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Parliament-VII: demonstrating "best traditions" of ukrainian parliamentarism

Olga Marchuk
economic observer


The April plenary session of the Supreme Council of Ukraine were marked by Kiev elections, which were the subject of heated debate among ruling majority and opposition, the next blocking the parliament and opposition attempts to dismiss the current government, headed by Mykola Azarov

As they fought for Kiev elections

Parliament on March 21 approved the first reading of resolution on elections in Kiev, and on April 2 was the deadline when you had to take some joint decision. On the eve of April 1, head of the Party of Regions, Alexander Efremov said that his fraction has not changed its position and shall vote for the election in Kiev only after decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. However, on April 2, Volodymyr Rybak, opening morning session of Parliament, said that agenda provided for consideration on second reading for resolution draft on calling early elections of deputies of Kyiv City Council and the mayor of Kiev. They decided to discuss the issue closer to lunch.

Meanwhile, opposition supporters outside the parliament held an action in support of law project. Before this the leaders of opposition fractions recorded video address to Kiev citizens, urging them to come to protest. "This is not a political campaign – but a campaign of Kyiv community organized to fight for right to be masters in their city" - said the head of "Batkivschina" Arseniy Yatsenyuk. "We, the parliamentary opposition, will do the maximum that depends on us. But we need you to support us on streets and for the sake of our common victory"- said the leader of the "Svoboda" Oleg Tyagnibok. In support of the opposition about 6-7 thousand people came under Parliament and nearly two thousand - to attend the meeting "Youth for European future".

The leader of "YDAR" Vitaliy Klitschko called on the Parliament and the Party of Regions to go to protesters: “Under the walls of Parliament gathered thousands of Kiev citizens ... you can not disperse them, so that ten others will take their place. They will not be able to ignore, because authorities in Kiev have done enough to be dismissed. So it clings to office positions by hook and by crook"- said Klitschko.

The issue of elections in Kiev stood fourth in order, and morning session had to consider it. Opposition demanded to extend the meeting by 15 minutes, but the Speaker called a brake at request of the two fractions - the Party of Regions and the Communist Party. Then, near the parliament building there were contractions. Deputies tried to get out of the territory, and protesters shouting driven them back.

At the evening session of Parliament failed to adopt a resolution on the elections of Kyiv mayor and city council. It was supported by 209 deputies, and 226 votes were required. A 30-minute break was announced in work of parliament at request of two opposition fractions. Representative of "YDAR" Valery Karpuntsov announced that opposition demands for vote decision, and if not, blocks the tribune. Vitaliy Klitschko has also been set strongly: "If you will not vote, we will block and draw public attention to actions that destroy self-government".

In the evening, opposition still blocked the work of the Parliament and put forward three demands. Arseniy Yatsenyuk said: "The first – is to call elections in Kiev, the second – is abolition of pension reform, and the third – is consideration of resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine". In turn, Oleg Tyagnibok assured that street protests will continue: "We will consult with non-governmental organizations, especially those representing residents of capital ... I am convinced that sooner or later we will bring the case to a logical ending to our common victory".

Alexander Efremov expressed doubts as to whether the Parliament shall work in its current format. The only way out of this situation he considers an appeal to people asking them if they need such parliament: "Only one thing – is the referendum. Parliament can not and should not work so". However, he said that one day of the Ukrainian parliament work costs 2 million 300 thousand UAH for state budget. Oleksandr Yefremov also said that, in his opinion, at this session Parliament would not have to re-examine the law on elections in Kiev, as it is a violation of regulations. "The opposition has done a lot of stupid things and so it has got itself into a dead end", - he said.

However Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that the issue of Kiev elections can return. Opposition demands adopting resolution authored by Volodymyr Yavorivskiy to appoint election in Kiev and block parliamentary majority, while government fails to fulfill its three requirements. Vitaliy Klitschko also promised that protests will continue. "We know which decision the Constitutional Court shall make. It has long been accepted ... Every effort is made to delay elections"- he said.

First deputy head of the parliamentary fraction of the Party of Regions Mikhail Chechetov said: "Today's blocking parliament would push people to create action groups of referendum and make it on four issues: reduction of Parliament, introduction of 100% majority system, elimination of immunity, elimination of parliamentary privileges". His position was supported by MP, member of the parliamentary fraction of the Party of Regions Anna Herman: "If opposition does not want to work in parliament, the people in referendum shall say their word - Parliament should be cut, go to the majoritarian system and work with those who want to work. Ukrainian people shall not feed the parasites".

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that opposition has proposed three solutions to appointment of mayoral elections in Kyiv and Kyiv City Council. "The first option - return to resolution of Vitaliy Klitschko. Second - to vote for resolution of Volodymyr Yavorivskiy. The third option - write a joint resolution signed by all heads of fractions, as it was done during the blocking procedure for individual voting". He also stressed that issue of government resignation "budged": Speaker today sent a letter to all committees with demand to consider the opposition draft project in their meeting on the Resolution of mistrust to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine: "We appealed to all heads of committees of opposition today to consider the matter immediately and to bring it to the agenda on Friday".

