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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WIDENS POWERS OF ACCOUNTING CHAMBER... The Verkhovna Rada on 17 January amended Article 98 of the Ukrainian Constitution, widening the powers of the Accounting Chamber, UNIAN reported. According to the amendment, the Accounting Chamber has acquired the right to control not only the use of budget funds but also the composition of state and local budgets' revenues in the section outlining the funding of the powers of local state administrations and the executive powers delegated to local self-government. JM

KYIV MAYOR SUES OVER BUGGED TELEPHONE CALLS. Kiev Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko has filed charges against all those who made public the recording of his telephone conversation with Our Ukraine bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2002), New Channel Television reported on 17 January. In Omelchenko's opinion, electronic and print media are among those who must go on trial together with Dmytro Ponomarchuk from the Ukrainian Popular Movement for Unity, who was the first to make the recording public. JM

PACE CHAIRMAN MEETS MOLDOVAN OFFICIALS. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Chairman Lord Russell-Johnston met on 17 January with President Vladimir Voronin and said after the meeting that the main topic discussed was the Transdniester conflict, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He said the Council of Europe has always opposed Transdniester's "separatism," which is, he said, linked to "the mafia and to corruption." Russell-Johnston, who is ending his tenure later this year, said he hopes an agreement on border delimitation with Romania will soon be reached and that the dispute with Ukraine over setting up joint border controls will also be settled. He refused to comment on the ongoing protest demonstration in Chisinau, saying the problem is "strictly the competence of the Moldovan government." Voronin told journalists that the protest is "too insignificant" to have been brought up in the discussions with Russell-Johnston. MS


PARLIAMENT APPROVES CD PIRACY BILL ON FIRST READING. The Verkhovna Rada on 17 January voted by 238 to five, with four abstentions, to pass on first reading a bill on combating CD piracy, AP reported. The U.S. government has introduced trade sanctions (to take effect on 23 January) to pressure Ukraine to draft such legislation. The bill allows for prosecutors to enter alleged CD production premises with a warrant that is based on specific allegations. A rejected government version of the bill, which reflected the U.S. demands, would have allowed prosecutors to enter CD production facilities any time and examine documents and equipment, with or without a warrant. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)