The Ukrainian President canceled a decree signed by former President Viktor Yanukovych, who appointed Oleksandr Tupytsky and Oleksandr Kasminin as judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.
The Constitutional Court and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have conflicted with each other for months since the Constitutional Court in 2020 declared the country’s anti-corruption institution NABU unconstitutional. Afterward, the Constitutional Court, led by Oleksandr Tupytsky, also said that the Presidential reforms such as the one reforming the land market would need a review.
Zelensky has since tried to remove the Constitutional Court judges and now seems to have found a controversial way. Yesterday, he annulled former President Viktor Yanukovych’s decrees, appointing Oleksandr Tupytsky and Oleksandr Kasminin to the Constitutional Court, according to Unian.
According to the media, Zelensky says that he has done so to secure all citizens’ rights and freedoms in Ukraine. He also said that the step was necessary to remove the influence of Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted back in 2014 during the Maidan Revolution. He created “a threat to the state independence and national security of Ukraine, which violates the Constitution of Ukraine, human and civil rights and freedoms,” the President said.
Zelinsky’s move might give renewed life to Ukraine’s reform work and secure the reforms already done and, therefore, benefit companies and citizens. However, the decision to annul the decrees by former President Viktor Yanukovych is highly controversial for mainly two reasons. Firstly, judges in the Constitutional Court are chosen for nine years, where they are not allowed to be removed unless they have committed a crime or are unfit to serve due to health issues. Oleksandr Tupytsky and Oleksandr Kasminin have sat for around eight years at this point. If that is the case, the Constitutional Court, itself, has a procedure to remove judges.
Secondly, decisions taken by the Constitutional Court are binding, final, and cannot be appealed. Zelinsky’s decision to remove judges to overturn or change the judgment on NABU is also seen as controversial by some, and it is unclear what will happen now.
Zelensky has once again brutally violated Ukraine’s Constitution, sacking two Constitutional Court judges who were appointed under Yanukovych.
This move is pure show &comes at the price of fundamentally undermining the rule of law in Ukraine.
NO cause for celebration.#THREAD
— ArianaGic/АріянаҐіць (@GicAriana) March 27, 2021
It is really disturbing to see the surge of tendencies of a direct presidential rule in Ukraine, which ignores state institutions, balances and even the Constitution itself. (Just to remind: even the preliminary parliamentary elections in 2019 were highly likely unconstitutional)
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) March 27, 2021
Others, however, such as Anders Åslund, an economist at the Atlantic Council, have been out as praising the move as excellent. Several experts have previously pointed to how the Constitutional Court is a threat to national security.
Excellent! Zelensky fires notorious Constitutional Court head Tupytsky by decree. He was appointed by Yanukovych in 2013, a sure sign that he would never do anything right.https://t.co/uy9XtEQAO5
— Anders Åslund (@anders_aslund) March 27, 2021