The Verkhovna Rada approved the amendments to the Constitution, setting the date of the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

The bill to amend the basic law was supported by 310 MPs. The Rada planned to consider the bill in second reading at the plenary session on Thursday. However, given today's high turnout, it was decided to consider the issue on Tuesday.

As reported, on 19 November 2010, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled constitutional the holding of parliamentary elections in October 2012. The same day, parliament approved the preliminary changes to the Constitution, establishing the date of the next elections to parliament in October 2012 and presidential elections in March 2015.

The document also established that all authorities will be elected for a term of five years.

In addition, it is envisaged that the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and chairmen of settlements shall be elected for five-year terms only at regular elections.
The opposition does not agree with the adopted changes and believes the parliamentary elections should started as sceduled before, on March.

"On March 27 of this year, the people were supposed to go to the poles and elect a new Verkhovna Rada. But with today’s amendments to the Constitution, the pro-government majority in the Verkhovna Rada, on instructions from Yanukovych, prolonged its authority for another year and a half, thus staying in power illegally.

Our faction decided to vote against such changes to the Constitution because we believe elections should take place as stipulated in the Constitution – this March. This would have given us the opportunity to save our country from the occupiers, from the people that today are humiliating Ukraine and every one of its citizens.

But despite our faction’s decision, several of our deputies voted along with the pro-government majority because over the past several weeks, Yanukovych, Azarov, Kluyev and the prosecutor’s office have been threatening to open criminal cases against them and their families, against their sons, brothers, husbands, wives and parents, and some deputies couldn’t handle the pressure and political repression.

You can’t condemn people for not being able to accomplish great feats, but we also have no right to keep weak people on our team, and so our faction has expelled these deputies and has become stronger as a result," the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said in a statement.

We are steadfast in our struggle against the occupying government and the mafia. As Lina Kostenko said, you can’t start when you're on your knees. We’re not on our knees – we’re fighting and we are with you.

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