October 2, 2009

Ukraine's Prime Minister Calls for Dictatorship

First two weeks of presidential campaign show that it ain't gonna be pretty. Ukraine has a real shot at sliding back to autocracy!

Ukraine's leading TV show SHUSTER-LIVE hosted prime-minister Tymoshenko. Mr. Shuster announced that he invited Ukraine's prime-minister to have public policy discussions with domestic and foreign journalists on live TV. Several members of POR party also showed up though their front-runner skipped the improvised face-off. Mr. Tymoshenko expressed her disappointment that she could not debate with POR's presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych.

Anyways, Mr. Shuster started a discussion from the government ban on black (negative) PR. Last week the Tymoshenko government issued a ban on using black PR against Mrs. Tymoshenko in the presidential campaign. In other words, you cannot use mass media to criticize the government. At least internet is still free from the government censure. Ukrainian mass media expressed concerns that the ban would slide Ukraine back to Putin's standards of independent media. In contrast, Ukraine's prime-minister says that it will only improve the political competition. Oh, really?

Then Mr. Shuster moved the discussion to the 2004 constitutional amendment. In brief, this amendment separates powers between president and prime-minister where the former is responsible for foreign policy and the latter takes on duties of domestic policy. And then something happened that shocked everyone. Mrs. Tymoshenko said on live TV that Ukraine needs dictatorship! In her own words: "People are tired of a chaos. I am also tired of this chaos in Ukraine. Sometimes I really think that Ukraine needs dictatorship and rule of law. Only dictator can maintain the rule of law in Ukraine". Her words were a cold shower for all journalists present in the studio. Later in the show she tried several times to explain that she meant the rule of law when she referred to the dictatorship. Then one journalist asked her whether she would try to change the constitution to increase the presidential power if she were a president. She said that it would depend on a public opinion.

Well, when you hear something like that from the top government official, it must raise your concerns about Ukraine's political development. Ukraine is one of the few consolidating democracies among the FSU countries. But I am afraid that Ukraine might follow the path dependence of the FSU political development in the aftermath of the presidential election.



  1. I read in Kyiv Post that the prime minister has had "friends" purchase a T.V. channel who was not complimentary to her. In western countries this would be illegal. Conflict of interest!! Is there nothing this woman will not try. I pray the voting public is getting proper news and not interferance from others.

  2. They need to unify the PM and Presidency, it's a joke as it is right now
    autocrat? eh....maybe. I think unlimited re-elections and more executive powers would be a good thing as long as the judiciary and rada keep checks and balance. of course, this is entirely dependent on the creation of a constitution.

  3. The danger in that is one person then has complete control. I don't personally like systems where the person who runs the country is under the control of another political figure, it creates confusion as to who is running the country, such as the situation in Russia. Ideally the position above PM, if it is the PM who runs the country, should not be based within the political system but should be someone of high achievement and wisdom who understands the processes of Law so they can keep the PM under control.
    Just like Italy where they have had as moany governments since WW2 as there have been years since WW2. It is another situation that leads to a complete sham.