15 September 2021

Court without a Head

On 16 October 2021, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The Court’s anniversary falls in the middle of a constitutional crisis of unprecedented scale and with no clear prospects of solution. Continue reading >>
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04 August 2021

Smothered by Russia’s Brotherly Embrace

On 12 July 2021, Putin’s article ‘On historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians’ was published on the official website of the Kremlin, followed by a video to explain the article’s main ideas. Russia’s president repeatedly refers to the past, making use of historical narratives to frame and legitimize Russia’s security policy and geopolitics. Continue reading >>
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15 Juni 2021

No Country for ‘Old Men’

On 2 June 2021, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted a bill on the status of oligarchs before the Ukrainian parliament. The bill would have wide-ranging implications. It does not only provide a definition of who counts as an oligarch but also provides measures to reduce the influence of oligarchs in media and public life. Continue reading >>
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23 April 2021
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To Trust is to Choose

Countries where state institutions are perceived as corrupt all share a similar dilemma: Why should citizens trust a candidate for public office who was selected by a state body which citizens simply don’t trust? In light of this dilemma, Ukraine came up with an innovative mechanism: Giving international experts a decisive role in selecting candidates for public office. Continue reading >>
04 März 2021
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Pandemic and Fragile Government: A Year of COVID-19 Fatigue and Disorder in Ukraine

The pandemic has exposed all the weaknesses and shortcomings of the Ukrainian health protection system, which has been on a periphery of the national reforms agenda for many years. In many regards, the Ukrainian way to protect the population against infectious diseases remains ineffective and fragmented and based of outdated Soviet-time approaches and methods. To date, Ukraine is one of the unfortunate leaders among European countries in confirmed Covid-19 cases and coronavirus death tolls. There is still no clear national strategy on how to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 in Ukraine is in place. The President of Ukraine and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine forecasted the terms of vaccination under the WHO COVAX initiative. However, detailed arrangements are far from being in place. Continue reading >>
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21 Januar 2021

False Dilemma

On 29 December 2020, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President of Ukraine, suspended the Constitutional Court’s Chairman Oleksandr Tupytskyi from office by Decree 607/2020. This step is part of his ongoing conflict with the Constitutional Court caused by Decision 13r-2020 of the Constitutional Court in late October 2020. Although the rule of law is being undermined in this conflict this is not due to the false dilemma between the rule of law and the fight against corruption as purported by the president. Continue reading >>
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05 Dezember 2020

A Damaged Court Causing a Constitutional Crisis

In late October 2020, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court found major elements of Ukraine’s legal framework on combatting corruption unconstitutional. The decision was met with so much backlash that the rule of law in Ukraine is now at stake. Additionally, it has caused a deep rift within the Constitutional Court itself, which is currently unable to take decisions as a number of justices refuse to participate in proceedings. The decision has thus not only undermined the ongoing efforts to fight corruption but has thrown Ukraine into a veritable constitutional crisis. Continue reading >>
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24 März 2020

Ukraine’s Presidents and the Judiciary: An Uneasy Relationship

On March 11, 2020, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court issued a decision dealing with the judicial reform of President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Court cooled down the reformist zeal of the presidential office by proclaiming major changes to the legislation on the judiciary unconstitutional. The Court’s decision strengthens judicial independence in Ukraine which is tainted with the legacy of politicization of past presidencies. Continue reading >>
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15 Oktober 2019

‘Ze-Gate’: Excepting Accountability

On September 24, the democrats in the House of Representatives announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump for allegedly having pressured Ukrainian President Zelenskiy during a call to probe Joe Biden, former US Vice-President and Trump’s political rival. The content of the conversation raises questions about the integrity of Ukraine’s President. Impeaching Zelenskiy, however, is not a viable option as Ukraine’s constitution sets a practically unattainable threshold for impeachment. Continue reading >>
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24 Juli 2019

Strengthening the President – Betraying Maidan?

