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Dragged-out parliamentary crisis in Ukraine has prompted some analysts to draw analogies with the events that unfolded in Russia in 1993 when a tragic standoff broke out between President Boris Yeltsin’s administration and the then parliament, the Supreme Soviet, ending in an armed mini-conflict.
Still the majority of experts call on their counterparts to refrain from over-dramatizing the situation. They think the authorities and the opposition will tap a solution somehow.
The parliamentary crisis in Ukraine that started virtually at the same moment when the Verkhovna Rada, the national parliament was elected has entered a new phase. As of Thursday, the oppositionist minority and the parliamentary majority are holding their sessions in different buildings.
Representatives of the power-holding party have called into question the real productivity of the Rada where the opposition again blocked all the activity.
Opposition forces put forward four demands - to appoint an election in Kiev, to call off the pension system reform, to consider resignation of the cabinet led by Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, and to revoke a law on the pan-Ukrainian referendum.
Friday, the opposition planned to put up for a discussion a draft resolution on voicing no-confidence in the cabinet. The fact triggered speculations about a systemic crisis of state power in the country and a possibility of radical measures for resolve it.
The main dilemma now is what could be done in the future. The authorities admit that the Verkhovna Rada’s self-disbandment and a new parliamentary election under a majority system might eventually offer the only way out of the situation.
The opposition has accused the MPs representing the Regions Party and their allies from the Communist Party, who organized an ‘offsite parliamentary session’, of an attempted constitutional coup. The steps taken by the Regions and the Communists are tantamount to a putsch “and none of the decisions they take in a backstreet or somewhere else will be constitutional,” said Arseny Yatsenyuk, the leader of the Batkivshchina /Fatherland/ party.
“Any endeavor to pass decisions of this kind will mean an attempt to seize state power and overturn the constitutional system,” he said. “This implies 15 years in jail as a minimum.”
Sunday, the oppositionists plan to bring their supporters together in Kiev. “It’s high time to appeal to the people,” said Oleg Tyagnybok, an ultra-right opposition leader.
The Regions Party tried to switch the situation back to normal earlier this week and published an appeal to the fellow-MPs calling on them to renounce ultimatums and to restart regular work in the Rada.
The opposition responded by putting forward a new demand - to revoke the law on the referendum. Arseny Yatsenyuk claimed that the referendum is President Viktor Yanukovich’s idea. He had ostensibly embarked on a plan to usurp power before the presidential election of 2015.
Yatsenyuk alleges that the first phase of the plan envisions a referendum. It will be organized in the summertime during the period of mass vacationing, and the Rada will ostensibly be dissolved then.
As for the new election, it will be held under the majority system and the number of seats in parliament will be slashed by 100 to 350. Along with this, the parliament will get an upper house, members of which will supposedly be appointed by the President.
In the conclusive phase of the plan, the system of presidential elections will be remade in a way that will secure Yanukovich’s victory in the 2015 election.
The prospects the opposition is talking about presuppose changes in the Constitution and a special Constitutional Assembly led by the country’s first President, Leonid Kravchuk, is working on a new version of the Basic Law. Kravchuk said, however, that he has not heard anything about the provisions the opposition is rumoring about.
“The Constitutional Assembly is not considering the possibility of either a bicameral parliament or an alteration of the constitutional system and will not be considering them in the future,” he said. “We don’t have any tasks in that area.”
Whatever the course the current situation may take, it will not introduce any radical changes in the system of state power.
Vladimir Fesenko, the head of the Penta analysis center told Nezavissimaya Gazeta that the core of the situation is to be found in the absence of a steady parliamentary majority. “The opposition is obstructing the sessions and the Rada is in an unending feverish condition,” he said.
“And add to this the Communists who keep demonstrating a self-styled oppositionist behavior, too,” Fesenko said. “As a result, there’s a deadlock where not a single decision can be taken except for the politically neutral ones.”
“The current developments emblematize a crisis of the system,” says Konstantin Bondarenko, a political scientist. “I think there are two ways out of it - either a compromise or a revolution, but still I think the finale will be peaceful, as the two sides will agree on concessions.”
“I, for one, would refrain from comparing the situation in Ukraine with the events in Russia in 1993 because that’s a clear over-exaggeration,” Itar-Tass was told by Sergei Zharikhin, First Deputy Director of the Institute for CIS Studies. “Everything is developing in the constitutional framework for the time being at least. No doubt, the opposition goes overboard with its endless boycotts of the Rada, since its actions begin to kill off the very essence of parliamentarianism but the decisions are taken by the parliamentary majority all the same.”
Zharikhin pointed out a historical fact: when the Regions Party had a minority of seats in the Rada, it would often resort to the same classical Ukrainian instrument.
A crisis of state power is scarcely deniable and it goes beyond the interrelations between the government and the opposition. It is linked to the need of making a geopolitical choice between the CIS Customs Union /embracing Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan at the moment/ and the EU, and “nobody actually wants to be the one who makes it”.
“Nobody wants to take clear-cut decisions, everybody would like to keep up a multi-vector policy, and the dragged-out political crisis comes in handy here, as it puts off the necessity of unambiguous steps,” Zharikhin believes
An early parliamentary election is inescapable but it will not be held in the short term, he said. “They will procrastinate with it until the spring parliamentary recess that will last from April 28 through to May 12. And then they will be procrastinating until the summer recess.”
Viktor Yanukovich is having a hard time right now, Zharikhin said.
“Forecasts indicate that he will lose to any opposition candidate except Tyagnybok in the second round of elections and that’s why it isn’t ruled out that he may resort to imposing restrictions on democracy,” he said.