UKRAINIAN COURT OKAYS PRESIDENTIAL DRAFT BILL ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. The Constitutional Court on 29 June ruled that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's draft bill on introducing constitutional amendments in line with the 16 April referendum is legal and should be implemented, Interfax reported. The court added that its verdict is final and not subject to appeal. Kuchma proposed to amend the constitution in line with three questions approved in the referendum: giving the president the right to dissolve the parliament, abolishing lawmakers' immunity from criminal persecution, and reducing the parliament from 450 to 300 deputies. Kuchma sidestepped the approved question about the introduction of a bicameral parliament, pledging to set up a team of experts to tackle the issue later. JM

...AS DO RUSSIAN, ARMENIAN AND UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS. According to the Moscow based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Russian and Ukrainian journalistic and human rights organizations have sent letters in support of Kyrgyz journalist and human rights defender Moldosaly Ibraimov ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz News," 26 June), who was arrested on 19 June. He was accused on libeling a judge in his article and was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and had to pay a 107,000-soms (about $2,200) fine. The protest letters were signed by chief editor of "Tatar Paper," Irek Bikkinin in Saransk (the Russian republic of Mordovia), and David Petrosian of the Armenian NGO "Journalists for Peace, Cooperation and Democracy in Caucasus." ("RFE/RL Kyrgyz Report," 27 June)