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Verkhovna Rada-VII The crisis and 17 days of confrontation

Olga Marchuk
economic observer


The opening of the second session of Verkhovna Rada of VII convocation, scheduled for February 5, never happened, same as never started consideration of scheduled for the plenary week 5 to 8 February 27 regulations. Moreover, the committees have accumulated more than 500 draft laws, which also had to be considered and decisions on them to be prepared.

The reason is blocking the work of the parliament by representatives of opposition factions - "UDAR", "Svoboda" and "Batkivshchyna," which put forward the condition of personal voting by MPs

How it all began …

Dressed in red raglans with party symbolics and inscriptions on their backs "Vote in person" deputies of "UDAR" kept the defense of the tribune and the Presidium of parliament. Elected representatives of "B" dressed left arms with yellow and blue ribbons over clothes. "Svoboda" activists wore no jackets and ties. On the tribune hung posters "Rada rots from Rybak" and "Button-pushers - out of the Rada".

The representative of " Svoboda " Igor Miroshnichenko said: "We will do everything to make MPs vote in person in the hall so we are prepared to do anything that will ensure enforcement of the Constitution ... If the deputies from the Party of Regions will not wish to vote in person the Session may not open. "Deputy chairman of the faction "Batkivshchyna" Sergei Sas reminded that Art. 37 of the Law "On the rules of procedure" provides for voting by raising hands in case of failure of the electronic system.

Leader of the "UDAR" Vitaliy Klitschko said that the VR shall not work until deputies' personal voting is guaranteed. "We have been demanding a personal vote from the beginning of convocation We are convinced, without it parliamentarism in Ukraine is not possible. The Parliament should not work with so much fraud occurring. We can not talk about the legitimacy of laws, if they are taken without the presence of deputies. It is a violation of the Constitution "- Klitschko said.

To resolve the situation somehow, already at 10:10 faction leaders gathered for talks in the office of Speaker Volodymyr Rybak. Representative of the "Batkivshchyna" Mykola Tomenko said that pro-government factions offered the opposition to unlock the work of parliament to officially open the second session, to approve the work schedule, then take a break for further consultations. However, the oppositionists were adamant: any voting, including a calendar work schedule must occur in person. "We hold that a new session should start with a clean slate," - said Tomenko.

Members of the Party of Regions, after a brief meeting with their leader Oleksandr Yefremov, collected their voting cards and left the plenary hall. After a while ambassadors started to leave the box of foreign delegations. Slowly artists of choir named after Veryovka, that usually sing national anthem of Ukraine live at the opening of the session, gathered and left the parliament.

First results summarized

MP of the Party of Regions Yaroslav Sukhyi, commenting on the situation, said: "The behavior of the opposition is clear to me. The absence of any meaningful legislative proposals the so called opposition is trying to compensate with some sort of a show. "This is simply a comedy, because we're all for ensuring that MPs voted in person. This, by the way, is a constitutional requirement. Were it not for this reason, the opposition would have invented another. Because they only promise. They say that they have 80 bills, then it's 40, and in fact there have none. "Further he gets more categorical: "The compromise can be reached only in one way: they unblock the work of the Verkhovna Rada and we start working. Go into negotiations with the opposition - regarding what? Regarding obvious things that are written in the Constitution? This is absurd! "

Another representative of the Party of Regions Vladyslav Lukyanov hopes that the Verkhovna Rada will start working in the coming days because the opposition and the government nevertheless will reach a compromise. "I think that a compromise will be found through negotiations. And the issue will definitely be resolved, if not today, then tomorrow or the day after, "- said Vladyslav Lukyanov. His party member Nestor Shufrych suggested that opposition factions will continue blocking the work of Parliament, and the Rada will never begin on that day working: "I think the opposition is already surprised by our calmness and confidence that we will in any case have it our way ... We have intelligent non-violent ways to unblock the work of the Rada. "At the same time Shufrych suggested that the opposition can block the work of Rada during a month so that the President Viktor Yanukovych had grounds to dissolve the parliament.

Deputy Anatoly Gritsenko (fraction "Batkivshchyna") reported that pro-government majority has promised to the opposition that personal voting system will be enacted within a month, and even offered to sign the relevant document. However, the majority does not agree with requirements of the opposition that before that all voting was also held in person.

