While all public places are closed in the country and mass events banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, veterans and civil society fear that the parliament may use the quarantine to adopt laws assigning legitimacy to the “DNR” and “LNR” through the creation of a “Consultation Council” with the Russian proxies. Consequently, the Capitulation Resistance Movement has demanded the parliament be suspended until the coronavirus has retreated.
Protesters claim that democracy requires decisions of Parliament to be openly discussed or challenged by civil society, including the use of mass protests when there is a need. They also say that using coronavirus as a shield to legitimize concessions to Russia is a disgrace and fear for their own society. If parliament fails to go into quarantine, the Capitulation Resistance Movement has threatened to continue mass protests regardless of any bans.
Reportedly, parliament has agreed to change its schedule. Zelenskyy at the same time said that parliament should work as usual for “rapid reforms.” Tomorrow, the voting regarding parliament’s schedule is planned.
Mass protests and demands
The police claim that 5,000 people participated in the March of Patriots conducted on 14 March — the Day of the Volunteer Fighter. However, the dense column of people stretched 1.5 kilometers long: from the Mykhailivskyi Sobor to the Cabinet House.
Organized by the Capitulation Resistance Movement, the march united dozens of organizations, political parties, hundreds of veterans from volunteer battalions of the Ukrainian army that were the first to defend the country in 2014 when the regular army was not yet able to do so. These battalions continue to see active service on the frontline.
The 10 Demands of the march are as follows:
- No step back; no withdrawal of troops.
- The development of defense capabilities and modern weaponry for the Ukrainian army as the first priority.
- To stop the policy of capitulation. No agreements with the enemy at the cost of Ukraine’s interests.
- No Normandy Four Summit without the discussion about the return of Crimea to Ukraine.
- Russia should pay for the destruction of Donbas and Crimea.
- No elections in the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts until the full control of the Ukrainian army over the territories.
- An end to political persecution of volunteer fighters, soldiers and volunteers who are helping the Ukrainian army.
- Respect and social guarantees for Ukrainian soldiers.
- Stop collaborators. Prisons for collaborators and Kremlin propagandists.
- The immediate resignation of the Head of Presidential Office Andriy Yermak.
The last demand was added in the context of recent agreements in Minsk signed by Andriy Yermak. These agreements raise the status of occupational administrations, and put Russia in the position of an observer instead of aggressor. Such agreements were perceived as capitulation among the veterans and civil society.
Quarantine for parliament due to coronavirus
However, the political retreat of Zelenskyy’s administration wasn’t the only thing that caused mass protests. The second reason is attempts to limit public access to the Verkhovna Rada while it plans voting on the disputed land market reform as well as ratifying the most recent agreements in Minsk on 25 March.
Due to the coronavirus, gatherings of more than 200 people were banned and the Ministry of Internal Affairs has already proposed imposing criminal responsibility for violation of quarantine measures. Also, access of journalists to the Verkhovna Rada was prohibited due to the coronavirus threat. Under such conditions, democratic voting is not possible, activists claimed. Therefore, “Rada under quarantine” is their new and more urgent demand, as presented to the press this morning, on 16 Saturday.
Mykhailo Basarab, member of the Coordination Council of Capitulation Resistance Movement thus summarized the demands regarding quarantine:
Today we met here for one simple reason. When restrictive measures were introduced in Ukraine due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was supposed that authorities might use the quarantine to push many treasonous decisions through the Verkhovna Rada. These are different decisions: related to the capitulation to Russia, the land issue, the taxation issue, amendments to the language legislation… We warn against this. If one wants to use restrictions on mass gatherings of Ukrainians to bring treason and surrender to Ukraine, he will reap the storm. Because Ukrainians have repeatedly proven that despite various restrictions, they are ready to protect their rights and national interest at any price.
He also noted that there is information a new situational majority has emerged between the traitors in the Servant of the People faction and the Opposition Platform, who have already agreed on a package of decisions including the potential appointment of a new Prosecutor General.
These demands were passed to the Verkhovna Rada. On the coordination council, all parliamentary factions had agreed to change the schedule of work. This decision should also be accepted by the Parliament tomorrow, during the extraordinary session regarding coronavirus issues.
At the same time, Zelenskyy commented that Verkhovna Rada should continue working in its ordinary regime, ignoring demands from civil society. He emphasized that
“In the situation of a global pandemic and the threat of a global financial crisis, the Parliament of Ukraine must pass vital laws for the economy. Implement tax, land, labor reforms. Appoint the Ministers of Economy and Energy, Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Rapid reforms can save the economy.”
Yet these very reforms are the most disturbing for the activists. Zelenskyy also proposed to close all railway and bus transport between cities, metro in Kyiv. Such statements only provoke more disturbance in the Ukrainian civil society and lead to tensions.
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