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Verkhovna Rada-VII: without breaking the tradition

Olga Marchuk
economic observer


The main intrigue of the first plenary session of the Parliament in the new year was the dismissal of Serhii Arbuzov as chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine and appointing Ihor Sorkin to the post. Around the theme representatives of both the ruling majority and the opposition have built their positions. The latter tried to use the moment to once again draw attention to their problems

Commenting on current events, the leader of the "UDAR", MP Vitalii Klitschko is convinced that the government is responsible for the appointment of the National Bank. "This is the responsibility of the government, - said the MP. - We demand the government to report for the previous period, last year, on how they improve life and stability so much talked about each time. We want to hear the newly appointed government, to hear about their plans, what they are going to change from what direction chosen. And only then can we talk about voting. We have nothing to do with this appointment".

MP touched on points in big politics. "We must build good relations with all the neighbors, based on the national interests of Ukraine, Vitalii Klitschko continued. – I am sure that same normal friendly neighborly relations can be built with our largest neighbor – Russia. Regarding Customs Union this is a question of values. We can argue ourselves hoarse about priorities, up or downsides, yet when we talk about living standards, core values of individual, human rights - it is what developed European countries have. We are committed to this and declared our areas of European integration, European path of development. I hope that this path will not change, because constant changing of motion vector does not lead to anything good".

Anatolii Kinakh with Party of Regions approached the election of chairman of the National Bank, as always balanced and even somewhat philosophically, "National Bank is a very important Financial institution of the state. In Ukraine we feel how adversely lack of access to credit resources affects the domestic economy, serious problems arise concerning the general investment climate in our country. Therefore, the institution must unambiguously be headed by a specialist who knows the financial system, understands the matters of monetary, currency, exchange rate, credit policy. And the fact, that the head of the NBU is suggested a person who is already working with the National Bank, reassures that the professional qualities of the man meet the requirements. The rest time and specific results will show".

Petro Poroshenko, commenting on the appointment, said: "National Bank is a public institution that must be beyond politics, as independence of the NBU is the key to the stability of the financial system. I've been doing and will do everything in my power to ensure this independence. One element of independence is approval by the Parliament of candidates for the post of chairman of the National Bank. Thus the question will not depend on a given political force. Sorkin is a professional, a career banker, a man who worked for a long time in the system and who has a reputation in banking circles".

"Regional" Oleksandr Stoian remarked that it would be advisable to hear the prospects of the National Bank's policy in the parliament, which Sorkin intends to implement. "However, if the candidate is introduced, our political party will vote for it", summed up the MP. His colleague in the faction, chairman of the parliamentary procedural committee Volodymyr Makeienko expressed confidence that nominated for the post of the chairman of NBU Igor Sorkin will ensure the stability of the hryvnia, "Igor Sorkin is a professional banker. name of head of the NBU doesn't have to be world famous. He is well known in banking circles, and can ensure the stability of the national currency, which is the main thing". At the same time MP from the "Batkivshchyna" Hennadii Moskal said that the proposal of the President to appoint the head of the NBU Ihor Sorkin suggests that this is "team formation purely by geography principle." "It does not matter whether you are a professional or not, as long as you are from Donetsk", commented on his position reporters the people's deputy. However, he said, such principle of building a team is "a dead end" and the road to nowhere.

"Batkivshchyna"’s Oleksandr Turchynov said that the National Bank of Ukraine is managed by the President, and now it is a mere changing of the head of the NBU, and financial policies will remain same as before. "The practice of destroying the country's foreign exchange reserves will continue... Therefore, we are not going to vote", Turchynov stated confidently.

Instead, the first deputy chairman of the Party of Regions Mikhail Chechetov claimed that some of opposition deputies will still vote for the appointment of Ihor Sorkin as Chairman of the National Bank. "There are a lot of conscious people in the room - in "Batkivshchyna", in "UDAR", who are ready to support Sorkin's candidacy," Chechetov stated. In passing, he boasted that in the current parliamentary opposition is tamed. “We have a pet opposition. This opposition compared to the one that was in Yulia Tymoshenko times, is a kindergarten. These are children who are not even in first class, they go to kindergarten. We just pulling the strings - when they must run on the table in shoes, when run barefoot", deputy said ironically, and hinted having reliable information that more than two dozen members of the opposition factions are soon ready to join the ruling majority.

"You know, how the spring begins and swallows fly in ... But swallows do not fly by one. Swallows always fly in flocks. So the spring will start, and swallows will fly in flocks from their nests. Where they will land is unclear, but from there they will fly", said People's deputy, actively gesticulating with his hands, mimickng the flight of birds. However, Chechetov refused to give the names of potential ex-oppositionists.

