Approval for Russian military intervention in Ukraine revoked
The upper house of Russia's parliament voted Wednesday to revoke a resolution approving military intervention in Ukraine at the request of President Vladimir Putin even as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Wednesday revealed a plan for the country's decentralisation of powers.
The issue of Russia's military intervention in Ukraine was discussed in a Federation Council plenary meeting, with Putin's request being carried 153 votes to one, Xinhua reported.
The decision was "a goodwill gesture" made to facilitate the negotiation process in Ukraine, said Viktor Ozerov, head of the Council's Defence and Security Committee.
He also stressed that, if needed, the Federation Council would reconsider the use of forces to prevent further deterioration of the situation in Ukraine.
"We hope positive signals that the Russian president is sending will be heard in the world, especially in Ukraine," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said earlier.
He called on the Ukrainian government to start looking for mutually acceptable solutions to improve the situation, and to formulate a new Ukrainian constitution.
Putin said during his visit to Austria Tuesday evening Russia wished to "create conditions" for the peace process in Ukraine. He said the decision to renounce the mandate did not mean the situation no longer mattered to Russia.
Putin asked Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko Tuesday to scrap the March 1 resolution, which approved Putin's original request to use armed forces in Ukraine until the "political-social situation in the country is normalised".
In Kiev, President Poroshenko Wednesday outlined a plan for the country's decentralisation in a bid to solve the prolonged crisis.
"We want to change the system of regional authority, granting local governments real powers which they have never had in the history of modern Ukraine," Poroshenko said during a meeting in Kiev with representatives of local communities.
Poroshenko announced that the authorities would reshape the power system, establishing local self-governments in the cities, towns and villages and eliminating regional state administrations, directly controlled by Kiev.
Through the decentralisation initiative, local communities will get an opportunity to keep far more taxes collected on their territories, Poroshenko said.
Decentralisation will also touch cultural and linguistic spheres, Poroshenko added, emphasising that the rights of Russian or any other language speakers will be ensured across the country through constitutional changes.
Ukrainian authorities have agreed on the text of the new constitution that provided comprehensive decentralisation, and would register the document in the parliament June 26, according to the president.
Once the parliament approves the changes, the new constitution will be sent for review to the Venice Commission, the European Commission's advisory body for democracy through law.
Decentralisation of power has been one of the demands voiced by protesters in eastern Ukraine, who are now seeking independence from Kiev.
According to another report, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Wednesday that Kiev was ready to start consultations with Russia over the impact of the Ukraine-European Union (EU) trade deal on bilateral economic relations.
"Ukraine is ready to hold public technical consultations on implementation of the agreement. We hope Russia will unveil all risks it may face," Xinhua quoted Yatsenyuk as telling a cabinet meeting.
Yatsenyuk voiced his hope that the Association Agreement with the EU would not harm Ukraine's economic and trade relations with Russia and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
He urged all CIS countries to further fulfill their obligations under the agreement on the free trade area within the ex-Soviet states.
Ukraine and the EU are scheduled to sign economic chapters of the comprehensive Association Agreement June 27, which would remove tariffs on around 90 percent of the goods traded between the two sides.
Meanwhile, BBC reported that as fighting flared up in eastern Ukraine despite a truce between the government and pro-Russian rebels, the Western countries have warned Kremlin of new sanctions, BBC reported Wednesday.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said new sanctions could be applied if efforts to stabilise the situation were not sped up.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said inaction by Russia would mean a stronger case for sanctions.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned he might end the truce due to violations. The ceasefire began Friday.
On Tuesday, a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down, leaving nine people dead.
The Ukrainian military accused the rebels Wednesday of breaking the ceasefire 44 times since it started.
The truce is part of Ukraine's plan to end two months of fighting between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents who control key buildings in towns and cities across the east. Over 420 people have been killed in the region since mid-April, the UN estimates.- IANS