The Verkhovna Rada took into account the key condition of the International Monetary Fund in order to get a loan in the conditions of the coronavirus crisis, and opened the land market. March 30, President Volodymyr Zelensky convened an extraordinary meeting of the Ukrainian parliament. The topic the day is the fight against coronavirus. But key issue was the land market.
From the morning of March 30, despite existing “quarantine” measures, all the entrances to the government quarter were cordoned off by security forces. Only parliamentarians and special vehicles were allowed into the parliament building. Protesters who traveled from different parts of Ukraine to the capital in their own cars were blocked by a detachment of special forces. The place of confrontation has already become Hrushevsky Street, a landmark for many Ukrainians.
Like six years ago during the Revolution of Dignity, it was blocked by a special forces bus, just like six years ago, protesting citizens could not clearly explain reasons of these restrictions.
However, let us return to the history of the fateful meeting. The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announced the appointment of an extraordinary parliamentary meeting on Friday, March 27, after a meeting with the chairmen of factions and groups of the parliament.
“We plan that an extraordinary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine be held on Monday,” Zelensky emphasized.
Zelensky: “It is duty of deputy to come to the meeting!”Separately, head of state noted the importance of a parliamentary vote on Monday and in a weekly appeal to the Ukrainian people on the fight against COVID-19. “Yes, the deputies will be masked, but they will not be able to hide their face from Ukrainians, who expect them to make decisions that are very important today,” the president said.
An extraordinary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada was announced by some pro-government politicians as early as Thursday, March 26. However, at that time, in the period specified by law, the corresponding draft laws had not been prepared.
After a little revision, projects were already ready, but Verkhovna Rada apparatus was only able to completely distribute them to the people’s deputies by the end of Friday evening, so the vote planned by the president as early as Thursday automatically “moved away” until Monday morning.
The Verkhovna Rada apparatus not only printed the draft laws that were submitted for consideration on March 30, it also prudently took care of the deputies, providing all of them with protective masks and gloves. However, not all deputies wished to adhere to quarantine measures. So, people’s deputies Oleksandr Dubinsky “Servant of the people” and Yelizaveta Bohutska “Servant of the people” defiantly taked off medical maskes. This behavior of the deputies delayed the start of the meeting for another 20 minutes.
However, the meeting was surprisingly unproductive – despite the successful vote for the dismissal of the Minister of Finance of Ukraine Ihor Umansky and the Minister of Health Ilya Yemets, the deputies failed the vote for appointment of new heads of ministries – Sergey Marchenko and Maxim Stepanov, respectively.
Consideration of the key issue of the meeting – the bill “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine” On the State Budget of Ukraine for 2020 “was opened by the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal with his opening speech.
This budget is actually an emergency budget … We are aware of this and must start with ourselves: the salaries of civil servants are set at no more than 10 minimum wages.The reduction did not affect the most important areas of work – defense, medicine, education. However, there is a reduction and I ask them to be treated with understanding “This is a necessary measure at this moment,” prime minister said.
However, even the prime minister’s speech, contrary to all expectations, did not find the proper response in the heads of the people’s representatives – 223 deputies “for” – out of the required 226 votes. Based on the results of the vote, the deputies decided to forward the bill for additional consideration and re-passage of the first reading procedure. What was proposed in the amendments to the budget.
The second time the deputies gathered at half past four in the evening. The president Zelensky, personally arrived at the newly opened extraordinary parliamentary meeting. In his words, the guarantor of the Constitution emphasized the importance of making decisions that were previously put to the vote and asked to be decisive: “I do not want anyone of you to think that I” do not know “,” I do not want “,” everything will do without me “- every vote counts today, it all depends on you.”
After the president’s speech, a second vote was held on the candidacy of the new Minister of Finance of Ukraine Sergey Marchenko and the new Minister of Health of Ukraine Maxim Stepanov. Most likely, the arrival of the head of state favorably influenced the “courage” of the deputies. And now, as a result, the candidatures of new members of the government were supported by a majority of votes. Upon completion of the final vote, the freshly baked members of the government made a solemn oath to Ukrainian people.
The voting on the so-called “Kolomoisky Law”, namely, the draft Law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Certain Issues of the Functioning of the Banking System”, which aims to increase the controlling powers of National Bank of Ukraine in the field of control of the banking sector. At the same time, the proposed amendments reduce the amount of financial responsibility of the state regulator in public law disputes that arise between individual banks and the regulator. That is, the NBU will no longer financially reimburse the amount of losses caused by its ineffective policy of losses to private banks, even if the latter is recognized by a court decision.
