Ukraine: Zelensky wants to dissolve top court

A controversial ruling by the Ukrainian Constitutional Court has driven President Volodymyr Zelensky to drastic action. The ruling curtails the powers of the anti-corruption authorities and declared public access to the income declarations of public officials unconstitutional. Zelensky sees pro-Russian forces behind the decision and is now taking steps to dissolve the court. A liberating move in an emergency situation, or an inadmissible encroachment on the separation of powers?

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Financial Times (GB) /

Top court has lost its legitimacy

This court was in such a mess that Zelensky had no choice but to dissolve it, the Financial Times surmises:

“Ukraine's judicial system is plagued by judges who serve the interests of oligarch paymasters. The two top judges in its unaccountable constitutional court were appointed by Russian-leaning president Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in 2014. In last week's ruling, the court lost its legitimacy. Some of its judges are themselves under investigation for disclosure breaches, a blatant conflict of interest. It provided no precise legal argument to support its conclusions. It is no longer defending the constitution but usurping it.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Totalitarian temptation

Commentator Cristian Unteanu is appalled by the president's actions. He writes in Adevărul:

“Does Zelensky's decision come as a complete surprise or is it to be seen as part of a broader trend in Central and Eastern European countries, where the temptation to seize all of a state's levers of power has apparently never disappeared? This is what we once called the totalitarian temptation; others speak of the mentality of peoples who have never completely freed themselves from the memories of the practices imposed on them by the communist power networks. When times are hard and money is scarce, when oligarchs put pressure on the state, why not get rid of the judges through a coup, as was done in Poland - or, as is now the case in Ukraine, of the entire Constitutional Court?”

NV (UA) /

Consitutional crisis would play into Russia's hands

Despite all the animosity towards the court, any rash moves could be enormously harmful, ex-prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk warns in

“Neither society nor the international partners trust the Constitutional Court, that is indisputable. Its restart is very important in order for Ukraine to remain a constitutional state. And this new start must take place soon. However, it must take place strictly within a legal framework. ... Legal chaos in Ukraine and the undermining of state institutions is precisely what the Kremlin is aiming for. Put more simply, Moscow wants a situation in which the president of Ukraine, the parliament and the Constitutional Court clarify among themselves which of them is most loyal to the constitution, ignoring or annulling each other's decisions.”