Posts Tagged ‘elections 2012’


Igor Markov has RADA MP status removed – Unconstitutional?

September 14, 2013

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about the particularly dirty election campaign for the RADA seat for Kyivsky Rayon in Odessa.

It is possibly now somewhat required background reading when understanding events yesterday that resulted in my neighbour Igor Markov being deselected as RADA MP for the Kyivsky Rayon of Odessa by a decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine.

For the sake of transparency, I will again make a disclosure that I know Igor Markov.  Not only is he a neighbour, he is also the man I bought my home from.   As a man he is quite amiable and though I may not agree with his political views or many of his policies, I am grown up enough to be able to separate the person from the politics/issues/policies.  Thus whilst liking him, I can and do disagree with his position on many things.

As Aristotle perfectly stated “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Anyway, the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine ruled that there had been election fraud relating to the RADA seat to which Mr Markov was elected and ordered the Central Election Commission to remove his deputy mandate and arrange new elections.

The claim being that 6038 ballot papers had been tampered with by employing disappearing ink at ballot stations and that Mr Markov’s closest rival, Party of Regions Alexey Goncharenko (whom I also know to make a further and necessary disclosure) finished 5160 votes behind.

Perhaps all this is true – although on the presumption that Mr Markov knew personally of the shenanigans relating to disappearing ink,  quite how this was manipulated by Markov to his advantage  is unclear.  It would surely involve others, presumably within the regional representatives of the Central Election Committee for any disappearing ticks or crosses in appropriate boxes to be “reallocated” in his favour – and yet no criminal proceeding have been launched against either Mr Markov or any election supervision.

In fact, the Supreme Administrative Court ruling does not bar Mr Markov from running in any reelection campaign or bar him from public office in the future either.

Yet according to Article 81 of the Constitution of Ukraine an elected Deputy’s mandate can only be removed as follows:

Article 81. The powers of the people’s deputies of Ukraine shall terminate simultaneously with the termination of the powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

The powers of a people’s deputy of Ukraine shall be subject to early termination in the event of:

1) resignation by virtue of a personal statement;

2) guilty verdict against him/her entering into legal force;

3) court declaring them legally incapable or missing;

4) termination of his citizenship or his departure from Ukraine for permanent residence abroad;

5) his/her death.

A decision about early termination of a peoples deputy’s powers shall be adopted by the majority of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

In case of failure to fulfill the condition on the incongruity of peoples deputy’s mandate with other types of activities the powers of the peoples deputy of Ukraine shall be early terminated under the Law and upon the decision of the court.”

Prima facie, the above appears to state that regardless of any shenanigans obtaining a political mandate, once it is accepted by an MP, no Ukrainian court in the land can rule it invalid – lest the MP in question be either physically  incapable of carrying out their duties and/or certified insane – And to be fair to Mr Markov, when last I saw him he was as fit as the proverbial flee and fully compos mentis.

Thus nowhere in Article 81 does there seem solid legal grounds for the Supreme Administrative Court to instruct the removal of Mr Markov’s MP status if the Constitution is deemed to be the supreme law of the land.  In short, one has to ask if this court decision is indeed constitutional – regardless of any previous fraud allegations having any merit.

Although I have yet to see Mr Markov since this court decision, I understand that this decision will be appealed at the ECfHR in Strasbourg with immediate effect – and perhaps rightly reading Article 81.

All of this said, I have to say that the explanations for this action occurring now as put forward by Mr Markov seem somewhat thin.  He claims that it is a result of his pro-Russian position in relation to the EU.  That however, has always been the case.  He is the leader of the fairly long-standing and established Party Rodina in Odessa, which can be generally described as a pro-Russia party.

The ruling majority can certainly suffer the pro-Russian political positions of Mr Markov when they have opposition support for all legislation that is pro-EU.  His singular vote will not change the direction of the RADA or the dynamics within.

It would seem a very disproportionate instruction from “the top” to the Supreme Administrative Court to take this action – unless there is either genuinely a case and it is somehow deemed constitutional, or there are other indirect  “opaque issues” that dictate this action for reasons yet to become apparent.

And so to what happens next?

