Foreign Minister William Hague deceived the House of Commons about the legitimacy of the new regime in Ukraine in a statement on 4 March 2014. He led the House to believe that the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, had removed President Yanukovich from power on 22 February 2014 in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution and that therefore 'it is wrong to question the legitimacy of the new authorities'.
It is simply untrue that the Rada followed the procedure laid down in the Ukrainian constitution to impeach and remove a president from power.
This procedure, laid down in Article 111 of the constitution (see text below), is not unlike that required for the impeachment and removal from power of a US president, which could take months.
Thus, Article 111 obliges the Rada to establish a special investigatory commission to formulate charges against the president, seek evidence to justify the charges and come to conclusions about the president’s guilt for the Rada to consider.
Prior to a final vote to remove a president from power, it requires
(a) the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to review the case and certify that the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration has been followed, and
(b) the Supreme Court of Ukraine must certify that the acts of which the President is accused are worthy of impeachment.
The Rada didn’t follow this procedure at all. No investigatory commission was established and the Courts were not involved. On 22 February 2014, the Rada simply passed a bill removing President Yanukovych from office.
Furthermore, the bill wasn’t even supported by three quarters of the members of the Rada, as required by Article 111 for the removal of a president from office – it was supported by 328 members, when it required 338 (since the Rada has 450 members).
Justifying UK support for the new regime in Kiev in the House of Commons on 4 March 2014, William Hague said:
“Former President Yanukovych left his post and then left the country, and the decisions on replacing him with an acting President were made by the Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, by the very large majorities required under the constitution, including with the support of members of former President Yanukovych’s party, the Party of Regions, so it is wrong to question the legitimacy of the new authorities.”
That is a calculated deception of the House of Commons, designed to give the impression that the procedure prescribed in the Ukrainian constitution for the removal of a president from office had been followed, when it hadn’t.
Annex: Article 111 of the Ukrainian Constitution
The President of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime.
The issue of the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is initiated by the majority of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
To conduct the investigation, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine establishes a special temporary investigatory commission whose composition includes a special procurator and special investigators.
The conclusions and proposals of the temporary investigatory commission are considered at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
For cause, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by no less than two-thirds of its constitutional composition, adopts a decision on the accusation of the President of Ukraine.
The decision on the removal of the President of Ukraine from office by the procedure of impeachment is adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by no less than three-quarters of its constitutional composition, after the review of the case by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the receipt of its opinion on the observance of the constitutional procedure of investigation and consideration of the case of impeachment, and the receipt of the opinion of the Supreme Court of Ukraine to the effect that the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of state treason or other crime.
David Morrison has written widely on the Middle East including two highly regarded pamphlets – 'Iraq: Lies, half-truths & omissions' and 'Iraq: How regime change was dressed up as disarmament' – on the deception perpetrated by the British government to induce the British public to support military action against Iraq. He is co-author with Peter Oborne of A Dangerous Delusion: Why the West is Wrong about Nuclear Iran, published in 2013.