Arseniy Yatsenyuk: The Evil behind blocking a referendum on the Ukraine’s Constituion
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose fate ‘hangs by within a hair’s breadth of dismissal’, is pushing a proposal to hold a referendum on the country’s constitution as a way to “blackmail” the president, Ukrainian media and political analysts suggest.
Over the weekend, Yatsenyuk called for a referendum on a new constitution. It’s “high time for the Ukrainian people to have their say about a new Ukrainian constitution in a new European Ukraine,” the prime minister said, during his weekly televised address to the nation on Sunday.
The new constitution, in his words, would be a “new agreement on the redistribution of powers between authorities, an agreement on relations between the center and the country’s regions, an agreement on a new honest and fair judicial system, and on clear geopolitics,” (i.e., enshrining in the constitution Kiev’s goals of joining the European Union and NATO).
Yatsenyuk’s remarks came on the heels of President Petro Poroshenko’s warning, a day earlier, that the parliament’s decision to block constitutional reform aimed at decentralization for the autonomy-seeking regions in the Donbass could lead to the collapse of the Minsk Agreements, and “the resumption of the ‘hot phase’ of the conflict.”Commenting on the prime minister’s response, the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti suggested that his words amount to “blackmail.”
First off, the paper recalls, the conflict between Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko escalated following the quarrel between Odessa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov over corruption allegations last month, and the ‘leak’ by the presidential administration about Poroshenko’s desire to sack the disgraced interior minister. The prime minister bluntly responded to the veiled threat that he would leave “together with Avakov, and immediately into the opposition.”
Moreover, the paper notes, Poroshenko is now attempting to “pressure Yatsenyuk” to at least replace Avakov with another candidate from Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front.
In response to Yatsenyuk’s initiative, Vesti says, MPs from the People’s Front are already preparing their own version of the constitution, ostensibly to counter presidential proposals presented to parliament earlier this year, which call for a modest decentralization of power to the regions.
The People’s Front, according to the paper, has effectively torpedoed the president’s proposals, promising that they would not vote for them. Subsequently, the other forces dominating the country’s post-Maidan political space, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party and Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party, have stepped out in support of Yatsenyuk’s proposal, with the Radical Party even putting for a date for the referendum – March. The Petro Poroshenko Bloc, complaining under its breath that constitutional amendments are a function of the parliament, says that “everything else is mere populism.” For his part, Poroshenko Bloc Rada Chairman Volodymyr Groysman suggested that a referendum would mean that the Donbass would not receive the autonomy so vital for the Minsk peace plan, adding that the referendum’s question would surely be ‘subject to manipulation’.
Speaking to Vesti, Ukrainian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik explained that at the moment, “Yatsenyuk, Avakov and his entire government hang within a hair’s breadth of dismissal.” Subsequently, the analyst noted, “the prime minister’s announcement is a form of blackmail: the president is being told that…he will not be able to count on the People’s Front’s support any longer.”
Ultimately, the newspaper suggests, all this testifies to the fact that the country’s pro-EU, pro-Washington coalition may be on the verge of collapse.
“The coalition is de-facto collapsing. But before the parliament’s dissolution, the president has other tools: a ‘reformatting’ of the government (expected in the spring), and a ‘reformatting’ of the ruling coalition.”
This, Vesti notes, would require a series of maneuvers, including tapping the ‘People’s Will’ parliamentary group, together with ‘reconnaissance’ on the prospects of bringing the UKROP party (which includes ultranationalist and outright fascists and neo-Nazi MPs including Dmytro Yarosh, Andriy Biletsky, and Boryslav Bereza). “For this to occur,” the paper explains, “the president will have to transcend his conflict with his other ‘enemy #1’ – Ihor Kolomoisky,” the famed oligarch from Dnipropetrovsk accused of cheating the government out of $1.8 billion in IMF loan money.
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