If there are to be new elections for the Kyivsky Rayon, there is nothing to stop Mr Markov running in them given the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court.  He was genuinely popular – as was Mr Goncharenko as the results rightly identified (making allowances for for the dirty campaign).  It was always a two horse race.

It remains to be seen if he will run again (if he has to) – or indeed if Mr Goncharneko would run either – providing for the possible specter of some preferred Party of Regions candidate being parachuted in to run for the seat to the determent of both.

Perhaps he will be privately informed to take it on the chin to save his business interests coming under pressure – perhaps they will come under pressure anyway.

That said, the people of Odessa do not take kindly to those “parachuted in” and have always preferred local politicians with a local history.

Unfortunately for the oppositions parties, because the people of Odessa do not take kindly to “parachuted candidates”, it is unlikely to offer them any hope of winning this seat as they simply do not have local politicians with a high enough profile to take the seat.

Whatever the outcome, a RADA seat that was subject to a very dirty campaign remains in the mire some 12 months later.

Perhaps we will see Party Rodina under SBU scrutiny as a threat to National Security in the near future?  I am quite sure, given yesterday’s post, we could rely on Mr Kyrylenko to do the necessary paperwork!


Buying off the bloggers – Ukraine

July 17, 2013

Now here is an interesting little article relating to politicians and political parties buying off the blogosphere at election time in Ukraine.

Would I sell my integrity and that of this blog (or any of my others) for $500 to write something unconditionally  pro or anti any particular Ukrainian political party?

Certainly not – particularly as this blog has been running for years and has both lauded and condemned all parties equally, dependent upon any policy being both good and effective, OK but ineffective or simply awful and counterproductive – I believe some readers would notice any change and know I had sold out.

Also, it has to be said, as a Chatham House member, remaining impartial and objective in my commentary is expected – not that anything I write here can or should be attributed to any memberships or affiliations I may have anyway!

When the political parties of Ukraine generally provide voters a choice between a stick or a fork in the eye, any neutral blog such as this would struggle desperately to unconditionally promote any party when taking policy – or significant lack thereof – into consideration.  That is notwithstanding the shenanigans surrounding the internal workings of all the political parties, or the overriding self-interest of the vast majority of the party members – regardless of party.

$500?  My integrity is worth far, far more than that!


ODIHR/OSCE final election report – Ukraine

January 5, 2013

Eventually the OSCE/ODIHR report on the Ukrainian elections from October has been published – 3 days into the 2013 Ukrainian Chairmanship of OSCE.

The report received a measured response from Ukraine, which naturally promised to work with the organsiation it is now chairing for the next 12 months, to improve the electoral legislation still further.

Of the 43 presidential, parliamentary, legislative elections and referendums scheduled for 2013 globally (at the time of writing), from within the 57 OSCE members, 13 of those elections occur within OSCE nations – including some lesser beacons of democratic transparency such as Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Georgia – as well as far better examples of transparency, such as Germany, Norway and Austria.

Ergo, as 2013 OSCE Chair, one would expect that Ukraine to send election observers to each and every OSCE nation holding elections – and thus to have no excuses when it comes to witnessing the good, the bad, and quite possibly the ugly, and learn from them.

Quite how what will be learned, how it will be employed, and to what ends, however, remains to be seen – possibly simply far more subtle cheating than last time!


New parliament but all the parties are tainted by corrupt members

December 7, 2012

The Ukrainian NGO  Чесно or “Chesno” which has made a pretty good attempt at identifying each RADA MP in the previous parliament with their numerous personal integrity failings in the past, be they issues of swapping political parties, corruption, illegal voting, being oligarchy puppets etc., etc, and has arrived at a similar graphic display for the new parliament, which is as yet to take up its role.

Even the new parties that have never been in the Ukrainian parliament before are not without their nefarious members – due to the fact that politics in Ukraine is not run by ideology but by individual MPs political survival, and thus any party will do if you are a politician who is up for reelection as long as that party will offer you a better chance with them of being reelected.

The net result? – Every party in the next parliament is tainted by previously perceived corrupt MPs amongst their ranks.

