Russian UN Envoy: What if Mitt Romney and Congress Ousted Obama? ‘Would That be Democratic?’

By Patrick Goodenough | March 3, 2014 | 6:34 PM EST

Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin. (Screenshot: U.N. Webcast)

( – Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. on Monday afternoon compared the exit of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich from Kiev last month to a situation in which former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney went to the White House while President Obama was away, and then Congress impeached the president.

During a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis in Ukraine and its Crimea region where Russian has seized control, Vitaly Churkin responded to an earlier reference by U.S. ambassador Samantha Power to the need to respect the constitution of Ukraine.

“We believe that that is important,” agreed Churkin, as translated by an official U.N. interpreter. “I’m trying to imagine where, if President Obama went to California, let’s say, and then Mitt Romney went to the White House and then – whatever, if the Congress, [skirting] around all procedures, called to impeach him when he was not in the White House.”

“How would the U.S. public opinion view that?” he asked. “Would that be a manifestation of democracy? And that’s what happened in Ukraine.”

Responding a few minutes later, Power offered a different perspective on Yanukovich’s departure.

Under the terms of a European-mediated plan on February 21, she recalled, “President Yanukovich had 24 hours to sign the first piece of action pursued in the Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] – the changing of the constitution pursuant to the February 21 agreement.”

Yanukovich did not sign it, she said, but instead “he left the city – indeed he fled the city. He packed up himself and his family, and he left the seat of the presidency vacant for two days while his country was in crisis.”

“He also left vast evidence of corruption, vast evidence of the amounts he had stolen from the Ukrainian people,” Power said. “And in that context, with 371 votes, the democratically-elected Rada voted Yanukovich out of office, with his own party turning against him.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow