Members of Ukrainian parliament proposed legislation that would punish all unauthorized “separate negotiations” with Russia.
The authors of the bill suggest that any attempt to establish any sort of rapport with officials of the “aggressor state” be equated with treason. This would mean that a member of Ukrainian parliament cannot negotiate with a Russian official on any issue, whatsoever, since it could be deemed as treason.
For this crime, MPs wish to send the guilty party to prison for a term of 13 to 15 years with a possible confiscation of property.
The same bill prescribes punishment for mass media that disseminate information justifying “aggression against Ukraine and/or the occupation of the territory of Ukraine”.
According to the MPs, the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting should have the right to fine the guilty media.
Separately, budget payments were blocked in Ukraine, as a sort of Christmas gift to citizens.
Budget payments in Ukraine were halted. A message appeared on the Finance Ministry’s Facebook page that the Treasury would pay the payments that were registered in December “after analyzing their priority.” The reason is a severe lack of funds.
Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk instructed the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the State Treasury ceases making payments and records budget expenditure obligations. This is allegedly done to reduce the budget deficit.
This means that there will be no payments by the end of the year,” said Alexander Slobozhan, executive director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities.
The restrictions will not affect the so-called protected items – pensions, public sector salaries, social benefits, etc.
But various development projects such as construction, investment, infrastructure projects, etc., as Slobozhan says, will be “put on a file cabinet”, meaning they will either not be given money for them at all, or will be divided manually.
As the State Treasury Service reported, as of December 18th, the income to the budget was fulfilled up to 89.8%. The deficit in the budget since the beginning of the year exceeded 100 billion hryvnia ($4.3 billion). At the same time, about 38 billion ($1.8 billion) were missed by customs.
The main reason for the chronic shortage of funds is a sharp strengthening of the hryvnia. This led to a decrease in revenue from duties that are tied to the dollar or euro, as well as import VAT.
“The information that we have certain shortfalls in the state budget is true,” Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said. “Indeed, certain programs will not be financed before the end of the year.”
The authorities are forced to not only recognize the problem, but also urgently look for ways to solve it. After all, there is simply no money to finance all the articles planned for the expenditure side. That is, either it is necessary to revise the budget, increasing its deficit, which the IMF is unlikely to like, which closely monitors precisely this budget indicator, or turn on the printing press.
Thus, payments were stopped.
Finally, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decided to recognize the merits of the Nazi-infested Volunteer battalions and deem all of their fighters as “combatants.”
In particular, the law allows members of the volunteer battalions, who participated in the operations to “defend Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty during the anti-terrorist operation and were not part of any law enforcement agency, to obtain the official combatant status, as well as social guarantees in line with the law of Ukraine on veterans and their families.”
The law provides for the granting of the combatant status to those who participated in the ATO for at least 30 calendar days (including the total number of days spent in the ATO).
Essentially, the Nazi “defenders of democracy” are being recognized as heroes, white supremacism receives further verification, and more funds from the struggling budget will be given to these new veterans.
In terms of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Special OSCE representative in Ukraine Martin Sajdik that the Trilateral Contact Group had agreed on the exchange of prisoners by the end of 2019, in the remaining 8 days, as it was announced on December 23rd.
“During today’s videoconference, the Trilateral Contact Group, with participation of representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, reached an agreement on a mutual release and exchange of conflict-related detainees by the end of the year,” said Sajdik’s statement.
Whether that will happen or Kiev will, once again, sabotage attempts towards a peaceful settlement remain in question.
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