A smoke-filled Verkhovna Rada earlier today

Scuffles, fighting, eggs being thrown at the speaker, smoke-bombs, tug-of-war with the national flag and even one “model” deputy draped in a flag with hammer and sickle...  These were the scenes in which the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) this morning adopted President Yanukovych’s proposal to ratify the “Kharkiv Agreement” signed on 21 April with the Russian Federation.

To shouts of “han’ba” (“disgrace”), 236 deputies formally adopted the Agreement which allows the Russian Federation the right to keep its Black Sea military base on the territory of Ukraine for an indefinite period.  In return, Ukraine will receive a 30% discount on all gas purchased from the RF.

Oleh Bilorus read out a statement on behalf of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) recommending that the constitutional validity of the Agreement be sent to Ukraine’s Constitutional Court for immediate consideration.  Bilorus, who is Chair of the FAC, also noted that the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration had unanimously recommended that the President’s proposal be set aside.  He also said that the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence could not reach a decision (7 votes for and 7 against the Agreement).

Bilorus then went on to declare:  “The FAC, having considered everything, voted 8 votes for, 1 against and 1 abstention, to propose that Ukrainian Parliamentary Deputies set aside the Agreement as being anti-constitutional and anti-State in character, which threatens the national interests of Ukraine, undermines her State sovereignty and territorial integrity and which will cause a spiralling of Ukraine’s national debt.  The FAC recommends that the Verkhovna Rada applies to the Constitutional Court demanding immediate consideration on the question of contravention of the imperative demands of Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine regarding foreign military bases on the territory of Ukraine, taking into account also the exceptional circumstance of Article 14 which allows for a foreign military base on Ukrainian territory until 28 May 2017.”

He concluded his statement by saying that the FAC took the view that the Kharkiv Agreement contradicted the existing agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation regarding the deployment of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet, which has not been annulled, and that it also contravenes Ukraine’s own law on international agreements. 

In response, Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn asserted that there were two proposals:  one from the President (to ratify the Agreement) and, secondly, the recommendations of the FAC.  To more calls of “han’ba” he immediately put the President’s proposal to the vote, which formally ratified  the Agreement on the continued and indefinite presence of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine.

There is little doubt that the ratification of the Kharkiv Agreement not only contravenes Ukraine’s Constitution, but it also disregards Ukraine’s national interests. 

The signs for Ukraine now are ominous.  Yesterday evening the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation arrived on an urgent visit to Ukraine to discuss the finer points of the Kharkiv Agreement and also to push forward a plan to create a “joint atomic holding”... 

Within two months of coming into office, President Yanukovych is manoeuvring Ukraine towards a position of total dependence on Russian energy supplies.  The hands of future generations are being tied not only by Ukraine’s territory being put at risk, but there are also no provisions to allow them to change policies if circumstances change. 

It hardly needs spelling out what this could all mean...  

Fedir Kurlak

Ukrayinska Dumka


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