Opposition Groups Block Parliament Again

KIEV, Ukraine -- Tensions rose in Parliament on Thursday as opposition groups blocked Parliament for the fourth time over the past seven months, making it harder for the government to stick to its legislative agenda.

Ukraine's Parliament

The groups resorted to blocking the podium amid widening disagreements with the ruling Regions Party over elections to fill five vacant seats in Parliament and also over delayed Kiev mayoral and council votes.

The groups also demanded that President Viktor Yanukovych personally show up in Parliament to deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address.

The address was printed and distributed among lawmakers earlier in the day, while Yanukovych had refused to attend the session, citing potential opposition protests. 

“This Parliament will work only in a legal channel and we are going to achieve this by any means,” Oleh Tiahnybok, the leader of the nationalist Svoboda group, said. 

Talks between the opposition and the Regions Party to unblock Parliament failed on Thursday and are expected to resume again on Friday, Tiahnybok said.

Yuriy Myroshnychenko, a member of the Regions Party and Yanukovych’s representative in Parliament, said the president does not have to be present in Parliament for the address.

However, he added that Yanukovych may get involved in the talks with the opposition groups to ease political crisis.

“The willingness for dialogue is there,” he said.

Meanwhile, there were speculations the Regions Party, jointly with its ally Communist Party, may again resort to controversial measure of holding a separate session outside Parliament to approve the government’s urgent legislation.

The similar measure in April triggered controversy over whether there were enough lawmakers to approve the government’s bills at the rump session.

Yanukovych signed some of the bills, but opposition insisted they were not valid. 

This time opposition lawmakers pledged to follow their Regions Party counterparts to any other building and to disrupt and block the session there anyway, signaling that confrontation may worsen.

“Let them stand on their heads, let them do whatever they like, let them do whatever they like,” Tiahnybok said.

“We will find them and come there. We will put in place those who flagrantly violates the law.”

Oleksandr Yefremov, the leader of the Regions Party in Parliament, blamed the opposition for blocking the government’s suggested legislation that was supposed to approve the economic situation across Ukraine.

"If tomorrow they will start turning off the water somewhere, it will be a result of the opposition groups,” Yefremov said.

“The groups disrupted again review of the matter and their attitude is that the worse for the country the better for them.”

Source: Ukrainian Journal