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Ukraine’s opposition demands new law excluding prosecution of protesters

February 03, 2014, 15:11 UTC+3 KIEV
The law 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
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© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Dzhavakhadze

KIEV, February 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s opposition demands adopting a new law excluding prosecution of protesters.

“We have registered a bill at the parliament,” leader of the opposition UDAR party Vitaly Klitschko said on Monday.

The law on amnesty entered into force on Sunday, next day after it was published. If the opposition follows its provisions within 15 days, the authorities of all levels will release all detained protesters.

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 Grushevsky Street in downtown Kiev and other streets and squares across the country except those where peaceful protest rallies are being held.

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 on January 28, and Yanukovich accepted it. Last week the parliament voted to repeal some of the laws that sparked the second wave of protests. Yanukovich approved the repeal on January 31.

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