Some of Putin’s minions like to claim that the current government of Ukraine lacks legitimacy because it was not elected by the people. This is absolute nonsense, and a brief review of American history shows why.
Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States in August 1974 when Richard M. Nixon resigned from office in disgrace. Ford was the first man ever to assume the office of president without having been elected president or vice president, having also taken the office of the vice presidency by appointment following resignation. As soon as the American people got the chance to decide whether Ford should be president, they immediately said “no.”
Ford isn’t the only American to wield presidential power without ever being authorized to do so by the people. Chester A. Arthur became president in 1881 following an assassination, and could feel superior to Ford in that he had been elected to serve as vice president. However, whereas Ford at least managed to get the nomination of his party to continue in office at the expiration of his initial term Arthur failed to achieve even that, and was rejected as a candidate.
That same fate befell Andrew Johnson, who like Arthur took power after a presidential assassination. While Arthur may have been humiliated by being denied his party’s nomination, he could feel better about himself knowing that, unlike Johnson, at least he had not been impeached as Johnson was.
Between them, the repudiated rulers Ford, Arthur and Johnson held presidential power for more than a decade. Was the American government illegitimate during this period? Other men who succeeded to the presidency, like John Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt, went on to validate their rule by being elected to continue it. Does that mean Ford, Arthur and Johnson should never have been in office at all?
Of course not. And there is no more logic supporting the notion that the current government of Ukraine is somehow illegitimate. Victor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president, was impeached and indicted for massive crimes of which he is unquestionably guilty. He fled the country to avoid prosecution, and is being given sanctuary by Russia, which refuses to extradite him. A temporary government, just like that of Ford, Arthur and Johnson, was set up pending elections, which were scheduled to occur far more quickly than was the case with Ford, Arthur or Johnson.