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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS CONSULTATIVE REFERENDUM ON CONSTITUTION. President Viktor Yushchenko said in an interview with UNIAN on February 20 that he is in favor of holding a consultative referendum on amendments and changes to the constitution. Yushchenko noted that the first stage of his initiative envisions the creation of a constitutional commission that could prepare constitutional amendments. "I think that every day society realizes more and more clearly that if we fail to organize this [constitutional] process today, six months or a year later the circumstances for this will become much worse. Then far more resolute and radical methods would be needed to organize this process," Yushchenko said. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych commented later the same day that the president's willingness to change the constitution could lead to a "harsh confrontation" in the country, Interfax-Ukraine reported. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET ACCUSES OPPOSITION OF 'UNBOUNDED CYNICISM.' The Cabinet of Ministers charged in a statement on February 20 that the opposition wants to destabilize the situation in the country, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The statement came in response to the unsuccessful efforts by the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine parliamentary caucuses earlier the same day to pass bills on increasing the monthly minimum wage and on limiting utility-tariff hikes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 20, 2007). "Today the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine once again demonstrated the unbounded cynicism of their policy," the statement reads. "In August 2005, Tymoshenko personally decided to break the extremely favorable five-year agreement on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine at the price of $48 per 1,000 cubic meters. The doubling of the price for imported gas that followed has irreversibly brought about increased prices for foodstuffs and consumer goods as well as a hike in tariffs for electricity and other utilities." JM