The Verkhovna Rada in the forest of reforms: how parliamentarians pull off
Picture: Meriadoc Brandybuck & Pippin Took by AinarielPalantir
Foreign Policy. The main Parliament’s achievement in the field of foreign policy is the Association Agreement with Europe, which entails the responsibility of the government for further reformation of the country. The visa-free regime with EU countries, the Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, and Ukraine – Canada Free Trade agreement help to accelerate the de-Sovietization of society, modernize Ukrainian business and attract investments into the country. The memorandum “On Cooperation between the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the US Congress” strengthens Ukraine’s ties with Western democracies.
National security. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolutions recognizing the fact of Russian aggression in Crimea and Donbas. The number of Russians and Russian organizations subject to economic sanctions is increasing. Against the backdrop of a military and hybrid threat from the east, an important role is played by a series of laws voted in 2015. A new system of troop training was introduced based on NATO standards; the National Guard was established, as well as the NSDC Military Cabinet, the State Center for Cyber Defense, etc.
Energy security. Ukraine won the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which satisfied the lawsuit of Naftogaz against Russia’s Gazprom regarding a contract for gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009. Now Ukraine has to pay for gas at European prices. The Parliament agreed to supply anthracite coal from the United States. The development of the sector reform is delayed, because 96% of the electricity network is still part of a single space with Russia, and MPs block the renewal of the National Energy Regulatory Commission. However, the national power system is being converted for the European grid.
Judicial and executive power. The Parliament voted for the law on the Constitutional Court, which is to perform important tasks in controlling the legislative activity of the government. Total distrust of the police provided for the reform of the law-enforcement bodies. An independent State Bureau of Investigations was established to investigate particularly serious crimes, including police misconduct. The reform of the Security Service of Ukraine remains unfulfilled.
Bees against honey. In April 2016, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine – a law enforcement agency investigating corrupt civil servants – began to work. Open registers of state and public organizations appeared on the Internet. The ProZorro website publishes information on all government procurement and tenders. Now, citizens can control the government using these tools. The obligatory fiscal e-declarations for state officials have been introduced.
De-communization. In January 2015, the initiative of the Ministry of Culture overtook the spontaneous “Leninfall” (demolition of monuments to Vladimir Lenin) of the Revolution of Dignity. An organized demolition of Soviet monuments began. The law on lustration prohibited persons who held senior positions in the Communist Party of the USSR or worked in the KGB, to hold state posts. It led to a dismissal of about 1,000 people, not without public pressure. In May 2015, the Parliament passed a package of laws on de-communization, including laws on the opening of KGB archives and condemnation of the communist regime. In December of that year, the Communist Party of Ukraine was banned. A number of cities, villages, and streets were renamed as part of the implementation of de-communization laws, with the help of volunteering local historians.
Several socially important laws. In the spring of 2017, the Parliament voted for the laws on supporting people who suffered from fighting in the eastern part of the country and from the annexation of Crimea: on the state financing of education for children living in ATO zone, on financial assistance for the purchase of housing by ATO veterans, on exemption of certain army officers from e-declaration and on the simplification of IDP registration. It was legislatively allowed to try in absentia the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych in order to help clarify the circumstances of the bloody events of winter 2013-2014. As an important component of re-Ukrainization of Ukraine, which suffered from aggressive Russification over the time of the Russian Empire and Soviet power, the Ukrainian language quotas were established on radio and television. In Ukraine, especially in large cities, there is an inhumane practice of poisoning street dogs. Therefore, adoption of the law on criminal liability for abusing animals was very important.
Forgotten reforms. There is a number of reforms, which are not easy for the Parliament to implement. The Ukrainian healthcare system has existed since Soviet times and is based almost entirely on the corruption component. Voting on it has been postponed for many months. The agrarian policy reform, which should lift the moratorium on land sales, stimulate the development of agriculture and stop the seizure of land, has been forgotten. The electoral system reform has not been considered yet. The creation of a specialized anti-corruption court has not been carried out yet.