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How Rada tries to get votes for the «special status» of Donbas

How Rada tries to get votes for the «special status» of Donbas

The issue of the alteration of the Constitution in respect to decentralization, in particular, special self-government of separate parts of the Donbas, may be introduced to deputies on January 28, as it was informed by representatives of «Petro Poroshenko Block» parliamentary faction, according to Апостроф.

In this respect, the Presidential Administration has to make deputies vote for these alterations. According to Apostrof, at present, about 280 deputies from different factions are ready to vote for them, though 300 votes are required. It seems that Poroshenko may rely on “Vidrodzhennya”, «Volya Naroda», and «The Opposition Block» that made it possible to vote for the  alterations in the  Taxation Code in December.

There has been an indirect evidence that by the end of the current, the third, session of Verkhovna Rada, that the Presidential Administration will have completed the process of constitutional alteration with the provision concerning Donbas decentralization. Formal statements have not been made in this connection yet. However, Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Groysman, who is close to the President, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday, «One of the key task of 2016 is to protect decentralization and to fix it as one of the fundamental principles of the European system of governance in Ukraine». According to MM, alterations in the Fundamental Law remain on the agenda of the Ukrainian Parliament and were discussed at a secret meeting between President Petro Poroshenko and Boris Gryzlov, Russian representative in the Trilateral Contact Group on the settlement of the situation in the east of Ukraine. President's press secretary Svyatoslav Tseholko did not answer journalists' questions to confirm or refute the fact of the meeting of Poroshenko with the Russian politician. Earlier, the President said that it would be difficult to get the Rada's decision on the amendments to the Constitution. However, he would rely on understanding and wisdom of the highest legislative body.

As it was forecast by People's Deputy Serhiy Leshchenko (BPP), the issue if altering the Constitution with the decentralization provision concerning the Donbas will be raised on Thursday, January 28 (plenary meetings begin on January 26). The Presidential Administration will have to get 300 votes. The legislative procedure of introducing alterations to the Constitution is to be completed by the end of the third session of Rada which was prolonged till February 2.

Despite pessimistic forecasts, there are premises for successful voting. As a BPP deputy said (he wanted to stay anonymous), «President may count on support of 280 deputies from different factions. The supply of votes is the responsibility of Ihor Kononenko, deputy chief of the BPP's faction , of Serhiy Berezenko from the same party (both of them are very close to Poroshenko), of Oleh Dovhiy from «Volya Naroda» who is thought to be Berezenko's friend. «Before the New Year, on Kononenko, Berezenko and Dovhiy’s list there were about 280 people. They have started shaking Rada again to get the missing votes». «News of Donbas» could not contact the above mentioned deputies.

They will try to find reserves in the BPP faction itself, the faction which has problems with discipline. During the first reading, the President's people gave only 115 votes, though the number of deputies in the faction is 139. «Attendence will be controlled by Kononenko himself. He will call President's friends who are not frequent quests in Verkhovna Rada. There will be directives to faction heads to ensure the presence of their people». In his turn, leader of the BPP faction Yuriy Lutsenko will try to make the opposition inside the faction vote. It should be noted that there is an opposition group inside the faction. It consists of 15 people who criticize their leadership. 

The President himself and Chief of Presidential Administration  Borys Lozhkin will have talks  with other factions on the important voting.  According to the interlocutor from the BPP, in such cases the President prefers to bargain himself. The source thinks that the Presidential Administration will be able to get the support of «Vidrodzhennya», «Volya Naroda» and «The Opposition Block» which helped to support the voting for the Taxation Code in December. «I think “Batkivshchyna” will declare free voting though formally it will be against the amendments to the Constitution. At present they try to attract some «radicals» who behave in a separatist way.

However, “Vidrodzhennya», «Volya Naroda» and «Batkivshchyna» could not forecast their decisions  as the amendments to the Constitution have not been discussed in these parliamentary factions yet. People's deputy Mykola Skoryk (OB) said that their faction is ready to support the bill. «We should observe the Minsk Agreements which require decentralization. We understand that the draft is not perfect. That is why we criticize it, but there is no other one», said he. According to him, the OB faction deputies will be present and vote. Yatsenyuk's «Narodny Front» will support the President's legislative initiative. A representative of the party (anonymous) said that the party supports all decisions which are aimed at strengthening stability in the country. So far, only «Samopomych» refused to vote for the bill, and this position was expressed by its leader Oleh Berezyuk.

The Presidential Administration also tries to make the voting successful lowering the tension around the issue of the special self-government in the Donbas. It is possible to do it, according to the source,  if the voting for decentralization and the amendments concerning justice (if they are approved of by the Constitutional Court) will be voted the same day. «The court reform causes less fuss and accusations than decentralization because of the issue of the Donbas. One document will shadow the other one. Thus, it will be possible «to draw» them both — to get the required votes».

However, People's Deputy Viktor Chumak (BPP) says that the situation around decentralization is very controversial, and it may influence the prospects of voting. «There are claims to the fulfillment of the Minsk Agreements by separatists and Russia. If they do not observe them now, they will not do it in case the amendments, which have caused so many arguments in Ukraine, have been adopted», says Chumak who thinks that there are no votes to vote for decentralization in Rada.

Another interlocutor from the BPP is skeptical assessing the organizational skills of the Rada backroom curators who are trusted by the President. «In such situations every vote is meaningful. The efficiency of the work with the deputies is low. Kononenko has always a lot of things to do. It has happened a lot of times that the agreement seemed to be reached, and then deputies left the hall (went to the toilet, to the cafe, etc.) before an important voting. The voting, which had been time and effort consuming, failed. The same may happen this time.

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