it should be noted 20 voted for the language bill) will be invaluable to the PoR who may just survive as the majority. Time for the spin doctors to do their magic!
So whilst the outraged and distracted opposition and their supporters were exchanging pepper and CS spray with the police, numerous other laws were getting through their readings in the RADA unhindered.
Scratching the surface of what went through the RADA whilst the opposition were distracted, a very poorly written law on cashless transactions (e-banking/commerce) made its way through, a very corruption prone law on State procurement followed, a possibly coercive law on leased land and State cancellation of leases, a law defining what are charities, what spheres charities are recognised to work in, banning charities and philanthropy from having any political influence or engagement in political campaigning, amendment to the tax code prescribing upfront tax payments rather than retrospective collection against audited accounts, the removal of MPs immunity, as well as several other things such as allowing CCTV cameras in electoral polling stations.
All this whilst the opposition and 1000 supporters were elsewhere accomplishing very little as the Speaker (and Deputy) had refused to sign the language law allowing it to go to the President for signature anyway. In effect they were protesting a law that is not (yet at least) law.
It may never become law even if the current government wins the next election as I strongly suspect they will need Mr Lytvyn and party to remain loyal to keep the majority and he won’t sign it, plus as it is badly written, it may well get sent back to parliament by the president for further work anyway – if it ever reaches him.
Now, all these other laws have passed. Too late to even go on record as opposing them by way of registered votes, let alone attempts to defeat them.
Who are the strategists within the opposition to seemingly allow themselves to be outsmarted again? Are they sure they want to rally around the language law for electoral purposes when it matters so little to the majority of Ukrainians compared to a dozen or more things the public rank as more urgent in opinion polls?
It’s a time for cool heads and and clever strategy within the United Opposition to form policy and implementation plans for the top priorities of the entire country, not a nationalist rallying around a law that does not exist yet and barely registers with the public amongst issues needing urgent attention.
That said, are such easily duped politicians deserving of office anyway?