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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

DOES UKRAINIAN RULING COALITION WANT EARLY ELECTIONS? Vasyl Kyselyov, deputy head of the parliamentary caucus of the ruling Party of Regions, told journalists in Kyiv on February 28 that he intends to submit to the Verkhovna Rada on March 2 a draft bill on holding simultaneous early presidential and parliamentary elections this coming fall, Ukrainian media reported. "We see that the situation is getting out of control, including the president's control," Kyselyov said at a news conference. "Therefore I, as a people's deputy, am working out a draft bill, or a draft resolution, on simultaneous early presidential and parliamentary elections in the fall, approximately on September 30," he added. Roman Zvarych, President Viktor Yushchenko's representative in the Verkhovna Rada, commented later the same day that Yushchenko is not considering early parliamentary elections. Zvarych said there are currently no legal grounds for holding such elections. Zvarych explained that early legislative elections could be held if the ruling coalition broke up or the Constitutional Court ruled that the 2004 amendments to the constitution were illegal. Under the Ukrainian Constitution, early parliamentary elections may be called for only by the president. The constitution also stipulates that an early presidential ballot may be held only after the incumbent president has resigned or died, has been unable to perform his duties because of his health, or has been impeached by parliament. JM

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER, GERMAN CHANCELLOR DISCUSS NEW EU-UKRAINE DEAL. Viktor Yanukovych met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on February 28, Ukrainian and international media reported. At a news conference following their talks, Merkel said integrating Ukraine is not on the European Union's agenda for the moment. Yanukovych said the talks focused on drafting a new Ukraine-EU cooperation agreement to replace the current one, which expires in 2008. "Most importantly, we have received a signal that the doors of the European Union are open for Ukraine. And this will be stated in the new agreement [on relations between Ukraine and the EU] for the next 10 years," Yanukovych added. JM