Very few people believe today that any Ukrainian court, including the Constitutional Court (stacked last year with presidential loyalists), is able to pass any independent decision to contradict whatever may be the president’s whim. In this recent case, neither the court’s ruling nor its timing were incidental. The ruling has clearly met Yanukovych’s need to correct the mistake of his associates, who had badly underestimated the destructive power of the parliamentary motion and allowed the pro-Kremlin lobbyists to pass it through.
The timing was also not incidental. It clearly met two urgent political needs: first, to avoid new violent clashes in Lviv and elsewhere on June 22 (the day when the so-called “Great Patriotic War” began 70 years ago) similar to those that happened back on May 9 when Russian nationalists did their best to provoke Ukrainian counterparts in their major stronghold.
And secondly, the deadline for the ruling was June 21, the date of Yanukovych’s visit to Strasbourg and his official presentation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The European members who had accumulated many unpleasant questions for the Ukrainian president regarding his authoritarian rule, selective application of justice and persecution of political opponents, had to be countered by the appearance of a moderate politician strongly committed to the rule of law and with no wish to influence the independent judiciary in his country.