Ukraine court reverses Orange Revolution, hands president more power
Ukraine's Constitutional Court essentially nullified the amendments that paved the way for greater democracy after the Orange Revolution, giving the pro-Russia president greater powers.
Ukraine's Constitutional Court handed down a politically explosive ruling Friday, declaring "illegal" a complex deal that peacefully ended the Orange Revolution six years ago by redistributing power from the presidency to the more broadly based parliament.Skip to next paragraph
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Supporters say Ukraine needs a strong hand to guide it through economic and political crisis. But critics say the decision will enable President Viktor Yanukovich, who was elected in a hard-fought contest in February this year, to rapidly consolidate power and carry out a far-reaching political agenda.
That agenda has included repairing Ukraine's tattered relations with Moscow, ending its bid to join the Western military alliance NATO, and perhaps seeking to give Russian – spoken by nearly half of Ukrainians – official language status.
"This is disastrous. It will make Ukraine look more like its eastern neighbors, like Belarus or Uzbekistan, and eliminate the checks and balances," says Volodymir Horbach, an analyst with the independent Institute of Euro-Atlantic Integration in Kiev. "The sovereignty of the Ukrainian people has been trampled, and our people will have real cause for popular revolt."
'A political nuclear weapon'
It may also lead to a fresh outburst of political strife. Opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko told a Kiev press conference Friday that if the decision is carried out, the Ukrainian state would be on the road to collapse.
"Ukraine is now outside the bounds of political and legislative culture and has stopped being a part of democratic civilization," said Ms. Tymoshenko, who was narrowly defeated by Mr. Yanukovich earlier this year. "It displays anti-Constitutional madness on the part of our authorities, who have decided that law means nothing in Ukraine. This is a political nuclear weapon, personified in an inadequate leader [Yanukovich] who is claiming for himself the powers of a dictator."
Announcing the decision, chief judge Anatoly Holovin said that the Dec. 8, 2004, constitutional amendments that were agreed to following three weeks of rolling street demonstrations in Kiev, remembered as the Orange Revolution, "do not correspond to the Constitution of Ukraine, are unconstitutional, due to violations of constitutional procedures for its consideration and adoption."