Ukraine parliament adopts amnesty law, opposition does not vote
KIEV - Agence France-Presse
Opposition and Regions party's MPs argue at the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on January 29, 2014 before the vote of a law that would grant an amnesty to protesters arrested during the country's crisis. AFP PhotoThe Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday in a dramatic late night session adopted a law that would grant an amnesty to protesters arrested during the country's crisis, but the opposition refused to vote.
The majority Regions Party backed the law, with 232 deputies voting for and 11 against, after a rare closed-door meeting with President Viktor Yanukovych.
However, the opposition did not vote, as they were unhappy that the law requires that protestors vacate buildings they have occupied in Kiev before it takes effect. A total of 173 MPs present in the parliament did not vote.
Cries of "shame" echoed round the Verkhovna Rada in the raucous vote after speaker Volodymyr Rybak announced that the law had been passed without debate.
The failure of the opposition to back the law means that its adoption is unlikely to end Ukraine's crisis.
Nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party leader Oleg Tyagnybok said that parliament had essentially adopted a law about "hostages" as the dozens arrested during the crisis would now be held until buildings are freed.
"The authorities have now admitted they take hostages like terrorists do, so that they can then barter over them," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
He said that the law had been adopted with gross violations of parliament rules and the "vote was absolutely illegitimate".
Yanukovych had earlier come personally to the Rada to persuade Regions Party deputies to back the law, reportedly threatening early parliamentary elections if they failed to do so.
Dozens of activists have been arrested since clashes broke out January 19, both in Kiev and in the provinces, where activists have stormed regional administration buildings.