Yesterday’s voting in the Verkhovna Rada on imposing the martial law showed the utter defeat of Petro Poroshenko. He failed to implement his original plan and establish a dictatorship in the country, to limit the effect of the Constitution and cancel or postpone the presidential elections. Judging by how the issue was voted, the very idea of ​​martial law becomes nonsense and mockery of the “strategic genius” of people from the President’s closest circle.

Instead of 60 days of martial law country-wide (which would lead to an automatic postponement of presidential elections for an indefinite period), the Verkhovna Rada approved martial law in the “soft” format – for 30 days in 10 regions with a clear prescription to hold the presidential elections on 31 March. The presidential team was so sure that its version would be resignedly accepted by MPs that even before the vote they had given the original text of the Presidential Decree for publishing. Today the country could see in surprise how “Uryadovyi Kuryer” was released with the document that was not amended. Petro Poroshenko suffered the largest political setback.

Poroshenko's desperate attempt to change the situation in the country in his favour has failed. The Verkhovna Rada showed the capability of becoming a consolidated centre of opposition to the dictatorship. I am grateful to MPs of the Opposition Bloc faction, who firmly voted against the martial law. It is worth noting that a certain group of factions in the parliament reacted harmoniously to the challenge from the presidential team and deflected the threat by joint effort.

However, one must be vigilant. Martial law has been introduced in half of the country. These are mainly the regions where the positions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are strong. If the authorities receive at least some encouraging signal from Istanbul regarding Tomos, nothing can stop henchmen of the regime in their desire to seize churches and radically redraw the confessional map – the martial law gives them such an opportunity, despite Petro Poroshenko’s assurances that civil rights will not be encroached, and the state will not interfere in the affairs of the Church. That is why we will be exercising constant oversight over the observance of citizens' rights and freedoms in the ten regions where the martial law has been imposed, and will be promptly informing international organizations and diplomatic missions of the violations revealed.