MOSCOW, May 21 (RIA Novosti) – A memorandum on peace and consent passed by Ukraine’s parliament is the first distinct but late step in fulfilling the April 17 Geneva Agreements and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) “roadmap,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, ratified the text of a “memorandum of peace and consent” after two months of armed clashes in the country’s eastern Donetsk region. The memorandum calls for a withdrawal of the country’s military to their permanent bases, a ban of criminal charges against protest activists, and the inclusion of the Russian language in a new constitution.
"The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has carefully acquainted itself with the memorandum passed by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada. In our understanding, this document has become the first public and distinct, though late, step toward the realization of the April 17, 2014 Geneva Agreements and the ‘roadmap' developed by the OSCE," Karasin said.
The document stipulates that the country may join any political or economic union solely if the majority of the population votes in favor in a nationwide referendum.
It also renounces the use of force by all sides, condemns violence, and envisages constitutional reforms to decentralize power in the country.
Ukraine saw a regime change in February when the country’s parliament, backed by far-right movements, voted to strip President Viktor Yanukovych of his powers, amended the constitution and scheduled early presidential election for May 25. A total of 23 candidates were registered to take part in the vote, but several candidates later withdrew.
In the run-up to the elections, federalist and nationalist forces have clashed in several deadly skirmishes in the south and east of the country, especially in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which declared independence after referendums earlier this month. Pro-federalization activists have accused Kiev of launching special operations involving military helicopters in the regions.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the military operation in the southeast of Ukraine, saying it had blocked "any real step to de-escalate the situation in the country."