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Constitutional Court of Ukraine Issues Positive Ruling on All-Ukrainian Referendum

April 04, 2000

On Wednesday, 29 March 2000 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine made public its verdict saying that President Leonid Kuchma violated no constitutional norms in issuing his Decree on holding an All-Ukrainian Referendum on the Peoples Initiative on 16 April 2000.

The same day President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma issued a Decree in order to make appropriate changes, in accordance with the Constitutional Court ruling, to his earlier Decree.

The changes include omitting from the Referendum questionnaire two questions, namely whether the voters have confidence in the current, 14th Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine; and whether the adoption of the Constitution of Ukraine should be possible through referendum.

According to the Court ruling and the Presidential Decree, the other four items will remain on the questionnaire, namely whether the voters agree or disagree with other amendments to Articles 76, 80, 90, and 106 of the Constitution that would give the President the right to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada if it failed to form a majority during a one-month period or to approve a budget within three months; whether too reduce the number of deputies sitting in the Verkhovna Rada from 450 to 3000; whether to introduce a two-chamber Parliament; and whether to curb the immunity of the Peoples Deputies (MPs) from criminal prosecution.

The confirmation at the Referendum of the remaining four items would render them compulsory, said Mr. Leonid Pidpalov, Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of Ukraine. The Constitutional Court is expected to recommend the Verkhovna Rada to vote for the amendments to the Constitution supported at the upcoming Referendum.

According to Mr. Pidpalov, the decisions deriving from the results of the Referendum have "various time frames." In particular, he thinks the reduction of the number of MPs (from 450 to 300) could be implemented at the same time as the Deputies are elected for the next convocation of the Verkhovna Rada, accompanied by the corresponding amendments to the Constitution and election laws.

The constitutional rights of the existing MPs should not be reduced, said Mr. Pidpalov. He also underscored that the issue of the formation of a two-chamber Parliament may be resolved during the next parliamentary elections.

The Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration is convinced that the Constitutional Court ruling confirmed that the Constitution clauses granting the people the right to directly exercise their will "are not a declaration but a reality that can be implemented."

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Borys Tarasyuk held a telephone conversation with the Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer during which the latter commented on the Ukrainian Constitutional Court ruling in a favourable way as testifying to Ukraines solid footing to further and promote democracy.

The leaders of the Council of Europe as well as the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the ruling "testified to the maturity of democratic institutions in the Ukrainian society."

For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400,