14 Jan 2020 10:24

DPR, LPR say Ukrainian decentralization bill in disagreement with Minsk accords

DONETSK/LUHANSK. Jan 14 (Interfax) - The constitutional bill submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has nothing in common with the crisis in Donbas or granting "special status" to the region, nor was it approved by representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), DPR Foreign Minister Natalya Nikonorova told reporters.

"According to information from open sources, the Ukrainian parliament can vote for the submission of draft amendments to Ukrainian fundamental law with the Constitutional Court for further consideration as soon as tomorrow. It's worth noting that the bill on 'decentralization' of the country essentially has nothing in common with the term 'decentralization' as it is described in Clause 11 of the Package of Measures [...] The document filed by the Ukrainian president contains not a single word on special status for Donbas, though its stipulation in the Constitution is identified as one of the fundamental conditions for a long-term and effective political settlement of the conflict," Nikonorova said.

Zelensky is trying to drop from Ukraine's fundamental law the very term "district," which is essential for implementing the Minsk Agreements, she said.

"In this respect, not only are the Ukrainian authorities not planning to grant special status to Donbas, but they're also determined to block even the possibility at the Constitutional level. Not to mention the fact that Kyiv didn't forward any drafts of constitutional amendments for approval by the Contact Group, or any other drafts of legislative acts which are being adopted by Ukraine with respect to Donbas," Nikonorova said.

This kind of approach is totally at odds with Ukraine's political commitments under the Package of Measures, as well as the final communique from the heads of the Normandy-format countries, which clearly indicate that it is necessary for all issues related to the settlement of the crisis to be approved by both opposing sides, she said.

"We once again call attention to the fact that the republics do not recognize and will never recognize any single intention or action undertaken by the Ukrainian leadership regarding Donbas which is not furnished to them for approval. Moreover, the bill which was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament by Zelensky essentially has nothing in common with either the domestic conflict in Donbas or with the Minsk process as a whole, as we see in it only an outright imitation and replacement of terms, but in no way any true intention to settle the conflict," Nikonorova said.

The self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic Foreign Minister Vladislav Deinego, for his part, said that the decentralization bill which Zelensky submitted for the Verkhovna Rada's consideration had not been coordinated with Donbas representatives and was in disagreement with the Minsk accords.

"As early as tomorrow, the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada may direct Zelensky's 'decentralization' bill to the Constitutional Court (which is a mandatory procedure for bills introducing constitutional amendments). Meanwhile, Zelensky is trying to present the situation as the fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements," Deinego said in a statement on Monday.

"Ukraine has not even tried to submit any bills for our consideration either in the Contact Group or in the political subgroup. However, coordination of all bills aimed at laying down legislative fundamentals of the conflict settlement process with representatives of the Donbas republics is the key condition of the Minsk Agreements," he said.

The bill submitted to the Verkhovna Rada does not comply with any provision of the Minsk Agreements and cannot be accepted by the Donbas republics as Ukraine's fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements, Deinego said. "This bill has nothing to do with formalizing the special status [of Donbas in the Ukrainian Constitution]," he said.

Deinego additionally said that Zelensky's bill envisaged enhancement of presidential powers via the institution of "prefects," which might completely level out local self-government. "In fact, this is 'pseudo-decentralization' that actually enhances individual rule of the president," he said.

"Therefore, Zelensky-style 'decentralization' does not meet the interests of Ukrainian society or the Minsk obligations of Ukraine," Deinego said in conclusion.