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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FILLS FINAL CABINET POST... President Viktor Yushchenko has appointed Yuriy Polyachenko as health minister, thus completing the formation of Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov's cabinet, Ukrainian media reported on 12 October. Polyachenko, 42, was deputy health minister in 2002-03 and deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council in 2003-05. Of the 25 cabinet members appointed by Yushchenko within the past three weeks, 11 are new appointments. JM

...AND CREATES BODY FOR DIALOGUE WITH PARLIAMENT. President Yushchenko has signed a decree setting up a Political Council under the head of state for holding "permanent and constructive dialogue between the president and political forces represented in the Verkhovna Rada," Interfax-Ukraine reported on 12 October, quoting the presidential press service. The council, an advisory and consultative body chaired by the president, will include the heads of parliamentary caucuses and groups on a voluntary basis. The Verkhovna Rada currently has 15 deputy factions. JM

UKRAINIAN TOP LAW ENFORCERS SIGN 'SECRET' DEAL TO PROBE GONGADZE MURDER. Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun told journalists in Kyiv on 12 October that he has signed a "secret" plan of investigative activities jointly with Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko and Ukrainian Security Service Ihor Dryzhchanyy to complete the "second stage" of the investigation into the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "It is secret and that thick, [and it provides for] what needs to be done in order to conclude the second stage [of the investigation] -- identifying those who ordered and organized the crime," Piskun said of the plan. Commenting on President Yushchenko's dioxin poisoning last year, Piskun said it was an assassination attempt. Moreover, Piskun said that if Yushchenko fires him, he will fight in court to keep his job. Newly appointed Justice Minister Serhiy Holovatyy has recently suggested that Yushchenko should sack Piskun in order to see "real" progress in the Gongadze case (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2005). JM

UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PUTS POLITICAL REFORM IN DOUBT. The Constitutional Court ruled on 12 October that only the people of Ukraine have the right to decide on the Ukrainian constitutional system or make any changes to the constitution directly through a nationwide referendum, Ukrainian media reported. The ruling quotes Article 5 in Part 3 of the constitution stipulating that the right to decide or change the constitutional system in Ukraine is the exclusive right of the people and may not be usurped by its bodies or officials. The ruling appears to call into question the political-reform bill adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in December, when deputies redistributed constitutional prerogatives of the top executive and legislative authorities in the country in order to overcome the presidential standoff (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 2004). JM