Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Cameroon's Constitutional Court rejects last petition for re-run

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Music stars, French art and a dead cat's renaissance

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Khashoggi Affair: Evidence mounts against Saudi Crown Prince

Read more

#TECH 24

Next stop space: Japanese company constructing nanotube 'space lift'

Read more

#THE 51%

The Gender Divide: Record number of women running in U.S. midterms

Read more

REPORTERS

Reporters: Brexit, a sea of uncertainty for fishermen

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Fishing in France's Grau du Roi harbour, a family tradition

Read more

FOCUS

French education reforms under tight scrutiny

Read more

ENCORE!

FIAC 2018: Paris's one-stop shop for Contemporary Art collectors

Read more

Europe

Ukraine passes legislation against acts of protest

© afp

Video by Halla MOHIEDDEEN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-18

Pro-government lawmakers on Thursday pushed legislation through Ukraine's parliament on Thursday that criminalised acts of protest, an apparent bid to undermine months of demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovych.

Backed by 235 of Ukraine's 450 lawmakers, blockading public buildings will now be punishable by up to five years in prison.

Protesters who wear masks or helmets will face a fine or an administrative arrest while the dissemination of slander online was also banned, punishable by a fine or up to one year of corrective labour.

The opposition has been leading nearly two months of rallies against Yanukovych over his decision to ditch a key trade agreement with the EU after coming under pressure from Russia.

Soon after scuttling the EU deal, Yanukovich secured a $15 billion loan from Russia and huge discounts on natural gas purchases, prompting fears that Ukraine was falling further under the Kremlin's spell.

Opposition leaders called Thursday's vote "a power grab".

"The regime of Viktor Yanukovych and the Regions Party have completely destroyed state power in Ukraine," said Arseniy Yatsenyuk, leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party.

"This is nothing else but an overthrow of the constitutional system and a power grab in Ukraine," he said.

EU, US voice concern

Opposition lawmakers sought to disrupt the Thursday vote but pro-Yanukovych parliament members voted by a show of hands, provoking concern from foreign officials.

"I am concerned about the way some laws were voted in parliament today," said the EU's ambassador to Ukraine, Jan Tombinski. "Norms should be adopted through proper procedures."

"Otherwise the credibility of democratic institutions and of the legal system is at stake."

Washington also voiced its concern, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying Ukraine's parliament had "pushed through several controversial measures today without adhering to proper procedures".

"If Ukraine truly aspires to a European future, it must defend and advance universal democratic principles and values that underpin a Europe whole, free, and at peace, and not allow them to be systematically dismantled," she said in a statement.

Last month, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the capital Kiev and western Ukraine after Yanukovych decided to scrap key political and trade agreements with the EU.

The protests have since dwindled but the opposition maintains a protest camp on Kiev's central Independence Square, known locally as the Maidan.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-01-17

  • AUDIO SLIDESHOW

    Ukraine: Caught between East and West

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Tens of thousands protest against government in Kiev

    Read more

  • UKRAINE

    Attack on opposition leader sparks protests in Ukraine

    Read more

COMMENT(S)