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Ukraine’s parliament to consider package of anti-Russian sanctions

August 14, 2014, 2:17 UTC+3 KIEV

The bill vests the Ukrainian Security and Defence Council with the right to block assets, restrict trade operations, completely or partially stop transit of resources

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KIEV, August 14, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) on Thursday will consider in second reading a package on anti-Russian sanctions.

On Tuesday, August 12, the governmental package of 29 measures “of urgent and efficient response to the existing and potential threats to Ukraine’s national interests and national security” won support of 243 lawmakers.

The bill vests the Ukrainian Security and Defence Council with the right to block assets, restrict trade operations, completely or partially stop transit of resources, flights and shipments across Ukraine, to prevent capital flight, suspend economic and financial liabilities, cancel licenses, restrict or ban postal services.

Apart from that, the document provides for restrictions or closure of the mass media, including the Internet, banning or restricting sea-going ships to enter Ukraine’s territorial waters or ports, banning or restricting aircraft to enter Ukraine’s air space and to make stopovers in Ukraine, termination of trade agreements, joint projects and industrial programmes in certain spheres, such as security and defence. Further on, it allows to stop cultural exchanges, research cooperation, educational and sports contacts, entertainment programmes , to deny entry visas to residents of foreign states, to annul official visits, meetings, talks on treaties and agreements.

Addressing Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Alexander Turchinov, Mijatovic wrote in her letter on Tuesday, August 12, “I call on the members of the Verkhovna Rada to drop the provisions of the law endangering media freedom and pluralism and going against OSCE commitments on free expression and free media.”

“The measures included in the draft law represent a clear violation of international standards and thus directly curtail the free flow of information and ideas - the concept that lies at the heart of free expression and free media. The draft law effectively reverses much of Ukraine’s progress in media freedom,” she said.

Along with the sanctions bill, Ukrainian lawmakers plan to resume the discussion of the election legislation reform. This issue is especially topical today, when the Rada is actually working in the “election” regime: the pro-government coalition collapsed on July 25 and if no majority coalition is formed before August 25, the Ukrainian president will have the right to appoint early parliamentary polls that, in this case, will be held in mid-October. At a plenary session on Tuesday, neither of the six reform-related proposals won enough votes to be put on the agenda. Most votes - 200 - were cast in support of a bill drafted by the leader of the Batkivshchina factions, Sergei Sobolev. It provides for elections according to the one-person-one-vote system with open tickets. The latest elections to the Verkhovna Rada - in October 2012 - were held under the mixed system, with half of lawmakers elected by party tickets and the other half - in one-seat constituencies.

It is also expected that a lustration bill will be drafted by today’s plenary session. It was an instruction from Speaker Alexander Turchinov. Earlier, 238 lawmakers voted in favour of supplementing the agenda with a bill prohibiting all Verkhovna Rada lawmakers of the first seven convocations to take part in the next elections. Turchinov said this initiative “would be finalized with due account of other lustration bills.”

It is not ruled out that the Batkivshchina faction will insist on putting on the agenda the issue of ratification of the association agreement with the European Union. Apart from that, the speaker instructed regulations and state building committees to “immediately consider” draft resolutions on re-elections of the Kharkov City Council and the mayor of that city.

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