SUPREME COURT, PARLIAMENT BACK UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT. The Ukrainian Supreme Council on 13 July ruled that the parliament can vote only on constitutional changes in the form submitted by President Leonid Kuchma and cannot consider an alternative and weaker version, dpa reported. Several hours later, the parliament voted by 251 to 22 in the first reading to amend the basic law to give the president the power to dissolve the parliament, create a bicameral legislature, reduce the number of deputies, and eliminate the immunity from prosecution deputies currently enjoy. The parliament must vote on the amendments again later this year, and those changes must receive 300 of the 450 votes to be incorporated into the constitution. PG

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS PRIVATIZATION OF UKRTELECOM. By a vote of 244 to zero with 141 deputies not participating, the parliament on 13 July approved a bill on privatizing the Ukrainian telecommunications company, AP reported. The bill calls for the government to retain 50 percent plus one of the shares in the company and directs the cabinet to make the final decision on how to conduct this privatization effort. PG

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES BUDGET, TAX CHANGES. By a vote of 240 to one, the parliament on 13 July approved a budget code bill requiring officials to set federal and regional budgets at the same time, AP reported. The same day, a majority of deputies approved in the first reading a government-backed tax code abolishing tax rates set in other bills and setting a five-year moratorium on amendments to state taxes. Meanwhile, the parliament also passed a government bill setting the monthly subsistence level at 270.1 hryvni ($49.80). PG

WTO SAYS UKRAINE MUST DO MORE TO QUALIFY. World Trade Organization officials in Geneva told Ukrainian negotiators that Kyiv must do "a lot more to come into line with standard trade practices" before they can hope to be admitted to the WTO, Reuters reported on 13 July. The Ukrainian delegation had presented a large package of documentation, but the WTO said more is needed. PG

POLAND REASSURES UKRAINE ON RUSSIAN PIPELINE. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said on 13 July that Warsaw "will not support anything that could be aimed against Ukraine. Anything that could be blatantly anti-Ukrainian will not gain our backing," PAP reported. Kwasniewski's comments, made in a telephone call to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, came after an announcement that Russia's Gazprom wants to begin negotiations on the construction of a new pipeline via Poland to Western Europe, thus bypassing Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said they are working on a strategy to counter Moscow's plans to build a pipeline that bypasses Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko was quoted by the Russian agency as saying that "Ukraine is indeed worried" about such a routing. PG

EU SUPPORTS MOLDOVAN BID TO JOIN STABILITY PACT. European Commission President Romano Prodi told visiting Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi on 13 July that the commission supports Moldova's efforts to join the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, but he noted that the decision lies with EU member countries, an RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels reported. BASA-press reported that France and Germany oppose Moldova's bid to join the pact. Prodi said "Moldova is a bridge between Russia, Ukraine, and Europe and between East and West and it is our common interest to intensify economic and political relations" with that country. Lucinschi told journalists after meeting with Prodi that "Moldova will continue its policy of European integration," promoting both cooperation with "all European countries" and "with [the CIS] countries with which we have had economic links for a long time." MS