All power to councils -- not to a President Czar

Andrew Chrucky, August 8, 2011

I find it disappointing that Ukraine, a country which has been oppressed from time immemorial by Czars, Lords, and dictators like Stalin, should want -- of all things -- a President; no less a president with the powers of an absolute ruler. Has the country suffered amnesia? Has it forgotten Shevchenko's warnings against Czars and Lords?

Is Ukraine caught up in an atavistic desire for a hero, a saviour? a Khmelnytsky? or perhaps a Makhno? This was my impression of the so-called Orange Revolution. People hoped that by getting rid of a bad president and putting in place a good president, all would be well.

This reminds me of the attitude towards the Russian Czar before 1905. The popular sentiment was that the Czar was benevolent, but was ignorant of what the Lords were doing to the peasants. So the workers of St. Petersburg wrote-up a petition and marched towards the Hermitage to present the petition to the Czar. The result was Bloody Sunday -- a massacre of the crowd. That was a turning point for Russian history -- a disillusionment with the Czar. So, when 1917 came about there was no protest in removing the Czar.

The Orange Revolution was meant to bring into power a benevolent Czar -- Yushchenko. But very quickly we learned that he was no better than the candidate he beat -- Yanukovych. And now we have the bad Czar -- Yanukovych. It really does not matter what Czar you elect -- he will still be a Czar. Heed the advice of Shevchenko -- get rid of Czars. Learn the lesson of the Orange Revolution -- all presidents are undesirable.

What are the powers of the President?

  1. Nomination of 15 ministers.
  2. Nomination of 26 governors.
  3. Nominate some of the Supreme Court justices.
  4. Dismissal of non-cooperating government employees.
  5. Introduction of changes to the constitution. (People do not have the power of a referendum, initiative, or recall of bad politicians.)
  6. Selective law enforcement.
    • Businesses that cooperate are left alone; business which do not, get shut-down.
    • Political opponents get harassed and neutralized, like what is presently happening to Yulia Tymoshenko and to the former minister of the interior, Yuriy Lutsenko.
Furthermore, with a single president -- all sorts of things can happen in secret. The President can be bribed and controlled -- both by internal and external interests: domestic and foreign. He can open doors to a globalized market, and ruin Ukraine's economy.

And he or his friends can have opponents or troublemakers assassinated. Remember the journalist Georgiy Gongadze, who exposed the corruption of the Kuchma regime. Remember the alleged "suicide" of Yuriy Kravchenko, former minister of interior who was to testify in the Gongadze affair. But Gongadze was not the only reporter killed. Here is a list of killed reporters: Volodymyr Ivanov, 1995; Ihor Hrushetsky, 1996; Petro Shevchenko, 1997; Borys Derevyanko, 1997; Ihor Bondar, 1999; Georgiy Gongadze, 2000; Oleh Breus, 2001; Ihor Oleksandrov, 2001; Mykhailo Kolomiets,2002; Volodymyr Karachevtsev, 2003; Yuriy Chechyk, 2004; Vasyl Klymentyev, 2010.

And what about such unfortunate "accidents" as that of Wolodymyr Ivasiuk, a famous composer, who was found hanged in the Bryukhovychi Forest, outside of Lviw, on May 18th, 1979. And closer to out times, what about the "accidental" automobile crash on March 25, 1999 which killed Viacheslav Chornovil, who was to become the main opposition candidate against the incumbent president Leonid Kuchma for the 1999 presidential election.

What is the solution?

Very simple. Follow the Swiss example. Have an executive council instead of a president. Switzerland has 7 members in the executive council. Each acts or is, in fact, a minister of a cabinet. Because there are 7 cabinet posts, there are 7 members on the executive council. If we are to use Switzerland as a model, then Ukraine since it has 15 ministers, should have 15 members of the executive council.

In Switzerland, the executive council is nominated by parties and elected by the full Parliament of Switzerland. Since Switzerland has four (4) dominant parties in the Parliament, the first three largest parties get to nominate two candidates each for the executive council, and the fourth party gets to nominate one member. They are elected for four years, and one of them is elected by Parliament to act as the chairperson -- as it turns out, it is a woman. She acts as the representative of the council in domestic and foreign affairs. This post runs for only one year through a rotation of the council members.

Since in Ukraine there are 15 ministers and 5 parties or coalition in the Verhovna Rada, it seems natural to have a federal council of 15, each party or coalition nominating 3 members. And let the Verhovna Rada elect one of them to act as a representative for the whole council for one year -- just like in Switzerland.

With this system, most present abuses of power by the President will be curtailed. With a federal executive council, none of the formerly listed powers of the President are desirable or feasible.

  1. The president will not nominate ministers.
  2. If governors are nominated, they will not serve a single individual. (Actually there should be a similar Executive Oblast Rada, elected by the Oblast Rada, instead of a single individual as Govenor; and a similar executive city rada instead of a mayor, elected by the city rada.)
  3. Nominatation of some of the Supreme Court justices will be less party oriented.
  4. Introduction of changes to the constitution will be a group undertaking.
  5. Dismissal of non-cooperating government employees will not take place because it won't matter who or what party they vote for.
  6. Selective law enforcement will be on a reasonable rather than a political basis.
    • Businesses will not be harassed.
    • Political opponents will not be harassed or killed.

Promote a constitutional change for a federal executive council; get rid of the office of President Czar.