Archive for April 22nd, 2010

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From the fringe to the centre…….Eduard Bahirov Human Rights Activist

April 22, 2010

Well dear readers, President Yanukovych made human rights his personal area of interest when becoming President…….which would explain Ukrain now wading through a pile of European Court of Human Rights rulings that were not dealt with by the last administration.

However it seems not enough to deal with the historical backlog for President Yanukovych.  It seems proactive measures are also high on his agenda and thus he has now appointed Eduard Bahirov (Human Rights Activist) to a senior position in Ukraine…….whereas 50 years ago the chap would have been cooling his heels in a gulag in Siberia…..or worse!

The Interior Ministery introduced the well-known human rights activist and new head of the public council at the Interior Ministry, Eduard Bahirov, to the staff of the ministry. .

“We must do everything to protect human rights, [and] observe democratic principles in our country,” the press service cited Yanukovych as saying.

Now this chap, Mr Bahirov has been highly critical of Russia, Ukraine (and the USSR when it existed) historically with regards to Human Rights.  He is head of the International League of Protection the Rights of Ukrainian citizens, a particularly vocal group and author of a book called “Gastarbajter“…….which doesn’t pull its punches……albeit a novel rather than direct criticism.

However, he is not slow in coming forward when it comes to direct criticism either in the media.

This seems to be a very brave move by President Yanukovych as Mr Bahirov will not be a “Yes Man” or silent over issues which he has campaigned about for years.

I would anticipate some gradual changes within Ukraine on human rights, not only as it is the President’s pet project……but having appointed a human rights activist to a position of power and unlimited press access…….to keep him quiet things simply will have to improve.

It can only be seen as a very positive appointment.

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Russian Black Sea Fleet looks set to remain in Ukraine after 2017

April 22, 2010

Interfax-Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych said Ukraine will receive around $40 billion worth of gas as Russian assistance as a part of a deal made on Apr. 21 in Kharkiv. Ukraine will also get $100 discount when it buys gas at $330 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Russia and Ukraine also signed an agreement opening the way for the Russian Black Sea Fleet to keep its bases in the Ukrainian region of Crimea after 2017, when the current lease agreement expires. Russia’s fleet in Sevastopol will be able to stay an additional 25 years, with the option to extend the lease for five more years after the new term expires.

 

Well dear readers, fairly good news in the short to medium term for a struggling economy on the gas front…….and with the expected trade off of the lease extention of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

The original lease which expires in 2017 was written pre the Ukrainian Constitution which bans the presense of foreign troops on Ukrainian soil.

Therefore when the Ukrainian Constitution was written banning foreign troops on the soil of Ukraine, the existing lease with the Russian Black Sea Fleet had to be respected as a pre-exiting contract…….which is fair enough and legally correct.

The issue comes with the legal ways to extend this lease under the rules of the Constitution.

Would an extention to a legal lease granted prior to the writing of the Constitution be unconstitutional if there is a clause in that lease (like most leases) to extend it?

If extending a lease written prior to the Constitution is legal then no problem but if it is unconstitutional then the current administration has to get this through the RADA to change the Constitution…….which is not as easy as it sounds.

It has to get through the RADA twice, firstly with a simply majority of 226 votes in favour which the current administration can do with ease, considering their 241 MPs.

The second round of voting though requires 300 MPs in favour to change the Constitution……..which is a massive task despite some noises from senior opposition people that they may vote in favour also…….as I have previously posted…….somewhere in the historical posts.

However, given the historical announcements by Yushenko when he was President, he stated he would not extend the lease……infering he had the power to do so but would not.  Therefore I suppose both he and President Yanukovych believe it was in their power to extend…..or not……the lease without Constitutional change.

Of course given the choice of cheaper gas for a few years and keeping the Russian Black Sea Fleet for another 25 years, many Ukrainians will take the cheap gas every time…….because life is hard enough financially at the moment.  Fair enough.

Personally I would rather pay a higher gas price, not because I am anti-Russian……I’m not…….I really liked living in Moscow…….and I know 25 years is a very short period of time when all is said and done……..but I personally would like a militarilly neutral Ukraine, happy to work with Russia, NATO the UN or anyone else if there is a bilateral interest to do so……such as piracy or international peacekeeping.

We will see how this develops, expect the usual calls for impeachment or challenges as unconstitutional from the opposition……maybe rightly……and it will be interesting to see the response from the EU, NATO and the US by way of official comment.

http://www.newsy.com/videos/ukraine-and-russia-strike-natural-gas-deal

Me thinks the devil is in the detail of the original lease when it comes to any extentions and who can give them…….considering it was written before the Constitution and has been accepted as a legal lease since the Constitution was created.

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