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24.07.2014 | Halya Coynash

Russian Media hype over ban on parliamentary communist faction [Updated]

   

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Russia’s LifeNews has found a new crusader “for the truth” against the “nationalist-fascist regime in Kyiv” in the figure of Petro Symonenko’s whose communist party faction in parliament was dissolved on Thursday.

The  dissolution of the communist party faction in parliament on a somewhat formal pretext was completed on Thursday morning, July 24.  Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov had promised to dissolve the communist party faction in the Verkhovna Rada as soon as the law adopted on July 22 was published in the official Holos Ukrainy.  The bill, signed the same day by President Petro Poroshenko, makes it possible to dissolve factions which have become smaller than the minimum number required for forming a parliamentary faction.  This directly (and very obviously) pertained  to the communist party faction from which several members resigned over the last month, leaving only 23 members.  The bill was only passed at the fifth attempt by a small majority (232, where the minimum is 226).

The suspicion that the number count was a pretext was given substance by Turchynov himself who called Thursday’s dissolution ‘a historic event” and said he hoped that there would never be another communist party faction in parliament.

Petro Symonenko, leader of Ukraine’s Communist Party [CPU], assured the Russian TV channel LifeNews back on July 22 that the party would be appealing against dissolution of the faction, as they would any ban on the party itself.

A preliminary court hearing was also held on July 24 into the Justice Ministry’s application to ban the communist party itself over alleged financing and support for the Kremlin-backed militants in the Crimea and east of Ukraine.

Since the Russian media are creating a hero fighting for peace and “for the truth”, it would be well to consider the claims and Symonenko’s assertions on Russian TV more carefully.

Ukraine’s Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko announced on July 8 that he had applied to the District Administrative Court for a ban on Ukraine’s Communist Party. He stated that the move was taken on the basis of considerable evidence provided by the SBU [Security Service] and Prosecutor General’s Office of the CPU’s active support and financing of those he called separatists.  Among other things, CPU was alleged to have financed and bought weapons and other items for terrorist organizations.  It had also supported the pseudo-referendums and self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in the east of Ukraine.

Petrenko asserted that their evidence was extremely strong, with more than 129 pages and a number of videos.  He promised that the court case would be as public as possible.

According to Symonenko, these court hearings are due to begin on July 24.  In an interview given to LifeNews after the bill was adopted on Tuesday, Symonenko claimed that it was a logical result of the “coup in February and establishment of a national-fascist regime” in Kyiv.  He asserted that this had brought billionaires and oligarchs to power whose main task was to purge Donbas at any price.  The communist party, it is worth noting, allied itself with Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions from the beginning of Yanukovych’s presidency [and earlier].  His failure to notice the billionaires and oligarchs under Yanukovych was not picked up by the interviewer, nor many other discrepancies in his version of events.  This is probably not surprising since Symonenko was largely repeating the Kremlin line on events in Ukraine.  He also mentions the press “in Donbas reporting that there are those making money out of human organs being pulled out of the bodies of seriously wounded or killed fighters”.

Whether such stories did indeed originate in Donbas would need to be checked.  They have certainly been used widely in the Russian media, sometimes with claims that are grotesquely implausible.  On July 7, for example, Vesti.ru and other publications re-posted material ‘from social network sources’ claiming that Serhiy Vlasenko, former MP and lawyer of Yulia Tymoshenko was implicated, together with a German surgeon and the head of a National Guard battalion, in trading in human organs.

The LifeNews anchor man ends his interview by wishing Symonenko fortitude in his “struggle for the truth”.

The State-controlled RIA Novosti has reported, at least in German,  that the communist party faction is to be dissolved for “calls to peace”.  The Russian language coverage quotes Russian State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky as saying that “Nobody has the right to deprive a party for which a significant part of the population of the country voted of representation in parliament”.  Nobody is suggesting that the MPs be stripped of their mandate, while some of those who were voted for as members of the communist party have themselves felt no qualms in deserting the party.  This is the reason that the amendments to the Verkhovna Rada regulations became feasible.

The suspicion certainly remains that a pretext has been sought for dissolving the parliamentary faction.  It remains to be seen what evidence is presented for the very serious allegations made as grounds for a ban on the actual party.  It can also be questioned whether such a ban is desirable, and whether the evidence against specifically that party and not others is so damning. 

What is entirely indisputable is the mileage the Russian media are trying to gain from these moves, and the lavish help in their task provided by the current CPU leader, Petro Symonenko. 

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