UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PUSTOVOYTENKO AS PREMIER... The parliament on 14 December failed to approve Valeriy Pustovoytenko as prime minister. Of the 281 deputies present, 206 backed Pustovoytenko, 44 voted against him, 21 abstained, and 10 did not cast ballots. Under Ukraine's legislation, 226 deputies must approve a candidate for the premiership, while the president may submit a candidate only once. According to parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, Kuchma will propose another candidate within two days and another vote will take place in the parliament next week. JM

...WHILE PRESIDENT THREATENS TO SEEK CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM. Following the parliament's refusal to accept Pustovoytenko, President Leonid Kuchma stressed his election campaign pledge to seek a referendum on the "redistribution of powers" in Ukraine, Interfax reported. "If there is a constructive majority, let [the parliament] work until 2002. If there is no such majority, the country does not need this parliament," Kuchma noted. According to Kuchma, the referendum should decide whether to give the president the right to dissolve the parliament if it fails to form a majority. It would also decide the issues of abolishing deputies' immunity, introducing a bicameral parliament, and making changes in the constitution only by means of a referendum. JM