Update, March 5: I have written a follow-up to this post!
As I write this, a violent coup is going on in Kiev, Ukraine. The opposition claims to have ousted President Yanukovych and is appointing a self-styled government right now. One story the media is reporting on is the alleged impeachment of Yanukovych by a select group of parliamentarians. This is illegal and since no journalist will tell you this (they are all too lazy to look up the intricacies of Ukrainian constitutional law), I’m going to explain.
The President of Ukraine may be removed from the office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in compliance with a procedure of impeachment if he commits treason or other crime.
The issue of the removal of the President of Ukraine from the office in compliance with a procedure of impeachment shall be initiated by the majority of the constitutional membership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall establish a special ad hoc investigating commission, composed of special prosecutor and special investigators to conduct an investigation.
The conclusions and proposals of the ad hoc investigating commission shall be considered at the meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
On the ground of evidence, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall, by at least two-thirds of its constitutional membership, adopt a decision to bring charges against the President of Ukraine.
The decision on the removal of the President of Ukraine from the office in compliance with the procedure of impeachment shall be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by at least three-quarters of its constitutional membership upon a review of the case by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, and receipt of its opinion on the observance of the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration of the case of impeachment, and upon a receipt of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the effect that the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of treason or other crime.
Here’s what’s wrong with the alleged impeachment that has just taken place.
- I don’t think either the two-thirds majority or the three-quarters majority were met at all.
- There was no investigating commission appointed—just one session of voting.
- There is no mention of what crime specifically Yanukovych allegedly committed. Impeachment has to take place for a reason, you know.
By the way, that quoted section up there was already in English. I’m not sure how qualified I would be to translate legal Ukrainian, so I thought I’d point that out.