Prohibition on live updates about parliamentary meetings

14 February 2023
Prohibition on live updates about parliamentary meetings
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Prohibition for MPs to disclose information about parliamentary meetings in real time

Draft bill #9005 of February 9, 2023

Cosponsors: a group of MPs from different factions with the top parliamentary officials as first signatories: Ruslan Stefanchuk, Oleksandr Korniienko, and Olena Kondratiuk

Who is affected: MPs and inhabitants of Ukraine

Summary of the bill:

  • under martial law, MPs will be prohibited to spread information about the time, place, progress, and results of plenary meetings until at least one hour after the meeting is closed or the break is announced
  • as a penalty for violating this prohibition, the Verkhovna Rada, having a conclusion from the Committee on Rules of Procedure, will be able to deprive the offender of the right to participate in parliamentary meetings for up to five days. The remuneration for these days will not be paid to the MP
  • on the proposal of the presiding MP or any other MP, the offender will be obliged to leave the plenary meeting if the proposal is supported by at least 150 votes.

Why this is important: because the Parliament is hidden from the public eye and somewhat lost its connection with voters, some MPs spread information about the dates of the meetings, their agenda, and the adopted decisions via social networks in real-time.

What is right: the Parliament is consistent in its policy. Although even the very fact of the Verkhovna Rada operating in shadow mode is an extremely negative trend, a policy should be consistent. It makes no sense to restrict access to information about MPs or live broadcasts of the meetings if this ban can be circumvented by posts on social media.

What is wrong:

  • one more step away from the transparency of the Parliament. Voters are already significantly limited in their access to information about the work of the Verkhovna Rada. If this bill is adopted, citizens will totally lose the ability to influence decision-making
  • there is no clear definition of what particular actions will be punished and how the guilt will be proven. As a result, the procedure can be abused, and only “inconvenient” MPs will be punished
  • 150 votes are an extremely low bar to expel an MP from a parliamentary meeting. If this bill is adopted, 150 MPs from the opposition will be able to expel all MPs from the majority and sabotage the work of the whole Parliament.

Alternative solution: to introduce more clear procedures and set a higher bar required to expel an MP from a parliamentary meeting to at least 226 votes, the constitutional majority.