How one Parliament became two

Chairman of the Supreme Council of Ukraine Volodymyr Rybak said that deputies will hold meetings, and did not rule out an appeal to the President of Ukraine to dismiss parliament. He said, that about 240 deputies approached him and "invited to a meeting to consider situation in parliament". "I do not know what they will propose: maybe there will be an offer to self-dismiss and maybe requesting the President of Ukraine that he dismisses this parliament, or there are any other options" - said V.Rybak.

The meeting took place on Bankova Street, 6/8, where the Parliamentary Committees are. There also 4 of April Volodymyr Rybak opened the meeting by reporting 244 registered members. They unanimously agreed to hold meetings outside the session hall. Opposition at that time held its meeting in the hall under chairmanship of Deputy Speaker Ruslan Koshulynskiy.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that any decision taken by MPs outside the session hall of the parliament "is a constitutional revolution". He recalled that, according to decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the Constitution of Ukraine, the Supreme Councils’ session can take place only in the session room. According to the leader of the fraction "Batkivschina", this action of ruling fraction is a manifestation of "powerlessness and weakness".

Volodymyr Rybak after opening of "field" meeting at Presidential Administration announced that four MPs left the fraction "Batkivschina", namely: Oleg Kanivets, Vitaly Nemilostiviy, Igor Skosar, Roman Stadniychuk. Arseniy Yatsenyuk denied this fact: "We have just received applications of Skosar, Nemilostiviy and Stadniychuk. They put not only the date but also the time indicating that they are remaining in the fraction "Batkivschina", and any of their applications for leaving it are invalid".

Member of the Party of Regions Mykola Rudkovskiy called for understanding: "We must overcome all political conditions and start working. Let us, as majority, offer the opposition MPs to hold a meeting, just as we do in session room with cameras and give opportunity and try to convince ordinary deputies to find a solution to unblock"- he said.

Representatives of counting commission of the fraction "YDAR" went to a meeting of the Supreme Council, which took place at the Presidential Administration, to calculate presence of MPs. Deputy Head Vitaliy Kovalchuk said that, judging from the TV screens about 200 people gathered in the room. MP from "Svoboday" Andrey Illenko reported that members of the Counting Commission of opposition recorded 180 members on alternate meeting. Arseniy Yatsenyuk told another figure - 182 MPs. Then the number decreased to 168 persons.

Meanwhile Parliament in building on Bankova, with 237 votes supported government bill on improvement of personal data protection in the first reading. Most MPs took a number of other decisions, including the bill #2408 on amendments to the budget, law project on functioning of the Ministry of income and charges and the State Service of Emergencies of Ukraine.

Opposition announced that it intends to rise "people’s uprising" if the President does not sign laws taken in the hall of the Supreme Council. MP from "Svoboda" Oleg Mahnytskyy argues that decision of Constitutional Court of Ukraine from 11 July of 2012 explicitly prohibits meetings outside the session hall. "If the president signs unconstitutional laws, we will have to use c. 5 of the Constitution, which deals with direct democracy. That is, in fact, people’s uprising"- he said.

Opposition ended its session in session hall of the Supreme Council. Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged Speaker Volodymyr Rybak to return to parliament and end the session convened at the Presidential Administration. "We are in the only legitimate meeting rooms for Parliament and require Rybak to come back and lead a session" - he said. Member of "Batkivschina" Alexander Kuzhel called for creation of temporary investigative commission on human rights violations. He also announced a request to the Attorney General to bring criminal charges against participants from the Presidential Administration under "illegal seizure of state power".

Deputies Roman Stadniychuk and Vitaly Nemilostivyy confirmed their leaving "Batkivschina". This, they said during a meeting of the parliamentary majority on the street of Presidential Administration. In turn, "Batkivschina" called action of their former MPs treason. Andriy Shevchenko said: "Treason – is a betrayal. This is why people hate politics in Ukraine. It is certainly a shame for the whole Parliament and for these people".

Volodymyr Rybak closed morning plenary session of the parliamentary majority from the Presidential Administration and said that on Friday meeting will be held at the session hall of the parliament. However, the next day opposition continued to block parliamentary tribune. After the meeting, deputy from the Party of Regions Ivan Popescu said that consensus is not reached, and added that decision was made to work on Friday in committees and constituencies. However, session of parliament on Friday did not start.

After a week's break, on Tuesday April 16, speaker called to end whistling and shouting at morning session of the parliament in session hall: "Valid schedule of the Supreme Council of Ukraine for today is the law, so all are required to implement it. Despite this, we constantly hear shouting, whistling, chanting slogans, mutual insults of colleagues in the hall; we see certain posters with various slogans on tribune.  Can we continue working this way?". The Speaker also said that before the heads of fractions failed to reach a compromise and start working in plenary regime that day.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that on Friday there will be consideration of mistrust to the government. Vitaliy Klitschko said that the opposition requires consideration of government's resignation on Wednesday. Oleg Tyagnibok drew attention to "signs of usurpation of power" in "field session" of Parliament and it’s legitimacy by court’s decision.

