UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SETS DATE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM. Leonid Kuchma announced on national television on 15 January that he had signed a decree to hold a nationwide referendum on 16 April that could introduce major constitutional changes to Ukraine. The referendum will consist of six questions. One will be a confidence vote in the parliament. Ukrainians will also be asked to give the president the right to disband the parliament if it fails to form a majority within a month or adopt a budget in three months; to abolish lawmakers' immunity from criminal prosecution; to reduce the 450-seat parliament to 300 seats and split it into two houses; and to provide for the possibility to adopt the constitution via a referendum. Interfax reported that initiative groups in Ukraine have collected more than 4 million signatures in support of the constitutional referendum. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER PLEDGES TO CUT SPENDING, BOOST TAX COLLECTION. Viktor Yushchenko told journalists on 14 January that his government is going to introduce a "completely new budget process" in order to cut spending and widen tax collection in Ukraine, Reuters and AP reported. Yushchenko also said the government will add no new net foreign debt. He also pledged to do away with the practice of borrowing money from the central bank, which is essentially another way of printing money. Meanwhile, the World Bank's director for Ukraine and Belarus, Luca Barbone, praised Yushchenko's government as the best since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991. "The only problem for Ukraine is that it lost its masterful central banker," Barbone added. Kuchma has asked the parliament to accept Volodymyr Stelmakh--Yushchenko's deputy at the central bank--as the bank's new head. JM

...BANS ALL PORNOGRAPHY. The Senate also voted the same day by 40 to 39 with seven abstentions to introduce the total ban on pornography. The measure, if approved by the lower house and signed by the president, will criminalize all types of pornography, eliminating a distinction between prohibited hardcore and legal softcore pornography that was approved earlier (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 21 December 1999). JM