PACE has criticized Ukrainian authorities for lustration, language and attitude towards the opposition

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a Resolution “Functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine”. The Resolution has rather rough character towards Ukrainian authorities on several issues.

What will be the consequences for Ukraine?

It did not succeed in democracy

The Resolution summarized multi-year work of the monitoring group, which has observed the reform process and the state of democracy in Ukraine.
The conclusion was disappointing – it did not succeed in democracy.

The report prepared by the Monitoring Committee carefully acknowledged the progress in some areas of reforms, but in general, negatively evaluated all the main policies of the current government. In particular, it concerns the fight against corruption (significant progress has not been observed) and lustration and de-communization, with regard to the political opposition, the rights of national minorities and the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

After a debate several mitigating amendments have been included in the final Resolution, the most significant of which – the waiver to hold the elections in the uncontrolled territory of Donbass. However, in general, they have not changed the key of the report.

Let us go through its main points.

1. Lustration

The paragraph with the requirement to change the law on lustration violating human rights was approved without any changes, which read as follows: “The Assembly expresses its disquiet about the human rights concerns that have been raised with regard to the law on lustration. It therefore urges the Verkhovna Rada to adopt, without delay, the amendments to this law that were prepared in co-operation with the Venice Commission in order to address these concerns and to look for additional measures to ensure that all the recommendations in the Final Opinion of the Venice Commission are reflected in the law and that the implementation of the law is fully in line with European standards”.

2. Opposition

There is a call for Ukrainian authorities to respect the rights of the opposition, to ensure a pluralistic political environment in which the political opposition can fully fulfil its democratic role.

3. Euromaidan and Odessa

Резолюция призывает обеспечить полное расследование преступлений, совершенных на Майдане и в Одессе (то есть, гибель людей во время столкновений в Одессе и в Доме профсоюзов 2 мая).

The Resolution calls to fully investigate the crimes committed during the Euromaidan and in Odessa (i.e. deaths during the clashes in Odessa and in the Trade Union building on May 2).

4. Law on languages

The Resolution expresses its concern about some (read – language) projects of Ukrainian authorities aimed at narrowing the existing rights of national minorities;

In this regard, the Resolution has been further amended and stipulated that in Ukraine “national minorities can preserve the present rights to use their minority languages which are provided by the Constitution and by all international commitments of the country”. Relevant amendment has been introduced by Hungarian Zsolt NÉMETH, stating that the draft law on languages, submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, causes great concern due to the fact that “is likely to be adopted”.

The Resolution also contains a requirement to take into account the ethnic composition and specific features historically formed regions in the process of decentralization.

5. Minsk Agreements

The Resolution states the need for Ukraine “to implement the Minsk Agreements on changes to the Constitution relating to decentralization”.
More precisely, the phrase reads as follows: “The Assembly therefore expresses the hope that progress in the implementation of the Minsk Protocols by all signatories, in particular the Russian Federation, will allow the amendments to be adopted in final reading in the near future”. The original draft contained a requirement to hold the elections in Donbass, however, as already stated above, the paragraph was removed at the insistence of Ukrainian delegation.

“Paragraph on the Minsk Agreements remains in Resolution with a minimum amendment, which leaves all bindings of constitutional amendments to the Minsk Agreements. This is a new opportunity to put pressure on Ukraine, the President and the Parliament”, says a member of the Radical Party Viktor Vovk to the “Strana” (Deputy Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs), who became a member of the Ukrainian PACE delegation. A representative of “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc” Vladimir Aryev did not see any tragedy in this interpretation. “Among a few drawbacks of the report – expectations that Ukraine will change the Constitution in view of the special status of ORDLO (occupied areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions), but it is a soft wording, not an imperative, therefore, there is nothing serious”, he wrote on his page on Facebook.

Negative attitude

How the Resolution will affect on the situation in Ukraine?

The opposition talks about its victory. “The most important achievement – the amendments adopted to protect the political rights of the opposition. The Committee has accepted, the speakers has agreed that the opposition’s rights are violated and call on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that the opposition can fulfill its supervisory role and be able to offer an alternative political course”, said the MP from the “Opposition Bloc” Yuliya Lyovochkina.

At the same time, the PACE Resolution has recommendatory character and often these recommendations are not followed up. “In January 2015, PACE in its Resolution obliged Ukraine to pay pensions to the residents of the uncontrolled area of Ukraine, Donbass. This decision has not been fulfilled to this day. I doubt that this time all the recommendations will be implemented”, said political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko.

However, in this case, the political analyst notes that the most important thing is negative attitude itself, which the Resolution contains in respect of the major initiatives of Ukrainian authorities (lustration, language policy, attitude towards the opposition). “It sets a certain framework, within which further developments in our country will be evaluated by European observers”, said Bondarenko.

For example, PACE negative position was expressed clearly enough to the upcoming law on the total Ukrainization, which may have certain consequences.
“We should not forget that the countries in favour of Rada’s initiatives on the language are the EU members, said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. Recommendations from Strasbourg (there PACE meets – Ed.) can be neglected. However, if Brussels begins to talk about this (the EU capital – Ed. ), there can be problems. At the instigation of Hungary or Romania, the question can easily arise on the EU agenda. It is very important to be delicate in this situation and not to spoil relations with the neighbors since there are enough misunderstandings”.

Nevertheless, the MP from the Radical Party, Igor Popov said that yesterday’s PACE Resolution can become a reason for delaying the visa- free regime with the EU.

“Although Ukraine has fulfilled the action plan but the Resolution contains a number of new requirements: changes to the law on lustration, Anti-Corruption Court, Electoral Code, the Minsk Agreements, wrote the MP in Facebook. In addition, general criticism of delays in the fight against corruption and attacks on freedom of speech”.


Source: Strana

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