First meeting of new parliament taking place today
The newly elected Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, opened for business on Thursday at 1000, with the country facing both war and economic crisis.
MPs were scheduled to first take their oaths, and then to elect a speaker of the parliament, according to Ukrainian television news service TSN.
Media reports indicate that current Deputy Prime Minister and newly elected deputy from the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko Volodymyr Hroisman is expected to be appointed as the head of the parliament.
At the same time, the creation of a coalition will be officially announced, which is expected to consist of five parties: the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko, the Popular Front, the Samopomich Party, the Radical Party and the Batkivshyna Party.
Also, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will submit for consideration by parliament a candidate for prime minister. Arseniy Yatseniuk, the current premier, is expected to be reappointed.
Meanwhile, there is a heavy police presence near the parliament building to maintain public order. Earlier civil activists promised to prevent MPs who voted for the “Dictatorship Laws” of January 16 from entering the parliament.
More than 60 MPs from the previous parliament who voted for these laws have been re-elected. The laws, which were put forward by supporters of then President Viktor Yanukovych, were modelled on Russian laws that grant the president strong powers and significantly restrict civil liberties.
The passing of the laws on January 16 is one of the factors that sparked the violent response from Ukrainian protesters on January 19 to Yanukovych’s efforts to quell opposition to his regime.