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Ukrainian parliament passes law extending Donbass special status

October 06, 12:30 UTC+3 KIEV

Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law "On creating conditions for a peaceful settlement of the situation in separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions"

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© Mikhail Palinchak/Press Office of the President of Ukraine/TASS

KIEV, October 6. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has passed a law "On creating conditions for a peaceful settlement of the situation in separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions" extending the special status of the Donbass region by one year. However, it contains the provisions, according to which the special status will come into force only after "all illegal armed units and military equipment, along with militants and mercenaries" are withdrawn from these territories. The bill in this form was supported by 229 lawmakers (with 226 required votes).

The validity period of the Law on granting special self-government status to separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions passed back in 2014 expires on October 18. It is the key document for a political settlement in eastern Ukraine. Representatives of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics have said on numerous occasions that the refusal to extend it will be tantamount to refusal to implement the Minsk agreements.

Having extended the special status for another 12 months, Kiev, nevertheless, added to the text of the law the reservation, which actually blocks its coming into effect until it gains full control over the region.

This effectively nullifies all Contact Group negotiations on local elections in the Donbass region and the special self-government status as part of Ukraine’s constitutional reform and the agreement reached by the "Normandy Four" on the mechanism of enactment of the special status law in accordance with the "Steinmeier formula" (proposed by Frank-Walter Steinmeier who served as German Foreign Minister from December 2013 to January 2017.)

Moreover, the bill includes the phrase that the extension of the special status is aimed, among other things, at creating "the necessary conditions for deploying the UN peacekeeping operation to the separate districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions."

That idea was reiterated by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko at the recent UN General Assembly session.

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