Last Sunday's parliamentary elections resulted in a composition of the Verkhovna Rada – the Ukrainian parliament – which guarantees a solid majority to the President's party. The circumstances leading to the prematurely held elections, however, were more than doubtful from a constitutional law perspective. The Constitutional Court (CC) confirmed the dissolution of Ukraine’s parliament as constitutional in a controversial decision which strengthens the position of the president and thereby ignores the intentions and objectives of the Maidan revolution of 2014. Continue reading >>
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05 Mai 2019

Ze-Situation: A Constitutional Law Perspective on Ukraine’s Elections and What is Coming Next

On 21 April, 41-year-old actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who entered the political scene only in January 2019, won the second ballot of Ukraine’s presidential election with 73 percent of the national vote. Ukrainians are placing high hopes on their new President to improve the country’s politicial and economic situation. But political games and Ukraine’s constitution will make it difficult for Zelenskiy to bring about the change he was elected for. Continue reading >>
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16 April 2019

A Juncture of Transitional Justice: Ukraine’s Constitutional Court and the National Lustration Law

The presidential race and upcoming second round of elections currently take all attention in the news coverage on Ukraine. Meanwhile there is a case pending before the Constitutional Court that challenges the constitutionality of the 2014 lustration law. The outcome of these proceedings could shatter the post-transition constitutional law order in Ukraine in a profound way. Continue reading >>
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05 Dezember 2018

Lessons Learned? Fifth Anniversary of Euromaidan

On the fifth anniversary of the Euromaidan, during an escalation of Russia’s undeclared war, the first days of martial law in Ukraine, and on the threshold of Ukrainian presidential elections, this post seeks to analyze the main results and lessons of the Revolution of Dignity. Continue reading >>
27 Februar 2018

Wo für Straßburg der Spaß aufhört

Spiegeleier auf der Flamme des Grabmals des Unbekannten Soldaten braten ist eine krasse Form des Protests – aber so krass, dass sie mit drei Jahren Gefängnis auf Bewährung bestraft werden darf, ohne die Meinungsfreiheit zu verletzen? In seinem Urteil Sinkova v. Ukraine zeigt sich der EGMR außerstande, satirischem Protest gegen staatliche Erinnerungspolitik den nötigen Spielraum zu verschaffen. Continue reading >>
09 Februar 2018

Memory Wars: The Polish-Ukrainian Battle about History

Recent events show that the conflict between Ukraine and Poland over  the interpretation of controversial historical events of World War II has reached a point to be classified as ‘memory war’. These political initiatives from the both sides have destroyed the first achievements of the Ukrainian-Polish dialogue on mutual repentance, forgiveness and commemoration of the innocent victims killed during the conflict in 1940s. Continue reading >>
09 Januar 2018

Decommunization in Times of War: Ukraine’s Militant Democracy Problem  

The Ukrainian parliament Verkhovna Rada adopted four ‘memory laws’ shortly after the Maidan revolution in the spring of 2015: One contains a legislation criminalizing both Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes, prohibiting the propaganda of their symbols; two laws commemorating, respectively, Ukraine’s fighters for twentieth-century independence movement and the victory over Nazism during the Second World War, and a law guaranteeing access to archives of repressive Soviet-era organs. These laws raise fundamental questions about the legitimate defense of democracy in times of political transformation and war. Continue reading >>
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02 Juni 2017

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. Continue reading >>
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16 Dezember 2016

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. Continue reading >>
29 Oktober 2015

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. Continue reading >>
19 September 2015

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. Continue reading >>
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11 Juli 2015

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. Continue reading >>
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26 Juni 2015

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. Continue reading >>
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27 November 2014

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. Continue reading >>
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12 November 2014

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. Continue reading >>
02 April 2014

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. Continue reading >>
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28 März 2014

„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. Continue reading >>
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27 März 2014

GASP: Reden oder Angst haben?

Wie einst Lyndon B. Johnsohn behauptet die EU, in ihrer Außenpolitik auf die Eroberung der Herzen zu setzen. Sie positioniert sich als Wertegemeinschaft und transferiert und implementiert ihre (exklusiven und richtigen) Werte auch in die Welt, denn diese sind übertragungsfähig und befolgungswürdig, sie machen das Leben der Völker weltweit besser und die Missionare dieser Werte zu besseren Menschen. Dabei bleibt leider die Frage offen, ob diese Werte wirkungsvoll in der empirischen Realität einer höchst heterogenen Gesellschaft implementiert werden können. Like Lyndon B. Johnsohn, the EU claims to struggle with its foreign policy for the "hearts and minds" of people. It itself as a community of shared values that is exporting its (exclusive and universally valid) values to the entire world. This export is the “thing to do” because these European values (are likely to?) improve the living conditions of people worldwide and at the same time morally perfect the missionaries of the right. Still the question remains whether it is empirically possible to realise such noble ideas within the deeply heterogenous Ukranian enviroment. Continue reading >>
25 März 2014

EU Sanctions against Russia – Halfhearted or Best Response?

