Ukrainian deputy speaker accuses European Parliament of "double standards"
The European Parliament has banned MPEs from visiting the antiterrorist operation (ATO) zone.
The leadership of the European Parliament has banned its members from attending the ATO zone in Donbas for safety reasons. Meanwhile, the EU insists that Ukraine should hold elections in the occupied territories, the first deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament, Iryna Herashchenko, said on Facebook on 19 September.
Herashchenko recalled that the visit of the European Parliament was planned back in May and MEPs had said they would like to visit not only Kyiv, but also the east of the country. "We have carefully planned the itinerary and offered various towns and villages to visit. The official programme has been approved by the European Parliament," Herashchenko wrote.
"And now, two days before the start of the visit, the Ukrainian side received an official letter that the president of the European Parliament and the heads of political groups and factions (the so-called Conference of EP leaders) discussed the forthcoming visit of the delegation to Ukraine and decided to limit the official programme to Kyiv, due to security situation. Translators and staff members of the European Parliament have not been allowed to go either – for security reasons," she wrote.
"We have serious questions to ask our European colleagues: how can you insist on holding elections in the territories, where your employees would not be safe to set foot for even an hour? Will it be safe for [election] observers to stay there, not to mention the security of polling stations?"
Herashchenko recalled that the Russian Federation has earlier guaranteed the observance of cease-fire in Donbas.
"Who is to take care of the safety of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians that live there? Or maybe the elections are needed just for the sake of appearance?"
"Obviously, these are double standards, and we'll talk about this at every international meeting!" Herashchenko said.
At the same time, Herashchenko thanked the three European politicians who have decided to visit Donbas against the advice.
"We thank Rebecca Harms and her colleagues Michal Boni and Jaromir Stetina, who said they were ashamed of the decision of the presidential committee and, in spite of everything, went to see for themselves how the 'cease-fire" is being observed," she wrote.
The MEPs' visit kicked off in Dnipro, where they attended the Mechnikov hospital where the lives of 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been saved over two years. The MEPs were shown a collection of fragments of mines and Grad missiles pulled out of the mangled bodies of young Ukrainian soldiers.