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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM SOON. President Viktor Yushchenko on June 27 called for a referendum "in the near future" to amend the Ukrainian Constitution, Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko said he does not rule out that a draft constitution submitted to a referendum will provide for the stripping from lawmakers of immunity against prosecution, a reduction in the number of lawmakers, a shortening of the parliamentary term, and the establishment of a bicameral legislature. "I am in favor of strengthening the principles of parliamentary government. But simultaneously we need to make it impossible for the Verkhovna Rada to be transformed into the supreme power body," Yushchenko said at a solemn gathering on the eve of Constitution Day. "Ukraine needs a strong power. Its [power] system should be clear-cut and balanced, with specific responsibilities distributed among the head of state, parliament, and the cabinet of ministers," he added. There have recently been rumors circulated by some politicians from the ruling coalition that Yushchenko wants to hold a constitutional referendum simultaneously with the preterm parliamentary elections he decreed for September 30. Meanwhile, presidential adviser Stepan Havrysh said on June 27 that the "new wording of the constitution" should be approved by a national plebiscite in 2008. JM

TWO UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION GROUPS WANT TO CREATE ELECTION BLOC. Our Ukraine leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko and People's Self-Defense leader Yuriy Lutsenko on June 28 signed a declaration to set up a joint election bloc for the September early polls, Interfax-Ukraine and UNIAN reported. The two groups pledge to create a "single democratic political party as an exponent and advocate of national-development priorities and European socioeconomic and political values in Ukraine." They also call on all democratic forces in the country to join the declared election bloc. JM

"RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report" is compiled on the basis of a variety of sources.

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