Much has already been written about the European Union’s sanctions against a number of Russian officials following the actions of the Putin government in the region of Crimea. One main point of criticism is that they are unlikely to have any effect because the measures are too weak and the circle of targets is too limited. However due to the lack of better alternatives, the EU’s targeted sanctions may be the best response. This is perhaps not an argument that can win hearts but it should certainly win minds.Much has already been written about the European Union’s sanctions against a number of Russian officials following the actions of the Putin government in the region of Crimea. One main point of criticism is that they are unlikely to have any effect because the measures are too weak and the circle of targets is too limited. However due to the lack of better alternatives, the EU’s targeted sanctions may be the best response. This is perhaps not an argument that can win hearts but it should certainly win minds. Continue reading >>
24 März 2014

The ENP: A policy without a strategy…

Finally, the EU has woken up to geopolitics. Most crucially, the government in Berlin shed the last glimmer of hope it entertained when it was dreaming that the man in the Kremlin might be amenable to dialogue and win-win reasoning. But the EU policy in the European East is still lacking strategic thinking. Before revamping any European Neighborhood Policy, it is a strategy vis-à-vis Russia that is in dire need.Finally, the EU has woken up to geopolitics. Most crucially, the government in Berlin shed the last glimmer of hope it entertained when it was dreaming that the man in the Kremlin might be amenable to dialogue and win-win reasoning. But the EU policy in the European East is still lacking strategic thinking. Before revamping any European Neighborhood Policy, it is a strategy vis-à-vis Russia that is in dire need. Continue reading >>
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Russlands Selbstwertgefühl und die Kurzsichtigkeit der Ukraine-Politik der EU

Der größte Fehler der EU im Konflikt um die Ukraine besteht in der offensichtlichen Kurzsichtigkeit des eigenen Handelns. Gerade wenn damit zu rechnen war, dass Russland jeden Moment sein „wahres Gesicht“ zeigen und militärisch eingreifen würde, bleibt unverständlich, warum sich offenbar bislang niemand in der EU Gedanken über mögliche Reaktionen auf diesen worst case gemacht hat. Continue reading >>
20 März 2014

Europe’s Eastern Partnership – a successful failure?

The depiction of the European Union as an economic giant but political dwarf is a classic, and criticisms for its failure to get its act together when it comes to foreign and security policy are an old hat. With the recent events in Ukraine, however, EU bashing has reached a new dimension. While the EU might have failed to actively shape the developments in its Eastern neighbourhood, arguably because it has refused to buy into Putin’s world of geopolitics, it did have influence. Despite its external failures, it is the internal success of the EU in transforming Europe into a region of lasting peace, prosperity and security that draws post-Soviet countries to the European Union. Continue reading >>
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Another litmus test for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy

As NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently observed, the crisis in Ukraine is “the gravest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War.” It is somewhat ironic that this crisis unfolded as a result of discussions surrounding the planned signature of an Association Agreement, which essentially aims to create a zone of stability, prosperity and security on the European continent. This raises the need for self-reflection on the part of the EU. Does the crisis in Ukraine illustrate the limits of the European Neighbourhood Policy? And, how can the EU play a constructive role to solve the crisis? As NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently observed, the crisis in Ukraine is “the gravest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War.” It is somewhat ironic that this crisis unfolded as a result of discussions surrounding the planned signature of an Association Agreement, which essentially aims to create a zone of stability, prosperity and security on the European continent. This raises the need for self-reflection on the part of the EU. Does the crisis in Ukraine illustrate the limits of the European Neighbourhood Policy? And, how can the EU play a constructive role to solve the crisis? Continue reading >>
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19 März 2014

