Zelensky bans Ukrainian opposition parties
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday signed into law a bill establishing a mechanism to outlaw political parties, who oppose his policies on western integration. The legislation is aimed at political parties deemed to be engaging into “anti-Ukrainian” activities.
The list of wrongdoings which can be used as a pretext to ban a faction suggests that challenging the official position of the Ukrainian authorities on the ongoing conflict with Moscow can lead to a ban.
Specifically, it outlaws denial of the “aggression against Ukraine,” calling it an internal conflict, a civil war and so on. Any positive remarks about those deemed to be perpetrating “aggression” are prohibited as well, including referring to the forces of the breakaway Donetsk as Lugansk republics as “insurgents.”
The new legislation also outlines a simplified procedure to ban a political party. It now requires a court ruling, with all related cases – including pending ones – transferred to a court in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv for as long as the country is under martial law. A ruling on such cases is final and cannot be appealed.
In March, Ukraine’s national Security Council suspended multiple political parties it deemed to be “pro-Russian.” The list included assorted minor, primarily left-wing parties, as well as Ukraine’s second-largest group ‘Opposition Platform – For Life’, led by Viktor Medvedchuk, a businessman with alleged ties to Russia. Having previously been placed under house arrest, in April of last year the politician ended up in custody of the country’s security services.
His initial incarceration came after his faction passed out Zelensky's Servant of the People in terms of popularity, according to polling.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.