On Constitution Day, June 28th, Kiev and other cities had a celebration – entertainment for the masses with speeches by heads of cities and the state.
But were such grandiose festivities justified, considering the Basic Law of Ukraine was being violated on a completely unprecedented scale over the past year?
Yes, ever since the Constitution’s adoption, it was clear that the country will not be able to follow every Article to the letter, at least not right away.
For example, Ukraine was never really able to fulfill Article 48: “Everyone has the right for an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing, housing”. Yet over the past year, the violations have progressed from small isolated issues to a plethora of flagrant violations.
Previously, the government either violated the Constitution for objectively unavoidable reasons (e.g. laws on minimum wage were at odds with Article 48 due to economic difficulties), or acted seemingly at odds with the spirit of the Constitution, but as “spirit” is an ambiguous concept, one could try to rationalize around that (e.g. on restrictive language laws, one can argue about the exact meaning of Article 10, that guarantees “…free development, use and protection of Russian …”).
However, after the “Euromaidan” takeover, violations of the Constitution went to a whole new level. That is, the laws adopted by the Parliament directly contradicted the text of the Constitution, in no uncertain terms, and none of it was justifiable by objective economic difficulties.
What provisions of the Constitution were recently violated, you may ask?
Let’s start in order:
Article 15: Ukrainian society is based on political, economic and ideological diversity. No ideology can be recognized by the State as mandatory. Censorship is prohibited.
= Today, mass media are subject to strict censorship in Ukraine. Russian channels, as well as news, shows, or movies are generally banned. In an unprecedented move, the Kiev officials even formed a Ministry of Information Policy (“Ministry of Truth”) that controls the mass media.
Politicians and journalists whose views do not follow the “party line” are under immense pressure, arrested, assaulted, or even killed. Good examples are the situations with journalists Anatoly Sharii (political refugee in EU), Kotsaba (under prosecution for speaking against illegal conscription) and Buzina (murdered for his views; also, Buzina’s murderer is out on bail, but Kotsaba is held without bail).
Article 17: Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military branches can not be used to limit the rights and freedoms of citizens.
= This clause of the Constitution is constantly violated in the Anti-Terrorist Operation area, violations of the rights and freedoms of civilians are in the millions – in fact, ATO itself is one giant Constitutional violation.
Also in Article 17: Creating and operating any armed units not approved by law is banned.
= Two words: “volunteer battalions”. A whole list of extremist groups that exist and operate with impunity in the territory of Ukraine: “Right Sector”, “Aydar”, “Azov”, “Tornado” and so on (some of them were accepted into police forces – after months of illegal activities – but even now they generally have a large proportion of non-documented members).
[Pictured: Nationalist Guard taking their official oath of service while wearing masks. Or maybe some other people saying the words. How would be we know?]
Article 24: There can be no privileges or restrictions based on race, skin color, political, religious, or other beliefs, sex, ethnic or social origin, wealth, place of residence, language or other characteristics.
= One of the central human rights issues tearing apart our society, the so-called “Russian language problem” (Ukraine & apartheid regimes of the Baltics being the only countries _in the world_ where language spoken by majority of population isn’t an official language) began long ago.
However, only now this violation of the Constitution (“war on Russian language”) has been openly voiced by the state leaders as a necessary and legitimate action.
Not to mention “discrimination by place of residence / ethnic origin”- attempts to starve the people of Donbass by blockading all shipments of food, medicine, and gas.
“Privileges” are also evident: for example, the children of prominent politicians, and the rich in general, are virtually exempt from forced conscription (as shown by a number of reports from influential mass media).
Article 27: Everyone has the right to protect his life and well-being from illegal actions of others.
= When illegally installed Kiev government called southeastern Ukraine “separatist” and illegally sent the Army against them, did they not think that the people there can exercise the right afforded to them by this article of the Constitution?
Article 28: No one may be subjected to torture or to treatments or punishments that are cruel, inhumane, or degrading to honor and dignity.
= Because of extreme graphic nature of the evidence of violations of this chapter, I will not give examples. There is plenty of video footage on the Internet where members of nationalist groups commit executions and torture. [Also admitted by multiple high-ranking Kiev government officials – see HERE and HERE, for example]
Article 29: In case of urgent necessity to prevent or stop a crime, law enforcement may hold a person in custody as a temporary preventive measure, the validity of which must be confirmed by a court within seventy-two hours. A detained person shall be immediately released if, within seventy-two hours of detention, he has not received court decision on detention.
= In other words, under the Constitution, no one may be detained for more than 3 days without a court decision. But changes to the law “On Combating Terrorism”, passed back in August, allow preventive detention “of persons suspected of terrorist activities” for up to 30 days, which is clearly unconstitutional.
Moreover, unlike some other rights and freedoms, Article 29 does not allow exceptions due to exceptional circumstances, even martial law and state of emergency. This is further emphasized in Article 64 of the Basic Law, which lists the rights and freedoms that may not be restricted under any circumstance, and specifically mentions rights guaranteed in article 29.
