Ukraine: Constitutional Court Approves Decentralization Bill

The Ukrainian constitutional court today ruled that a bill proposing greater decentralization of power in Ukraine does not contravene the constitution. The new bill, proposed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier this month, would allow each of Ukraine’s regions greater flexibility and create a “separate law” which would be used to govern the regions currently controlled by separatists.

The constitutional court’s ruling allows for the Ukrainian parliament to fulfill its end of the February Minsk II accord brokered between Ukraine and Russia by allowing for separatists to have official autonomy. A timetable for decentralization and the specifics of any such legislation are as of yet unclear.

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News Briefs:

  • The US slapped more sanctions on Russia today for its alleged activities in Ukraine. US Treasury Department officials have again opted for a more micro approach and sanctioned a number of Ukrainian and Russian nationals including Crimean port operators and former Ukrainian officials. A Russian natural gas trader was also sanctioned. 26 individuals in total were sanctioned and any assets they held in “US jurisdictions” have been frozen, officials reported.
  • Sanctions on Russia continue to impact countries in its historical sphere of influence. Tajikistan’s trade turnover decreased by nearly 22%, or $563 million, during the first half of 2015, according to AzerNews. The exchange rate of Tajik national currency the somoni has also dropped as a result of sanctions and the drop in global oil prices. The article noted that a number of Tajik import-export entrepreneurs have left this field to pursue other occupations as a result of this downturn.
  • The Afghan Taliban has officially named Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour as its new leader. Mansour has effectively been the head of the Taliban for the last two years as many believe that Mullah Omar was dead during this time. The appointment of Mansour as the official head is touted as a positive step due to his history of support for peace talks; however, his two appointed deputies are both members of the Haqqani  wing of the Taliban, one of the more hardline of its divisions and one that has traditionally opposed peace talks.
  • GM Uzbekistan, a joint venture 75% owned by Uzbek government and 25% by General Motors, announced that it will begin production on Chevrolet Labo cars in Uzbekistan. The vehicle will be manufactured at the Khorezm Auto plant and will be produced at a rate of 5,000 vehicles per year. The venture produced a little more than 240,000 vehicles in 2014 and has already produced 1120 thousand this year, placing it roughly on last year’s pace.

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