Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Court Rejects Lawsuit Against Yanukovych
KIEV, Ukraine -- A class-action lawsuit filed by an opposition leader and backed by 500,000 people seeking to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office was rejected by the High Administrative Court on Friday. The lawsuit, filed by Arseniy Yatseniuk, sought to punish Yanukovych for “usurpation of power” following controversial changes to the constitution in October 2010 that granted the president massive powers he had never had when he was elected in February 2010. “Judge M. M. Oleksiyenko approved the ruling on Sept. 7 to return the lawsuit back to the plaintiff,” the court said in a statement on Friday. The judge argued the lawsuit lacked reasoning to prove there were violations in the first place. The ruling is a setback for Yatseniuk, who leads Batkivshchyna, the largest opposition group, for parliamentary elections on October 28. But the developments now open way for the opposition group to file the lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights. It may also be used by the opposition group to call on their supporters to take to the streets for anti-Yanukovych protests. Yatseniuk filed the lawsuit on August 20, but the High Administrative Court had asked the plaintiff to submit additional evidence indicating the case must be heard. Yatseniuk submitted the additional papers on Thursday, along with a petition signed by 500,000 people across Ukraine seeking to join the lawsuit. The lawsuit attacked the constitutional amendments that had reshaped political system in Ukraine overnight by dramatically increasing presidential powers, allowing the power to dismiss the prime minister, to appoint and to dismiss ministers of the Cabinet. Supporting the lawsuit was evidence submitted by a former judge of the Constitutional Court that had claimed the presidential administration has put pressure on judges at the court to force the amendments through. The amendments made Yanukovych the dominant political authority in Ukraine. A separate judicial reform, drafted and launched by the presidential administration in 2010, had also allowed Yanukovych to de-facto increase his influence over courts and the country’s legal system. Yanukovych loyalists dismissed merits of the lawsuit as purely political and probably aimed at energizing opposition supporters ahead of the October 28 parliamentary elections. After the ruling was approved on Friday, the High Administrative Court told the opposition group Batkivshchyna to remove more than 200 boxes with names of people that had signed the petition to join the lawsuit. The boxes, which were unloaded in front of the court on Thursday, and the court said it “could not assume responsibility for keeping” them because they were not properly registered with the court.