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Ukraine’s Donbass reintegration law aims at president’s power grab, says expert

This law envisages no moves towards a real return of Donbass, a Ukrainian expert said

KIEV, January 18. /TASS/. The law on the reintegration of the Donbass region passed by the Ukrainian parliament earlier in the day does not contain any measures that would help return the region, it is aimed at usurpation of power by the president in Ukraine, a Ukrainian expert said on Thursday.

"This law envisages no moves towards a real return of Donbass, this is not what it was written for," said Maxim Goldarb, head of Public Audit NGO. He believes its real aim is "to continue the anti-constitutional usurpation of power in the hands of the president".

He noted, in particular, that after the passing of the law "[Ukrainian President Pyotr] Poroshenko gets the right to use troops at he thinks fit, without consent of the parliament, under the pretext of ‘countering an aggressor’."

Goldarb believes the head of state may take advantage of this new right without any grounds. "Anything can be applied to this, whatever and wherever, including mass protests of people, that can be dubbed as ‘complicity with the aggressor,’ for example," he fears.

Besides, under the law "Ukraine gives up any legal responsibility to its nationals for all that has been happening all these years and happens now in the east of the country".

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed the so-called law on Donbass reintegration. The document classifies the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as "occupied territories," labels Russia an "occupier" and officially introduces the notion of "Russian aggression." The president will have the right to use the armed forces, including for liberating the territories in the country’s east, without the parliament’s approval. A unified operation headquarters of Ukraine’s Armed Forces will be set up to control all security forces and military and civil administrations in the conflict zone. Any mentioning of the Minsk agreements has been excluded from the document.