Undoubtedly, the vote for land market was the cherry’s on the cake of today’s meeting. It is clear that his deputies decided to leave in the end. The issue of “land”, namely, voting for the draft law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine regarding the turnover of agricultural land”, despite its exceptional importance, should have been considered according to a simplified procedure. This decision was made by people’s deputies.
The essence of the proposed changes to the legislation is simple – to enable individuals and legal entities to acquire agricultural land from the state on a market basis.
The main fear among ordinary citizens, as well as politicians and officials, today, is connected with the potential opportunity through the opening of the “land market” to remove the colossal “land bank” from the ownership of the state and local communities for the benefit of third parties. At the same time, given the unstable economic situation in the country itself and the general decline in the global economy, such “equipment” can be implemented with the least losses for itself, or simply put: just buy land for nothing.
Despite these concerns, in general, the deputies did not have significant comments on the draft. However, the adoption procedure was significantly delayed by amendments proposed by deputies of the Opposition Platform – For Life faction. So, the opposition deputies insisted on the impossibility of considering the opening of a “land market” in Ukraine without holding an appropriate All-Ukrainian referendum and threatened other deputies with an appeal to the Constitutional Court on these issues.
The deputy from the “Opposition Platform – For Life” Nikolay Skorik even appealed to the President of Ukraine that at the time of the voting procedure for this bill he had already left the session hall: “You urged us to listen to common sense when we voted for the second time for the appointment of ministers, and we cast our votes. Now, I appeal to the deputies, it’s time for all of us to listen to common sense and not vote this unconstitutional decision”.
The essence of all the amendments proposed by the opposition, and by the way, there were more than 4,000 of them, was reduced to the impossibility of making a decision on the sale of “land”. It’s all because, in their opinion, a decision on this issue can be made only by the results of the All-Ukrainian referendum, and the very concept of “land” in the bill, including, includes the scope of the concept of territory, the actual sale of which undermines the sovereignty of the state and is unconstitutional.
Representatives of the “Opposition Platform — For Life” in their speeches were so many-voiced that the consideration of one issue in the session hall lasted more than five hours, and the meeting itself was adjourned for forced quartzing of the premises.
After the resumption of the meeting, what happened around eight in the evening, the parliament continued to hear amendments to the “Opposition Platform – For Life”, and the deputies continued to accuse the deputies of high treason. This went on for another four hours in a row.
In the end, when all the amendments were rejected by the deputy pro-government majority, parliament nevertheless proceeded to vote on the draft law as a basis and as a whole.
Zelensky returned to the final session in the session hall, it was already half past midnight. However, the return of the president did well to awaken already pretty gaping deputies for the second time.the final vote “saved”. “For” – 259 people’s deputies, the law was adopted as a basis – in Ukraine officially allowed the sale of agricultural land.
Immediately after the completion of the vote, UA-Times managed to communicate with the People’s Deputy of the VIII convocation, Yuriy Levchenko, who called this decision of the Rada of the new convocation a betrayal of national interests. “By this vote, 259 deputies betrayed the interests of the vast majority of Ukrainians, paving the way for Ukraine to lose the last strategic resource,” Levchenko said.
In his opinion, the main strategic mistake of the state’s leadership, today, is the introduction of a “wild market” of ownership of agricultural land, instead of a balanced development of the land lease market, as is common in many European countries.
At the same time, the ex-deputy considers the necessity of making such an unpopular decision as the conditions for the provision of international assistance to be a frank manipulation. “Today, because of the pandemic, the IMF, on the contrary, is meeting the debtor states and is restructuring its debts. Therefore, the Ukrainian government should fill the budget with the oligarchy and confidently negotiate with the IMF, and not hide behind it for such criminal decisions,” Levchenko believes .
In his opinion, the coincidence of the so-called “IMF requirements” with the action in the country of measures restricting peaceful gatherings of citizens is also not accidental – politicians simply took advantage of a situation favorable to them: “This criminal decision was made just today to exclude the legitimate protest of the Ukrainians, which is especially cynical, because, in fact, the authorities today took advantage of human crises.”
This is not the end. On the air of ICTV channel, the leader of All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland”, Yulia Tymoshenko warned that her party would go to court, where it would be easy to prove that the land law adopted at night was unconstitutional.