Friday, December 5, 2014

New parliament, old ways in Ukraine | Business New Europe

It should have been a great day in Ukraine's effort to transform itself into a modern liberal democracy in the EU mould. The freshly elected Ukrainian parliament held its first session on November 27, completing the process of political transition from the kleptocratic autocracy of Viktor Yanukovych to a transparent and democratically elected parliament filled with deputies chosen by the people. The session kicked off with a minute’s silence for those who died in the protests that ousted Yanukovych, followed by a rousing rendition of the national anthem and cries of "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" – the slogans of the Euromaidan protests.

The trouble is that the transformation seems to be incomplete. The opening session was marred by a crowd of demonstrators in Kyiv's Independence Square, or Maidan, that reassembled for the day to protest against the 64 deputies taking their places in the chamber that were also part of the corrupt Yanukovych administration.

Ukraine passed a lustration law that legally precludes anyone that served in the Yanukovych government from holding public office – and then promptly ignored it in several dozen cases, as the normal business of political horse trading and compromising principles took over as soon as the new leadership felt their power was secure.

“[The 64 deputies] voted for dictatorship laws on January 16,” one of the protesters told TASS, referring to a set of repressive laws introduced by Yankovych's proxy Party of Regions in January that restricted freedom of speech and the right to assemble that were drawn up as a pretext to forcefully clear the Maidan of its thousands of pro-EU protestors. If anything, the dictatorship laws, as they are known now, only inflamed the conflict and stiffened the resolve of the protestors to see their campaign through. The protestors have set up a “wall of shame” next to the Rada for anyone to leave messages to these deputies.

And this was no token protest. The new government felt sufficiently concerned that it ordered in nine armoured trucks and had 20 buses of police standing by – just in case, reported TASS.

So what is the problem? The West hailed the May election of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and subsequent parliamentary elections on October 26 as the end of the country's transformation process. But for Ukrainians these two elections represented just the beginning.

Complete story at - New parliament, old ways in Ukraine | Business New Europe

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