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Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

17:45:42

26/01/2017

Strana.ua

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted for a strict resolution with regards to Ukraine. The vote on the resolution about “the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine” was held in Strasbourg on Wednesday. This was reported by the correspondent of “Strana”.

The resolution is the result of the work of the monitoring group that oversaw the processes of reforms and the state of democracy in Ukraine during the past few years. The report on this subject was presented by Deputies from Germany and Italy.

The PACE Monitoring Committee in the review process of the draft resolution about “the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine” adopted many amendments and criticism of the authorities strengthened.

In particular:

  • No change approved for the paragraph with the requirement to fix the lustration law that violates human rights: the Assembly expresses its concern about the human rights that were violated by the law on lustration. Therefore, the Assembly urges the Verkhovna Rada to promptly adopt amendments to this law, which was prepared in cooperation with the Venice Commission with the aim of solving these problems, and also to find additional measures to ensure full compliance of the law to the conclusions of the Venice Commission, and its implementation of European standards;
  • The resolution contains the appeal to the Ukrainian authorities to respect the rights of the opposition, to ensure political pluralism, to allow the opposition to fulfill its role in full;
  • A call for a full investigation of crimes committed on Maidan and in Odessa;
  • Concern about certain (read – linguistic) projects of the Ukrainian authorities aimed at the narrowing of existing rights of national minorities;
  • The demand to consider, in the process of decentralization, the ethnic composition and specifics of historically formed regions;
  • To revise the law on decommunization in accordance with the criticism of the Venice Commission. Thus, the paragraph condemning the ban of the Communist party was removed.
  • The resolution stated the need for “Ukraine’s fulfilment of the Minsk agreements on the amendments to the Constitution concerning decentralization”.

The resolution says that until now, the process of constitutional reform was focused on decentralization and the judicial system. But changes are also needed in other areas, in particular the separation of powers between President, government, and Verkhovna Rada with the aim of eliminating systemic weaknesses. In this context, PACE also recalled its recommendations to adopt a new unified Election Code before the next election.

“The Assembly expresses the hope that progress in the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements by all signatories, in particular the Russian Federation, will allow to adopt the amendments (on decentralization) in the final reading in the near future,” reads the resolution.

Regarding the concern for linguistic projects, the resolution was further amended so that Ukraine must “preserve the rights of national minorities to use their languages, which are provided in the Constitution and all the international obligations of the country.” A corresponding amendment was made by the Hungarian Zsolt Nemeth, stating that the draft law on languages submitted to the Verkhovna Rada causes great concern due to the fact that “apparently it will be adopted.”

The document contains a demand that the Ukrainian authorities bring the law banning the propaganda of Communist and national socialist regimes in accordance with the requirements of Commission “For Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission”).

The document also notes that the tempo of the fight against corruption in Ukraine is too slow and concrete results are too few. According to the draft PACE resolution, the long absence of progress in this area, including convictions, undermines public confidence in the political and judicial system as a whole.

Interestingly, during the debate before the vote, Egidijus Vareikis, the Deputy from Lithuania, said: “Do not ask what Europe can do for Ukraine. Ask yourself what Ukraine can do for Europe in the protection of human rights.”

In turn, the Deputy Borislav Bereza, on the contrary appealed to PACE with a question: “Don’t ask what Ukraine can do for Europe, ask what Europe has done for us.”

“This report is a real victory of the Ukrainian opposition,” said in turn Deputy Vadim Novinsky.

During consideration of the draft resolution, at the last moment amendment 24 concerning holding elections in Donbass was rejected. Thus, it was proposed to adopt the rule that “the problem of non-representation in the Verkhovna Rada of certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk should be resolved as soon as possible”. Originally, this rule was supported by an overwhelming majority in the Committee. “The proposal for the election cannot be implemented,” said before the vote the Deputy Vladimir Aryev, asking colleagues to reject it. In the end, most members of PACE rejected the amendment.

While an amendment on the criticism of the oppression of the opposition in Ukraine, by contrast, was supported by a majority of the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Also, PACE members, with a majority of voters, voted for the proposal of co-rapporteurs on the draft resolution that the Venice Commission must consider the adopted-in-Ukraine law on the High Council of Justice.

Earlier, “Strana” reported that mass lawsuits in the ECHR from lustrated officials can cause significant reputational and financial damage to Ukraine – each of them will be entitled to a payment to the amount of up to half a million hryvnia. The European Court of Human Rights already accepted and started the procedures of 26 lawsuits from those who fell under lustration in Ukraine. The claimants demand from the court to recognize that the state of Ukraine violated article 5 and 6 of the convention about protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (right to privacy and a fair trial).

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