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.
Reuters
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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid