Christelle Néant in Donbass Insider
Despite his victory in the second round of the Ukrainian presidential election against Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelensky is not at the end of his struggles. Indeed, the outgoing government and the parliament (the Rada) collaborated to grease the skids before he took office.
It all started with the incredible time it took the Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to publish the official results. While the second round took place on 21 April, the CEC officially announced the results only on 30 April, 10 days after Zelensky’s victory, which is the maximum legal deadline for doing so. And the official publication, which then defines the furthest date for the inauguration of the new president, was made only on May 3. It seems unbelievable that it took 10 days for the CEC to count all the ballots. This spurred Volodymyr Zelensky to say that the CEC intended to gain time so that his investiture could not take place before May 27, to preventing him from dissolving parliament (the President can not order the dissolution of the Rada less than 6 months before the end of his term, which falls on November 27).
Faced with this pitiful attempt to prevent Zelensky from having the means to govern the country, the president-elect cracked a bitter comment: “A president who has the support of 73% of voters should at least have the right to consider it [dissolving the parliament – Ed] and the right to do so. The system is scared. We will overcome them all!” he said.
And it seems that the diagnosis is good even if it is incomplete. For this is not the only reason why Zelensky’s nomination got postponed. The other reason is that Poroshenko and Parbubiy also wanted to get the infamous Ukrainian language law passed, and to place (eject) a few key people. Thus, a “coup” took place within of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court. While the date of Zelensky’s inauguration ceremony was not yet fixed, the judges of the Constitutional Court voted to dismiss the President of the Court (Stanislav Shevchuk), who is due to attend the investiture ceremony of the new president. The latter then expressed his fears about the additional delays that could result and promised to file a complaint for this illegal dismissal.
The judges of the Constitutional Court then elected Natalia Chaptala as president, which according to some analysts allows Poroshenko to retain control over the Constitutional Court despite his defeat, even to question the validity of the investiture of Zelensky, if Shevchuk wins his appeal against the Court’s vote (swearing before an illegitimate Constitutional Court President, then is itself illegitimate). The outgoing President also changed the National Guard commander (i.e, in fact the neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist battalions of Ukraine), the commander of the military operation in Donbass, and he appointed 75 judges! This is what is called an attempt to keep control of the system before leaving. And to finish greasing the skids for Zelensky, Poroshenko pushed through and then to signed a law that could set the country on fire.
The law establishing the Ukrainian as the only national language, and which is imposed on the entire sphere of public life, was indeed voted by the Rada on April 25, just four days after the victory of Zelensky, but opposition MPs had submitted four cancellation bills to prevent his signature before the inauguration of the new president. Wasted effort. Thanks first to the late publication of the CEC, and then to the endless procrastination of the Rada to set the date of Zelensky’s inauguration, the Ukrainian parliament had time to reject the plans to annul the language law. Once these bills were rejected, Andryi Parouby, president of the Rada, proudly signed this law before passing it on to Poroshenko for signature. Only once this deception is accomplished, did the Rada finally set May 20 as the date of Zelensky’s investiture.
And this law is a mess of grease smeared in Zelensky’s path. Because contrary to what Poroshenko may have proclaimed at the signing, this law will not at all unite the Ukrainians, but will further divide them, and sow even more chaos in the country. The pinnacle of hypocrisy (and Newspeak) was Poroshenko’s assertion that this law “does not affect any language of national minorities living in Ukraine because the law” has nothing to do with it “(sic). So what does the law have to do with? How can a law obliging everyone to speak Ukrainian in the public sphere, on TV, and imposing a good level of mastery of Ukrainian for access to many positions in the administration, medicine, or politics not affect the national minorities, whose mother tongues have just been excluded as languages of instruction. This law actually imposes a forced Ukrainization to the whole country, even worse than the one that the Bolsheviks had imposed when they created Ukraine out of all the component parts !!! And all those who do not speak Ukrainian well enough will in fact be second-class citizens, excluded from politics, medicine, many administrative posts, and so on. This is neither more nor less than linguistic apartheid.
However, as a member of parliament, Mikhail Papiev, noted, this law amounts to banishing Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Crimean Tatar (while Kiev screams about discrimination of Tatars on the part of Moscow, while currently on the peninsula, they can receive education in their mother tongue unlike those who live in Ukraine!) and other languages of national minorities. This violates the European Convention for Regional Languages and Languages of the minorities, not to mention the conclusions of the Venice Commission that had asked Kiev not to vote or sign this law as it stands, and to do a deep review of the draft.The hypocrisy of the Ukrainian authorities and the dangers of this law were underlined by Arthur Martovitski, Opposition Bloc MP.
“Almost half of our citizens speak two languages – Ukrainian and Russian, or mainly Russian. The law on language makes them a national minority and equates them with enemies. The question arises: if it is not a split of society and a division between citizens of the first and second class, if it is not neo-fascism, then what is it? What?
European standards? Perhaps, but then it is the Europe of the thirteenth century, the Europe of the Inquisition. Every Ukrainian will pay from his pocket for the creation of new bureaucratic institutions, for the Institute of Language Inspectors, who will punish the use of the Russian language, the National Commissions for Linguistic Standards, whose certificates and diplomas of Ukrainian universities will be the basis for participation in public service competitions,” the deputy said.said.
Arthur Martovitski also pointed out that there had been serious violations of procedures when voting on this law, with massive voting for MPs who weren’t even there. He also drew the same conclusion as many analysts, as well as myself: with this law Ukraine definitely loses any chance of recovering Donbass and Crimea, and the consequences in terms of citizens’ trust in the state risk being tragic. The opposition will attempt a final appeal before the Constitutional Court, since the law is unconstitutional. But following the putsch that took place in this institution, it is feared that this remedy will get nowhere. The only chance lies in the fact that Zelensky asks for the dissolution of the Rada, and obtains a sufficient majority to govern and cancel this law by a new vote of the assembly. It seems, from what some members of Zelensky’s team are saying, that it is towards a scenario of dissolution of the Rada that one is headed.
If Zelensky fails to clear a majority and to cancel this by one means or another, the country is likely to explode along its linguistic lines, and to further distance itself from neighboring countries (Hungary has already expressed the hope that Zelensky will resolve problems posed by this discriminatory law). It must be remembered that it is a law withdrawing from Russian its status of regional language which set fire to the powders, provoked the “Russian spring”, the loss of Crimea and a part Donbass, and the civil war in the east of the country in 2014. However, instead of learning from its mistakes, the Ukrainian government post-Maidan, decides to persist and insist on the path of total destruction of the country. This new law on the Ukrainian language is gasoline tanker truck dumped over the flames that are already ravaging Ukraine, and the risks it poses to the very existence of the country are far from negligible.