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UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS SUBMIT NEW CONSTITUTIONAL-REFORM DRAFT... The Verkhovna Rada has registered a political-reform draft stipulating that the president who is elected by direct ballot in 2004 will be replaced by another one elected for a five-year term by a two-thirds vote in parliament in 2006, Interfax reported on 5 September. Under the draft, the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada is to be elected for five years under a fully proportional party-list system. The draft also includes other proposals to revamp Ukraine's political system in accordance with a recent compromise between the presidential administration, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 26 August and 2 September 2003). According to lawmaker Raisa Bohatyryova from the pro-presidential Ukraine's Regions caucus, the signatures of 254 lawmakers currently support the constitutional-reform draft. Three hundred votes are necessary to amend the Ukrainian Constitution. JM
...BUT SOCIALISTS APPEAR TO HAVE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT IDEAS. The Socialist Party press service has publicized the party's view of key proposals for the upcoming constitutional reform in the country, Interfax reported on 6 September. Contrary to the draft bill submitted to the Verkhovna Rada last week (see above), the Socialist Party wants to preserve the election of the president by direct ballot. The Socialist Party also proposes that local elections, like parliamentary ones, be held under a fully proportional party-list system. According to the Socialists, all constitutional changes should take effect in 2006, after a new legislature and local councils are elected on a proportional basis. The Socialist Party caucus in the Verkhovna Rada includes 21 deputies. Its support may be crucial for making the political-system reform happen in Ukraine. JM
POLAND BEGINS ISSUING VISAS FOR BELARUSIANS, UKRAINIANS. Last week Polish consulates in the Belarusian cities of Minsk, Brest, and Hrodna; and the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Lutsk, and Odesa, began issuing visas for Belarusians and Ukrainians with validity as of 1 October, PAP reported on 5 September, quoting the Polish Foreign Ministry. To comply with the EU visa policy, Warsaw introduced visas for Belarusians and Ukrainians as of 1 October, signing relevant intergovernmental accords with Minsk and Kyiv earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 July and 27 August 2003). JM