Activists and MPs launch campaign for abolishment of parliamentary privilege


Activists and several MPs call the citizens to join the campaign for the cancellation of parliamentary privilege. The first goal is to withdraw the privilege of six MPs on suspicion of criminal offence: Yevhen Deidey from “Narodnyi Front” faction, Oles Dovhyi from “Volya Narodu”, Andriy Lozovyi from “Lyashko Radical Party”, Maksym Polyakov from “Narodnyi Front”, Boryslav Rozenblat from “Petro Poroshenko Block”, and Mykhailo Dobkin from “Opposition Block”. The issue is to be voted by the Parliament on Tuesday, July 11, or Thursday, July 13. Respectively, the campaign will take place on both days at 9:30 am near the Parliament.

“For the first time in the history of Ukrainian Parliament, six deputies may simultaneously lose their privilege on suspicion of a criminal offense. […] We want all the six to be deprived of MP’s immunity so that proper investigation could start. And we call the Parliament to do that,” stated MP Mustafa Nayyem.

 “We must prove that there is no usurpation of power in Ukraine. If the Parliament does not vote for withdrawal of their immunity, the Parliament will demonstrate that it considers itself to be legislative body, court and Prosecutor’s Office at the same time. We must prove that this is not the case, that Ukraine has changed after the Revolution of Dignity. […] There is very little chance that the deputies themselves will decide to put an end to this mutual cover-up. The pressure of the society is the only threat for politicians, and the best way to make them support the initiative is to go to the streets,” emphasized MP Svitlana Zalischuk.

Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR), a coalition of 80 NGOs, also supports the initiative. “Withdrawal of an MP’s immunity does not automatically declare him guilty, it only gives green light to the investigation. […] However, they still try to avoid that in every possible way. Moreover, the Committee on Rules of Parliamentary Procedure decided to appropriate functions of a court. This is unacceptable”, stressed Oleksandr Lemenov, manager of RPR Anticorruption Group.

The protest near Verkhovna Rada will give a start to an all-Ukrainian campaign for limitation of MPs privilege. “MPs privilege is an obsolete and highly manipulative tool, taking into account Ukrainian reality. […] The immunity concerning political statements and voting may remain, but there must be liability for criminal offences,” stressed Inna Borzylo, representative of “CHESNO” movement.

“For already 25 years MPs have been repeating the same mantra about abolition of deputies’ immunity, but things aren’t moving […], because it is regarded as a guarantee of impunity,” stressed Yehor Firsov, representative of political movement “Alternative”. “As long as this is written down in the Constitution, it will be impossible to prosecute any rich MP. […] In this situation, there is no trust to politicians in the society, and the lack of trust is an obstacle for development of the state,” said Yuriy Levchenko, MP from “Svoboda” faction.

Soon the activists will start meetings in the regions to promote the initiative. “We call all people in Kyiv and in the regions to contact us and form a powerful movement in order to remind the MPs of the mission of the Parliament,” said Halyna Yanchenko, head of the Board at NGO “Anticorruption Staff”. “Our aim is to unite so many people that Verkhovna Rada would have no choice but to make this long-awaited historical step,” Nayyem added.

Oleksandr Solontay, expert of the Institute of Political Education suggests considering not only limitation of MPs parliamentary privilege but also a limitation of presidential immunity.