To prevent the vote, the opposition blocked the rostrum of the Council. requirements have been put forward to include in the agenda a number of issues and bills. The leader of the "Batkivshchyna" Yatsenyuk announced motivation: "We demand from the majority and the Speaker to include into the agenda issues that are important for Ukraine and the Ukrainians. The first is the question of Ukraine's course towards European integration and corresponding resolution". Another representative of the faction "Batkivshchyna" Andrii Kozhemiakin said that they intended to block the work of Parliament until the full satisfaction of their demands. Oppositionist reminded that his party still demands approval by the Parliament of the Declaration on the European integration of Ukraine, as well as explanations from the Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and the head of the State Penitentiary Service Oleksandr Lisitskov over the situation with Iuliia Tymoshenko at the hospital, in particular answers as to when the former prime minister's conditions will be fulfilled. The opposition said they were acting jointly with other opposition factions - "UDAR" and "Svoboda".

Another reason for the controversy was the voting procedure. First leader of "Svoboda" Oleg Tiagnybok appealed to the Speaker, demanding to block the cards of absent members. He was supported by the leader of "UDAR" Vitalii Klitschko. We will not allow MPs to vote with other people's cards", he said.

"Today not everyone in the Party of Regions flew back from vacations and everyone is present in the room. They understand that in case of putting their planned and favorable questions to the vote, they do not get the required number of votes. If the ruling deputies will repeat the practice of voting with cards of other members, we will block the rostrum. We will not allow MPs to vote with for their fellows", said Klitschko.

However, procedural committee chairman, "Regions"'s Volodymyr Makeienko is convinced that the opposition blocked the parliamentary rostrum, because they know that the Regions have 270 votes to support the candidacy of Ihor Sorkin as head of the National Bank of Ukraine. "The turnout was 98-99 per cent of deputies, the MP said knowingly. - We have the votes, close to 300 of them. I think 270 for sure. The opposition knows it and so they began blocking".

Deputies gradually left, leaving only one - Iurii Vozniuk who took "guard" of the chair speaker's. The talks between faction leaders and management of Parliament on unblocking the work continued till the evening. The opposition stated that it will keep the blockage until their terms are accepted. Still, despite parliamentary battles, the vote on the dismissal of the First Deputy Prime Minister Serhii Arbuzov as chairman of the National Bank did take place. However, only 217 of the required 226 MPs voted for the decision. From Party of Regions - 179 votes, the Communist Party - 30, unaffiliated - 8, did not vote - 94, "against" - 42, abstained - 40. The opposition raised a demand for Serhii Arbuzov to personally report in the session hall for his tenure. After repeated consideration of the issue the votes were insufficient again. 221 MPs voted "For". Without dismissal of Arbuzov consideration of the appointment of Ihor Sorkin to this post became irrelevant.

After the vote, the majority deputies explained reasons of the failed voting. "Obviously, the opposition considers him a very clever manager and does not want to let go as the head of the NBU. I think this is a compliment from the opposition for Serhii Arbuzov. However, there is norm of the Constitution which does not allow to combine two posts", the Regions' Mikhail Chechetov said. Meanwhile, Regions' Vladimir Makeienko explained disastrous voting by "deputies' voting in person".

Everything was settled peacefully and extremely casually the next day. The Verkhovna Rada dismissed Serhii Arbuzov as chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine by 237 deputies out of 402 registered in the session hall, including 197 deputies from the Party of Regions, 31 - from the CPU and 9 unaffiliated. "Batkivshchyna", "UDAR" and "Svoboda" kept their promise and did not vote. Next by 231 vote the deputies supported the initiative of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to appoint Ihor Sorkin as head of the National Bank.

Then, acording to a sad tradition in the assembly hall there was a small clash between the opposition and the "Regionals". MPs Ihor Miroshnichenko of "Svoboda" and Oleksandr Bryhynets of "Batkivshchyna" began to jostle with Valerii Pysarenko and others from the Party of Regions. Then began the "analysis of flights." Members of the opposition have accused the "regionals" in the voting with cards of their colleagues and cited specific facts that they thoroughly recorded. Yatsenyuk said that the opposition would insist on creating a special committee on illegal appointment of Ihor Sorkin as Chairman of the National Bank if the facts of non-personal voting are proven.

