Ukraine’s Ban on Russian Social Media: On The Edge Between National Security and Freedom of Expression

Can Ukraine’s ban of Russian social media be legally justified? While the international community mostly condemns the ban, a closer look at the European Convention of Human Rights reveals that the matter is not so easy.

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Towards a Solution for the Ratification Conundrum of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement?

The ratification process of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement has been stalled following "No" victory in the Dutch referendum of 6 April 2016. Yesterday, the EU heads of states have adopted a decision addressing the Dutch concerns. The option which is currently on the table is by far the easiest to solve the ratification conundrum while responding to the arguments of the ‘no-camp’ in the referendum campaign. Any alternatives, such as the inclusion of formal reservations or a procedure leading to a Dutch withdrawal from the agreement, entail the risk of long-term legal uncertainty which would only be detrimental for the EU, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

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EuG-Urteil zur Ukraine: Scheitert die europäische Außenpolitik an den eigenen Ansprüchen?

In seinem neuesten Urteil vom 26. Oktober 2015 zum Einfrieren von Konten, auf denen veruntreute ukrainische Staatsgelder zu vermuten sind, unterwirft sich die europäische Justiz strengen Maßstäben. Obgleich es grundsätzlich wünschenswert ist, dass Eingriffe der EU in die Handlungsfreiräumer Einzelner so restriktiv wie möglich behandelt werden, scheint das Gericht der Europäischen Union (EuG) in diesem Fall die außenpolitische Handlungsfreiheit des Rates der Europäischen Union über Gebühr zu beschränken.

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Die Logik des Krieges: eine Anmerkung zur ukrainischen Verfassungsreform

Die Verfassungsreform in der Ukraine droht zu scheitern. In dem Vorgang zeigt sich das große ukrainische Dilemma im Kleinen: der Westen setzt Moskaus Zugriff auf die Ukraine wenig entgegen. Der Druck durch Merkel und Hollande auf Porošenko, die Verfassungsreform nach Minsk II umzusetzen, diente dem Ziel, Minsk II nicht scheitern zu lassen, nicht aber den Interessen der ukrainischen Staatsreform mit einer neuen Verfassung als freiwilligem Vertrag der Bürger über die Form ihres Zusammenlebens.

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Lustration and guilt: Evolution of the Venice Commission’s approach

On 19 June 2015 the Venice Commission issued its final opinion on the Law on government cleansing (lustration law) of Ukraine. Compared to the interim opinion, the final document is much more favorable to the Ukraine’s lustration initiative. One of the most interesting changes concerns the role of guilt in the lustration framework.

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Lustration in Ukraine: Political Cleansing or a Tool of Revenge?

To tackle corruption and disloyalty the Ukrainian government has proposed a law on government cleansing which is also known as the lustration law. This draft law has recently been examined by the Venice Commission resulting in the opinion adopted on 20 June 2015. Despite the opinion been quite critical the Ukrainian government was quick to announce that the Venice Commission has confirmed that the law in question does not violate any international human rights standards or any of the resolutions of the Council of Europe. The announcement also states that the Venice Commission suggested some technical amendments to the draft law which will be taken into account by the Ukrainian authorities. This statement however does not really reflect what the Venice Commission has observed in its opinion.

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The European Court of Human Rights and the Armed Conflict between Russia and Ukraine

The European Court of Human Rights has announced that it has communicated to the government of Russia two inter-state complaints that the Ukraine has brought against it concerning the events that took place in the Crimea and the Eastern regions of Ukraine (‘the Donbas’) in the spring and summer of 2014. It seems that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine will pose a number of complex normative questions to the Court.

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Lustration durch Kahlschlag: Wie die Ukraine Justiz und Verwaltung säubert

An Radikalität fehlt es dem jüngsten Versuch der ukrainischen Regierung, Justiz und Verwaltung von Anhängern des alten Regimes zu säubern, gewiss nicht – doch ob ihm auch Erfolg beschieden sein wird, ist mehr als ungewiss. Das Gesetz "Über die Säuberung des Regierungsapparats", das am 15. Oktober in Kraft getreten ist, sieht programmatisch einen Rundumschlag vor – ehemalige KGB-Agenten sind genauso von Entlassung und Ausschluss aus dem Staatsdienst betroffen wie Führungskräfte und einfache Vollzugsbeamte aus der Janukowitsch-Ära. Der Adressatenkreis umfasst mindestens eine halbe Millionen Beamte.

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The Legal Status and Modern History of Crimean Autonomy

Over the past weeks, much has been said about the Republic of Crimea’s secession/annexation to the Russian Federation and on its illegality (see on this blog here) and I personally agree with these statements. At the same time, I believe that the Crimean problem is much more complex at its roots and that some of Crimea’s history and its struggle for independence in the past have been overlooked in most of the recent discussion. I will provide some historical overview of the Crimean struggle for independence. It will dispel the widespread myth that Crimea for centuries had been part of Russia and was “gifted” to Ukraine and illustrate that yet another annexation of Crimea by Russia does not solve the Crimean problem.Over the past weeks, much has been said about the Republic of Crimea’s secession/annexation to the Russian Federation and on its illegality, and I personally agree with these statements. At the same time, I believe that the Crimean problem is much more complex at its roots and that some of Crimea’s history and its struggle for independence in the past have been overlooked in most of the recent discussion. I will provide some historical overview of the Crimean struggle for independence. It will dispel the widespread myth that Crimea for centuries had been part of Russia and was “gifted” to Ukraine and illustrate that yet another annexation of Crimea by Russia does not solve the Crimean problem.

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„Wie viele Divisionen hat der Papst?“ Die EU, Putins Russland und der lange Atem normativer Außenpolitik

„Der Papst? Wie viele Divisionen hat der denn?“ Mit diesen Worten verhöhnte Josef Stalin im Jahre 1935 den Vatikan und sprach diesem somit jede außenpolitischer Beachtung aus Sicht der Sowjetunion ab. Heute, fast achtzig Jahre später, gibt es schon lange keine Sowjetunion mehr. Der Papst, seinerseits, herrscht auch weiterhin ohne die Hilfen von Panzerkolonnen im Vatikan und zieht regelmäßig Menschenmengen auf den Petersplatz in Rom oder auf seinen Auslandsreisen um die Welt an. Auch die EU hat keine Divisionen, wenn wir einmal von den kleinen und eher auf Papier ihr Dasein fristenden „Battle Groups“ absehen, und verschreibt sich einer Außenpolitik basiert auf ‚soft power’ und normativen Inhalten. Doch auch sie wird Putins Russland überdauern.‘The Pope? How many divisions has he got?’ With these scoffing words, Joseph Stalin dismissed in 1935 the Vatican as a factor of any significance for the Soviet Union and its foreign policy. Today, almost 80 years later, the Soviet Union is long gone. The Pope, on his part, continues to rule from the Vatican without the help of armored divisions and attracts on a regular basis vast crowds to St. Peter’s Square or on his trips abroad. The European Union does not have any divisions either, if we leave aside the small ‘battle groups’, which in any event exist to a greater extent on paper than on the ground. It, too, commits itself to a foreign policy based on ‘soft power’ and normative influence. And it, too, will outlast Putin’s Russia.

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