Then usual parliamentary work continued with consideration of bills, which resumed on Wednesday, April 17. Volodymyr Rybak, opened morning session, showed several photos in which MPs vote in assembly hall not personally, and requested further vote in person, noting that he gives instructions to Committee on Rules, Ethics and support of parliament to study these photos and inform. Members discussed the draft laws concerning pension reform. However, none of the proposed documents received required number of votes during voting.

On Thursday, April 18, at evening meeting, among others they planned to consider bills on parliamentary immunity and humanitarian assistance, but Arseniy Yatsenyuk requested to re-vote for two bills through non-roll-call vote. He showed pictures of stands where button is pressed for missing members. Opposition blocked the tribune, requiring re-voting. This requirement was supported by MP Igor Eremeev (independent). There was a verbal dispute between members of opposition who blocked the tribune, and the leader of the Party of Regions fraction Oleksandr Yefremov. The incident ended with head of the Supreme Council of Ukraine Volodymyr Rybak early closing session of Parliament.

How they announced mistrust to government

Before it became known that opposition fractions shall not block the parliament on Friday morning, since they are waiting for decision on government resignation. Without any problems the speaker announced the morning session of Parliament. During the Question Hour government reported and answered questions of Minister of Agrarian Policy. Prime Minister of Ukraine was absent, and Parliament Speaker said that he was at the meeting, but will come to Parliament.

Subsequently, the Prime Minister still appeared in the hall. Volodymyr Rybak informed that consideration is available upon request of 174 MPs and put to the vote on the question to work with no brakes. Arseniy Yatsenyuk reported on behalf of opposition. He noted that it is not only a question on the government resignation, but also on responsibility of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yaunkovych, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and all members of the Cabinet, who "do not fulfill their duties". According to A. Yatsenuk, the people of Ukraine was misled by these people. The leader of "Batkivschina" said that the current government has no vision for economy, no plan of action, as in the past three years, the Cabinet has never submitted to Parliament a Program for Government actions. Separately Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Viktor Yanukovych has not made an annual address to parliament, although it had to be on March 31.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov came to the tribune at the applause of his ministers and called the speech of Arseniy Yatsenyuk a "trivial set of accusations". "I want to ask these oracles, refuted by life: where are your prophecies? To whom they were in favor - to ordinary people or speculators? Which of you is responsible for damage caused to people?"- resented PM. Mykola Azarov mentioned that pensions increased by 1.4 times, GDP, compared with 2009 increased by almost 10%, industrial production - about 18%, volumes of housing construction has increased in 1,7 times, trade - in 1.6 times.

As a result, Parliament rejected the draft resolution "On responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine". Only 190 MP voted in favor from 362 lawmakers registered in the session hall. Question of responsibility of the Cabinet can not be considered by the Supreme Council more than once during the regular session, and within one year after approval of Program of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. However Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that he was going to once again submit a draft resolution on government mistrust. "We will bring this question again" - he said, promising to announce details of May 18.

Chairman of the Party of Regions fraction Oleksandr Yefremov conceders Parliament decision to be logical in denying opposition expressing mistrust to the Cabinet. "I find it difficult to say anything sensible about the fact that opposition tried to show in this room. When there is a question on government resignation, there should be two answers to two questions: is it real, and why do you do it? To none of these you can find the answer"- said Efremov.

Anna Herman is convinced that opposition’s attempt to organize provocation against the government turned in benefit, since Prime Minister was able to speak from tribune of parliament on many important issues and coped fine with it. "Today's speech of Mykola Azarov was one of the best during his term" - she commented, noting that the government is not always able to successfully use the following situation. Anna Herman added that dialogue with members of the government is extremely useful, "as in proverb, when a "black stripe" could be an airstrip".


Salary of Speaker Volodymyr Rybak is more than 20 thousand UAH. This follows from the draft budget of Parliament in 2013, which was issued by MP Andrey Pyshniy from "Batkivschina".

Speaker of Parliament is paid 20.240 thousand UAH per month, including salary, bonus and guaranteed allowances. In addition, he can expect a monthly allowance of 2.3 thousand UAH as provided for members of co-payment for a degree, an honorary title and language skills (totally planned 96.2 thousand UAH). Salary of First Vice Speaker Igor Kaletnik is 19.4 thousand UAH, and Deputy Ruslan Koshulynskiy - 18,6 thousand UAH minus taxes. Thirty-five leaders of parliamentary fractions and committees earn 17.9 thousand UAH per month minus taxes. Salary of the remaining members depending on committee positions is 100-500 UAH lower.

MP, who ended parliamentary authority, receives 17.5 thousand UAH per month for two years, and a pension of 8 thousand UAH. Monthly wage fund for parliament is 8 million UAH, or $ 1 million. This way, they will spend $ 12 million on MPs salary in 2013. 

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