The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, by extending the special status of Donbas has sent a signal to residents of Russia-occupied territories and Ukraine's international partners about its readiness to resolve the situation peacefully.
This opinion was expressed by Member of Parliament from the ruling Servant of the People Party Oleksandr Kachura on the air of TV channel Ukraina 24.
Kachura says the failure to extend the law would have meant "a negative signal to our international partners regarding their sanctions policy." "This would have been a signal as for the Minsk process, to Germany, to France, [to those] who support us. A signal that Ukraine no longer wanted to engage in the peace process, giving up the obligations that it undertook," he explained.
He recalled that the law on Donbas' special status had been extended several times.
"This is primarily a signal to Donbas – the occupied and non-occupied areas – that Ukraine is striving for peace, we are not abandoning the ongoing negotiation process. I personally would like this to be the last year when we had to prolong the law. [I would like local] elections there to be held under Ukrainian law, the borders to be retaken [by Ukraine], which would be followed by a full-fledged peace," he said.
Donbas special status law: In brief
- On September 16, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law on a special procedure for local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which was introduced by the then President Petro Poroshenko to parliament. The law was supposed to be in effect for three years. Then it was extended.
- According to the law, an interim special order of local self-government shall be introduced for three years, and "the state guarantees, in accordance with the law, non-application of criminal prosecution, criminal and administrative responsibility and punishment of persons who participated in the events in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions."
- According to the law, in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it is envisaged that the relevant territorial communities directly and through local self-government agencies shall execute local self-government in compliance with the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine, along with the introduction by the laws of Ukraine of a special procedure for appointing chief prosecutors and court heads. This provides for the participation of local self-government agencies in handling these issues.
- The document stipulates that the state guarantees the right to use Russian or another language "in public and private life, study and support Russian and any other languages, their free development and equality."
- According to the law, the state supports the social and economic development of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
- The law provides "the possibility of creating (by decision of city, town, village councils) detachments of people's militia from among the citizens of Ukraine, who permanently reside in the corresponding populated localities, on a voluntary basis. The detachments shall be entrusted with the implementation of tasks of protecting public order in the populated localities of certain regions and exercising powers, provided for them by the laws of Ukraine. Activities of such detachments that protect public order in the settlements of certain districts shall be coordinated by the relevant rural, town, city mayors, etc."
- On December 12, 2019, the Verkhovna Rada adopted amendments to the law, which extended it by another year, until December 31, 2020.
On December 15, 2020, lawmakers extended the law on a special procedure for local self-government in Russia-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for another year.