On the matter of “legitimacy” in Ukraine

On the matter of legitimacy, let’s get one thing straight. Viktor Yanukovych was not only a criminal and corrupt, he was actually illegitimate. A few months after being elected more-or-less democratically (the spread was about 2% and was easy enough to fix), he got the Constitutional Court to expand his powers, something this court has no right to do in Ukraine.

The Constitution can only be changed by a 2/3 majority vote in the legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, and he did not have that. Nor did he ever have that in his entire 4 years in office, so he continued to alter the Constitution in a variety of unconstitutional ways.

After that Yanukovych proceeded to chip away at all the country’s legislation, judiciary and parliamentary procedure until the final fiasco on January 16, when draconian measures were “passed” by a 450-seat legislature that had only 119 people present (photo count). Although there weren’t even enough deputies present to open a session, there was a vote by a show of hands. Obviously, they counted both hands and not a few noses to get the 235 vote result that the corrupt oversight committee officially recorded. Incidentally, this same “vote” passed the 2014 state budget, which reduced healthcare to around $6 million and doubled the police budget to more than 10 times that.

In short, Viktor Yanukovych ceased to be legitimate about 3.5 years ago. Ukraine has been left with a damaged Constitution, an almost entirely destroyed court system, and legislation that has so many holes in it that it would qualify as a lace doily.

The extent of political, legal and financial corruption in Ukraine cannot be fathomed. A recent audit suggested that $70 billion was being siphoned out of state coffers into private pockets. Yanukovych’s elder son, a DENTIST, increased his worth by over 7,200% in the course of three years. (No that number does not have an excess zero!) As an example, he was given 50% of all state procurement contracts this past January, on a non-competitive basis.

Meanwhile, the legislature sitting in Kyiv is exactly the same legislature (minus a handful of deputies who have fled the country because they were too closely associated with the ousted president) that was properly elected in 2012, so it’s not entirely clear why its legitimacy is being questioned by anyone except Russia. No new deputies have been seated to replace them. Right now, most of the Rada’s decisions are being approved by a near-Constitutional majority, suggesting that most of the seated parties are keen to see the country move forward and to have clean decisions. On Feb. 21, this legislature essentially fired Yanukovych for dereliction of duty: He was supposed to sign the reversal of his illegitimate changes to the Constitution within 24 hours but went awol instead. Afterwards, the Rada appointed a new Government, which is its constitutional right. In the absence of a president, the Speaker of the legislature becomes acting president until a new president is elected.

Any more questions about the “legitimacy” of Ukraine’s current government?

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