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Volodymyr Rybak promised that there will not be forced unlocking of the Parliament. He stressed that Ukraine is situated in the heart of Europe, and that the Verkhovna Rada is a European Parliament, "therefore it is necessary to listen and hear each other, it is necessary to negotiate." He noted that were registered six draft laws relating to the introduction of a new system for voting, and expressed his hope that by February 7 the parliament will be unlocked.

Deputy chairman of the faction "UDAR" Vitaliy Kovalchuk said: "We will defend our position as long as it is necessary. We will continue blocking until the issue of personal voting is resolved. The Verkhovna Rada can work in a constitutional manner only if there is no chance for voting substitute. "The deputy also stressed that the head of parliament Volodymyr Rybak has every opportunity and the right to sign the order and introduce "touch button" in the the Rada-3 system to ensure personal voting of each MP. Instead the speaker at the briefing told that the voting system, which is currently used by MPs, has exhausted its potential back in 2012.

"We do not consider it appropriate to begin the work of parliament until voting via a personal touch button"Rada-3 "is introduced," - said the head of the faction "Svoboda" Oleg Tyagnibok. According to him, all the "excuses, stories by the parliamentary majority that this system affects the health of members, that it has exhausted its term are mere attempts to delay the time".

"Today it became clear that card majority of the Party of Regions fell apart. For only this was the foundation of their majority. You must come to work and vote, and not to trade in cards like credit cards "- in turn said the leader of the "Batkivshchyna" Yatsenyuk. He said that the opposition will challenge all documents illegally adopted by the new Parliament in the Constitutional Court and called on President Viktor Yanukovych not to sign new laws and regulations approved by the Rada.

Leader of "UDAR" Vitali Klitschko has demonstrated an unwavering position: "Our demands are unchanged - each member must vote for myself. This is a key requirement of which we will not back off. "Answering questions about the readiness for early parliamentary elections, which can be announced by the President, he said: "We can not rule out early elections. And we are ready for that. "Meanwhile the leader of the Party of Regions Oleksandr Yefremov stated at the briefing that there are no reasons for early elections there, adding that the Party of Regions "can hardly be intimidated by this." "I think it's more a reckless political statementof a man who is only gaining experience in political work," - concluded "Regions" member.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Rules, Ethics and maintenance of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Makeyenko believes that for the Verkhovna Rada to start its work, they must at least open the session. Then Regulations Committee will be able to consider the voting system and the introduction of sensor buttons. "We scheduled the meeting of the Committee on Rules, which received several draft resolutions, including those from opposition. But the meeting of the Committee on Rules can not open because session of the parliament has not opened yet. It is impossible to hold meetings of any committee in accordance with Art. 19 of Regulations "- noted the politician.

Makeyenko connected the opposition factions' blocking the tribune with what MP Alexandra Kuzhel called before the alleged agreed opposition candidacy in the presidential election. "As Yatsenyuk's name was called, Klytchko, Tyagnibok and other has nothing else left to do, but also run to the podium, block it and remind that they are also in the game" - said the parliamentarian.

Commenting on the rostrum blocking in Parliament, representative of the "Batkivshchyna" Mykola Tomenko suggested that opposition's campaign for personal voting has serious moral support of "regionals" deputies. "The fact that personal voting returns deputies Party of Regions and majoritarian the right to be independent deputies of Ukraine and make their own decisions and not be people that give the card to others and not always even are aware how it will be used in voting" - said Tomenko.

Continued with nocturnal gathering …

The next round of negotiations of the Speaker of Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Rybak with leaders of parliamentary factions again ended in nothing. A representative from the faction "Batkivshchyna" Alexander Turchinov said: "Negotiations have been going on indefinitely, but to no avail, because Rybak is currently a supporter of the policies of President and the ruling party. So potentially he could be ready to go to any constitutional action, but as long as they will not allow this to him, he will pretend to be negotiating".

A member of the faction "UDAR" Sergey Kaplin frightened all, saying that "regionals" may try to unblock the Verkhovna Rada on the night of Thursday, February 7. Deputies spent the night in the assembly hall and were ready to resist trying to capture the hall by "the Party of Regions". However, during the night duty in the Verkhovna Rada of deputies from "UDAR" the poster "Rada rots from Rybak" disappeared from the room. Even their colleagues laughed at it, "slept through, probably".

Leader of the "UDAR" Vitali Klitschko reaffirmed firmness of the faction: "We showed our position, and this position is of principle. Spending the night in parliament is not a feat. Simply, we show that it is tremendously important for us as deputies, and is also important for the country. "With this conviction the oppositionists arranged the clock duty at the podium.

