As an Orthodox tradition person, I never celebrate Halloween. But I have a completely normal attitude to those who accepted this new holiday. This year, the coming night of horrors is felt not only in the piles of pumpkins on shelves and in shop windows. In addition to the epidemiological, economic and security crisis, our country is plunging into the darkness of a constitutional crisis.
For all of you, it is obvious without further ado what our team could think about the decision of the Constitutional Court. A team that consciously introduced the toughest in Europe electronic declaration of assets of high-ranking officials with a criminal liability. A team that established the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. A team that, basing on transparent competitions approved by international experts, renewed the Supreme Court, and formed and launched the Anti-Corruption Court. And that handed this system over to the new authorities, as I have earlier said, in a completely operational condition. And that, according to international experts, ensured more reforms in five years than it was done in the previous quarter of a century.
All steps made by our team are a part of our European choice and have allowed Ukrainians to obtain a visa-free regime with the European Union and to implement the Association Agreement. The Court decision jeopardizes one of the main achievements.
However, you are being cynically fooled by those who try to put all the blame only on the Constitutional Court. The Court was just to write the decision, but this whole scenario was masterminded elsewhere.
Let me remind you if someone has forgotten. The talk about a threat of losing the visa-free regime first appeared earlier last month, when Zelenskiy undermined the independence of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. The commission on electing a new head of the SAPO Bankova constituted from loyal people exclusively. We do our e-declaring for the fifth consecutive year, and the “Servants” do it for the first time, and they are very nervous now.
Zelenskiy’s team wages constant attacks against NABU, both through the parliament and courts, and through harassment in the media. It is Zelenskiy’s team that created an atmosphere of intolerance in the society towards the anti-corruption bodies, and this is something indeed that was also felt in the Constitutional Court.
And finally, here comes the top on the cake. The petition to the Constitutional Court against the e-declarations was issued not only by “the Opposition Platform – For Life”, but also by the group “For the Future”. This group belongs utterly and completely to Kolomoisky, Zelenskiy’s close business and political partner.
Facts are stubborn things. And they cannot help but conclude that Zelenskiy’s bill, a completely unconstitutional and usurpatory one, has nothing to do with the fight against corruption. The only thing he seeks is to establish a pocket Constitutional Court, which will then recognize as constitutional every Bankova initiative to build in Ukraine a dictatorship of amateurs, ignorants and kleptocrats.
This way authoritarian regimes in Belarus, Russia and Central Asia were being built. But why going that far? It was because of a “one hundred percent his own” Constitutional Court that Yanukovych vested dictatorial powers upon himself. Those powers got him strangled, and now he spends the rest of his life in a country side near Moscow.
What should Zelenskiy do to make society believe him?
- To read the Constitution and to return to the legal framework.
- To impress us with a transparent competition and high-quality candidates for already vacant positions in the Constitutional Court.
- To organize transparent, not fake competitions for the heads of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigations.
- To continue judicial reform in the middle appeal and lower levels of judiciary.
- And what is of utmost importance and urgency. To submit and pass without delay a law that would restore a strict e-declaring and criminal liability for intentional concealment of information on real property assets. It would solve all problems. We have already developed our draft bill, and we could submit it as an alternative.
To get out of the constitutional crisis, in which Zelenskiy plunged the country, he should immediately meet with the leaders of parliamentary factions. Personally I am ready to help him find a way out of the situation exclusively in the legal framework. The President has no right to dissolve the Constitutional Court, neither by the law nor the Constitution. He has the right to dissolve only the parliament, and only on the grounds envisaged by the Constitution.
The fight against corruption is part of our European strategy. It remains of our absolute priority. Therefore, we must do everything to restore the independence of the anti-corruption infrastructure. And the parliament could do it at a pretty quick pace.
But democracy is also part of our civilized European choice. And the way to solve the problem that was proposed by Zelenskiy leads us in a completely different direction. It has nothing to do with the fight against corruption. They are trying to deceive you. He is fighting for an absolute power unrestricted by anyone and anything. To play into his hands with this is to drag the country into a national catastrophe. We will definitely not allow this to happen!