In short, of the 450 RADA MPs that form the new Ukrainian parliament, 331 have been previously named and shamed for their nefarious activities.  One can only presume that the remaining 119 thus far untainted MPs, will soon learn the rules of the integrity-less cesspit they are about to enter.

Who wants to place a bet that by 2017 when the next parliamentary elections occur, Chesno will have a figure far higher than the 331 mired MPs which begin this parliament as already tainted?  Will more than a handful actually manage to remain clean throughout the next 5 years of the new parliament?

(Oh and before I sign off for the day, remember this I wrote a few days ago relating to the 2013 budget?  Well today it was passed by the out-going parliament as I intimated it would be, with 242 votes in favour.  The vote breakdown was PoR 187, People’s Party 20, OU-PSD 5, Reforms for the Future Party 19 and a total of 11 independents in favour of the 2013 budget and 69 votes against.)


A best guess or pie in the sky? Ukrainian budget 2013

December 5, 2012

Although I studied economics as part of a degree in Business Management and Finance many moons ago, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was not exactly the most interesting of subjects, and one in which I had to motivate myself to maintain a respectable overall end grade.

The fact it is not an exact science, or indeed given recent events with a vast and very varied set of opinions from both well known and hitherto unknown “economists” and little else other than opinions since 2008, would suggest that to many it is not even a science but simply partially educated guesswork.  I make no comment!

Anyway, as is required by law, the Ukrainian budget for 2013 has to be agreed by the RADA before 2013 – which makes sense – other than due to the parliamentary elections and associated shenanigans which dragged the process on and on, the legally required resignations of the current Cabinet of Ministers due to said parliamentary elections and the soon to be appointed new Cabinet of Ministers,  on-going IMF negotiations by Cabinet Ministers who have now resigned and may have little authority by next week despite negotiating now, the gas price from Russia etc., etc., the 2013 budget will be something of a rush job with little time for debate in the RADA and quite possibly little or no responsibility for those who table it should they be dropped from the next Cabinet of Ministers.

Something of a mess procedurally when it comes to time-lines and that is without going into the proposed 2013 budget which is some 461 pages long, all of which are splattered with columns and columns of numbers, issued to a RADA membership some of which will not be RADA members next week and unseen by some successful candidates that will be RADA members next week.

Those personnel changes could even affect the composition of the Budget Committee that has submitted the budget proposal for 2013.

From what I have gleaned from those who have seen the draft budget, the government intends to continue to subsidise gas prices to consumers in 2013.  A stance that will make the on-going IMF negotiations very difficult, particularly as I understand that the gas price foreseen in the budget works on today’s pricing of $417 per 1000 cubic meters of gas.  That will mean the government will have to find UAH 21.5 billion ($2.7 billion) to cover the difference between purchase price from Russia and sale price to the Ukrainian consumer.  Ouch!

Further, an envisaged inflation rate of just over 6% and a US$ to UAH exchange rate of no more than 8.5 are foundations for the entirety of the 2013 budget.  Wishful thinking in both cases!

Possibly even worse, is that this budget is to go to the RADA tomorrow, and that means the almost disbanded current parliamentary assembly may well just vote it through as their very last act before the new parliament sits for the first time.  That, when amongst the current RADA members very few have seen it, and I strongly suspect given the average IQ amongst RADA deputies, hardly any will understand it, thus it seems fraught with danger or nefarious intentions – not that the new parliament will radically raise the IQ level of the parliamentarians or their understanding of budgetary matters.

The question therefore must be, given that the 2013 budget is supposed to be the economic blueprint for Ukraine next year – why the rush to get it finalised at the start of December and with an old parliament when there is the entire month to debate and tinker with it with the new parliament?


Ukrainian OSCE Chairmanship

November 15, 2012

Ukraine officially takes over the chairmanship of OSCE on 6/7th December 2012 at the OSCE ministerial council meeting in Dublin, when Ireland hands over, and will thus chair OSCE through 2013.

That on the back of some robust criticism by OSCE of the recent Ukrainian parliamentary elections – their final and authoritative report on said elections unlikely to be published before the OSCE chairmanship handover.

Also unlikely before Ukraine takes over the OSCE chairmanship is the swearing in of the new parliament subject to the recent elections and OSCE monitoring, which will be no sooner than 10th December and is more likely be 17th December.