After ten days of confrontation from the Party of Regions camp statements about "intelligent" unlocking the Verkhovna Rada began to be heard. First Deputy Chairman of the Party of Regions Mikhail Chechetov stated that the opposition's blocking the parliament primarily discredits itself. He was indignant: "Parliament resembles some kind of eatery: by night they drink vodka, snack on varenyky. There has never been such a vilification of parliament! Together with the public we will put them to shame and make them work ".

If blocking of the Parliament continues, Chechetov does not rule out early elections, and the new electoral law. "Soon this dumpling someone's throat will get stuck down! We will for five minutes unblock the Parliament - nicely, culturally, so nobody spoils their hair - we will pass amendments to the law and go on elections by majoritarian system "- he said. His party fellow Alexander Efremov supported the colleague, stressing that the Ukrainian parliament will no longer have fights: "I understand that the opposition expects us to fight. But I promise you that nomore will the world laugh over fights in Ukrainian parliament".

Meanwhile, information appeared that the Party of Regions will initiate preparations for early parliamentary election on a majority basis. If the Rada does not start working within 30 days after that the head of state will be entitled to dissolve the parliament, the president will be able to use it at any time. Mykhailo Chechetov expressed confidence that in the event of the elections on the basis of majoritarian Party of Regions will have not 208, but 300 deputies.

Deputy Speaker "svobodivets" Ruslan Koshulynskyy called statements about the possible dissolution of parliament a bluff. "We take these allegations calmly, understand that this bubble and nothing more ... To change the format of the electoral law, for this it is necessary to vote. Accordingly, it is necessary to enter the session hall, but in Art. 2 of the Regulation it says that the plenary sessions are held exclusively in this area. In such a case use of force is needed to unlock the session hall, and this goes beyond "- said the deputy.

Given that the tribune of of parliament was blocked on February 5 the deadline when the Verkhovna Rada should get started ends on March 6. If until this time deputies do not gather at the meeting, the President already on March 7 will have the right to early terminate the powers of the current parliament. Thus, if a decree dissolving the Council is signed on the same day, then taking into account 60 days for the election campaign, the early parliamentary elections could take place on May 6. However, on February 15 Alexander Yefremov denied preparations for early elections: "I have no information that in Bankova Street the instructions are given to prepare for elections. We are not preparing for the elections. "

One step away from understanding

Suddenly, there was a hope that the supreme legislative body finally will start working. Leader of the "UDAR" Vitali Klitschko said that a compromise on how to unblock tribune of Verhovna Rada and to ensure personal voting is found. "Just moments ago the negotiations ended with Speaker of Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Rybak. I want to note progress. We, the representatives of all parliamentary fractions, have found an option that would suit all political forces, "- said Klitschko.

Soon, however, rumors have appeared again on plans of the Party of Regions to seize by force parliamentary platform for unblocking. Klitschko said that members of the opposition will be there in the assembly hall and will not allow to unlock the parliamentary rostrum, until the personal voting MPs is provided.

The representative of the Party of Regions Volodymyr Oliynyk dismissed words of "UDAR" leader, "Klitschko's Statement really surprised me, they are scared and that's why they are wide-eyed. We have a meeting at 17 o'clock in the "Zoryanyi" with the participation of Prime Minister and MPs. We want to discuss with the government the situation in Ukraine today ", - said Olynyk. Klitschko's statement, meanwhile, the deputy called "a phobia factor."

On Tuesday, February 19, MPs did come close to overcoming the political crisis. The opposition agreed to remove from the agenda the request to activate sensory button of the voting system "Rada-3", and the Party of Regions has promised to block the cards missing in the audience of Deputies. First Deputy of the faction leader "UDAR" Vitaliy Kovalchuk said that the second session of the Verkhovna Rada VII convocation may open as early as Wednesday. According to Kovalchuk, this happens if the parliamentary majority agrees with the proposal to define in the special resolution deadlines for introduction of modernized electronic voting system. The opposition offers to enact such a system in September 2013. Thus it is proposed to set in the system schemes that would not allow MPs to vote for colleagues.

