Ukraine extends ‘special status’ for conflict-hit regions

Ukrainian lawmakers attend a session of parliament in Kiev, Ukraine December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KIEV – Ukraine’s parliament voted on Thursday to extend regulations giving limited self-rule to separatist-controlled eastern regions, a prerequisite for a deal to settle the five-year conflict there.

Lawmakers gave a one-year extension to the regions’ “special status”, which was adopted in 2014 and has been extended several times.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine that broke out in 2014 has killed more than 13,000 people, left a large swathe of Ukraine under the control of Moscow-backed separatists and aggravated the deepest East-West rift since the Cold War.

The law granting the extension “is aimed at creating additional interim opportunities for the implementation of relevant legislative conditions aimed at the peaceful settlement of the situation in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” one of its authors, Oleksandr Korniyenko, told lawmakers before the vote.

The status allows the regions to set up their own police forces, prosecutors and courts and hold local elections.

An agreement to extend the law on special status has become one of the elements of an agreement of leaders Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany reached during their meeting in Paris this week.

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