Ukraine bans former president’s party
The party of former president Viktor Yanukovich, once Ukraine’s largest, was banned on Tuesday by a Kiev court acting on a government request. Ukraine’s security services had accused the Party of Regions of illegally signing a 2010 treaty with Russia and “crimes” against the 2014 US-backed coup that ousted Yanukovich.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) announced the ban to state media, saying it followed a motion by the Ministry of Justice based on accusations leveled by the SBI and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) against the party.
“In particular, the SBI provided materials regarding the illegal actions of the leadership of the Party of Regions during the signing and ratification of the so-called Kharkov Agreements, as well as crimes committed by them during the events of the Revolution of Dignity,” the agency said.
The 2010 agreement, signed in Kharkov, extended the Russian lease of naval facilities in Crimea through 2042 and gave Ukraine a discount on Russian natural gas supplies. The “Revolution of Dignity” is the name the new Ukrainian government gave the Maidan coup of 2014, which triggered the conflict over Crimea and the Donbass.
The Ukrainian government is “currently determining” the value of the party’s assets, which will be seized under a law enacted in May 2022. It enables President Vladimir Zelensky’s government to ban any party that challenges its official position, in particular when it comes to the conflict with Russia. A court’s decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
The law has been used to ban a dozen parties so far. The largest parliamentary opposition bloc, Opposition Platform – For Life, was outlawed last June.
The Party of Regions was established in 1997 and had grown into Ukraine’s biggest political party by 2006, in response to the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution’ that installed a pro-American government. It practically ceased to operate after the 2014 coup, as Yanukovich and Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov sought asylum in Russia.
The latest ban comes just a day after US President Joe Biden visited Kiev and compared Ukraine’s government to democracy itself. “Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. America – and the world – stands with Ukraine,” Biden declared after a photo-op with Zelensky.