"UDAR"’s Pavlo Rozenko said that during the vote Regions’ Inna Bohoslovska, Ihor Shkiria, Dmytro Dobkin, Iurii Ivaniushchenko were absent from the assembly hall, whose cards were used in voting and urged the head of the Verkhovna Rada Volodymyr Rybak to hold official investigation into the facts of non-personal vote. In turn, the representative of the Party of Regions Serhii Tihipko said that members of the opposition hindered "Regions" voting, and so himself and MP Svitlana Fabrykant could not vote. Tihipko asked to count in their voices. His faction colleague Volodymyr Oliinyk insisted that the vote for a new chairman the National Bank of Ihor Sorkin went within the law. He said that this voting is legitimate as long as it is not protested. Oliinyk said that oppositional political forces monitored the vote, so the result is valid.

During the presentation in the Parliament of the newly appointed chairman of the National Bank, Ihor Sorkin named the priorities of his activities. "In 2013 we will continue to build confidence in the hryvnia and urge to be careful when commenting on the national currency," he said. Among the priorities chairman of the National Bank named reducing interest rates on loans, increased refinancing, as well as bringing banking supervision in line with EU requirements. He has promised that the National Bank will make efforts to establish cooperation with international financial institutions, the IMF and the World Bank.

During this session of the Verkhovna Rada a law on Ukraine's accession to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness was adopted. The main purpose of the document is to ensure the entry into or restoration of citizenship for those individuals who under different circumstances would remain stateless. The Parliament also passed a law on Ukraine's accession to the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, designed to regulate the status of stateless persons and to prevent discrimination based on nationality.

The Parliament also ratified the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on cooperation on the emergency prevention, fires and elimination of their consequences in the localities where Black Sea Fleet facilities are located in Ukraine. 228 deputies supported this decision. The agreement provides for general principles and framework of cooperation in the prevention and elimination of emergencies and coordinated procedures for mutual assistance in the event of an emergency on the territory of Ukraine. During the discussion, members of the opposition expressed their disagreement with the document. Punches again were the last argument. During the battle one of the Christmas trees near the rostrum collapsed, spraying Christmas ornaments.

Draft law "On Amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine to ensure the international legal obligations of Ukraine", much discussed by the opposition and insisted on for consideration, did not get support the first reading. Only 161 voted "for" (at required 226) of the 389 deputies registered in the session hall. Votes were cast by 8 deputies from the Party of Regions, 75 of the "Batkivshchyna", 33 of «UDAR», 34 of "Svoboda", 11 - non-allied. Faction of the Communist Party did not vote in full strength.

Final provisions of this bill provided for release from punishment (primary and secondary) of persons convicted under Art. 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for acts, whose criminality and guilt is eliminated by this law. It also provides for release from punishment (primary and secondary) of persons convicted under Art. 365-1 and 424 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This release is carried out in the manner prescribed by Art. 405-1 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Women from among opposition deputies decided to to express themselves at this session separately. As a protest against the violation of women's rights in Ukraine and imprisoned former Prime Minister Iuliia Tymoshenko, about two dozen women in the second day of the session of Parliament surrounded the rostrum. Oleksandra Kuzhel promised a "female revolt", which the country has not seen. However, everything went without serious consequences.

Several interfactional deputy groups were created in the Parliament. On the first day, "Lvivshchyna", "In support of the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine" and "International Anti-Fascist Front" announced their association. "Lvivshchyna" was headed by Iryna Sekh ("Svoboda") and Stepan Kubiv («Batkivshchyna»); Vadym Kolesnichenko headed two other unions "Regions". On the second day four new sectarian parliamentary associations were announced. In particular, Serhii Kivalov became head of association "Odeshchyna", Oleh Medunytsia - "For a single national Orthodox Church", Hryhoriy Zabolotnyi - "Vinnytchyna", Serhii Kunitsyn - "Veterans of Afghanistan and Chernobyl - for the future".

Finally, the parliament approved schedule for the second session. It will start on February 5. The day before, on February 4, the Conciliation Board meeting will be held. 11 weeks are scheduled for plenary sessions: 5 to 8 and 19 to 22 February, 5 to 7 and 19 to 22 March, 2 to 5 and 16 to 19 April, 14 to 18 and 21 to 24 May, 4 to 7 and 18 to 21 June and 9 to 12 July. in plenary weeks on Mondays Conciliation Board meetings will be held; Tuesday through Friday deputies will work in plenary regime; Wednesday afternoons - work in committees, and every plenary Friday will begin with an hour of questions to the government. Furthermore, monthly deputies are suggested to spend a week of work in committees, panels and factions and a week of work with voters.

After this the first session of the Verkhovna Rada of the seventh convocation closed. In two days of January the MPs crammed everything: set up conflicts, argue about the issues that currently attract public attention, show their political positions to voters, in the right moment to adopt or reject legislative acts, to block the rostrum and occasionally use physical force. The traditions of Ukrainian parliamentarism were not broken.

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