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Law on Donbas reintegration: A brief summary of the document

Author : Mustafa Nayyem

Source : 112 Ukraine

The bill empowers Ukraine's President alone(without subsequent parliamentary oversight) to decide on the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, which directly contradicts the Constitution
10:15, 19 January 2018

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The Verkhovna Rada

The bill on "Donbas de-occupation" was adopted by 280 votes "for". The Russian Federation is officially recognized as an aggressor country, and certain regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as temporarily occupied. From a practical point of view, the document will have a minimal impact on the real life of the civilian population, but will change (to some extent) the modality of conducting military operations. Meanwhile, this document might become an important argument (while bring a claim to the international courts) about compensation of the damage inflicted by the Russian Federation during the occupation.

Brief summary of the document:

Who determines the boundaries of occupation

Borders and a list of temporarily occupied settlements in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions will be determined by the President of Ukraine on the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and on the basis of the proposals of the General Staff of the Supreme Armed Forces. This rule is partially contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, which does not give powers such responsibilities to the president.

Related: Verkhovna Rada adopts law on Donbas reintegration

When did the occupation begin?

This is one of the most controversial points of the document. The bill does not specify the exact date of occupation of certain territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The document refers to the law on Crimea.

Who is responsible for the damage, caused by the occupation?

Ukraine holds the Russian Federation fully responsible for moral and material damage caused by the occupation. The bad news is that the bill does not specify the period, the features of the damage, the specific area, where it happened.

Those, who take part in the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, or are involved in cooperation with the occupation administrations, are criminally liable for acts that violate the laws of Ukraine and the norms of the international humanitarian law. I have presented a number of amendments that would later help Ukraine defend its interests in international courts.

Related: Ukraine intends to make war, creates platform for this, - militants on Donbas reintegration

What about the order of crossing the demarcation line?

The procedure for the transfer of persons and goods to/from the occupied territories is established by Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers. But these norms can be completely ignored by the commander of the combined forces. Numerous amendments, including mine own, with the suggestion to highlight some general framework for the transfer of persons and goods, were rejected.

Who will be the main player in the anti-terrorist operation zone?

All the military formations, including the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry, the National Police, etc., involved against the aggression of the Russian Federation directly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, will be carried out by Joint Force Commander. The commander of the united forces and his powers will be determined by the president of Ukraine. In theory, it contradicts Art. 106 of the Constitution, according to which the powers of the president of Ukraine can be determined only by the Constitution of Ukraine.

Related: Law on Donbas reintegration derails Russia's attempts to disguise war

Two things that could be hardly called positive:

  1. Unprecedented and indirectly prescribed powers of "those involved in implementing measures to "ensure national security and defense, stop the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions." In particular, they are entitled to use weapons and special means, detain and deal with the delivery of detainees to the bodies of the National Police, check documents from citizens and officials, and detain them for identification, carry out personal examination, inspection items, vehicles, they might also temporarily prohibit or restrict the movement of vehicles and pedestrians on streets and roads, might enter the apartment and other premises and used vehicles of different persons, etc.

Such powers are clear in case of war and for a specific circle of persons. But in this case, I repeat, these powers come into force under very inaccurately painted conditions and for a very wide range of persons.

  1. The document expressly states that by adopting this law, the Verkhovna Rada formally and legally approves the decision of the President of Ukraine on the use of the Armed Forces and other military formations to deter and repel Russian armed aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In fact, this means that the bill empowers Ukraine's President alone(without subsequent parliamentary oversight) to decide on the use of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations, which directly contradicts Section 33, Art. 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Related: Solution of Donbas conflict among UN priorities in 2018, - Guterres

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