Oleg Tsarev: Zelensky’s Goal Is to Put the Verkhovna Rada Into His Pocket

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by 373 votes cancelled parliamentary immunity. The document stipulates the cancellation of inviolability from January 1st 2020. The politician and former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Oleg Tsarev considers that this step was necessary for Zelensky to keep his faction and all of parliament under control.

“Zelensky needs the cancellation of parliamentary immunity in order to keep his deputy corps obedient. From outside it looks a step towards performing his election pledges. But actually it is in this way that Zelensky solves his problems. Now, from the 1st of January, ministers/law enforcement will be able to always ensure the initiation of legal proceedings against any deputy. Earlier the initiation of legal proceedings could be launched against the relatives, friends, or the business of the deputy, but not against him. The fact that deputies voted for the removal of parliamentary immunity extremely reluctantly is also connected to this. Of course, sometimes there were exceptions. I was one of the few who was deprived of immunity after ‘Maidan’, but this, I will repeat, happens in Ukraine extremely rarely.

Unambiguously, for Ukraine as a state it is a step towards reducing democracy and strengthening the dictatorship and presidential power vertical. So now Zelensky, through executive authorities, by putting pressure on deputies, will be able to influence through the government the adoption of any legislative decisions. In principle, Zelensky, together with Kolomoisky, creates a peculiar synthetic dictatorship in parliament which has no opportunity to perform its functions as a branch of power that is separate from the president.

At the same time this decision wasn’t counterbalanced by the removal of immunity from the president: the procedure of impeachment still remains rather difficult, the need for a certain quantity of deputy votes and voting structure won’t give the chance to just take power away from the head of the country and remove them, not to mention the fact that a law on impeachment hasn’t yet been adopted.

It is also regrettable that every president of Ukraine builds a system, an architecture of power underneath themselves, without thinking that the next head of state will come to power and the parliament, which can and should be a deterrent, will be incapable of working on tasks independently.

Although the law aims first of all to keep a tight rein on the representatives of the ‘Servant of the People’ faction, oppositional deputies and parliamentarians who will criticise the government also risk becoming out of favour with them – criminal cases will quite possibly be initiated against them for reasons decided by the new Ukrainian government. Nobody has ye repealed the article ‘state treason’ for making appeals for federalisation, or criminal liability for denying Russian aggression or denying that Holodomor was the genocide of Ukrainians.

I will repeat, Zelensky needed the removal of immunity first and foremost in order to put his own faction under control. Because, possessing 300 votes in parliament, he could remove at the click of his fingers immunity from any objectionable deputy. But this doesn’t mean that he could constantly keep his faction to heel.

It is precisely for this reason that during the first days of work in the parliament, while many deputies haven’t yet realised that they represent a considerable force and their opinion has to be reckoned with, Zelensky suggested to vote for such a draft law. At the same time, there is already an initiative to allow at the legislative level to wiretap deputies and to shadow them. Everything is aimed at ensuring that president Zelensky puts the Verkhovna Rada into his pocket”.

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