News / Europe

Ukrainian Parliament Pushes Through Sweeping Anti-protest Law

Ukrainian deputies clash in the parliament in Kyiv, Jan. 16, 2014.
Ukrainian deputies clash in the parliament in Kyiv, Jan. 16, 2014.
Supporters of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich hustled a sweeping law through parliament on Thursday in an attempt to curb anti-government protests, sparking an outcry from the opposition and raising tensions on the streets.
The law, backed by deputies from Yanukovich's Regions Party and allies, also adopted a similar stance to Russia on registration of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), insisting they should pay taxes on profit.
NGOs that were financed from abroad and took part in political activity in Ukraine would be categorized as “foreign agents”, it said.
But the law, which ran to more than 100 pages, appeared directed mainly at preparing the ground for action to end the street protests that have been taking place in the capital Kyiv and some other cities since November.
Yanukovich's refusal at that time to sign a free trade deal with the European Union in favor of boosting ties with Ukraine's former Soviet master Russia brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets in protest.
Though numbers have dwindled since, several hundred people remain camped out on Kiev's central square of Kiev or are occupying public buildings such as City Hall. On Sunday, at least 50,000 people demonstrated against Yanukovich in Kyiv.
The law, which still needs Yanukovich's signature, bans any unauthorized installation of tents, stages or amplifiers in public places, on pain of a fine of up to $640 or up to 15 days in detention.
Protest stage
People and organizations who provide facilities or equipment for such meetings will be liable to a fine of up $1,275 or detention of up to 10 days.
Opposition politicians regularly use a stage on the square to broadcast messages of support to the protesters, and the law will clearly make such action illegal.
Other tough but vaguely-worded threats envisage jail sentences ranging from two to 15 years for offenses involving stopping people entering buildings or “mass violation” of public order.
Protest 'motorcades' involving more than five vehicles, like those staged outside government residences including that of Yanukovich in recent weeks, were also banned.
The decision in parliament, taken by a sudden show of hands that caught the opposition off-guard, followed a court ban on protests in Kyiv, boosting opposition fears of an imminent police crackdown.
“The people of Ukraine have been deprived of civil rights and liberties. According to these laws, standing on the Maidan [central square] is prohibited, setting up tents is prohibited, talking about corrupt judges is prohibited. And many other things are also banned,” said boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, an opposition leader who is regarded as a potential strong challenger to Yanukovich for the presidency.
'Intimidation and confiscation'
“The authorities can at the same time intimidate and beat activists and confiscate the driving licenses and property of AutoMaidan activists, and ignore the demands of the citizens,” Klitschko said. “That is why a change of power and the Yanukovich regime in Ukraine is our main objective.”
The law would make it an offense punishable by up to 15 days' detention to wear a mask or face-covering like that adopted by many of the protesters, particularly those from the nationalist parties.
Dissemination of “extremist” and libelous information would also be banned - a clause that and seemed to be aimed at forcing the removal of political graffiti pillorying Yanukovich and his government on walls and billboards.
The move was sure to fuel opposition suspicions that riot police would soon move in to end two months of protests. These have widened into rallies, sometimes involving thousands of people at the weekend, against sleaze and corruption in power.
The EU's ambassador to Ukraine, Jan Tombinsky, joined opposition leaders in condemning the way the law was rushed through parliament by a show of hands rather than by the customary electronic system of voting - a mechanism that opposition deputies can physically block.
“Norms should be adopted through proper procedures, otherwise the credibility of democratic institutions and of the legal system is at stake,” he said in a statement.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Vasily from: Ukraine
January 17, 2014 10:56 AM
to all our American friends, do not worry, whatever they may do it will not deter us. we are not going back!!!! oh how we wished that you did not elect such incompetent fool to lead you, but we understand that you are stuck with Obama to assuage your past... which by the way, was the sole fault of Britain - not Americans...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs