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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT SETS GRAIN-EXPORT QUOTAS FOR JULY-SEPTEMBER. Deputy Prime Minister for Agricultural Issues Viktor Slauta told journalists on June 20 that the government has introduced quotas on grain exports for the third quarter of 2007, Ukrainian media reported. The decision restricts exports of wheat, rye, barley, and corn in July-September, setting a limit of 3,000 tons for each crop. The cabinet says these measures were prompted by the abnormally hot weather in May and a drought that has lasted 40-50 days in certain eastern and southern regions. According to Slauta, grain production this year will be in the 27 million to 33 million ton range. Independent analysts generally predict that the grain yield in 2007 will be between 23 million and 29 million tons, while the most pessimistic ones put it as low as 20 million tons. Ukraine harvested 28.7 million tons of grain last year, compared to 34.3 million tons in 2005. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER WANTS TO CUT PRESIDENTIAL POWER EVEN MORE. Oleksandr Moroz told journalists on June 20 that he would like the Verkhovna Rada on June 27, which is to be the last day of the current parliamentary session, to adopt a bill of constitutional amendments limiting presidential powers and submit it to the Constitutional Court for examination, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Moroz added that the bill could be finally approved in September during the next parliamentary session. To become law, constitutional amendments in Ukraine have to be approved by at least 226 deputies in the first reading and endorsed by at least 300 deputies in the second reading that needs to take place during the subsequent parliamentary session. Moroz said the draft bill on constitutional amendments stipulates "essential restrictions" on presidential prerogatives regarding the appointment of the head of the Security Service as well as the nominations of the foreign minister and the defense minister. The draft bill also proposes to transfer the right to appoint and oversee regional governors in favor of the cabinet of ministers, and to remove the president's right to call for early parliamentary polls. Presidential powers in Ukraine were already limited by the constitutional reform that was adopted during the Orange Revolution in December 2004 and came into force in January 2006. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CALLS ON LAWMAKERS TO ABANDON IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION. Viktor Yushchenko on June 20 urged the political forces represented in parliament to cancel "unlimited deputy immunity," Ukrainian media reported. "It is the most important way to make the Verkhovna Rada healthy," Yushchenko said in a televised address. "Parliament is for making laws, not for hiding from them," he argued. "It is definitely necessary to put an end to abuses of deputy immunity. Society is fed up with the overt demonstration of impunity.... The cancellation of the unlimited deputy immunity is the first step toward eradicating corruption in parliament." Yushchenko expressed hope that his initiative will be supported by all "responsible political forces" and candidates for the future legislature. Yushchenko on June 5 decreed early parliamentary elections for September 30, but the ruling coalition's lawmakers continue to work in the Verkhovna Rada, claiming that his decree is unconstitutional. JM