Ukraine’s President. Viktor Yushchenko, has vetoed the law on the conduct of referendums claiming that the revised law is unconstitutional. Presidential Secretariat representative Maryna Stavniychuk said that ” the law violated the Constitution as it empowers the Verkhovna Rada to schedule all-Ukrainian referendums on the new wording of the Constitution, when the parliament can only schedule referendums on the issues of the Ukrainian territory”.
The statements by Ms Stavniychuk are not backed up by Ukraine’s Constitution.
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine has already ruled on the question related to the changes of Ukraine’s Constitution, which has been backed up by the Venice Commission’s interpretation, that the Constitution of Ukraine requires the consent of two-thirds majority of the parliament.
Article 72 “An All-Ukrainian referendum is designated by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or by the President of Ukraine, in accordance with their authority established by the Constitution.”
Article 73 limits issues altering the territory of Ukraine to be resolved exclusively by an All-Ukrainian referendum (It does not limit the issues that can be decided by referendum)
Article 74 is the only limitation on the holding of a referendum. “A referendum shall not be permitted in regard to draft laws on issues of taxes, the budget and amnesty”
Article 85 states clearly that the The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine comprises … (2)”instituting an All-Ukrainian referendum on issues referred to in Article 73 of this Constitution” and most important clause (20) “the organisation and procedure for conducting elections and referendums”
The President of Ukraine also has limited authority over the conduct of referendums in Ukraine. Article 106 The President … (6) “designates an All-Ukrainian referendum regarding amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine in accordance with Article 156 of this Constitution, proclaims an All-Ukrainian referendum on popular initiative”.
Article 156 relates to amendments to Ukraine’s Constitution Chapter I — “General Principles,” Chapter III — “Elections. Referendum,” and Chapter XIII — “Introducing Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine” which is required to be approved by a referendum.
All other chapters require parliamentary consent.
Viktor Yushchenko has refused to fulfill his constitutional duty in holding a referendum on the question of Ukraine’s membership of NATO. Both the Ukrainian Constitutional and Administrative Courts have ruled that the President is obliged to conduct such a referendum which has been petitioned according to Article 72, by over four million Ukrainian citizens.
Clearly the President is in breach of his oath and Constitutional duties which he selectively interprets to suit himself.