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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ukrainian Parliament votes for the new amnesty law amid the deepening political crisis

Wednesday's Parliament's session
(Image: TSN)
Massive anti-government protests continue in Ukraine nationwide, as the talks between the oppositional leaders and Yanukovich are ongoing, and Ukrainian Parliament gathers for the second day for the extraordinary sessions on order to resolve political crisis in the country.

During the decisive Tuesday’s session on 28 January Ukrainian Parliament has voted in favor of cancelling of almost all the dictatorial 16 January laws restricting personal and civil rights and freedoms of Ukrainians. Cabinet of Ministers of Mykola Azarov has resigned temporally government was formed and will be headed by Vice-Prime Minister Sergiy Arbuzov, until the new government will be formed and appointed.

Though parliamentarians couldn’t reach agreement regarding the issue of political prisoners and detained activists, so the voting for the project of amnesty law was postponed for the Wednesday’s session.

Wednesday’s 29 January session appeared to be long and complicated, as there was no unity over the amnesty law project. Oppositional parliamentarians have registered their amnesty law draft, which declared unconditional release of all the detained activists and political prisoners since the beginning of the protests on 21 November 2013. There were also two other amnesty law drafts submitted by the independent parliamentarians, and these drafts were actually similar or very close to the one offered by opposition. But later it became known that there is another draft, which was registered by the Party of Regions (pro-Yanukovich) parliamentarian Yuriy Miroshnichenko.
Protesters in Grushevsky Street in Kyiv
(Image: Radio Svoboda)

This amnesty law stated that all the detained activists could be released only after all the administrative buildings will be left by the protesters, and the roads and streets unblocked. This law gives the protesters 15 days to free these buildings and objects since the day when the law will be put in effect.

Oppositional parliamentarians claimed they didn’t know about this law as it wasn’t registered on the website of the Parliament in advance. There were also no consultations and discussions regarding this law.

The majority of the Parliament’s members were ready to vote for the law proposed by opposition, when Victor Yanukovich personally arrived in the Parliament in order to hold an emergency meeting with the members of his Party of Regions. Parliament’s session was stopped, as Yanukovich and his parliamentary group have left the session hall and gathered in another room. Their consultations lasted during several hours, as Yanukovich reportedly pressed them to vote for the draft of Miroshnichenko. In other case, if this law wouldn’t be voted, Yanukovich was ready to dissolve the Parliament, according to the sources in Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). In other words, Yanukovich personally arrived to press his parliamentarians to vote for the needed law draft.

Burning tires on Grushevsky Street in Kyiv
(Image: Radio Svoboda)
Thus, the majority of Party of Regions members and also Communists have voted in favor of this draft law. The voting has been held with the serious violations and sparked criticism and harsh discussions among many politicians and experts. Oppositional leader Oleg Tyagnybok stated that this law could be named “Law about hostages”, as the Yanukovich’s regime actually declared that it takes hostages and named the prize for their release, such as withdrawal of protesters form the streets and leaving the administrative buildings. Of course, Maidan will not go and will continue its fight, added Mr. Tyagnybok.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s Parliamentary session was attended by many Western politicians and diplomats following closely the situation in Ukraine. EU delegation, including Elmar Brok, was also presented. Mr. Brock stated later that EU will impose personal sanctions against several Ukrainian high officials responsible for human rights violations and violence in Ukraine.