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After Nixing Immunity For Ukraine's Lawmakers, Zelenskiy Pushes For More Constitutional Changes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses lawmakers during the first session of parliament in Kyiv last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses lawmakers during the first session of parliament in Kyiv last week.

Allies of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have added three draft laws to the parliament's agenda that would amend the constitution, drastically change the legislature's composition, and set stricter rules for lawmakers.

Corruption and perceived abuses in parliament were major themes of the former TV comic's presidential campaign earlier this year.

One of the bills would reduce the number of deputies by one-third to 300 and set out five-year terms. A simple majority of 258 lawmakers supported the initiative, which was then sent to the Constitutional Court along with the other drafts to review their legality and constitutionality.

A second bill would impose punishments up to depriving lawmakers of their mandates for absentee voting, truancy, or for relinquishing their citizenship while in office or becoming a permanent resident of another country.

For example, if a deputy missed one-third of parliament's plenary sessions without a valid excuse, they would lose their mandate.

A third draft law would allow ordinary citizens to propose legislation in parliament.

Currently, only the president, the cabinet, and members of parliament may propose legislation.

Zelenskiy's first constitutional amendment passed on September 3, when a constitutional majority of 373 lawmakers voted to strip immunity from prosecution for deputies in the bill's second and final reading.

It was seen as a step toward Zelenskiy's pledge to stamp out corruption.

Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old comedian-turned-politician who has pledged to "break the system" in Ukrainian politics, won a presidential election on April 21.

Three months later his Servant of the People party won an solid majority of 254 parliamentary seats in the 450-seat legislature, an unprecedented mandate that has set Zelenskiy up to carry out his campaign pledges.

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