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Ukrainian Lawmakers Extend Donbas Special Status Law Until End Of 2020

A local woman stands next to her shell-damaged house in Ukraine's Donbas region. (file photo)
A local woman stands next to her shell-damaged house in Ukraine's Donbas region. (file photo)

KYIV -- Ukrainian lawmakers have approved a bill extending the law on the special status of local self-governance in areas of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions until December 31, 2020.

The bill was approved by 320 lawmakers at the parliament’s session on December 12. The legislature has 450 deputies in total and only a simple majority of 226 was needed to pass the legislation.

The document was offered to the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, by Davyd Arakhamia, the head of the ruling Servant of the People party's representation, and his first deputy, Oleksandr Korniyenko, on December 10.

The law on the special order of local self-governance in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, generally known as the Donbas, was adopted first in September 2014 for a period of three years after Russia-backed separatists incited an insurgency in the Donbas, where more than 13,000 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict since.

Weeks before inciting separatism in the Donbas, Russia forcibly seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula after sending in troops and staging a referendum that was deemed illegitimate by more than 100 countries.

The law has been prolonged twice since then and was set to expire on December 31, 2019.

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