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Ukraine Approves First Laws Toward EU

The flag of the European Union, with the words written in Ukrainian (file photo)
KYIV -- Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a first set of measures expected to pave Kyiv's path toward closer integration with the European Union.

Parliament adopted on September 5 a law stipulating milder regulations in penitentiaries that would allow inmates more frequent family visits, the freedom to use mobile phones and cash, and to wear civilian clothes.

Laws on reforming customs tariffs and on the stricter implementation of court decisions were also adopted in first readings.

President Viktor Yanukovych on September 4 called on members of the ruling Party of Regions to vote for the laws.

Kyiv is hoping to sign an EU Association Agreement, which includes a free-trade deal, in November. Russia openly opposes the plan and is pushing Kyiv to join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan instead.