Article 33: Everyone lawfully within the territory of Ukraine is guaranteed freedom of movement, freedom of residence, and the right to freely leave the territory of Ukraine.
= Another violation: the freedom of movement for residents of Donbass is severely limited, though they are fully legal citizens of the country.
Article 34: Everyone has the right freely to collect, store, use and disseminate information – orally, in writing or by any other means of their choice.
= In Ukraine, there are billboards demanding the population report “household separatists” (those who have an opinion different from the government “party line”) to State Security. Those are installed with backing of MOD, State Security, and regional administrations, by a company headed by a former Soros worker, Alina Frolova, currently advisor in Ministry of Information Policy (”Ministry of Truth”).
– Spits on national symbols
– Waits for the “Russian world” to come
Punishable by 7-12 years in prison – article 110 of Ukraine Penal Code [article changed by the new government]. See something, hear something – call State Security hotline)
There is also a state-backed website which reports personal info of “unpatriotic” persons, some of which have already been subject to violence. As an example, political activist Oleg Kalashnikov and journalist Oles’ Buzina were murdered in Kiev next to their homes within days of their home addresses being posted.
Article 46: Pensions and other types of social payments and assistance that are the principal sources of subsistence shall ensure a standard of living not lower than the minimum level established by law.
= State refuses to make any social payments within the “ATO area”, or to refugees outside it whose place of residence is in Novorossiya.
Article 60: No one is required to execute manifestly criminal orders or instructions. Carrying out orders or instructions that were clearly criminal in nature is subject to legal prosecution.
Funny joke. Try reading article 17 of Constitution:
“Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military branches can not be used to limit the rights and freedoms of citizens.”
Would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad, right?
Now imagine what would happen if I were to go to the barracks and start reading this to the soldiers, together with article 60, that provides for prosecution not only of those giving criminal orders, but also those carrying them out!
According to new Police Minister initiatives, I’ll be arrested for “speaking against conscription”.
Can you imagine the prosecution speech in court – “… was criminally reading the Constitution of Ukraine to the soldiers”…)
Article 64: If state of emergency or martial law are declared, government may establish specific restrictions on rights and freedoms.
= The country is in neither state. Which makes forced conscription completely illegal.
[until recent law changes, people could only be conscripted for “army draft” – only those aged 20-27 who did not serve, or for “re-training” – which is supposed to be only 4 weeks and obviously no combat, unless martial law was in effect; in effect, the bulk of Kiev’s conscription efforts were illegal].
Article 80: The members of Parliament can not be prosecuted for voting, or for statements made in Parliament and its bodies, with the exception of liability for insult or defamation.
= On May 14 Rada adopted amendments to the law “On Higher Education” – former or current MPs who voted for the “anti-riot” laws of January 16, 2014 can not be elected or appointed heads of universities. On the surface, this law only affects four former and current MPs who also are heads of universities. But its potential is not limited to preventing a couple hundred MPs who voted “yes” back then from ever running a school. No, it sets a precedent of permanently restricting the civil rights of MPs on the basis of their vote in Parliament. That is, it tramples the norm of members of Parliament acting freely, without potential for future punishment based what they say and how they vote – the norm that exists in virtually all countries that have an elected legislative body. And once the precedent of “retroactive punishment for vote” had taken place in one case, it can also occur in others.
Article 103: The President of Ukraine may not … engage in any paid or entrepreneurial activity that brings income.
= No comments. You know the President increased his income 7-fold since taking power, and did not sell his huge businesses as promised.
Article 105: “… the title of President is granted for life, unless the President of Ukraine has been removed from office by impeachment. “
= In February, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law which deprived Viktor Yanukovych of the title of President, in blatant violation of the Constitution. President Poroshenko signed the law only in July (although by law he should have done it within 2 weeks), and a few days later submitted it to Constitutional Court to check its legality.
Article 108: The president of Ukraine fulfills his duties until the assumption of office by the newly elected president of Ukraine. The powers of the President of Ukraine can be prematurely terminated in the case of: 1. resignation; 2. The inability to perform duties due to health; 3. removal from office via the procedure of impeachment; 4. Death.
= Yanukovych was never impeached, he did not resign, and he’s neither sick nor dead. According to the Constitution, he is still the president.
The Constitution is the main legal document of the country. Violate it – and violations of the law will multiply unchecked. For now, all the violations above remain unpunished and, furthermore, affect the lives of millions of people.
It is also worth noting that no one protested against these violations of the Constitution, or brought them before the Constitutional Court.
Although in theory a human rights ombudsman can do so by himself, in practice no one does – because we all know that “new democratic government” only acts in the name of human rights, rule of law and other European values. And we also know what happens to those who doubt that…
Violation of the constitution, by definition, is the biggest mis-step that can be taken at the state level as a whole. And we must understand that these mis-steps are quickly taking the country towards an abyss.
Some sources used: