Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Violent Protest Follows Kiev Vote on Autonomy for East Ukraine

By ANDREW E. KRAMER, NYT
AUG. 31, 2015

KIEV, Ukraine — The results of a fiercely contested parliamentary vote over autonomy for eastern Ukraine were counted on Monday, partly in blood: 265 in favor, three major parties opposed and one dead policeman.

About 120 other officers were also wounded in an attack during a protest that intensified after Parliament approved a measure on constitutional changes that could grant autonomy to parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The authorities said a man later identified as a member of a nationalist party had thrown a grenade at the police lines.

The violence underscored the tensions over a vote that many here see as a concession to Russia in exchange for peace.

Monday’s vote in Parliament was just a first step. Changing the status of the rebel eastern regions, as demanded by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, last winter, involves both an amendment to the Constitution, which must receive final approval from a supermajority of 300 of Parliament’s 450 members, and a separate law passed by that chamber.

The measure is fiercely opposed by Ukrainian nationalists and many others, who loathe any concession to Mr. Putin and see him as the driving force behind a civil war that has claimed more than 6,500 lives.

President Petro O. Poroshenko had conceded the constitutional change, which is included in the text of the Minsk agreement, with a metaphorical gun to his head: thousands of Ukrainian soldiers surrounded by Russian-backed rebels near the Ukrainian railroad town of Debaltseve.

(More here.)

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