Monday, 16 July 2012
Court Ruling Paves Way For Lytvyn Ouster
KIEV, Ukraine -- The Constitutional Court on Thursday announced a ruling that makes it easier for lawmakers to replace the speaker of Parliament. The ruling is a direct threat to Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who now may be quickly replaced with a figure that would be more loyal to the ruling Regions Party. Parliament, which is on summer recess, may hold an emergency session on July 31, the earliest the ruling party may make an attack against Lytvyn, according to people familiar with the plans. The move is seen to be aimed at solving a political crisis which erupted after approval of a recent controversial bill that may introduce Russian as the second state language in many Ukrainian regions. Lytvyn has refused to sign the bill, de-facto blocking it from reaching the office of President Viktor Yanukovych, who must sign it into the law. The bill is seen as benefiting the Regions Party ahead of October elections, but may split the country by languages used by local governments. Lytvyn shortly after the approval of the bill earlier this month announced his resignation, but lawmakers refused to accept it last week. The reason is that the Regions Party would never be able to appoint a new speaker, without cooperation from opposition lawmakers. Parliament’s regulations call for the vote to dismiss or to appoint a speaker would be carried out by secret ballots and at least 300 lawmakers in the 450-seat Parliament would have to participate in the vote. The Regions Party and its allies in Parliament control 250 seats, which means it would not be able to appoint the new speaker, sending the country further down the political crisis. That’s why the Regions Party submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court earlier this week asking if Parliament’s regulation was in line with the constitution. “I think that all lawyers understand that this norm does correspond to the constitution,” Oleksandr Yefremov, the leader of the Regions Party in Parliament, said. “That’s why when Regions party lawmakers made the appeal they made it with full understanding that this norm does not meet the constitution.” It took the court only two days to deliberate on the appeal - unprecedented pace for a court that usually takes at least one month to do that – suggesting the ruling may be rushed and politically motivated. Yanukovych is thought to control the Constitutional Court through loyalist judges that had been appointed to the panel. The court, in a controversial ruling in October 2010, cancelled Ukraine’s 2004 constitution and replaced it with 1996 constitution that dramatically increases powers of Yanukovych. Lytvyn, in a statement on Wednesday, said that the Constitutional Court had no jurisdiction over deciding on a matter that is regulated by Parliament. Lytvyn called for a conciliatory meeting between political groups and language experts to find a compromise. He said that Parliament had committed “immense violations” in approving the bill.