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Ukrainian communists to hold meeting on referendum on Customs Union

September 27, 2013, 5:31 UTC+3

The meeting is scheduled for September 29

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KIEV, September 27 (Itar-Tass) - The Communist Party of Ukraine will hold a meeting of citizens to discuss the possibility of holding a nationwide referendum on the country’s accession to the Customs Union created by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

The meeting is scheduled for September 29 despite the Kiev District Administrative Court’s judgment prohibiting the Central Election Commission to delegate its representative to the meeting. “We will hold the meeting and then decide on further steps,” party leader Pyotr Simonenko said on Thursday, September 26.

He believes that the court ruling “grossly violates the law on the referendum” and that both the authorities and the opposition are afraid of holding the plebiscite.

The meeting will be organised together with the public movement Ukrainian Choice. Viktor Cherny, who is responsible for the movement’s organisational work, said that “the authorities and the opposition have come together in a common European impulse, ignoring the opinion of the majority of people who call for eastward integration and accession to the Customs Union.”

“The referendum Ukrainian Choice and the Communist Party are initiating should remind the authorities and the opposition of who is the real master in the country. If we allow them to ignore the Constitution and the opinion of their voters just once, this will become a routine practice. Naturally, the current law on the referendum was drafted and adopted as an instrument with which the authorities can solve their political tasks. This makes it extremely difficult to hold a referendum initiated by people. We have already faced resistance from judges, members of the Central Election Commission and even mass media. And yet, this can be done, if there is enough civil will, even in spite politicians and bureaucrats. What is important is that our citizens do have such will,” Cherny said.

The previous meeting organised by the Communist Party on September 8 to discuss its referendum initiative was attended by more than 2,500 people from all Ukrainian regions, Kiev and Sevastopol. They approved the question to be submitted to the referendum - “Do you support Ukraine’s accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia?” - with two possible answers: yes or no.

“Representatives of oligarchic clans who hold positions of power now will have to take into account the opinion of the people and we say this publicly,” Communist Party leader Pyotr Simonenko said.

However the Central Election Commission refused to register the documents on account of late notification about the meeting. Furthermore, a Kiev court had earlier forbidden the Communist Party to hold a nationwide referendum.

Under law, the documents needed for the registration have to be presented to the Central Election Commission not later than seven days after the decision was made. The commission will then have five days to study the documents. If the initiative is registered, the group that put it forth can start collecting signatures on the next day and has to collect three million signatures or more within 40 days, with at least 100,000 signatures to be collected in no less than two-thirds of the regions (18 regions).

“If all these requirements are met, the Central Election Commission will have to submit the relevant appeal to the president of Ukraine for calling a referendum on this people’s initiative. If the head of state makes such a decision, the Central Election Commission has to name the date of the referendum on the second day after the entry into force of the presidential decree,” CEC member Yuri Donchenko said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said his country would continue to move along the road of European integration but would also develop relations with Russia and other Eurasian community countries.

Ukraine is discussing forms of cooperation with the Customs Union with each of its three member states - Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan - separately.

Customs Union countries are key trade partners for Ukraine. In 2012, trade turnover with them reached 63 billion U.S. dollars, making up 36 percent of Ukraine’s overall export.

Yanukovich said that Ukraine was looking for a model of cooperation with the Customs Union.

He believes that the country can become an observer in the Customs Union and “find a formula that will correspond to the level of our relations.”

“We are interested in this. In fact, the Customs Union countries are our strategic partners,” the president said.

Yanukovich stressed that Russia is a “key country in the Customs Union.”

Ukraine cannot ignore the existence of the Customs Union and should work out acceptable forms of cooperation with it, Yanukovich said.

However he reiterated once again that European integration is a priority for Ukraine.

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