The President has violated the Constitution by suspending Ivan Bakanov, the Security Service Head, and Iryna Venediktova, the Prosecutor General. Meanwhile, a draft bill introducing fines for curfew violations has been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada.
The SSU head suspended, acting head appointed
Presidential decrees # 499/2022 and # 504/2022
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: terrorists, saboteurs, agents of foreign intelligence agencies, Ukrainian citizens, businesses, employees of the Security Service, the Verkhovna Rada, and the President.
Summary of the decrees:
- Ivan Bakanov is suspended as the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine. As a reason for suspension, the President referenced the Disciplinary Charter of the Armed Forces, in particular, a failure to perform official duties that caused or could have caused human casualties or other grave consequences
- Vasyl Maliuk, the First Deputy Head of the SSU, is appointed as the Acting Head of the SSU.
What is wrong:
- the SSU head is not a subordinate of the President. The Security Service now is a special-purpose state body with law enforcement functions. As its definition implies, the SSU cannot be recognized as a military unit under presidential authority. Thus, the President has overstepped his authority by issuing these decrees
- the Head of the SSU is a political office, the Disciplinary Charter of the Armed Forces does not apply to it in any way. Therefore, it is unconstitutional to use the Disciplinary Charter as a justification for suspending the Head of the SSU
- the procedures of appointment and dismissal of the SSU head and the list of presidential powers are defined in the Constitution. The SSU head is appointed and dismissed by the Verkhovna Rada. The Constitution is not suspended when martial law is in force, so the President has violated the Constitution by suspending the SSU head
- the President does not have the authority to appoint the Acting Head of the SSU
- Ukraine has a bad practice of keeping acting officials in office for years — e.g., Valentyn Nalyvaichenko worked as the Acting Head of the SSU for three years. Such practice deals damage to the efficiency and reputation of the institution.
Alternative solution: the President has to summon a parliamentary session where MPs are supposed to receive a public report from Ivan Bakanov, ask him questions, and vote on whether to dismiss him or keep him as the SSU head.
Additional information: President Volodymyr Zelensky has submitted a request to the Verkhovna Rada to dismiss Ivan Bakanov as the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.
Prosecutor General of Ukraine suspended, Acting Prosecutor General appointed
Presidential decrees # 500/2022 and # 501/2022
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: suspects, criminals, detectives, prosecutors, judges, the Verkhovna Rada, and the President.
Summary of the decrees: the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova is suspended from work. Her duties will be performed by Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksii Symonenko.
Background: on May 12, MPs amended the Law on Martial Law. The amendments granted the following powers to the President while martial law is in force:
- the President can suspend officials he appoints or dismisses within his authority
- the President can appoint acting officials in their stead.
What is wrong:
- according to the Constitution, the President appoints and dismisses the Prosecutor General only with consent from the Verkhovna Rada. Therefore, presidential decrees suspending Venediktova and appointing Symonenko are unconstitutional
- there are precedents in Ukraine when acting officials kept their positions for a long time: Oleh Mahnitskyi — three months, Mykola Harnyk — four months, and Oleh Lytvak — nine months. Such practice deals damage to the efficiency and reputation of the institution.
Alternative solution: MPs have to assemble for a session of the Verkhovna Rada, receive a report from the Prosecutor General, ask her questions, and, if necessary, declare a vote of no confidence in her.
Additional information: President Volodymyr Zelensky has submitted a draft resolution for the Verkhovna Rada to give consent for the dismissal of Iryna Venediktova.
Bill to introduce penalties for curfew laws violations submitted
Draft bill # 7553 of July 12, 2022
Status: a group of MPs from the Restoration of Ukraine and For the Future groups with Oleksandr Yurchenko as the first signatory.
Who is affected: offenders of curfew laws, police officers, detectives, and judges.
Summary of the bill:
- punishment will be introduced for the following offenses:
- loitering in the streets or public places during curfew hours
- traveling by vehicles without permits or passes during curfew hours
- the penalty for violating curfew will be a fine from ₴510 to ₴850, for a repeated offense within a year — from ₴1700 to ₴3400.
What is right: the bill introduces a penalty for violating curfew. No such penalty exists at the moment. It will allow proper enforcement of the presidential decree declaring martial law in Ukraine.
What is wrong: the bill does not make an exception for people traveling by night trains and thus forced to be outside or in public places during curfew.
Background: Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi has asked MPs to introduce penalties for curfew violations. According to the minister, curfew restrictions are often violated regardless of this being a matter of countering enemy saboteur groups and public safety.
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