Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 21 February 2014

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Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

21 February 2014

 

1. President, Opposition sign agreement on crisis

The three opposition leaders and the President signed an agreement on regulating the crisis in Ukraine. The most important points are: i) the country returns to the 2004 Constitution which limits the powers of the president; ii) the formation of a unity government; iii) Constitutional reform to start immediately and be completed by September; iv) Presidential elections to be held right after the adoption of a new constitution, but not later than December 2014; v) the adoption of new election legislation; vi), a new Central Election Commission appointed on a proportional basis; vii) the investigation of the recent violence to be done under the monitoring of the authorities, opposition and the Council of Europe; and viii) an amnesty for all actions since 17 February. Most importantly, the deal stops the killing of Ukrainian citizens.  However, the deal allows for Yanukovych to remain president until the presidential election. The events of the last three months have shaken the foundations of the Ukrainian state. The people of Ukraine have paid an extraordinarily high price for the opportunity to begin reforming and rebuilding their country. Of vital importance is that the investigation into the crimes committed by the regime be carried out objectively and thoroughly, under international supervision, and that those responsible for issuing criminal orders be brought to justice. It is no less important that Ukraine’s Western partners continue to support the Ukrainian people, both materially and with technical assistance, as they begin to rebuild their country. The EU Association Agreement should be tabled and signed as soon as possible with a clear path to EU membership.

2. Parliament begins to act in the interests of the people of Ukraine

Last night and today, Parliament passed a series of measures that will begin the process of stabilization of the situation in Ukraine. They passed resolutions yesterday (238 votes) that bans the firing of weapons by the authorities; demands the return of special forces to their places of permanent location; demands the unblocking by the authorities of all traffic and movement of citizens in Kyiv; demands that the Cabinet of Ministers and Security Services cease the so-called “anti-terrorist” action; reiterates that a state of emergency can only be declared by Parliament. Today, the internal army and Berkut security units are being moved back to the their places of permanent location. Today Parliament passed, with a constitutional majority, a return to the 2004 Constitution, which limits severely the powers of the President. The Rada also removed from office of Minister of Internal Affairs Zakharchenko; provided an amnesty for protestors, and material assistance to the families of those who were killed and to those who were injured. Speaker Rybak closed the session before they could vote on the removal of General Prosecutor Pshonka. It is likely this will be voted on tomorrow. The re-formatting of parliament began yesterday with several deputies either leaving the Party of Regions faction or voting for the opposition resolutions. The crisis in Ukraine has been brought under control to some extent, but the next vital decision that Parliament must take is the formation of a new government. Not only is the political situation in the country extremely unstable, but the economy is on the verge of collapse. The new government will have an extraordinarily difficult task ahead of itself.

3. Parliament decriminalizes article under which Tymoshenko was imprisoned

310 MPs voted for the decriminalization of the article under which former PM Tymoshenko was imprisoned. According to her attorney, after the law is signed, a court can free her. It is likely this will be done in the nearest possible time.

4. Party of Regions deputies continue to flee the Party

Party of Regions MPs, oblast council deputies, and officials on all levels continue to leave the party. At least 39 of the 205 Party of Regions deputies have left the parliamentary faction. It is important to remember that many of the deputies who are now “siding with the people” were the ones who voted for the dictatorial laws of 16 January, which was one of the primary catalysts of the crisis. The party is split, and it is likely that new political projects (parties, etc) will emerge in the east and south of the country.

 

Taras Zalusky, Executive Director

Ukrainian Canadian Congress

(613) 232-8822

taras.zalusky@ucc.ca

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