However talks about unlocking of the Verkhovna Rada again reached an impasse. "As at the last night 99% questions were agreed ... Overnight, perhaps someone thoroughly instructed Efremov - there is a dramatic change in the position of the PR. At present we have 0% of agreed items "- Volodymyr Kurinny from" UDAR"reported. "UDAR" member Paul Rozenko  confirms the colleague's words: "Negotiations are ongoing, no final agreement yet. As with the final version of the bill to ensure personal voting procedure. "

"Yesterday we expressly worked out a control algorithm for this process, starting from deputies' written registration, ending by voting itself and the responsibility for violations of the personal vote principles. "Regions" are trying to bargain at least anything. Second question is deadlines for introduction of the new electronic voting system. It does not matter whether it is Rada-5, 6, 8 or 10. But it must be developed and put into operation. The discussion is about timing. We continue to maintain and do not remove the blockade. We will stand until we see the final version of the bill. Well, after that we will decide. "- said the deputy.

Parade of Embroidery or Psychological pressure

Tuesday February 19 never became a day of unlocking the parliament, although many MPs predicted that the situation will change. The opposition continued to hold the rostrum and presidium. Entrance to the presidium they barricaded with chairs, hung above poster "Vote personally." But the main reason for the discussion was different: members of the "Batkivshchyna" and "Svoboda" this day wore embroided shirts. In this way, the oppositionists reacted to the words of Chechetov on the need to prohibit MPs to attend the session in embroidered shirts, because this clothing does not meet regulations.

"The idea came spontaneously. For us, embroidery is a sign of national identity. And today we were hoping for a holiday, hoping that the Party of Regions will agree to vote in person. And we will be in a festive mood and festive clothes waiting for this festival, " – an MP Andrew Parubiy said ironically, adding that it was Arseniy Yatsenyuk who initiated the" parade of embroidery. "

Vice Speaker Ruslan Koshulynskyy objected the words of Mykhaylo Chechetov. According to the politician, there are no provisions on this issue nor in the law on the status of deputies, nor in the regulations. "There is no document that would oblige a National Deputy while at the plenary meeting to be in a particular outfit. Therefore, the following statements are not professional for people who consider themselves professionals and lawyers and deputies of Ukraine not of the first convocation "- said Koshulynskyy.

"Regions" member Vitaly Zhuravsky supported the position of Chechetov in an interview broadcast at "Rada" channel, adding that the deputies who came to the Parliament in embroidered shirts, violated the rules. "I think you need to stop these "maski show" and these carnival ways of circus kind in the parliament. It is abnormal when deputies today come in wearing t-shirts, sweatshirts. And embroidered shirts as well. I say this as a Ukrainian. I love embroidered shirts and sometimes also wear them - on holiday in the family circle. But in the Verkhovna Rada deputy's behavior is defined by regulations. There it is expressly written that a deputy must wear a suit and tie. This is their uniform "- summed up the MP.

The representative of the Party of Regions faction Oleksandr Feldman unexpectedly supported the position of the opposition. "Wearing embroidered shirts as part of the Ukrainian national costume and a national symbol can not even compare with wearing t-shirts and jeans. Those who do not understand the difference between traditional symbols and light industrial products, are better not speculate on these subjects. This tradition in the Ukrainian parliament is as old as the Parliament itself. The term "dress code" can not apply to national clothing, which carries a variety of meanings, "- said Feldman. "I myself have been wearing a kippah for many years all the time and do not intend to take it off. I am totally in solidarity with Ukrainians who go to parliament in embroidered shirts, and the Crimean Tatars, who wear their national hats "- he said.

At the same time MP from "Batkivshchyna" Anatoly Gritsenko called coming to the Parliament in embroidered shirts a manifestation of disrespect for the legislature. In his blog on "Ukrainska Pravda", he said: "I believe that the deputies wearing embroidered shirts in the hall of plenary meetings of the Rada are ridiculous and not serious, this is a manifestation of disrespect for the legislature." This statement angered his colleague, unaffiliated deputy Oleksandr Doniy. "When Chechetov or Zhuravsky oppose vyshyvankas that is understandable, because they belong to the Party of Regions, ie the party where the effective ideology is Russian nationalism, that is humiliation of Ukrainian culture and exaltation of the Russian culture. But when a member of the "B" opposes national Ukrainian embroidered shirts this is not normal! "- wrote Doniy.

However, in comments given to Radio "Svoboda" a social psychologist Oleg Pokalchuk said: "The opposition has made a very smart move. Because in case of fighting a scene of people in national dress beaten is a conflict at the national level. From this point of view, it is very correct. A good and interesting move by the opposition. A government must somehow respond to this without causing laughter and condemnation. "

When will they start to work?

