At its Tuesday plenary session that took place on September 3, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) abolished lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution by an overwhelming 373-vote. What has been promised to voters for decades but has not been implemented by previous parliaments has finally come true.

As many as 373 out of 404 present in the session hall supported the presidential bill on amending Article 80 of the Constitution. No deputy voted against the bill. Three MPs abstained from voting and 28 did not vote.

In accordance with the bill, the constitutional norm guaranteeing Ukrainian deputies immunity from prosecution is excluded from Article 80. Previously, no deputy could be charged with a crime, detained or arrested without the consent of the Verkhovna Rada. Now this clause will also be removed from the current version of the Fundamental Law. At the same time, the constitutional norm is still valid which says that lawmakers cannot be made legally responsible for results of voting or for expressing their opinions and views at Parliament or its bodies with the exception of insults and slander.

Before voting, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed MPs urging them to fulfil their election promises and abolish parliamentary immunity.

“Now I’m addressing all the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with a request: do what has been promised to people, to ordinary Ukrainians for years. Today, 90% of citizens of Ukraine demand for immunity to be abolished. And I do not advise you to try to discover whether this figure is true and see how many of them will come protesting to the walls of the Parliament”, said Zelensky.

Under the presidential bill, parliamentary immunity will be cancelled from January 1, 2020.

The newspaper Holos Ukrainy