MPs have had no time to relax. Several hundred people gathered near the Verkhovna Rada building on March 27 to urge the parliament to pass a series of laws. In the afternoon, the protesters even blocked traffic on Hrushevsky Street, as well as all exits from the building except one via its committee rooms. However, it all was to no avail, since MPs did not hear the voice of the people. Politicians failed to even discuss questions that agitated activists, including adoption of the lustration law, recertificating judges, passing amendments to the Tax Code of Ukraine (concerning abolition of the vehicle utilization tax and the duty imposed on vehicle refits), and the proposed firing of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. The Verkhovna Rada needed three votes to even put on the agenda government bills on financial disaster prevention and creating conditions for economic growth in Ukraine as well as a bill to amend the 2014 budget.
As usual, Communists refused to vote in unison with the ruling coalition. The Party of Regions’ faction and several independent MPs voiced their opposition, too. “We are breaking the rules again,” independent MP Vitalii Nemilostivy told The Day. “We have not been given texts of the bills in advance. But this is unacceptable! We are passing systemically important laws and amendments now that will cause a strong response from the public. When we voice our misgivings, they still do not provide us with any texts, just shouting ‘Let’s vote!’ The new team is using totally old-style governance practices. It should not be this way.”
Acting President of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov looked extremely nervous on March 27, while his inappropriate behavior caused outrage among fellow MPs. “Turchynov was rude and talked to us as a superior. If he keeps behaving this way in his capacity as the parliament’s speaker, I think he will be ousted soon,” an MP complained in a private conversation with The Day’s reporter. “He should not act this way. Restraint is needed when presiding over parliamentary sessions.”
Prime Minister of Ukraine Arsenii Yatseniuk tried to calm the tense atmosphere in the parliament. He addressed parliament on March 27. Overall, MPs and experts agreed that his speech was quite convincing. However, as president of the Market Reforms Center Volodymyr Lanovy noted in his comment for The Day, Yatseniuk was too carried away by flirting with the audience and using complex verbal formulas. “This prevents people from believing in Yatseniuk’s sincerity,” Lanovy said. Moreover, in his opinion, the prime minister’s statements lacked support coming from government initiatives. “His team is very weak, inexperienced and fearful to put forward their initiatives. Ministers sit somewhere in the background and wait while Yatseniuk airs his proposals. But where are ministers, their professionalism and reasoning?” Lanovy said.
Overall, The Day’s respondents representing different factions and groups said they were ready to vote for the government-submitted bills at once. However, “how are we to achieve further development of the economy? What to do with the laws passed by the previous government? We would like to hear a response to these questions from the prime minister and the Cabinet before we get to passing the bills,” the UDAR faction MP Pavlo Rozenko told The Day on March 27. “They include unpopular measures that have to be adopted,” Nemilostivy said. “But I want the new government stop playing by the old rules, what we see now, as we are prevented from seeing texts of bills or holding unhindered discussion... Moreover, unpopular measures are not enough to solve the issues by themselves. We must create incentives, restore people’s trust and change the style of communication between the people and the government. Otherwise, no law and no two laws will change the situation in this country.”
“I chair the Committee on Taxation and Customs Policy and was not even invited to deliberate on the just-submitted tax bill,” MP and first deputy chairperson of the parliamentary group Economic Development Vitalii Khomutynnik commented for The Day. “Things happen. I still think we will fix it together.”