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Old 27-11-18, 17:04   #1
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European Union Ukraine Votes to Introduce Martial Law After Clash With Russia

Ukraine Votes to Introduce Martial Law Across Ten Regions After Clash With Russia

Supporters of legislation say is only only possible reaction to the military engagement around the Sea of Azov

Independent UK, 27 Nov 2018.

Ukraine‘s parliament has taken one of its most significant decisions in years, resolving to impose martial law for the first time since 1945 in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian vessels on Sunday.

After several hours, the Rada split 272-30 in favour of the presidential edict, but only after being presented major concessions.

President Petro Poroshenko’s initial suggestion of martial law lasting 60 days was curtailed to 30 days. An original proposal to cover all of Ukraine was reduced to just ten border territories.

Mr Poroshenko was also forced to make a commitment to hold next year’s presidential election as scheduled, on 31 March.

Many criticised the Ukrainian president’s original proposals as representing a roll-back of rights won during the Maidan revolution, and an attempt to shore up flagging support ahead of next year’s elections. Mr Poroshenko currently trails the polls, behind the front-runner, and former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Even the watered-down proposals offered limited guarantees for civil liberties, said the pro-reform MP Sergii Leschenko.

“Poroshenko wanted to use the situation in Kerch to grow his rating, to follow the example of Margaret Thatcher, who strengthened her position with the Falklands War of 1982,” he said.

Supporters of the legislation said Mr Poroshenko’s proposal of military law was the only possible reaction to Sunday’s military engagement around the Sea of Azov.

These saw Russia open fire and seize three Ukrainian vessels, which were sailing in shared waters. Three Ukrainian servicemen were injured in the incident. Russia has refused to release the naval ships or their crews.

“Poroshenko was forced to react to the depth of yesterday’s emotions,” said the independent expert Vladimir Fesenko. “Had he not announced the legislation, he would have been criticised for sleeping on the job, failing to act.”

Sunday’s incident has been condemned by several western leaders. On Monday, Donald Trump said he “did not like what was happening”.

As common in Ukraine, Monday’s parliamentary deliberations were less debates as horse trades. Right from the start of proceedings, Oleh Lyashko, one of Ukraine’s most extrovert politicians, had surrounded the speaker’s platform. Together with colleagues, he chanted “recess, recess”, into Speaker Andrii Paruby’s ear, and demanded further behind-the-scenes bargaining with the president.

Before the parliamentary vote, all of Ukraine’s first three presidents signed a statement warning against the dangers of martial law.

“The Verkhovna Rada should make sure the elections of 31 March happen. This is a moment when the future of our state depends on the judgement of the people’s elected representatives,” read the joint statement by Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko.

The text of Mr Poroshenko’s original edict, published on Monday morning, seemed to confirm many people’s fears. The proposed measures would cover the entire country. There was little clarity on exactly what restrictions would be introduced. And at 60 days, they would have meant shifting the elections by at least a month as under Ukrainian electoral law, the presidential campaign is a minimum 90 days.

Mr Poroshenko needed 226 votes for his proposal to pass. With the votes of smaller opposition parties secured, a majority was never going to be a problem. But the matter of quorum was.

That was only received after hours of negotiations and several significant concessions.

Shifting his original position from 60 days to 30 days, Mr Poroshenko said he had actually never wanted to postpone elections.

There was “no reason for dirty speculation”, he said. He had been guided entirely by “intelligence” that suggested Russia was preparing a ground attack. The president has yet to make such intelligence public.

The changes represented a rare victory by parliament and common sense, Mr Leschenko said.

“The vote scuppered the president’s dream scenario of delaying the elections, as he set out in his first edict.”


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