What were the laws about?
The package of changes to the legislation adopted in the Verkhovna Rada limited fundamental human rights: right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of assembly, and right to freedom of movement. Censorship in mass media and the Internet was introduced. Euromaidan activists drafted leaflets describing what "crimes" will be persecuted and how.
Laws on dictatorship. Euromaidan / Facebook
Authors of the packet of laws – members of the Party of Regions Vladimir Oleynik and Vadim Kolesnichenko – claimed that the changes proposed by them completely meet the European rules of law.
Oleynik did not hide that the laws were drafted specially against Euro- and Automaidan activists.
"If we saw that there is such a phenomenon (Automaidan. – GORDON), and it creates a problem for the movement of other citizens – should it be settled? We consider that it should. If we see that in practice the number of cars should be 10, not 5 – we will make it 10. It is impossible that 200–300 cars move at random, and we do not settle this issue."
Ukrainian journalists, the Reporters without Borders organization and representatives of the OSCE urged the authorities to stop their attempts to restrict the freedom of speech and asked the president Victor Yanukovych to veto the law on criminal prosecution for slander. Yanukovych signed all the adopted laws on the same day.
How were the laws on dictatorship adopted?
The deputies were to adopt the budget on January 16. In order to disrupt the vote, representatives of the opposition blocked the speaker of the parliament Vladimir Rybak in his office.
The pro-government majority in the Rada adopted laws without the speaker. The Rada system was not used. Deputies voted by raising their hands. Hands were counted by one of the authors of the law Oleynik. Pro – 235 people. Later, he admitted that he did not count hands, but simply added up two figures – the number of deputies from the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine.
The Euromaidan announced "Pan demonstration" ("Kastrulyada")
Vote in the Rada provoked another round of opposition. One of oppositional leaders Vitaly Klitschko urged people to come to people’s assembly on January 19.
"People in Ukraine are deprived of civil rights and freedoms and are actually put beyond the law. Under these forged laws, it is not allowed to stand on the Maidan or set up tents or talk about corrupt judges. Many other things are not allowed. And the authorities are allowed to intimidate and beat activists, to take away rights and property of Automaidan activists, and ignore citizens’ demands"
Euromaidan activists reacted to the laws in their own way and declared "Pan demonstration" – an termless action with the use of kitchen utensils.
Restrictions on the use of the Internet and mobile communication were introduced to control citizens. From February 1, it was ordered to sell mobile SIM cards only upon presentation of passport as it is done in Russia and Belarus. The days following the adoption of laws, sales of SIM cards increased in all Ukrainian cities.
"We took into account the standard world practice of fighting against extremism and terrorism. It is impossible to identify the so-called "bombers" today. Therefore, a norm is introduced according to which each person committing a crime must understand that he can always be found by his SIM card."
Starting from January 20, Euromaidan activists from different cities started receiving such messages. Mobile operators claimed that they have nothing to do with the mailing.
Laws on dictatorship. Reaction of social networks
On January 28, nine out of twelve laws on dictatorship were cancelled upon vote in the Verkhovna Rada. The others were cancelled after Yanukovych's flight.
127 people from those who voted for the dictatorial laws were registered as deputy candidates at the parliamentary elections in October 2014. 63 of them entered the Verkhovna Rada.
As of January 16, 2015, 23 people's deputies withdrew their votes. Vladislav Atroshenko, Vladimir Bandurov, Vitalina Dzoz, Aleksandr Edin, Igor Yeremeyev, Stepan Ivakhiv, Sergey Kuzmenko, Sergey Labazyuk, Anzhelika Labunskaya, Vladimir Litvin, Sergey Martynyak, Yury Miroshnichenko, Valery Moshensky, Valentin Nechiporenko, Mikhail Opanashchenko, Victor Ostapchuk, Vladimir Pekhov, Vasily Polyakov, Mikhail Poplavsky, Vitaly Rozvadovsky, Leonid Sergienko, Igor Skosar, and Victor Tymoshenko addressed the speaker or the office of the Verkhovna Rada with a request not to consider their votes. All of them were either members of the Party of Regions faction or non-affiliated deputies in the Ukrainian parliament of the seventh convocation.