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3rd session of Ukraine parliament to be very difficult

September 03, 2013, 2:00 UTC+3

The first test for the next session will be the question of the possibility to hear a report by President Viktor Yanukovich

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Photo ITAR-TASS / Mikhail Klimentyev

Photo ITAR-TASS / Mikhail Klimentyev

KIEV, September 3 (Itar-Tass) - The third session of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament), the opening ceremony of which will take place on Tuesday, will be very difficult, parliament speaker Vladimir Rybak said on the eve of the opening of the session.

“This session will certainly not be calmer because we have come six months closer to the presidential election. And it will affect the parliament’s work,” Rybak said. He did not rule out that the opposition would block the Verkhovna Rada.

The speaker suggested that there would be no unity between the leaders of the opposition Arseny Yatsenyuk (Fatherland faction) Vitali Klitschko (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform - UDAR) and Oleg Tyagnibok (far-right party Freedom), because they are presidential candidates. “The presidential candidates will criticise each other, then unite and start to criticise the government, and after that again each other,” Rybak believes.

The first test for the next session will be the question of the possibility to hear a report by President Viktor Yanukovich in the parliament on Tuesday. Earlier, the opposition was actually blocking his speeches, in connection with which Yanukovich stopped going to the Verkhovna Rada.

“I’ve talked to the president. He is ready, but the MPs have to do everything so that the head of state could speak,” Rybak said. According to him, representatives of all five parliamentary factions have agreed to hear the president in the Verkhovna Rada.

In the first session week, the parliament plans to pass six draft laws necessary for the signing of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU at the November summit in Vilnius. After that, the lawmakers are to adopt a bill on the Prosecutor’s Office and resolve issues related to the electoral law and the judicial system. “We fulfil all other commitments to the European Union,” Rybak said.

Friday, when the parliament will hold the Question Hour with the government, is expected to be challenging. The factions so far have been unable to agree on a common theme. Yatsenyuk insists that the Question Hour with the government should be devoted to the trade conflict with Russia. The leader of the Fatherland faction insists that the parliament on Friday should hear a report by the head of the National Bank, “because such conflicts affect the balance of payments.”

The ruling Party of Regions is against considering the situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border at the Verkhovna Rada. “It is not quite appropriate to consider in parliament the situation with our goods at the border with the Russian Federation,” Alexander Yefremov believes. “If we want to make some noise on the issue, then we can do it. If we want to solve the problem, then we still have venues for that, in particular, the Cabinet, where the negotiations are held.”

As a result, it was decided that the MPs would themselves determine what questions to put to the Cabinet. “We will invite representatives of the government and the MPs will be able to ask questions on the housing and public utilities sphere, on Ukrainian-Russian relations, as well as on the budget,” said the speaker.

In the view of experts, in general, the third session of the parliament will be remembered by closer positions of the Party of Regions and the opposition on issues relating to Ukraine’s integration into the EU. “The pro-Russian wing is being activated in the parliament as a counter to the Rada - the Communists and some lawmakers from the Party of Regions, a total of 40-50 people. They will be taking a variety of measures - from the disruption of the parliament’s work to provocations against the opposition,” political science professor at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy Alexei Garan believes.

Experts do not rule out that differences in Ukraine’s foreign policy may lead to a split in the parliamentary majority, and new groups or even a faction may appear in the Verkhovna Rada in autumn. “There will be a serious split in the Party of Regions over the issue of integration into the EU, as part of the lawmakers deputies are set to sabotage this process for the sake of cooperation with Russia,” MP from the Freedom party Igor Miroshnichenko said.

Director of the Institute of Global Strategies Vadim Karasev believes that such a conflict could lead to reformatting of the configuration in parliament. According to him, the leadership of the Party of Regions already do not count on some of their colleagues, as well as on the votes of the Communists. Representatives of the Communist Party, which advocates for Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union, confirmed that they would not vote in solidarity with the Party of Regions. “Therefore, it is possible that changes to the regulations will be introduced that would reduce up to 14-15 people the threshold for the formation of a new faction from the majority MPs,” Karasev stated.

However, members the Party of Regions are confident that the opposition will not be able to work together, as a result of which “the balance of forces will significantly change in parliament.” “Because of the behaviour of the opposition the number of deputies who want to work constructively will increase in their factions. So I do not rule out the creation of a new parliament faction or group that will work with us,” a leader of the Party of Regions Mikhail Chechetov is certain.

It is difficult to say what forecast will come true. Leader of the Party of Regions faction Alexander Yefremov said that “the situation in parliament is unpredictable and no astrologer can predict it.”

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