MPs vote to condemn violence and ban “anti-terrorist operation”
On Thursday evening a majority, albeit small, of MPs in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted for a resolution “On condemning the violence which has led to casualties”. The resolution received 236 votes, 10 more than the minimum. This means that a number of MPs who have up till now obediently voted on all issues with the ruling majority voted on this occasion with the opposition.
The resolution orders the Cabinet of Ministers, the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defence, SBU [Security Service] and other military formation to immediately stop using force, weapons and prohibited special means.
It prohibits the “anti-terrorist operation” announced by the SBU on Feb 19. This would have effectively enabled Yanukovych to impose a state of emergency in the country without having to get this approved by parliament. The measures included giving the SBU and law enforcement bodies sweeping powers.
The SBU is ordered to revoke the decision to carry out the “operation”.
The Interior Ministry is ordered to immediately stop the blockade of transport and roads in cities and oblasts and law enforcement officers and military servicemen brought in must be sent back.
The Cabinet of Ministers is ordered to revoke its decision to restrict the entry of vehicles into Kyiv.
The Prosecutor General must carry out an investigation into the deaths and injuries of participants in this conflict.
According to the resolution, the Verkhovna Rada is taking responsibility for resolving the civic conflict and calls on MPs to take part in a plenary session of parliament to ensure peaceful regulation.
The fact that this resolution gained a majority is enormously important. Some MPs’ conscience may have finally been awoken by the carnage in Kyiv in which Berkut riot police snipers have been deliberately shooting to kill and have not balked at aiming their deadly weapons at medical staff trying to save the injured. Others may have needed the announcement on Thursday of targeted EU sanctions.
One way or another, a parliamentary majority has voted against this monstrous attack by the regime on mostly unarmed protesters.
The president, Viktor Yanukovych and his close allies have been trying to claim that the protesters are “terrorists”, “extremists” and that the brutal crushing of protest and effective imposition of a state of war can be called an “anti-terrorist operation”.
The resolution [postanova] is a specific type of document which can be signed into force by the speaker or, as on this occasion, by a deputy speaker. It is apparently not clear in legal terms whether the president would be able to override it by issuing a decree. A parliamentary majoriity has, however, passed this resolution, and if Yanukovych refuses to comply with it, he will be going against both parliament and the people.