VLASENKO CASE - NOT THE EUROPEAN WAY SAYS FULE - UPDATED

07.03.13


Vlasenko

Ukraine's Administrative Court yesterday stripped Serhiy Vlasenko of his seat in the Ukrainian Parliament and of all his parliamentary privileges, including immunity from prosecution. The case was brought by Speaker Volodymyr Rybak on the grounds that Vlasenko was working as a defence lawyer for Yuliya Tymoshenko while also being a member of Parliament. The law does not allow parliamentarians to have additional paid employment.

Vlasenko says that he is receiving no payment for advising Yuliya Tymoshenko and that he ceased practising as a lawyer in 2008. He believes that the case against him, five months after the parliamentary election, is politically motivated. The Opposition has reacted angrily and says that it will be preparing a case to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the decision, as there is no appeal procedure for decisions from the Administrative Court. The Party of the Regions (who have already had one deputy stripped of his seat for combining his business interests with parliamentary duties) say that this is just an example of the Ukrainian parliamentary and judicial system working as it should.

The EU and European leaders have also reacted with calls for an explanation as to why this has happened so long after the election. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, and Stefan Fule, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, say the situation creates the perception of misuse of the Ukrainian judiciary for political reasons.  "The final composition of the Ukrainian Parliament must reflect the genuine will of the Ukrainian voters. The Law on the Election of People's Deputies establishes a clear, five-day time framework for the results of the elections to be challenged before the Courts. Legal proceedings which come months after the confirmation of the final election results raise political and legal concerns," they stressed.

Several commentators have said that this latest high profile case risks setting back any prospect of Ukraine and the EU signing the Association Agreement in November.

The European Parliament will debate the Vlasenko issue and its implications on Wednesday 13 March according to the latest European Parliament newsletter.

To read more in Ukrainian, click here, and in English, click here.

 

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