The FINANCIAL -- Ukraine's parliament has approved legislation creating an anticorruption court demanded by protest groups and the country’s external backers.
The bill passed with support of 282 deputies in its first reading on March 1, according to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.
Ahead of the vote, Verkhovna Rada speaker Andriy Parubiy called on the lawmakers to support the proposed law, saying its text could be amended before the second and final reading.
Leaders of the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have demanded the anticorruption reforms in the country, which last year ranked 130th out of 180 countries rated by Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.
The IMF has called the establishment of an anticorruption court a "benchmark" of Ukraine's progress toward Western legal standards, and has said it would help ease the release of loans in the future.
In an apparent response to demands from Western allies as well as protesters camped outside parliament in Kyiv, President Petro Poroshenko in October vowed to push for legislation creating an anticorruption court by the end of 2017.
He also said he had already included money for an anticorruption court in this year's draft budget.