To cancel the visa-free regime with Russia no parliament voting is needed – Roman Semenukha

Last week journalists have been asking a lot about the opinions on the introduction of a visa regime with Russia.

I consider it important to give a comprehensive and, above all, legally relevant response. Because now we are witnessing a classic example of populism and imitation of struggle instead of real resistance to the aggressor and struggle for independence.

  1. This should have been done back in 2014 by the government of Yatseniuk. It was back then when thousands of Russians entered Ukraine following the orders of the FSB to come to Ukrainian cities and support the “Russian spring”.
  2. If we want to resist aggression, we need to adopt the law on temporarily occupied territories, which will really oppose the Russian aggression.
  3. Voting in the Verkhovna Rada is not necessary to abolish the visa-free regime.

For acquaintance with the legal aspects I will provide a small legal comment:

– Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the Russian Federation on visa-free travel of citizens of Ukraine and the Russian Federation entered into force on March 10, 1997 following the Parties’  exchanging of the appropriate notes through diplomatic channels. It is still in force now. Here is a link to it.

How can we terminate the agreement, and do we need a separate decision of the Verkhovna Rada to do so?

No, we don’t. It turns out that the order of termination is prescribed in the text of the Agreement and it is very simple.

In accordance with Art. 8 of the Agreement, each of the Parties may terminate this Agreement by notifying the other Party in writing. In this case, the Agreement shall cease to be effective upon the expiration of six months from the date of the notification.

In addition, the Agreement provides for the possibility of terminating the operation of certain provisions, which does not require the expiration of the 6 months term.

In accordance with Art. 6 of the Agreement, each of the Parties has the right to fully or partially suspend certain provisions of this Agreement if it is necessary to ensure the security of the state, maintain public order or protect public health. The Parties will notify each other in advance through diplomatic channels about the acceptance and the cancellation of such measures.

This means that in order to make a decision on the termination of the visa-free regime with the Russian Federation, it is sufficient to have the corresponding Cabinet’s order. If such a decision is signed, and Ukraine informs Russia about the termination of the agreement, the visa-free regime with Russia will cease to be effective in six months.

At the same time, it is possible to suspend certain provisions of the Agreement as soon as tomorrow. To do so the Cabinet just needs to notify the other party in advance.

As for the participation of the Verkhovna Rada in this process. In accordance with Art. 24 of the Law of Ukraine “On International Treaties of Ukraine”, the termination and suspension of the international treaties of Ukraine that are concluded on behalf of the Government of Ukraine and do not need the consent of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or approval by the President of Ukraine, takes place in the form of a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry, in its turn, must immediately inform the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine about the termination or suspension of any international treaty of Ukraine.

Roman Semenuha
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