President’s “Humanization” Bill passes first reading
The Verkhovna Rada on Thursday night passed the President’s draft law on humanizing punishment under certain articles of the Criminal Code. The bill received 278 votes.
At the insistence of the opposition, the parliamentary profile committee was instructed before the second reading to consider the possibility of decriminalizing the articles under which former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Lutsenko are being tried.
The draft law envisages decriminalization of only economic offences whereas the opposition had pushed for the removal of criminal liability for all acts falling under Articles 364 and 365 of the Criminal Code, these being the charges against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko. Yury Prokopchuk, National Deputy from BYUT believes that these articles did not get into the draft law for political reasons, because they concern the opposition leaders.
However before the plenary session began, Verkhovna Rada Speaker V. Lytvyn held a conciliation meeting with the heads of the factions after which he announced that the opposition and majority had found a possible compromise on the procedure for consideration of the President’s bill, this being to pass it as a basis but then to give the profile committee the above-mentioned instruction.
Since the verdict in the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko is expected on 11 October, and the trial of Yury Lutsenko is still at the stage of questioning witnesses, the bill must be agreed and passed very soon. There have been unequivocal statements from the EU and most western countries that the conviction and therefore removal from the political scene of two of the main opposition figures will have grave consequences for Ukraine.
Information about the plenary session from Radio Svoboda