This is the path to the rapid restoration of the rule of law.
Exactly 27 years ago, the Supreme Council adopted the first Constitution of Belarus. The Charter97.org website spoke with the person who had a hand in the development of the country's main law - ex-judge of the Constitutional Court, Doctor of Law Mikhail Pastukhou.
- I remember that day very well. We participated in the development together with Professor Martsinovich Izabela Ivanauna and presented our vision of the future court, its principles, organization, activities. Unfortunately, the drafters of the Constitution moved the Constitutional Court, in which I took part in the preparation of the corresponding chapter, to the section "State control and supervision."
Nevertheless, it was a festive atmosphere, the deputies were proud that the landmark document was adopted, although some chapters of the Constitution drew criticism from the deputies, including the inclusion of the chapter "President of the Republic of Belarus." The opposition of the Belarusian Popular Front was against this, this norm was criticized by several other deputies.
Everything seemed a little rosy and it was thought that Belarus would be free and develop towards Europe, along the European vector.
It also seemed that the then party nomenclature would be able to maintain its power through the institution of presidential power. Nobody thought about any special ways of seeing the country.
On this day, it is also important to note that it was Mechyslau Ivanavich Hryb who signed the Constitution, put his signature.
I have very good impressions of this day in my memory. The composition of the Constitutional Court was also formed, and I was delegated to this body. It seemed that democracy in Belarus won and a bright future awaits us. In practice, unfortunately, it turned out to be quite different.
- You very often demonstrate the 1994 Constitution in various programs, talk about its advantages. What are its main advantages?
- This Constitution was adopted as a result of a legal and fairly democratic procedure. It took into account the opinions of many developers, many political forces of that time and consolidated the legitimate system of power.
Now it is not perfect in a number of its provisions, it also turned out that the powers of the president are still too significant. They allowed the ambitious president, so to speak, to crush the parliament and other authorities, to impose referendums that did not reflect the national interests of the Belarusian people. To impose alien symbols and language of a neighboring state, even to replace the Constitution.
An insignificant role was assigned to the government, which was created under the president. The judiciary turned out to be weak, which was initially formed by parliament, and later, it was the president who played a significant role. Judges and lower courts are appointed by the president, which has led to the fact that judges have become officials and actually follow the instructions of the administration, which we have seen recently in trials.
Guarantees of citizens, including the right to judicial protection, were weak. It turned out that it was impossible to protect our rights with dependent courts.
Local self-government was also practically weak, which was later abolished by presidential decrees, and a presidential vertical was created instead of self-government.
- Now many are talking about legal default and lawlessness. To be consistent, it turns out that Belarus has been in a constant state of legal default since 1996 since the constitutional foundations have been destroyed.
- I agree with this statement. However, the word “default” is applied more to commercial law, to the bankruptcy procedure of some enterprises, companies, but our state has gone bankrupt as a whole. From this point of view, one can agree with the use of this term, but not only the state but the power because we have no state as such, one might say, after the November 1996 "referendum."
We have a group of authorities that, by manipulating this "referendum," managed to put into effect a new version of the Constitution, according to which power passed into the hands of one person.
On November 4, the Constitutional Court ruled that the amendments to the Constitution, even if they receive support, can only be recommendatory. However, Lukashenka's decree overturned the decision of the Constitutional Court and ordered a mandatory referendum.
There were many other violations, including the unlawful dismissal of Viktar Hanchar, who was the chairman of the CEC, and mass early voting under duress of the authorities. For the first time, there were tips on how people should vote on certain issues. Of course, it was an illegal "referendum," and the results of the voting cannot be trusted.
Since that time, indeed, we have ended the stage of democracy, the stage of legality, the country plunged into dictatorship and legal chaos. The Constitution essentially ceased to play any then role, becoming just a book that you can rewrite if necessary. Since that time, we have been living in lawlessness and legal default.
- You very often say that it is important to return the 1994 Constitution. Explain your position and can you imagine a roadmap for returning to the rule of law in Belarus?
- For all its shortcomings, this is the only Constitution that can become the basis for the revival of the Belarusian state. If, as a result of elections of representatives of the legislative bodies, a decision is made to restore the 1994 Constitution and amend it accordingly, then we can quickly and simply restore legality and democracy in the country.
The first should be elections to the parliament, which is the main body of the country. The elected parliament must decide on amendments to the Constitution, including - it can change the status of the president, can abolish such a post, it can decide to elect the president not by popular vote, but directly at a parliamentary meeting so that the president is obedient and acts within the framework of the Constitution and laws ...
We still have a lot to do. Carry out both economic and judicial reforms, restore local self-government, carry out an administrative-territorial reform, retirement reform, restore the status of the Belarusian language, return national symbols (meaning the white-red-white flag and the coat of arms "Pursuit"), and it is also necessary to adopt an inspiring national anthem, which should reflect the victory of the Belarusian people over that decisiveness, over the power that does not take into account the Constitution and laws of the country.
I would like to congratulate all citizens of Belarus on Constitution Day and express my confidence that it will be restored, finalized, and Belarus will take its honorary throne among the nations, as Yanka Kupala said.