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MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. The top foreign policy parliamentarian in Russia's State Duma assembly has denounced statements made by US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that constitutional changes proposed by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko were in compliance with a ceasefire deal agreed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February, saying they were incorrect.
Alexey Pushkov, head of the International Affairs Committee at the Russian parliament's lower chamber, wrote on his Twitter account on Friday: "Nuland has jumped to conclusions. Poroshenko’s amendments to the draft constitution are far from the Minsk agreements and only close to political whims of Poroshenko himself."
During her visit to Kiev this week, Nuland urged Ukraine’s parliament to pass the draft law and said that granting special status to two eastern regions was one of the points of the Minsk deal signed by Ukraine. Adopting permanent legislation on the special status of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions would confirm Ukrainian compliance with the agreements reached on February 12, she said.
On Thursday, the Verkhovna Rada gave preliminary approval to constitutional changes. Backed by 288 lawmakers in the 450-seat legislature, the draft law was sent to the Constitutional Court for review.
President Poroshenko told lawmakers before the vote that the law envisaged no special status for the Donbass region. Representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk said the proposed changes did not correspond to the Minsk principles as Ukraine had to coordinate the constitutional reform with the heads of the two regions.
Addressing Verkhovna Rada deputies on June 26, the day when Ukraine’s constitutional commission approved draft amendments to the main law, Poroshenko said that "Ukraine will remain a unitary state and there will be no compromise on the issue".
Foreign policy and security issues would remain under the supervision of the central authorities, he said, adding that Ukrainian would remain the only state language in the country.
Poroshenko said the changes had been agreed with representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics.
Authorities in the self-proclaimed republics noted, however, that they had not delegated anyone to the constitutional commission, created to review the country’s constitution. They said Kiev’s refusal to hold dialogue was a clear violation of the Minsk agreements.
Constitutional reform is an important part of the February 12 comprehensive action plan to fulfil the Minsk accords worked out by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the search for peace in the embattled eastern Donbass region.
A key element of reform is decentralisation of government with respect to the peculiarities of certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions agreed with their representatives, as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain Donbass areas.