There is an adage I find myself quoting often — “Laws matter so long as they are enforced” — and when I apply this sentiment to the current situation in the Crimea region of Ukraine I am appalled by the intrusion of Russian forces.
A nation must be sovereign, which is a mere tautology, true by definition and is the line of logic embraced by the European Union and the United States as they react to the actions committed by Russia; and I, too, am inclined to agree.
But when Russian President Vladimir Putin called the protests and ousting of former President Yanukovych by Ukrainians in February an “anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power,” he made a compelling point, at least at first glance.
I abide by the law and hold a sincere appreciation for the Constitution, rooted in the beauty of representation and the balance of power in the government.
Therefore, applying these mandates upon the laws President Putin claims to have been violated, I actually examine what weight ought to be given to the letter of the law to begin with; it is here a deviation in the consistency of rationale appears.
As the First Amendment grants Americans the right to peacefully assemble, the Ukrainian Constitution reserves this right for its people, a right signed away in early January by former President Yanukovych following civil demonstrations by 800,000 protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, last December.
Dissidence and order have a natural tension between one another demanding due diligence in its handling, something Yanukovych failed to do as his signature upon the law restricting assembly was a violation of their own law and would be corrected 10 days later by the Ukrainian Parliament.
Nevertheless, Yanukovych’s action ignited further protests now aimed his way, which escalated to a violent uproar in February and lead to his forcible ousting, legitimized by a vote in the parliament, at the end of the month.
President Putin’s description and position is not in the light of Ukrainian Law but the shadow of a law established by boots marching into Crimea at the request of an ousted president to silence the voice of the people, a request obliged by the leader of a former superpower.
Although some may find this depiction more hyperbole than fact, do consider this, President Putin’s statements may not only be false, but intentionally so, with indications of this only now becoming known.
On the same day he announced the acts of the Ukrainian people as unconstitutional, he also announced he had no intention of annexing Crimea or declaring it independent, which put next to a headline today, only a naïve person would find confusing rather than a complete reversal.
Furthermore, in an attempt to appease western concerns, elections were held in Crimea that yielded more than 90 percent support for annexation into Russia and has been touted as a legitimate show of opinion by President Putin.
This may convince readers of the Times, Journal, or Lariat to appease these acts and form the opinion that the United States should just stay out of it all.
However, the Obama Administration along with other European nations has rightfully denounced these elections because this “free election” is an utter farce held under occupation, even in an area sympathetic Russia.
The irony that one cannot help but wonder if it is deliberate is that the vote hoisted as a commendation by President Putin is a blatant violation of the Ukrainian Constitution, but then again, laws matter so long as they are enforced.