Legislators Clash In Kiev's City Council

KIEV, Ukraine -- A session of Kiev city council was blocked on Thursday following a clash between pro-government and opposition lawmakers arguing over whether the council’s authority had expired.

Arseniy Yatseniuk

The development signals escalation of tensions that may lead to the paralysis of Kiev city government, delaying infrastructure and social spending.

The opposition lawmakers say the council’s five-year authority expired on June 2 and new elections must be held to fill the local legislature.

But the pro-government lawmakers cited a Constitutional Court ruling on May 30 saying the next election must be held in October 2015, de-facto extending the council’s authority for two-years.

The ruling is believed to benefit President Viktor Yanukovych who is facing re-election in March 2015 and needs to make sure that Kiev city is run by a loyalist, not by an opposition figure, at the time of the vote.

Any upcoming election in Kiev is likely to produce a government that would be in opposition to Yanukovych, according to opinion polls.

“They stole from the Kievites the right to choose their mayor and their deputies,” Arseniy Yatseniuk, the leader of the Batkivshchyna group, said Thursday.

“The term of Kiev council lawmakers has ended. Five years is five years, not seven years and not 10 years.”

Yatseniuk alleged that the Yanukovych administration has used his political influence to get the ruling that benefits him politically.

"He understands that if he loses Kiev, he loses the presidential election," Yatseniuk said.

The opposition groups, which have strong popular support in Kiev, have been seeking to schedule the Kiev mayor and Kiev council votes for June 2, but the bill was defeated by the ruling Regions Party.

The disagreement over the Kiev mayor vote has led to a political crisis in March with opposition parties blocking the work of Parliament for days in protest.

The opposition groups later submitted a bill to Parliament that schedules the next Kiev mayor and Kiev council votes on October 27, but the bill is likely to be defeated by the Regions Party.

The Regions Party is expected to submit its own bill that will comply with the Constitutional Court ruling, Volodymyr Makeyenko, a member of the party, said without disclosing any other details.

Source: Ukrainian Journal