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Zelensky withdraws bill decentralizing power in Ukraine for further revision

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has withdrawn a bill from the national legislature that would have increased the autonomy of individual regions, including breakaway regions in the country’s east. Zelensky introduced the bill into the Verkhovna Rada in mid-December and decided to withdraw it after meeting with legislative leaders from his party, Servant of the People.

“We have decided to withdraw this issue from consideration, to revise the bill alongside our colleagues from other factions in order to find a compromise for this legislation. This will include working with the association of cities that has taken such an active role in this process,” Servant of the People faction leader David Arakhamia told RBC-Ukraine.

Arakhamia said the bill will be introduced after the revision process is complete. Its initial draft drew criticism both within Ukraine and among the European Parliament, the German embassy, and the Canadian embassy.

In his original bill, Zelensky proposed a three-tier local and regional governance system with a separate Autonomous Republic status available to Crimea. The bill does not mention any special status for the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. However, it does propose replacing the president’s current right to appoint regional leaders with a voting system within local and regional legislatures that would then be checked by president-appointed prefects.