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Bill 3883 – Ability to remove MPs immunity – Welcome to a Belorussian future

January 17, 2014

As mentioned at the very end of today’s earlier entry, I said I would comment upon a few of the 9 laws voted upon and passed in the RADA over a period of 1 hour and 8 minutes – and without discussion or debate – none of which, it has to be said, do democracy any favours by way of mechanism or outcome in Ukraine.

In fact they form part of a clear road map to a Belorussian future.  The current administration, seemingly have decided that democracy is not something they are particularly keen upon any more.

Amongst that raft of terrible legislation, I will skim over the requirement for NGOs to now include the phrase “public association , which serves as a foreign agent” if receiving assistance, finance or instruction from sources external of Ukraine.

I shall bypass the criminalisation of defamation and thus the neutering of the media because of politically controlled courts that even when truthful and factual articles are presented, can and will be easily ruled against, with defamation charges, convictions and damages to follow as a consequence.

I shall brush past the new requirement of mass media providers on the Internet now requiring licensing, or more than 5 cars in a convey being banned, or the wearing of masks or helmets at protests being outlawed.

I will temporarily omit to commenting upon a new requirement of “permission” rather than “notification” for semi-permanent stages etc at demonstrations, an amnesty law that now includes the Berkyt from prosecution over past actions – all Euromaidan-centric in their purpose.

At least I will for now – though these are all very troubling laws.

Instead I want to concentrate upon the new law authored by Vladimir Oliynik, which whilst not seeking to remove MPs immunity carte blanche, seeks to make it far easier to do so than the current process allows – Of them all, this law worries me the most by far.

Immunity and impunity go hand in hand within the higher echelons of the Ukrainian political elite.

Absolute immunity a constitutional right misused by MPs past and present almost daily, regardless of political party.

A consistent but empty promise by the turkeys that they will indeed vote for Christmas and remove their immunity one day goes back many years – 2009 in this example (where there were more than enough votes to accomplish it initially) – and despite being revisited as recently as 2012, has still to materialise –  unsurprisingly.

Under normal circumstances, some would expect a vocal and consistent advocate for democracy like me to see this new law as a small step in the right direction – and perhaps it would be – except the circumstances and atmosphere in which this law has been introduced makes it much more of a concern than a step in the right direction.

Politics, like comedy, is much to do with timing when it comes to its reception.

I shall acknowledge that this simplifying of the immunity removal procedure, together with another of today’s choice bits of legislation that defines extremism as “interference with or obstruction of the activities of public authorities“, would seem solely aimed at making opposition MPs involved in Euromaidan – which by the above definition is now an extremist entity – easier to arrest and jail, for they are by association and participation “extremists”.

As extremely worrying as that is, this particular law relating to the ease of removing MPs immunity has even greater and disasterous repercussions than many may see initially.

It is why in the last blog entry I deliberately chose to use expression “Belorussian future” when stating I would make a few comments on the new laws.

Law 3883 not only makes it far easier for the ultimate power to jail opposition politicians, civil society actors and the general public – it must also be viewed through a lens that is not in any way Euromaidan-centric.

Looking at the much wider political picture, this new law enables the ultimate power to finally gain absolute control over all of its own MPs – regardless of any oligarchy sponsor those MPs may have.

Eventually, when reality dawns on them, every MP will fear their immunity removed and subsequent prosecution/persecution for numerous nefarious deeds past, present and future (entered into willing or actively coerced),  if not voting as told to by the ultimate power – irrespective of their usually obeyed oligarchical instructions.

Containing the oligarchical influence on politics in Ukraine is a necessity both for democracy on the one hand, and also for an absolute dictatorship on the other.

Should law 3883 pass a second reading and get signed into law, the currently “owned” MPs by various oligarchs will cease to be – subsequently becoming owned by the ultimate power, less they be stripped of their immunity, mandates and ultimately thereafter their assets – with prison terms added for good measure – in double quick time.

Thus whilst the other laws could be removed from the statute books by a change in power, it will be almost impossible to change the power if the power decides to extend its mandate indefinitely/permanently with a compliant and scared parliament on both sides of the political divide, and a neutered oligarchy by extension.

Thereafter, short of an absolute parliamentary coup robustly backed by the oligarchy and society that results in the removal of the ultimate power, a genuine personalised dictatorship exists.

That in turn reduces the chances of a peaceful and negotiated exit for the ultimate power in the future – chances that still exists today, but are greatly reduced each and every time such abysmal and undemocratic laws are passed.

The smaller the chances of a negotiated and peaceful exit for the ultimate power, the more the grim determination to hang on at any cost – and the uncomfortable question of eventual succession.

Thus law 3883 potentially leads to a road map and less than warm welcome of a  Lukashenko’s Belorussian future for Ukraine – unless this law in particular is stopped now.

Now it may well be that the MPs and their oligarch sponsors did not know what they have actually voted for today with Bill 3883.  The entire introduction and subsequent vote (by hand-count) lasted exactly 81 seconds.  I’m not sure I could count 200+ raised hands accurately in 81 seconds, let alone introduce the bill to the legislature prior to that within such a time frame.

Add to that the draft of this law was conspicuous by its absence on government websites yesterday for perusal, it is quite possible nobody knew what they were voting for, or had considered the possible personal repercussions in the future.

Perhaps they voted for it as what they thought – or were told – was a part of a package of measures to end Euromaidan – but Law 3883 has a far greater reach – which hopefully the diplomatic community will be swiftly and robustly explaining to the oligarchy privately, who as a result and with any sense of self-preservation, will instruct their MPs to vote against the law at the second reading considering the unlawful way in which they seem to have been passed – less they consciously want to cede the very real possibility of an absolute dictatorship to which they too will become completely subservient.

I suspect however, they will be signed into law within hours and all will be too late.  The misuse of legislation for autocratic rule, replaced by a legislative platform allowing dictatorship.

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