Die EU muss sich stärker für Rechtsstaatlichkeit in Osteuropa engagieren

Demokratie, Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Menschenrechte sind Grundsätze, die die Gemeinsame Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik leiten sollen. Gleichwohl hat die EU in der Vergangenheit keine Strategien gefunden, die Ukraine bei der Umsetzung dieser Werte wirkungsvoll zu unterstützen. In der Zeit nach der Orangen Revolution wurde das Feld im Bereich der Verfassungskonsolidierung weitgehend dem Europarat überlassen. Stattdessen ließ sich die EU auf die Putinsche Logik der Integrationskonkurrenz ein. Will die EU aber ihre rechtsstaatlichen Ziele ernstnehmen, muss sie ihre Strategien zur Rechtstaatsentwicklung deutlich erweitern. The European Neighbourhood Policy, the Eastern Partnership and the EU’s negotiated Association Agreement with Ukraine are based on the joint undertaking to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance. The special significance of these values reflects the normative requirement relating to the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy based on Art. 21 of the EU Treaty. Nevertheless, the EU has not in the past found any strategies to effectively support Ukraine in its implementation of these values. During the period after the Orange Revolution, the field of constitutional consolidation was largely left to the European Council. Instead of making concentrated efforts to counteract Ukraine's constitutional decline, the EU accepted Putin’s concept of integration rivalry. If the EU plans to take its targets of establishing the rule of law seriously, it will have to significantly extend its relevant strategies. Continue reading >>
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18 März 2014

(K)ein Mythos? – Unsere Abhängigkeit vom russischen Gas

Sanktionen gegen Russland zu verhängen würde wegen der deutschen Abhängigkeit vom russischen Gas die Energiewende in Gefahr bringen. Stimmt das überhaupt? Continue reading >>
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Zwischen Völkerrecht und Selbstbestimmung

Gegenwärtig kann es in Kiew, Berlin und Brüssel nur um Schadenbegrenzung gehen. Auf der Ebene der internationalen Politik müssen Signale an Russland ausgesandt werden, dass seine Aggressionspolitik keine Zukunft hat. Hier muss dem Denkmodell des Völkerrechts gefolgt werden. Auf der Ebene des Selbstbestimmungsrechts sollte die ukrainische Regierung dagegen davon überzeugt werden, der Selbstbestimmungsdiskussion in der Ostukraine konstruktiv entgegenzutreten. Continue reading >>
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Der EGMR, zerrieben im Konflikt Russland-Ukraine?

Der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte (EGMR) hat vor wenigen Tagen im Wege einer vorläufigen Maßnahme gem. Art. 39 der Verfahrensordnung in den laufenden Konflikt zwischen Russland und der Ukraine eingegriffen (vgl. Pressemitteilung ECHR 073 (2014)). Man mag fragen: Warum mutet sich der EGMR das zu? Oder auch: Was maßt sich der Gerichtshof an? Glaubt er wirklich, im Wege des vorläufigen Rechtsschutzes einen internationalen Konflikt befrieden zu können, an dem sich die internationale Diplomatie die Zähne ausbeißt? Der Versuch einer Standortbestimmung.On 13th March 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has intervened in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine by indicating provisional measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (cf. Press Release ECHR 073 (2014)). One might ask: Why does the Court undergo such a burden? Or, seen from another perspective: Why is the Court attributing itself such a power? Do the judges really belief that they can pacify an international conflict, which international diplomacy is unable to solve, just by means of an interim injunction? The attempt of defining a position. Continue reading >>
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10 März 2014

Eine kurze Geschichte des ukrainischen Verfassungsrechts

Ein starker Präsident oder ein starkes Parlament? Zwischen diesen beiden Polen ist die ukrainische Verfassung in den letzten 20 Jahren mehrfach hin- und heroszilliert. Anastasiia Tatarenko liefert einen Überblick über den Verfassungswandel in der Ukraine vom Fall der Sowjetunion bis heute. A strong president or a strong parliament? The Ukrainian constitution has oscillated back and forth between these two poles several times during the last 20 years. Anastasiia Tatarenko provides an overview on Ukrainian constitutional changes from the fall of the Soviet Union till today. Continue reading >>
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25 Februar 2014
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Ukraine: Morgendämmerung des Parlaments?

Seit etwa einer Woche überstürzen sich die politischen Ereignisse in der Ukraine. Der Umsturz in Kiew wirft viele, gerade auch verfassungspolitische Fragen auf. Wir haben mit dem Osteuropaexperten und DAAD-Fachlektor an der Nationalen Universität „KiewMohyla-Akademie“, Dr. Dr. Andreas Umland, über die aktuellen Entwicklungen gesprochen. Continue reading >>
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12 April 2013

Ukrainisches Versammlungsrecht: Rechtslücke als Menschenrechtsverstoß

Die ukrainische Verfassung garantiert, wie jede vernünftige und auch sehr […] Continue reading >>
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