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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT 'PARALYZED, DEMORALIZED'... President Viktor Yushchenko said in a televised address to the nation on May 23 that he is deeply concerned about the current situation in the Constitutional Court, Ukrainian media reported. "The court has been paralyzed and demoralized," Yushchenko said, adding that some of its judges are suspected of being involved in "large-scale corruption." Yushchenko noted that the Constitutional Court has not passed a single ruling in almost a year. He also said that the three judges he sacked from the Constitutional Court several weeks ago for violations of their oaths of office have been illegally reinstated in their posts by local courts. "I am forced to admit that the Constitutional Court is losing its constitutional legitimacy and, under the existing circumstances, cannot perform its function of ensuring the supremacy of the Basic Law in the country," Yushchenko noted. "I am therefore instructing the Prosecutor-General's Office to provide an immediate legal assessment of the situation in the Constitutional Court regarding the violation of the constitution and national legislation," the Ukrainian president added. Earlier the same day, Yushchenko held talks with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on how to resolve the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine, but no official comment followed their meeting, which was reportedly ended abruptly after two hours. JM

...AS UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SACKS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGE. The Verkhovna Rada on May 24 dismissed Constitutional Court Judge Petro Stetsyuk, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Before the vote, lawmaker Andriy Sokil told his colleagues that Stetsyuk shirked his duties by refusing to participate in the examination of President Yushchenko's decrees dissolving the Verkhovna Rada and calling for new elections. Stetsyuk reportedly justified his refusal by saying that the Constitutional Court was being pressured during its consideration of the decrees. Meanwhile, Valeriy Pshenychnyy, the acting head of the Constitutional Court, told journalists that earlier the same day he managed to gather just 10 judges of the 18-member panel. The minimum number for legally binding rulings of the Constitutional Court is 12 judges. Pshenychnyy charged that the authorities are moving "toward liquidating the Constitutional Court as the only body of constitutional jurisprudence." JM