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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO STOP ON JUNE 27, BUT NOT FOR GOOD. The Verkhovna Rada voted on June 19 to end the ongoing session on June 27, Ukrainian media reported. The resolution was supported by 258 of the 272 ruling-coalition lawmakers registered for the debate. The resolution simultaneously obliges speaker Oleksandr Moroz to hold an extraordinary session of parliament ahead of the regular session in the fall, but does not set any specific dates. President Viktor Yushchenko and legislators from the opposition Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc deem the current Verkhovna Rada illegitimate, arguing the legislature has less than the 300 deputies constitutionally required for its legal functioning. However, Moroz maintains that as long as the withdrawal of opposition lawmakers has not been confirmed by the Central Election Commission (TsVK), parliament remains legitimate and operational. Meanwhile, the TsVK, whose renewed composition was approved by parliament on June 1, has so far failed to gather for a legitimate sitting because of the lack of a quorum. TsVK Chairman Volodymyr Shapoval and six other members appointed by President Yushchenko reportedly block such a sitting by failing to come to work. JM

UKRAINE, EU SIGN ACCORDS ON VISA FACILITATION. Ukraine and the EU on June 18 signed an agreement facilitating the issue of visas for Ukrainian citizens who plan stays in the EU for up to 90 days, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who participated in the signing ceremony in Luxembourg, told the agency the accord allows Ukrainian journalists, entrepreneurs, members of official delegations, and relatives of Ukrainian citizens who have the right to live in the EU member countries to receive five-year EU visas. These categories of Ukrainians are also eligible to receive multi-entry visas for up to five years. Moreover, multi-entry visas for up to one year can be issued to drivers engaged in international cargo and passenger transportation; crew members of international trains; people who participate in scientific and cultural activities, including university or other exchange programs; and participants in international sporting events. The visa agreement does not extend to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, or Norway. On the same day, Ukraine and the EU also signed an accord on readmission of illegal migrants. According to Yatsenyuk, both documents must be ratified by Ukraine as soon as November. JM