One wonders if the 5 constituency seats that are to be re-run will also have taken place by 6/7th December as well – maybe, maybe not.

One cannot help but see some irony in the timing of all this.

Anyway, the Ukrainian agenda for its chairing of OSCE in 2013 is broadly outlined here.

In the mean time, today, the EU/Ukrainian cooperation committee meets in Brussels.  On that agenda – political dialogue, justice, freedoms, security, visa regimes, economics, energy and trade – much to go at there!


“The Opposition” – looking forward

November 14, 2012

So the opposition parties in Ukraine have accepted the election results as called by the CEC, with the exception of 5 seats that are to be re-run.  One presumes that having done so, the call for the elections to “represent the genuine will of the Ukrainian voters” as per the EU press statement of two days ago has at least been met – if that is all that has been met.

Thus 5 more years of opposition awaits them beginning sometime mid-December 2012 when the new RADA gets sworn in.

Not that the opposition is united over the idea of accepting the CEC results.  Anatoliy Hrytsenko who has advocated not taking up the opposition mandates en masse for weeks still believes that is the right course of action for the opposition parties a position I outlined last week.

In fact, Mr Hrytsenko has refused to sign a document drafted amongst the opposition parties relating to opposition strategy and goals in the forthcoming parliament, as his blog makes clear.

Further, despite the damning language used in the preamble to the opposition strategy and goals statement in the link above, on twitter at the very same time the opposition direction was being published, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, another opposition leader wrote:


 Я вдячний особисто кожному,хто був біля ЦВК ці 8 днів і ночей.Не все вийшло як гадалося,але це перший крок,зроблений для майбутніх перемог.” – 9:00 PM – 12 Nov 12

In short, he personally thanks everyone the CEC despite the fact things didn’t happen as smoothly as they could have.

Not a particularly promising or united start when all opposition parties do not feel able to sign up to the agreed strategies and goals or rally behind statements condemning the CEC.

That said, when looking at the opposition goals, worthy or not as they may be, the opposition clearly have not got to grips with what being in opposition means – and that is that they are the minority – thus very rarely will they have sufficient cross party support to pass any laws or amendments to laws that they want to.

Their demands, if presented as demands, will simply be rebuffed.  They will need to be far more nimble, sly and persuasive to achieve any goals they set given the fact they are the minority.  Timing is also crucial as to what and when they submit anything for consideration – something I will come on to.

So let us look at their stated goals, none of which appear deliverable from the opposition benches.

The impeachment of President Yanukovych.  Firstly there is currently no mechanism to impeach a Ukrainian president.  Therefore a law must first be drafted, then adopted – meaning 226 RADA MPs or more must vote for it, a number the opposition parties fall far short of – and then signed by the president and published before it can come into effect.

Any new law could hardly be applied retrospectively if the opposition were to expect any support from the international community.

However, if such a law is to stand any chance of becoming reality, the timing of its submission to the RADA for consideration is crucial.  To simply go away now, draft it, submit it and expect it to pass so soon after an election the opposition lost would be stupid.  More guile is needed than that.

You will recall not long ago I wrote about the “Who’s in and who’s out” within the Party of Regions structure.  For such a law as one creating a method to impeach a president to get through the RADA, it would require some support from within the PoR/Communist coalition.  That will mean the support of those “who are out” and those who are controlled by “those who are out”.

If Poroshenko and Khoroshkovsky are still out when such a law is presented to the RADA, given their considerable media holdings and wealth, should such a law be proposed much closer to the presidential elections, it may find some unlikely and very public support.

Add to that the large number of “independent MPs” about to enter the RADA that were financed by the oligarchy from both sides in their campaigns, those MPs are far more likely to tow the line of their oligarchy sponsors than that of the president.

If the wrong noses are out of joint close to the presidential elections, then that is likely to be the optimum time to submit a law outlining a method of presidential impeachment.  It would stand far more chance of gaining maximum publicity and covert oligarchy support via their owned “independent MPs”.

