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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAW GRANTING IMMUNITY TO LOCAL DEPUTIES... President Viktor Yushchenko on 5 October signed a controversial bill into law that grants immunity from prosecution to local-council deputies, Ukrainian media reported. Under the legislation, a local councilor may be arrested or criminally prosecuted only after approval is given by his or her respective council. The law, which the Verkhovna Rada passed on 8 September, extends such immunity to some 200,000 regional legislators. The bill was supported by a broad range of deputies, including Communists, Socialists, and members of factions loyal to former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. Most deputies in Yushchenko's Our Ukraine People's Union group did not support it. In a television appearance on 4 October, Yushchenko said he "in principle" opposes granting immunity from prosecution to all deputies in Ukraine. On the other hand, in a memorandum signed with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on 22 September, Yushchenko pledged to provide such immunity to local-council members (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 4 October 2005). JM
...AND APPOINTS TWO MORE CABINET MEMBERS. President Yuschenko has appointed Yuriy Melnyk as deputy prime minister in Yuriy Yekhanurov's cabinet, Ukrainian media reported on 5 October. Melnyk was deputy minister for agro-industrial complex in Viktor Yanukovych's cabinet from July 2003 to July 2005. Yushchenko has also appointed Ihor Lykhovyy as minister of culture and tourism. The posts of health minister and justice minister remain vacant. JM
PACE URGES KYIV TO KEEP 'STEADFAST RESOLVE' IN IMPLEMENTING REFORMS. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a report concerning Ukraine on 5 October urging that country's leaders to preserve "their steadfast resolve" in carrying out necessary reforms, the PACE website (http://assembly.coe.int) reported. In particular, PACE called on Ukraine to bring to justice the masterminds behind the 2004 election fraud; adopt laws on the functioning of the branches of power, and guarantee the conditions for the functioning of the parliamentary opposition; transform state broadcasters into public service channels; bring to justice those who ordered, organized, and executed the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze; and investigate other high-profile cases allegedly documented on the so-called Melnychenko tapes. PACE decided to continue monitoring Ukraine and to make a further assessment of progress after the March 2006 parliamentary and local elections. JM