Was the change in government in Ukraine legal?
President Putin recently called the change in government in Ukraine an "anti-constitutional coup and a military seizure of power". Obviously, the interim government and their Western allies disagree, however I couldn't find a clear answer on whether the process followed to oust former President Yanukovych was actually in line with the Ukrainian constitution.
As @julianschuessler said, Yanukovich was removed unconstitutionally. Note, however, that Russia is yet to break the law by being in the Ukraine. According to a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine, Russia is allowed to have upto 25,000 troops on (Ukranian/Crimean) soil, in exchange for various goodies. Reports say that only 16,000 troops are in the Ukraine
Are you really interested in this question? Was George W. Bush's election legal? Was Hitler's "coup" legal, etc.? The Ukrainian constitution is malleable you know.
Was the American revolution legal? The Arab spring uprisings? What is the difference between these examples and (for example) Hitler's... creative election? Could it be that a government's actions *after* its rise to power legitimize it over the regime it replaces?
It seems to be a tactic deployed by EU and US to bring a pro EU government in Ukraine.
It was not legal by Ukraine laws, but it conforms to UN norms. However it is typical for totalitarian governments because they have tendency to have their laws ajusted toward protection of status-quo.
@nicodemus13 That's the point of the question. If the constitutional process was followed, this wasn't a coup. If not, then Putin's claims of a coup have a basis.
Ok, but my was point was purely grammatical; Putin should have claimed it was a "coup and a military seizure of power" as there is not such thing as a 'constitutional coup'. It's a kind of oxymoron.
No, it was illegal.
Jay Ulfelder discussed this topic among others in a nice blogpost I quote for convenience:
The vote to remove Yanukovych doesn’t seem to have followed constitutional procedures. Under Articles 108-112 of Ukraine’s constitution (here), there are four ways a sitting president may leave office between elections: resignation, incapacitation, death, and impeachment. None of the first three happened—early rumors to the contrary, Yanukovych has vehemently denied that he resigned—so that leaves the fourth, impeachment. According to Article 111, impeachment must follow a specific set of procedures: Parliament must vote to impeach and then convene a committee to investigate. That committee must investigate and report back to parliament, which must then vote to bring charges. A final vote to convict may only come after receipt of a judgment from the Constitutional Court that “the acts, of which the President of Ukraine is accused, contain elements of treason or other crime.”
And this final vote would have taken the votes of at least 3/4 of all MPs (338), whereas only 328 MPs simply voted for impeachment in a clearly unconstitutional way.
Worth noting: the blog does say continue on to suggest that Yanukovych's actions "*qualify* as an impeachable offense, but impeachment is not what happened". It will be interesting to see if the parliament goes through formal impeachment procedures *in absentia* to retroactively legitimatize its actions.
Did they forgo the proceedings in order to establish some form of order in the country? It seems like until they actually hold the impeachment procedure Yanukovych can claim that he has legitimacy and is the real President.
I believe that the argument used in the debates before that actual vote was to treat Yanukovych as incapacitated due to him being unable to govern after fleeing the capital. That being said, there probably wasn't any scenario offered by the current constitution that would be reasonable/realistic at that point, given the actions of both Yanukovych and the parliament; so they just implemented a de facto solution that would have to be reconfirmed or overturned after new elections and likely a change in constitution.
This answer is based on a single source who, in turn, only refers Russian and pro-Russian sources. Yanukovich has deliberately fled to the Russia. As he has *personally confessed* in his interview to BBC, he did it with aid of the **Russian special ops squadron** who intruded in Ukraine with no permit. This is qualified **recusal**.