Ukrainians supported the legalization of cannabis and the reduction of the Rada. Zelensky’s party has already prepared relevant bills
The final results of the all-Ukrainian poll are in. The majority supported the legalization of medical cannabis and the reduction of the Rada. Opinions were most divided on the question of the creation of a free economic zone in Donbass.
Support for four of the five presidential initiatives
The poll, initiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and containing five questions (a separate ballot was issued for each), was held on October 25, the day of the local elections. About 5 million Ukrainians took part in the poll, said the head of the presidential party “Servant of the People,” Oleksandr Kornienko.
The ballots were processed in the party, and the official results of the poll have not been made public yet – they were provided to RBC by a source in the party leadership, and the figures were confirmed by an interlocutor in the office of the Ukrainian president.
Nearly 90% of those polled supported reducing the number of Rada members from 450 to 300.
When asked “Do you support life imprisonment for large-scale corruption?” 82.97% of respondents said yes, 13.87% said no (3.16% of ballots were spoiled).
74.21% gave an affirmative answer to the question “Do you support the right of Ukraine to use the security guarantees provided by the Budapest Memorandum for restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? 17.21% of the respondents said no, and 7.17% of the ballots were spoiled.
To the question on the advisability of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes most respondents answered in the affirmative: 64.88% were for it and 29.53% were against it (5.59% of the ballots were declared invalid).
Opinions were divided almost equally on the question “Do you support the establishment of a free economic zone on the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions? “for” – 46.70% of the respondents, “against” – 46.48% (6.83% of ballots were declared invalid).
Polling on election day
In mid-October, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski announced that a nationwide poll would be held on election day in the local elections. The party “Servant of the People” undertook the financing of the poll, and it was conducted by the company “Ze Media” chosen by the party. The money allocated for the poll is the sponsorship of the party donors, said Alexander Kornienko, head of “Servants of the People.
By his initiative the President wanted to attract his supporters to the polling stations on October 25th, which he did not succeed in doing, judging by the final turnout (36.88%), says the Ukrainian political analyst Vladimir Fesenko. However, this poll is still an experiment which has no legal weight and will not have a significant influence on decision making, he is certain.
Bills about deputies and cannabis
As Zelensky clarified on October 22, the results of the survey will not have legal consequences, he plans to use them to prepare proposals to legislators. At the same time, the presidential party “has heard the will of Ukrainians and will try to consolidate it,” says RBC’s source in the leadership of Servants of the People. However, it will not be easy to pass the necessary laws in the near future.
Commenting on the preliminary results of the poll to reduce the number of Rada deputies from 450 to 300, Kornienko said at a briefing that now everything depends on the position of parliamentarians. “We have a draft of amendments to the Constitution returned from the Constitutional Court on second reading, which was recognized by the court to be in accordance with the Constitution,” Interfax-Ukraine quoted the head of the presidential party as saying. Kornienko noted that the bill can already be voted on. “The next question is for my colleagues: who, looking at the figure of popular support of 90%, how will behave in the hall,” he concluded.
This is a presidential bill, a source in the leadership of Servants of the People explained to RBC. According to him, we are talking about reducing the number of deputies, starting with the next convocation. “We are tentatively planning to put it to a vote in December or January,” he added. Since this is a constitutional change, it requires a minimum of 300 votes to pass. “That’s the problem – no one but Servant of the People deputies want to vote for it. But we will insist on it,” he assures.
The rest of the initiatives need to be finalized. Deputies from the presidential faction have already drafted three bills on the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, and now they should work on one coordinated bill, which will be proposed for further discussion in Parliament and society, Kornienko said at a briefing at the party headquarters on Monday. The difficulty is that there are three drafts of the bill with varying degrees of coordination with participants in the pharmaceutical market and patient communities, the interlocutor of RBC in the leadership of “Servants of the People” explains. “We will work to come to a common denominator and submit a single bill to the Rada in the next couple of weeks,” he said. However, “Servant of the People” expects opposition from the pro-Russian “Opposition Platform – For Life”, as well as the party “Batkivshchyna” of Yulia Tymoshenko. “This issue could drag on for six months or a year,” the RBC interlocutor predicts.
The rest of the initiatives are unlikely to be implemented in the near future, admitted the Servant of the People. The party admits that so far there has been no draft law to increase penalties for corruption. It would be difficult to pass such a law – its European partners will oppose life imprisonment for corruption: in particular, the European Court of Human Rights has cases on this topic, according to a source close to the party’s leadership, RBC.
Difficulties with Donbass and security guarantees
The most obscure in terms of the implementation of the initiative are the free economic zone in Donbass and the use of guarantees of the Budapest Memorandum.
In an interview with four Ukrainian TV channels on October 22, Zelensky opined that if international security guarantees are not implemented by their signatories, then Ukraine has the right to do as it sees fit for its protection and security. At the same time, he stressed that “Ukraine in Europe should be very strong,” but refused to disclose a strategy for further action on this issue.
“This is a complex work. Today I am engaged in the revival of the state of Ukraine completely, independent, defensible. So it is no coincidence that we have naval bases, it is no coincidence that I am signing strategic treaties, which Ukraine was not even close to, unfortunately,” the Ukrainian leader said. It is not quite clear what legislative actions can be taken in this direction, admits an interlocutor of RBC, close to the President of Ukraine. “So far, we are talking about strengthening the president’s position in international negotiations. This is more like rhetoric,” he says.
The Budapest memorandum was signed in 1994 by Russia, Ukraine, Britain and the United States. Ukraine renounced Soviet nuclear weapons and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the three countries reaffirmed their commitment to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and existing borders, as well as to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity or political independence. According to Kiev’s position, Russia’s actions in Crimea and Donbass are a violation of the Budapest Memorandum.
The question of the advisability of creating a free economic zone in the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions requires broad public discussion, taking into account almost equally divided opinions, Kornienko said. “Apparently, society is not yet ready to address the issue of creating a free economic zone in Donbass, so it is definitely not an issue for the next year,” says an RBC source close to Zelensky. The discussion may take place on the basis of the Trilateral Contact Group, the topic may be taken up by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Temporary Occupied Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov, the source added. How exactly the issue will be solved, there is no understanding yet, he admits.