Yanukovych Legally Still Is President of Ukraine

The protests turn violent. Jan. 24, 2014. Source.
The protests turn violent. Jan. 24, 2014. Source.

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.

Title V, Article 111 says:

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.

  1. I don’t think either the two-thirds majority or the three-quarters majority were met at all.
  2. There was no investigating commission appointed—just one session of voting.
  3. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Yanukovych Legally Still Is President of Ukraine

  1. You GO, Nat! Literally everybody I know was too lazy to look that up. But you’re right – none of those procedures was followed. Joe Biden couldn’t reach him for a couple of days by phone, so that was good enough for the U.S. government to consider him as having abdicated his office, and the Rada just kind of said, Hey, nobody’s seen that worthless toerag Yanukovych for a couple of days. Since we can’t arrest him or shoot him – or both – let’s vote him out. And away he went. They issued a half-hearted warrant for his arrest on charges of mass murder to cover themselves, but there was no investigation and no reason to believe Yanukovych gave the order to fire on rioters, whom by then were unquestionably not peaceful protesters. He now says he did not.

    Nice work.

  2. Thanks for the analysis. I found this at Wikipedia:

    “It is unclear if the removal of Yanukovych was legal because Yanukovych had not signed the bills that would restore of the Constitution as it was between 2004 and 2010, which under Article 111 would have allowed for a president to be impeached “if he commits treason or other crime.”

    So, it’s not even clear that Article 111 is legally applicable–is it?

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. I am no legal expert, but in my opinion, Article 111 was applicable. I quoted from the constitution as it appeared before Yanukovych’s ouster, i.e. the post 2010-version. A quick look at the website shows that this article is still the same (I think). Even if we grant that Yanukovych did indeed commit “treason or other crime”, the procedure for bringing impeachment charges was not followed in the slightest.

  3. Although this is probably meaningless given your other comments, hope springs eternal: “I quoted from the constitution as it appeared before Yanukovych’s ouster, i.e. the post 2010-version.” The version in which Yanukovych, through the Constitutional Court – removed the 2004 amendments which reduced Presidential power. If my reading is right, Yanukovych also passed the anti-protest laws by a show of hands.

    So a person who solidified his power, who ignored proper parliamentary procedure, is immune from removal since he was elected? See that’s the problem with your way of thinking. If democracy and procedure means that much to you, then it has to apply to the leaders as well as the people. Once someone starts to ignore procedure, once someone moves to strengthen their position, then they’re no longer a democratically elected leader, they’re a faux dictator gunning for the top spot. You know, like Belarus.

    Or put simply:

    If democracy means something to you then his removal was the right thing to do. If it means nothing to you, then trumpet “elected” all you want, it’s just padding out your idea that a President can become a King, Parliament be damned.

    1. CJ, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Title V, Article 111 the same in both the 2010 and 2004 constitutions? The fact remains that proper parliamentary procedure was not followed for the impeachment. No commission was formed, no charges brought against President Yanukovych. And I’m not sure why you mention the anti-protest laws—my post was not about those laws and have no bearing on my argument whatsoever.

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