Commemoration of the Revolution of Dignity, trial in absentia for Maidan cases, and appointment of Constitutional Court judge

During this week, the Verkhovna Rada held plenary meetings and adopted draft bills on a variety of issues. For our digest, we have selected the decisions that will influence the life of Ukrainians the most.

Commemoration of the Revolution of Dignity as important state-building event (2739)

Status: the resolution has been passed.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens.

What does the resolution change: the events of the Revolution of Dignity have been recognized as significant for state-building and defining a pro-European agenda for Ukraine. The resolution also declares the inadmissibility of usurping of power by anyone and stresses the necessity of a comprehensive investigation of Maidan cases.

What is right: the resolution is a legislative act of only political and not regulatory significance since it does not envisage any legally binding consequences. Still, the document will have a positive impact on the interpretation of the events that occurred in the winter of 2013-2014 and which are constantly been misinterpreted and twisted by Russian propaganda and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.

What else: political declarations are a poor substitute for bringing to justice persons guilty of crimes against the participants of the Revolution of Dignity. During the last seven years, many of the suspects have fled the country, the sanctions against some of the top politicians that ruled the country at the time are now lifted because Ukraine failed to present its foreign partners the evidence of their guilt. Some of the Berkut troopers suspected of the crimes were unlawfully released from prison and handed to the Russian Federation as a part of a prisoner exchange. Also, there are multiple reports about evidence gone missing and other troubles with the investigation.

Because of the problems mentioned above and the absence of court decisions in “Maidan cases”, it will be reasonable to create a provisional investigative commission under the Verkhovna Rada in order to ensure transparency of the investigation. Such a commission cannot interfere with justice because after seven years the publicity cannot create additional problems.

The provisional investigative commission has to assess the progress of the investigation and give a political evaluation of the heads of the bodies in charge of the investigation. It is reasonable to ask for bringing to justice persons guilty of losing evidence and check if somebody unduly and deliberately delayed the investigation progress.

Voted for the resolution: 295 votes in favor. Servant of the People — 200, Opposition Platform — For Life — 0, European Solidarity — 24, Batkivshchyna — 20, For the Future — 12, Trust — 16, Holos — 15, independents — 8.

Simplified procedure for trial in absentia of suspects residing abroad or on temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine (2164)

Status: passed in the first reading.

Who is affected: pre-trial investigation bodies, courts, and persons hiding from justice either abroad or on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

What does the bill change: the bill allows investigation and trial in absentia in criminal proceedings concerning persons that reside abroad or on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine on the ground of a warrant and without issuing an INTERPOL notice.

What is right: the bill will remove the obstacle for pre-trial investigation and proceedings in cases when INTERPOL refuses to issue an international warrant notice. Such cases include, among others, Maidan cases where the suspects hide from justice in the Russian Federation or on the temporarily occupied territories.

What is wrong: new rules proposed by the bill are not limited to Maidan cases or cases connected to the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine. As such, they can be used as a tool for political repressions or for putting pressure on businesses.

Alternative solution: while redrafting the bill before the second reading, the application of pre-trial investigation and criminal proceedings in absentia against persons not on an international wanted list should be limited.

Voted for the bill: 299 votes in favor. Servant of the People — 215, Opposition Platform — For Life — 0, European Solidarity — 23, Batkivshchyna — 19, For the Future — 13, Trust — 7, Holos — 13, independents — 9.


Viktor Kychun appointed judge of the Constitutional Court

Status: the decision has been made.

Who is affected: the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens.

What does it change: Viktor Ivanovych Kychun (nominated by the Servant of the People faction) has been appointed judge of the Constitutional Court.

What is right: the Verkhovna Rada has finally appointed a judge of the Constitutional Court. The position was vacant for a long time with a damaging effect on the Court’s work.

What is wrong: Ukraine does not have a transparent procedure for selecting judges of the Constitutional Court. Since there is no public evaluation of the professional qualities and reputation of candidates, the judges applying for positions can ignore such requirements as political neutrality and impartiality.

Viktor Kychun has breached the principle of political neutrality in his speech as a candidate for the judge of the Constitutional Court by repeatedly announcing his political preferences — his preference for liberal democracy. Moreover, in his speech he indicated the following: “If you will appoint me and trust me (with the position — ed.), you will have at least one proponent of deterring the Constitutional Court. I think that we have created a superficial judicial super institution that today de facto dominates our country.”

These words make it doubtful whether the newly appointed judge understands the role of his position. A judge of the Constitutional Court has to ensure the rule of law and guarantee the observance of the Constitution, to act only on the grounds, within the limits of authority, and in the manner envisaged by the Constitution and the law. That does not include limiting or revising the authority of the Constitutional Court by his or her actions. The key task of the Court is to decide on compliance of laws and other regulatory acts with the Constitution and provide the official interpretation of the Constitution, not to limit its authority to fit better into the political climate.

Also, mister Kychun’s words are de facto a declaration of loyalty of the newly appointed judge to the President and his political party that during last months are trying if not to destroy but at least to subdue the Constitutional Court. Thus, it is doubtful that the newly appointed judge meets the requirement of being politically impartial.

Voted for the decision: 241 votes in favor. Servant of the People — 205, For the Future — 10, Trust — 18, independents — 8, Opposition Platform — For Life, European Solidarity, Batkivshchyna, and Holos — 0.

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