A Petty Traitor, After All

3 August 2012, 07:30

After Volodymyr Lytvyn filed his resignation as Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (VR), supposedly in protest against the passing of the language law in violation of the procedure, there were only two options for him. One was to completely block any version of the law. In that case, he would enter into an open conflict with the Party of Regions, but the move could bring him a lengthy political career as a prudent politician in the future. The other was to find a convenient move for his image which is extremely important for a candidate running in a Ukrainian-speaking constituency, while subtly playing into the hands of the Party of Regions. On July 30, the VR took a vote of confidence on Mr. Lytvyn and did not accept his resignation, after which, he signed the scandalous language law sponsored by Party of Regions’ MPs Kolesnichenko and Kivalov. Thus, Mr. Lytvyn chose the second scenario. It allows him to get through to the next convocation of parliament (apparently, administrative leverage will also help him win in his constituency in Zhytomyr Oblast now). However, this means that Mr. Lytvyn will now turn into a politician who is completely under the control of the government which will drop him at the first opportunity.

Needless to say, Mr. Lytvyn is offering excuses, but his arguments now appear ridiculous. “If you take the Constitution and the parliamentary procedure, the VR Speaker only has responsibilities and no rights,” he told journalists on July 31 after the meeting of his People’s Party. “If parliament does not approve any recommendations made by the Speaker, he is obliged to immediately sign the law submitted for his signature.” A day earlier, when the VR rejected his letter of resignation, the Party of Regions and their allies did indeed reject Mr. Lytvyn’s amendments to the language law. Still, journalists wanted to hear when exactly he was going to sign it, while he continued to tell them tall tales about submitting his proposals for the protection of the Ukrainian language to the president and not signing the law before he gets an answer from Mr. Yanukovych. “I think this will happen in the next few days,” he finally squeezed out. Two hours later, parliament’s press-service reported that Mr. Lytvyn had signed the law. There was no answer from the president regarding his recommendations. This makes the whole “to sign or not to sign” story look like a well-designed “convenient move by Mr. Lytvyn”.

Even if articles 48 and 131 of the VR Procedure demand that he sign the law after parliament has rejected his amendments, the blatant violations of the procedure during the voting for the law, remain. Thus, Mr. Lytvyn has essentially supported the anti-Ukrainian act and given the green light to illegitimate actions, which has become common for the current parliament.

Mr. Lytvyn’s potential voters would probably like to know the motives for this move. Sources confirm that the speaker was threatened with the reopening of the Gongadze case and changing his status from witness to the accused. The lawyers surveyed by The Ukrainian Week say this is difficult to do under the effective Code of Criminal Procedures, but the prosecutor does not seem to care about following procedure. Neither does the Verkhovna Rada.

The motivation that encouraged the MPs from Mr. Lytvyn’s party to vote for the language law was actually revealed on July 30 when the Party of Regions disclosed its party list for the election, and on July 31 when Mr. Lytvyn’s People’s Party had its meeting. Three MPs from the Lytvyn Block in the VR, including Sharov, Zarubinskyi and Vashchuk, ended up in positions that would take them to parliament on the Party of Region’s list. So did oligarch Vasyl Khmelnytskyi. According to some sources, he sponsored Mr. Lytvyn’s party in the previous parliamentary election and still has influence on his parliamentary faction. The People’s Party meeting revealed that it is not going to run under an election list. Supposedly, it does not have adequate funds. As a result, all delegates agreed to nominate all 69 candidates in single-member constituencies only. However, only about ten of them have a chance to get through to the VR. They are all current MPs who voted for the language law and have sufficient resources, including no doubt, also administrative ones from now on.

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