It seems that both representatives of the majority and the oppositionists are tired of waiting for the start of Parliament. "It seems that the Parliament today will not work yet. Us, "Batkivshchyna", "UDAR" and "Svoboda" continue to besiege the rostrum and presidium of parliament. In the hall there are about 100 deputies. Communists and "regionals" are away. According to preliminary information, BP will start working tomorrow," – Mykhailo Khmil, a deputy from the "Batkivshchyna" wrote on his Facebook page on February 20. He also said that according to preliminary information, the parliament will start working on February 21. "Since "smart heads" found a way to control touch buttons and to vote one for two, parliamentary voting may take place by a show of hands. At the beginning of tomorrow's plenary session it is planned to amend the regulations, when cards of those absent in the audience will be blocked "- summed the politician. Another opposition spokesman Oleksandr Bryhinets supplemented his words: "The text of the regulations of the VR allegedly has been agreed by all factions. It complicates button-pushhing and provides in some cases roll-call vote by hands. "

MP Sergei Kaltsev suggested that the Parliament will start working on February 21. "Changes to the Rules of the Verkhovna Rada will be made and the voting procedure clearly stated," - he said. According to the elected MP, as before, before every session of the Verkhovna Rada every MP will confirm their registration by signature. The essence of innovation is that after that they will submit the speaker lists of absent deputies, whose names he will read from the podium. Before voting the cards of absent MPs will be blocked.

Also Sergiy Kaltsev said that voting blocked by cards will be impossible. "Technically, of course, this is possible ... But in the hall there are between 20 and 50 cameras, which record how each deputy voted. In practice, therefore to vote for oneself and that guy would be impossible. I fully share the opinion that everyone should vote for themselves, "- said the MP.

Hope of the beginning of the Parliament's work on February 21 was not justified. A Party of Regions' MP Volodymyr Oliynyk stressed that talks about unlocking the rostrum between the opposition and the majority of the day will not happen. "Negotiations are not taking place. We are going home and let them keep blocking "- said the deputy. According to deputy head of the "UDAR" Vitaliy Kovalchuk, the opposition has not received an invitation from the Speaker Volodymyr Rybak on consultations regarding unblocking the Parliament. Negotiations on February 20 ended nowhere again, the opposition gave the majority a month of deliberation and promised that if within 30 days, they do not unblock the parliament, the opposition will insist on its dissolution.

On February 21 deputies from the Party of Regions came to the session hall of the parliament, but, after a while, left. MP Yaroslav Sukhyi said that the leadership of the faction dissolved them till March 5. MPs from the three opposition factions remained to block the parliamentary rostrum. "Regions" Oleksandr Yefremov was indignant: "Nearly 40 million UAH of public money was spent during the time while the parliament is not working. Laws that should be passed, are not passed. Increasing indexations of pensions is not accepted either. The same applies to state wages, repair of roads and so on. "

Towards lunchtime on February 22, to be exact at 12:45, speaker Volodymyr Rybak announced an opening of the session. 346 deputies registered in the audience and met leadership with applause. In less than an hour of work the parliamentarians managed to solve two questions. In particular, members amended the law on regulations that ensures personal vote. In addition, the government assumed and generally adopted a resolution on Eurointegration aspirations of Ukraine. Next time deputies will gather in the assembly hall on March 5.


This year, from public funds 17 million UAH were allocated for the rehabilitation of Deputies, 36 million - for transportation provision, 12 million on free transportation and half a billion for the repair of residential buildings. More than fifty million will go to support elected representatives of previous elections. According to the radio "Svoboda", Parliament received applications from former 151 Deputies to pay unemployment benefits, of which 109 were from MPs of the last convocation, claiming 14 thousand UAH monthly. Others will be able to receive half that amount.

As you know, after the expiration of parliamentary powers national elected representative has the right during a year not to work and still receive their parliamentary salary with all bonuses. At retirement he is appointed allowance in the amount of 80% of the salaries of active MPs. By the end of the life a former parliamentarian can enjoy free treatment in hospitals and clinics under the state governance.

The state allocates an average of 800 thousand UAH per deputy. That is, national elected representative costs the budget 2039 UAH per day. This amount includes the salaries of deputies and assistants, travel expenses, in particular, flights, medical treatment, trips in a sanatorium, telephone, hotel accommodations and even stationery.

Official figures indicate that in 2013 for sanatorium treatment of civil servants was allocated 4 times more money than in 2012 and almost 8 times more than in 2010. Besides, Ukrainian deputies have the biggest privileges in the world, although they receive much lower wages than in Europe.

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