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PACE COMMITTEE WANTS UKRAINE SUSPENDED FROM COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Hanne Severinsen, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for Ukraine, told RFE/RL on 6 April that the PACE Monitoring Committee has recommended to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to begin procedures for the suspension of Ukraine's membership in the Council of Europe. Severinsen said the PACE Monitoring Committee's resolution is "very critical, especially regarding the [Ukrainian] president." She added: "[The criticism] refers to abuse of power, particularly to pressure on the freedom of expression and the opposition." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko commented that the PACE Monitoring Committee's recommendation "is more of an emotional than an essential nature," Interfax reported on 7 April. "I don't think [Ukraine will be suspended from the Council of Europe], but we should meet some conditions," Zlenko added. JM
UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION TO INITIATE REFERENDUM ON KUCHMA'S OUSTER. The Forum of National Salvation (FNP), a loose association of antipresidential groups, decided on 7 April to start preparations for a no-confidence referendum in President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax reported. According to Ukraine's Constitution, a referendum can be held if the opposition collects at least 3 million signatures of support in at least two-thirds of the country's 25 regions. It is not clear, however, if such a plebiscite could force Kuchma to step down. Former Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko told a FNP meeting on 7 April that a referendum is the only way to depose Kuchma, adding that Ukrainian legislation does not define the procedure for impeaching the president. JM
U.S. AMBASSADOR URGES CONSENSUS BETWEEN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT, CABINET, LEGISLATURE. U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv Carlos Pascual on 7 April urged the Ukrainian president, the government, and the parliament to restore their former consensus for the implementation of reforms in the country, Interfax reported. According to Pascual, the first step toward such consensus could be taken during Premier Viktor Yushchenko's report to the parliament on 17 April and in a vote on that report two days later. Pascual also believes that the authorities should take a number of measures in order to improve the country's image: to restore a parliamentary majority, provide specific results in the investigation of journalist Hryhoriy Gongadze case, demonstrate their respect for the freedom of the press, launch a dialogue with the opposition, and restore cooperation with the IMF. JM
VORONIN INAUGURATED AS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT. President Vladimir Voronin, addressing the parliament on the occasion of his inauguration on 7 April, harshly criticized previous administrations for having led Moldova into poverty and hopelessness, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. "Instead of the noble slogans of democracy, reform, and the rule of the law," he said, "the last 10 years were marked by alienation and destruction." Moldova has been turned into a zone of human disaster, poverty, and primitive state policy." Voronin pledge to strengthen the role of the state, since only the state can protect citizens "from racketeering and corrupt bureaucracy." He said he intends to pursue a "pragmatic" foreign policy that will respect Moldova's international obligations and at the same time improve relations with Russia, "our strategic partner," as well as with Romania and Ukraine, Moldova's neighbors. MS
...AND TIRASPOL SHOULD RENEW NEGOTIATIONS. Hill also said that the planned OSCE meeting with the participation of Moldovan, Transdniester, Russian, and Ukrainian state commission leaders on solving the Transdniester conflict could be moved from Bratislava to Chisinau and Tiraspol. Hill said that "the meeting, not the venue" is important and that now, when there is a new majority in the Moldovan parliament and a new Moldovan president, Tiraspol no longer has a reason to refuse to participate in the negotiations. He also said he has discussed with Smirnov the possibility that parleys will be resumed at the expert level, with the sides holding alternating weekly meetings in Tiraspol and Chisinau. MS