The president’s press office could not immediately be
reached for further comment.

The bills, authored by Party of Regions lawmakers Vadym Kolesnichenko and Volodymyr
Oliynyk, seriously restrict the freedom of peaceful assembly and
criminalize a number of actions used by protesters during EuroMaidan demonstrations
in recent weeks to persuade authorities to concede to their demands.

Under the laws, blockading public or government buildings is
an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and driving in a motorcade of
more than five vehicles can lead to steep fines or confiscation of vehicles. The
law also forbids wearing a helmet while partaking in public protests.

In addition to the laws affecting the freedom of assembly,
stringent laws on free speech were passed. One makes libel an offense
punishable by up to two years in prison, while another allows authorities to
prohibit access to the internet and fine those who do not obey orders to
restrict access.


Moreover, internet-based media are now required to register
with authorities.

Laws simplifying the procedure to strip lawmakers of their immunity were also passed, in an apparent attempt to quell outspoken opposition
lawmakers who have helped organize mass protests. 

Opposition lawmakers attempted to stop votes on the bills by
blocking the parliament rostrum, but the pro-government majority voted for the
laws using a show of hands and without any discussion.

Arseniy Yatseniuk, head of the opposition Batkivschyna party called the passage of the
laws “a constitutional coup d’état.”

 “Today, Yanukovich and the Party of Regions committed a crime. They usurped power,” he said.

Civic group Chesno created an infographic to convey the most worrisome laws.

Kyiv Post editor
Christopher J. Miller can be reached at [email protected], or on
Twitter at @ChristopherJM

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