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Ukraine’s courts restores Presidential power stripped from Orange Revolution, government tells women how to dress

The Yanukovych government keeps marching Ukraine backwards through time as the corrupt court system reverted Presidential powers it took from the Orange Revolution’s President Yushchenko and restored them last week to pro-Russian President Yanukovych. The move consolidates even more power to the President to now appoint the prime minister and other senior officials, as he plunges Ukraine deeper into recession and sells more national interests and sovereignty to Russia to cover its ballooning debt:

image Ukraine’s Constitutional Court handed down a politically explosive ruling Friday, declaring "illegal" a complex deal that peacefully ended the Orange Revolution six years ago by redistributing power from the presidency to the more broadly based parliament.

The impact of the decision will be to return Ukraine to the terms of its 1996 Constitution, which granted the lion’s share of power to the president, including the authority to name the prime minister and government cabinet.

 image Critics maintain that the old "presidential" constitutional system led to massive corruption and power abuses under former President Leonid Kuchma. It also spawned the alleged vote rigging that enabled Mr. Kuchma’s handpicked successor, Yanukovich, to win the first round of the controversial 2004 presidential election, and which triggered the Orange Revolution.

But they also led to years of gridlock between pro-West former President Viktor Yushchenko and the opposition-dominated Supreme Rada, which stymied most of his attempts to reform Ukraine’s economy and align the country more closely with the European Union.

But critics say the decision will enable President Viktor Yanukovich, who was elected in a hard-fought contest in February this year, to rapidly consolidate power and carry out a far-reaching political agenda.

That agenda has included repairing Ukraine’s tattered relations with Moscow,ending its bid to join the Western military alliance NATO, and perhaps seeking to give Russian – spoken by nearly half of Ukrainians – official language status.

"Ukraine’s system is moving closer to the Russian system of power," says Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the independent Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies.

"Theoretically speaking, when all power is concentrated in the hands of a single person, management becomes simplified. But, of course, that depends on whether the person in question knows what to do."

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For anyone unclear on the old (and now new again) rules:

The 1996 Constitution allowed the president to pick the prime minister and Cabinet ministers but had shorter parliamentary terms of only four years, compared with five years under the amendments introduced in 2004 and now repealed.

Under the 1996 Constitution, which has again entered into force Oct. 1, the president is elected for five years, nominates candidates for prime minister (for parliamentary ratification) and appoints Cabinet ministers, has the right to dismiss government without parliamentary approval and can cancel any government resolution.

Parliament is elected for four years, is not required to form a majority coalition, can dismiss the government by vote of no-confidence and can override presidential decrees by two-thirds parliamentary majority, or 300 votes.

One of the latest of many backwards legislations put foward is to introduce a new dress code that specifically aims at women to dress more conservatively:

Mini skirts and high heels were banned in the high corridors of Ukrainian government on Tuesday, as a new dress code went into effect.

New regulations published by Ukraine’s cabinet of ministers instructed female government workers they should maintain ‘a professional appearance at all times’ and as such should wear moderate heels, minimal makeup, and limited perfume.

Ruffled dresses, transparent materials, and outfits displaying excessive leg or cleavage were also fashion choices contrary to the image of a responsible public servant, and should not be worn at work, according to the regulations.

The new dress code is clearly aimed to stifle the women of opposition, known to make media headlines for their fashion and bring attention to Ukraine’s pressing issues:

Yulia Tymoshenko, known for lacy dresses and stilettos, said Wednesday that the dress code would prevent the Queen of England from entering Cabinet premises.

"The Queen of England and (Libya’s leader Muammar) Gaddafi, for instance, for sure would not have been allowed in the Cabinet," Tymoshenko, who is now a top opposition leader, quipped at a news conference Wednesday.

But Anna German, a top aide to President Viktor Yanukovych, known as another fashionista among the political elite, disagreed.

"A dress code looks archaic," German told Interfax news agency as saying Tuesday, adding that government workers should have a built-in sense of style and ethics.

"I look at it with irony," she was quoted as saying.

These rules come from the same Prime Minister who once declared that reform was not women’s work, who’s cabinet does not have a single female in its ranks.