Viktor Tkachuk is the director-general of the Ukrainian Foundation for Democracy “People First”. He has more than 20 years of experience working in governmental bodies at the highest level in Ukraine, including as deputy secretary of the national security and defense council, as an advisor to three Ukrainian presidents, and as a Member of Parliament.
Ukrainian parliamentarism has died. To be more precise - its Post-Soviet oligarchic model has. A visible symptom of this is that MPs have become invisible. Many are successfully doing their business in distant places, and still are regularly "voting" in the Parliament. (MPs surrender their cards to colleagues who vote for them. During the vote we can see 50 MPs present, and still, the law is passed with a majority of 226 and more votes.) Communication between MPs and the people has been completely lost.
Parliamentarism has turned into absurdity: with the forthcoming elections in October of this year and a rise in international pressure due to the antidemocratic policy, the Parliament has boosted the practice of anti-national and anti-constitutional actions. The ruling coalition contrary to the Constitution has voluntarily passed over a part of its powers to the President and its administration and has shown readiness to adopt laws aimed at establishing rigid control over the life of the citizens.
Will Rogers, American actor and journalist, noted once, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer”. Unfortunately, now it completely corresponds with the activities of the Ukrainian Parliament.
Let's take a look at the most "progressive" innovations of MPs. Apparently, the most odious one is the majority of MPs (235 out of 450) voluntarily gave up their constitutional function – they voted a draft law, according to which they granted the President and the administration the budget control rights and the endorsing of the yearly programmes for the economic and social development in Ukraine. Also, they have voted to confer the status of law of the annual address of the President to Parliament. And if the President will sign this law - all his statements in the annual address will have the status of law and should be automatically implemented by the government. Without any doubt, these decisions have definitively destroyed the balance of branches of power in favour of the President.
The majority of MPs also made sure to put in place a Soviet-type control over Ukrainian citizens’ residence, train ticket purchase and currency exchange.
Another "gift" from MPs to the people has also been the decision to actually renew the totalitarian system with registration of legal residence and temporary residence of citizens. A bill called "About the State Duty" was passed on first reading. It plans to impose tax on the issuance of passports, wedding certificates, residence registration and many other services to the population.
An obligatory passport registration upon buying a train ticket will be added to the railway tickets price increase by between 200% and 300%. In itself it's an obvious restriction of the freedom of movement of Ukrainians.
Let's also remember that in September of 2011 the National bank of Ukraine introduced a norm which foresees an obligatory entering of passport data during currency exchange for the population. According to the majority of experts, this requirement is anti-constitutional and directly infringes the privacy of citizens. Not to speak for foreigners.
All these parliamentary initiatives remind us of George Orwell’s novel "1984" where "Big brother" is watching every step of the citizens.
Ukraine, fortunately, hasn't yet returned to totalitarianism and we hope it never will. But the Ukrainian Parliament has recently made considerable efforts to push the country in this direction. MPs have forgotten the principle of ancient Roman legal proceedings - "if in doubt - abstain". Or maybe they are doing everything completely conscientiously? Then what does Ukraine need such Parliament for?
The parliament is dead. Democracy is ill. No wonder if Europeans would fear the Ukrainian virus of corruption and double standards at its borders."