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You're reading: Yanukovych signs all laws passed by parliament on Jan. 16

  Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signed all the laws adopted by the Verkhovna Rada at a meeting on January 16, the presidential press service has reported.

In particular, the head of state signed the law introducing amendments to the law of Ukraine on the judicial system and the status of judges and procedural laws regarding additional measures on the safety of citizens (drafted by Party of Regions MPs Volodymyr Oliynyk and Vadym Kolesnichenko), as well as the law introducing amendments to the Verkhovna Rada’s rules of procedure (simplifying the procedure for granting consent to the prosecution, detention or arrest of MPs who committed a crime).

In addition, the president signed the law on the responsibility for administrative offences in the field of ensuring road safety, which were recorded in automatic mode, the law on the responsibility for committing administrative offenses during football matches, and the law introducing amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code concerning criminal proceedings in absentia.

Yanukovych also signed the law on eliminating negative consequences and preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons regarding the events that took place during peaceful protests and the amendments to the law of Ukraine on free legal aid postponing the entry into force of the provisions of paragraph 6, section VI “Final and transitional provisions.”

He also signed the law introducing responsibility for the desecration of the graves of World War II participants and the law introducing amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with liability for denying or justifying crimes committed by fascists or their accomplices.

Yanukovych also signed the law introducing the government’s amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine concerning the exemption of natural gas imports to Ukraine from VAT, which was suspended in late 2013.

On January 16, the Verkhovna Rada adopted Ukraine’s state budget for 2014 and a number of laws without discussion. Most of the documents were passed without discussion, by a show of hands. The texts of certain laws became available only after MPs voted for them.

The pro-government Party of Regions faction noted that the opposition prevented normal voting, in particular, members of opposition factions took away voting cards from their colleagues in parliament. The opposition said that the laws had been adopted in violation of the parliament’s rules of procedure and described their essence as “a coup.”

The laws passed by parliament include the so-called Oliynyk-Kolesnichenko law, which, in particular, determines the procedure for the registration and functioning of NGOs – “foreign agents,” the law criminalizing libel and extremist activities, as well as intervention in the information resources of the authorities, the law tightening criminal responsibility for riots, the blocking and seizure of buildings, etc.

The adoption of these laws caused a negative reaction from Western officials.

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