The thug tactics of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, one of the two main parties in Kiev’s coup-installed coalition government, were on full display in the Ukrainian Parliament, April 8th. The Supreme Rada passed a raft of draconian laws, aimed against demonstrators in the country’s southeast. Petro Symonenko, head of the Communist Party of Ukraine, rose to speak against the regime’s “armed attack on peaceful demonstrations” in eastern Ukrainian cities. Two Svoboda deputies rushed down the aisle and physically assaulted Symonenko, halting his speech and dragging him from the rostrum. A brawl ensued, and most of the CP and Party of Regions deputies walked out, but the regime mustered a narrow majority of 231 votes to pass the laws.
One of the laws is aimed against “separatism.” It provides for 9- to 12-year prison terms for “acts made with the goal of encroaching on the territorial integrity” of Ukraine, while “subversion and espionage” incur up to 15 years in prison and “treason” gets life. In addition, “acts aimed at disrupting the work of Ukraine’s military forces” are punishable with 5 to 8 years in prison, or 8 to 15 years if “grave consequences” were caused.
Natalia Vitrenko, former MP and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, pointed out that law enforcement is selectively targeting demonstrators in southeastern Ukraine. People are being arrested by ones and twos in the eastern demonstrations, while Right Sector rampages are ignored. In Kiev, April 7th, for example, Right Sector militants stormed a meeting of the Supreme Court, breaking it up and forcing the judges out of their building one by one, some of them being punched and spat upon while the crowd shouted “Lustration!” (i.e., all judges in office under the previous government should be ousted). Nothing was done to discipline the Right Sector people, but this evening the Supreme Rada did adopt a judicial lustration law, subjecting judges to vetting by a special 15-man commission, yet to be appointed.
Government buildings continue to be occupied in Donetsk, amid rumors of a large force approaching the city. Buildings in Luhansk and Kharkov changed hands, with as many a 70 of their occupiers being arrested in Kharkov (Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov appeared on TV, claiming that “the disorders were inspired and paid for by the Putin-Yanukovych group,” while he also admitted that of 60-some arrestees “processed” so far, all held Ukrainian passports.) In Nikolayev (Mikolayiv) a tent city of demonstrators for a referendum on federalization was forcibly taken down tonight. Vitrenko reported that the crowd had been visited and checked for weapons during the afternoon, but were not even carrying nightsticks. With 50 or so people remaining in the tent city in the evening, a new National Guard force (recruited from Right Sector and the Maidan Self-Defense) of 200 armed men came in and smashed the tent city, sending a dozen people to the hospital.
Svoboda MP Iryna Farion, in an interview in the corridors of Parliament that was publicized on YouTube, said today that such measures are not enough. Talking about Kharkov, she said: “I would have been tougher. I would have simply shot them, excuse me. Listen, the enemy is ruling on our land. What are we talking about here? They [the Russians] should have been driven out of here back in 1654. So the reaction today is absolutely appropriate. But the measures should be much tougher. Because these creatures who are coming here deserve only one thing: death.” (“1654” refers to the Treaty of Pereyaslav between Ukrainian Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Russian Tsar Alexander Mikhailovich.)