February 27, 2014
Taras Zalusky, Executive Director Ukrainian Canadian Congress
Ukrainian Canadian Congress issued a briefing note on the current situation in Ukraine.
1. New Coalition formed in Parliament
A new coalition was formed in Parliament today. The coalition is called “European Choice” and consists of the Batkivshchyna, UDAR and Svoboda factions, as well as two newly-formed MP groups – “Economic development” and “Sovereign European Ukraine.” A total of 250 deputies joined the coalition. The minimum number of deputies to form a coalition is 226. Acting president and speaker O. Turchynov said that he expects the size of the coalition to grow, as there are still deputies that have not arrived in Kyiv.
2. Parliament appoints New Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers
Parliament supported the appointment of A.Yatseniuk, head of the Batkivshchyna parliamentary faction, as the new Prime Minister. A total of 371 deputies supported the appointment, which is the highest number of votes in support of the appointment of a PM. A new Cabinet of Ministers was also approved today by Parliament. 331 deputies voted in support of the new government. Acting president Turchynov appointed also acting Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Andriy Deshchytsia – 322 votes for) and acting Minister of Defense (Ihor Tenyukh – 322 votes for).
3. New government submits Program to Parliament
The new government submitted its program to Parliament. The most important points of the program are – securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; signing the EU Association Agreement; development of neighborly relations with the Russian Federation; renewal of financing program with the IMF; stabilization of currency; and several points relating to lustration, reform of security services, courts, the reform of energy policy, and the return to Ukraine of capital in offshore zones that has illegally avoided taxation. The government program also outlined 36 laws that will either have to be reformed or adopted anew in order to secure the realization of the program. The new government has an extraordinarily difficult task ahead, and will have to take unpopular decisions. It is vital that it secure funding from the IMF and Western partners to stave off economic collapse and to ensure that economic, political and social reform be undertaken in the quickest possible time frame. According to Ukraine’s Finance Minister Shlapak, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund will arrive in Ukraine to begin negotiations on funding for Ukraine.
4. Situation in Crimea
Crimean parliament today voted to hold a referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 25 May 2014, the same day of presidential elections in the country. The question to be put to a vote is “The Autonomous Republic of the Crimea has independence and is part of Ukraine on the basis of treaties and agreements – YES/NO”. 61 of 64 deputies of Crimean parliament voted to hold the referendum. According to Yuri Donchenko, member of the Central Election Commission, there is no legal basis for holding the referendum, because there is no functioning law on local referendum. The Crimean parliament also passed a motion of non-confidence in the Crimean Cabinet of Ministers with a vote of 55 of 64 deputies. Earlier in the day, unidentified armed people seized the buildings of the Crimean Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers. NATO Secretary General Rasmussen stated his concern about the developments in Crimea and called on Russia “not to take any action that can escalate tension or create misunderstanding.” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated that “We expect other nations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and avoid provocative action.”
5. European Parliament passes resolution on Ukraine
The European Parliament passed a resolution on Ukraine stating that the EU stands ready to sign an association agreement and trade deal with Ukraine but that association is not the final goal in EU-Ukraine cooperation. The resolution points out that the “EU treaty allows any European country, including Ukraine, to apply for EU membership provided it adheres to democracy, fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law.” The resolution also called for the EU to enact travel bans and freeze EU assets of those responsible for violence in Ukraine, and calls on EU countries to stop the outflow of embezzled money from Ukraine, and calls for the establishment of an independent international body to investigate human rights violations in Ukraine.