KIEV, July 17. /TASS/. Constitutional changes proposed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are aimed not at decentralization but rather at centralization of power, a member of Ukraine’s parliamentary faction Samopomich (Self Help) said on Friday.
Yelena Sotnik, speaking on Ukrainian television, was commenting on the faction’s refusal to support the proposed amendments to the country’s main law.
"Even before the provision on ‘the special order of self-government’ [at certain territories of east Ukraine’s Donbas region] was included, we were not ready to vote for the decentralization proposed by the president. Because it is not decentralization at all but centralization of power in the president’s hand," Sotnik said.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s parliament gave preliminary approval to constitutional amendments. 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 Donbas region. Representatives of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk said the proposed changes did not correspond to a ceasefire deal agreed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in February as Ukraine had to coordinate the constitutional reform with the heads of the two regions.
Poroshenko revised and submitted the bill to parliament on July 15 to confirm in its main text the special status of the Donbass region. The updated draft was published on the Ukrainian parliament’s website.
In the draft amendments introduced on July 1, the provision that the status of certain areas in Donbas is defined by a special law was included in the transitional articles of the bill on amendments. The updated version puts this provision in the transitional articles of the constitution itself.
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 Donbas region.
A key element of reform is decentralization of government with respect to the peculiarities of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions agreed with their representatives, as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain Donbas areas.