Ukraine grants self rule, amnesty to rebels
Kiev, Sep 16 (IANS) Ukrainian parliamentarians Tuesday granted self-rule to parts of two eastern regions — Donetsk and Luhansk, and an amnesty to pro-Russian rebels, BBC reported.
The law, affecting the two regions, is in line with the Sep 5 ceasefire.
President Petro Poroshenko said the legislation grants special status to parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for three-years. It would guarantee the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence” of Ukraine, while paving the way for decentralisation.
The legislation means that pro-Russian separatists taken prisoner in the fighting should now be released. The amnesty affects the rebels, but does not cover the shooting down of the MH17 passenger plane in July.
The rebels in the east have been battling Ukrainian troops since their seizure of a number of towns in April.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian and European parliaments Tuesday also voted to ratify a major EU-Ukraine association agreement that aims to bring the ex-Soviet republic closer to the EU.
One of the two bills approved by the Ukrainian parliament Tuesday grants amnesty to detained insurgents, who participated in the violent confrontation with government troops, was backed by 287 of 342 lawmakers present at the assembly, Xinhua reported.
The other bill, submitted to the parliament by President Poroshenko, which offers a “special status” to regions in eastern Ukraine for three years, was approved with 277 votes in favour.
The new law provides for the holding of local elections in the region Dec 7 and enables local communities to take part in the appointment of heads of regional prosecutor offices and courts.
It also gives legal instruments to regional governments for self-rule in issues related to economic, social and cultural development of the area.
In addition, the law introduces a special economic system aimed at rehabilitating the region’s industry, transport and social infrastructure as well as creating new jobs and attracting investment and loans.
The law also guarantees the right to use Russian and other regional languages in public and private life and envisages support for learning and free development of those languages.
Ukrainian authorities agreed to offer major concessions to insurgents in an attempt to settle the five-month conflict in eastern regions, which claimed some 3,000 lives.
Some Ukrainian lawmakers, however, described the self-rule law as a sell-off of Ukraine.
Andriy Shevchenko, an MP in the Batkivshchyna party led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said he was “ashamed of this parliament”, adding that the law was voted in “a secret regime”, violating normal parliamentary procedure