KIEV, February 01, 11:53 /ITAR-TASS/. The law on amnesty for participants of ongoing mass protests in Ukraine, adopted by the Ukrainian parliament late Wednesday and signed by President Viktor Yanukovich on Friday, was on Saturday published in the Ukrainian parliament’s daily newspaper Golos Ukrainy (Voice of Ukraine).
The law, designed in particular to “prevent prosecution and punishment of people in connection with events that took place during peaceful rallies,” envisions a pardon for all people who took part in riots during mass anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine except for those who committed grave crimes.
It introduces a mechanism to release participants of riots from criminal prosecution and ensure unhindered operation of state and local power bodies.
The document says protesters should vacate state and local power institutions they seized in Kiev and other regions of the country within 15 days, unblock Grushevskogo Street in downtown Kiev and other streets and squares across the country except those where peaceful protest rallies are being held.
The bill enters into force on Sunday, the next day after it was published.
The adoption of the amnesty law was preceded by lengthy and heated debates in parliament. Despite the pledge by the author of the law, Yury Miroshnichenko, President Yanukovich’s envoy to the Ukrainian parliament, that the law did not ban peaceful protests, opposition leaders reacted defiantly and with skepticism to the new legislation.
Anti-government protests hit Ukraine after Kiev refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius in late November, choosing the path of closer integration with Russia instead.
A second wave of demonstrations occurred in Ukraine after parliament passed a set of laws toughening punishment for public order violations on January 16. Protesters stormed and seized government buildings. At least three protesters are believed to have been killed in clashes with police. The Interior Ministry claims up to 200 policemen have been injured.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov tendered his resignation Tuesday, and Yanukovich accepted it. Parliament on Tuesday voted to repeal some of the laws that sparked the second wave of protests. Yanukovich approved the repeal on Friday.