That does not take into account any international meddling and supportive noises towards any rich and powerful PoR politicians currently “out” who may consider running against Yanukovych themselves – with or without PoR party mandate.  Such meddling if it comes, will not become energetic until much closer to the presidential elections as it is only then that the abilities of the “in’s” and “out’s” are obvious when it comes to “external support”.

Naturally, I do not expect the feckless opposition to consider such things.  I anticipate a draft law on presidential impeachment submitting almost immediately, thus rebuffed, and for the opposition to say “Well, we tried”.  Another false dawn for their voters.

Next they propose to release Yulia Tymoshenko and other political prisoners – somehow.  It is already clear that the only way she (and others) will be released is via an ECfHR ruling demanding her release.  Should she be released it will have absolutely nothing to do with the opposition, but the discharge of the obligations of Ukraine to the ECfHR.  There is no guarantee that Ukraine will discharge its obligations to the ECfHR any more than any other nation does – and many don’t.

They also want an electoral system with open lists.  Quite right – but in this last election the party lists were made public as to who stood in what numbered position on the party list.  The constituency seats by their very nature were open and people knew who they were voting for.

Ergo, if Party X won 50 seats by proportional representation, I can look at the published list and know that those candidates numbered 1 – 50 will now be RADA MPs – plus those from Party X who won constituency seats.  That seems to me to be quite open already.

Then we have a list of heads the opposition wish to sever.  The Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs, heads of all law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General etc.  Simply wishful thinking, as the only way those people will go is if they either fall out of favour with the presidential administration, or the opposition had won – which they didn’t.

Gaining cross party support to remove these people would probably prove far harder than gaining support for a well timed impeachment law, as nobody within the PoR has anything to gain by their removal unless they happen to be next in line for those particular thrones.

Next, the personal attendance at the RADA of MPs if they are to vote for a bill.  This is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle, but it is a principle that I certainly support 100%.  At present there is a cross party tradition of all colours and political persuasion, with very few exceptions when it comes to specific MPs, that their voting cards are given to others if they cannot or will not attend the RADA to vote in person, so that their vote is cast.

It is known here as “piano playing” when MPs run around the voting terminals with other MPs voting cards in order to register the votes of those absent for whatever reason.

Some leaders of the opposition who have signed up to this strategy are historically guilty of this themselves and thus they will henceforth have to lead by example or be very quickly named and shamed I suspect.

Last but not least, the usual drafting of anti-corruption legislation of which there is plenty already – it is just not effectively implemented.  More anti-corruption legislation will change nothing.  A drive to effectively implement what already exists would go a long way though.

And that is the opposition strategy and goals looking forwards according to the opposition themselves.  All of which quite clearly cannot be achieved – at least on their own – and so feckless are they that I do not expect them to have the patience or cunning to build solid support with those on the other side to get any of it done.  Especially so when Yatseniuk, Klitschko and Tyahnybok will have one eye on the 2015 presidential elections and cannot afford to stand in the shadows of one another for too long.


Ukrainian elections the best of the post-Soviet nations? Setting low standards and failing to achieve them

November 10, 2012

According to MEP Pawel Kowal, head of the European Parliament’s Observer Mission for the Ukrainian elections when speaking at the European Parliament Committee for Foreign Affairs  a few days ago, the Ukrainian elections were the best of those held by post-Soviet nations.

For a man who should be used to being very careful with his words, that seems something of a careless statement.  I am quite sure Estonia, Latvia and Lithuanian, now EU members, would certainly disagree.

Perhaps he meant post-Soviet nations that remain outside the EU – but that is not what he said – careless!

So let’s have a look at the benchmark for such a statement.  Who exactly has Ukraine to beat in democratic standards to have the best elections in the post-Soviet block (excluding those now in the EU)?

Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The bar is not exactly set very high to be the best of a bad lot now is it?

Surely if comparisons have to be made – and I see no reason that they do need to be made considering OSCE has a solid framework for such things against which all OSCE nations are scored – it would be better to position Ukraine against the worst, but tolerable examples of electioneering from within the EU nations when it comes to “benchmarking”.  That at least would show the minimum distance Ukraine still has to travel.

It is surely better to be the worst of a good bunch that makes the grade, than the best of a bad one that doesn’t.

That said, to be the worst of a bad bunch takes some doing.

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