Referendum chips away at deputies' immunity
Ukraine's parliament now faces the necessity of implementing the results of the 16 April 2000 referendum, all four points of which were supported by over 80 percent of voters. This week President Leonid Kuchma signed two bills in response to the referendum's outcome and the draft laws have been sent to Parliament for discussion and adoption. One of these bills amends the law on the Status of the Member of the National Parliament. The second bill defines the order of Parliament's dismissal under certain circumstances.
Deputies' immunity, abolition of which the referendum results supported, has become the key issue for the changes in the law on deputies' status. Under the new law, it can be withdrawn only in several cases motivated by the decision of the Supreme Court or the General Prosecutor.
The referendum also demanded that the dismissal of Parliament by the President can result if deputies fail to create a parliamentary majority within one month from the beginning of the new session or fail start plenary sessions during the same period of time. Another option for dissolution is non-adoption of the state budget for the next year within three months after its proposal by the government.
Summarising the outcomes of the proposed bills, the daily Facty said that "Deputies are not requested to fulfil too many conditions, however, if they fail to fulfil at least one of them, the President will have the right to stop their authority and within 60 days announce new parliamentary elections."
The whole idea around the referendum and its results has already provoked different arguments from the side of the deputies. The proposed laws will generate serious and contradictory discussion. Neither Members of the Parliament nor the President have illusions that adoption of new norms will be an easy or peaceful process. One of the complaints of the deputies is that they would be responsible for the actions of the government if Parliament does not create and approve one.
President Kuchma made clear during a press conference in Turkey that he was aware of the possible reaction of the deputies. Kuchma is planning to use additional methods of influence to avoid a permanent struggle with the parliament during the next four years of his presidency, the online newspaper Korrespondent.net reports.
New period in the history of the pipeline
The famous British-Dutch company Shell, which has demonstrated its interest in Ukraine's gas pipeline for several years, has announced new conditions under which it is ready to sign a lease agreement. In comparison with conditions Shell offered the government earlier, the recent terms are less beneficial for Ukraine.
Whereas before Shell agreed to 51 percent of shares being kept by Ukraine, the state can now count on keeping only 25 percent, reports the Russian newspaper Izvestiya. The period of the pipeline's concession is 40 years and investments in the pipeline's modernization will consist of USD 600 million.
Meanwhile, two Russian influential representatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov and Gazprom Director Rem Vyakhirev, are continuing negotiations in Poland and Slovakia, in repsect to the ongoing gas pipeline controversey.
At the same time, President Kuchma, during his official visit to Turkey, announced that Ukraine has never boycotted the construction of the new pipeline bypassing Ukraine. Kuchma stated, "Ukraine has a clear political agreement with the president of Russia, which is also confirmed by the European Union, that in case of the construction of the new pipeline it will never affect the amount of gas coming through the Ukrainian pipeline," Den' reports.
The President also added that Ukraine does not oppose a pipeline being constructed through the Black Sea. "We do not see any problems here, other than [an] ecological one," he stressed.
And other news...
- This week, President Kuchma conducted an official visit to Turkey. Both countries defined their interrelations as highly positive and constructive. Several documents in the sphere of nuclear protection and information exchange have been signed during the visit. Kuchma also invited his Turkish colleague to visit Ukraine next year. His invitation was immediately accepted.
- President Kuchma plans to participate in a Ukrainian-Turkish business forum and to meet Universal Patriarch Bartholomew.
- Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko cancelled his visit to Budapest. He intended to participate in a joint meeting of prime ministers from member-states of the Central European Initiative. However, because of the illness of his recently born daughter, he decided to send First Vice Prime Minister Yuriy Ekhanurov instead.
- Ivan Plushch, Speaker of the National Parliament, on his visit to NATO headquarters, expressed his conviction that parliamentary contacts between NATO member-states and Ukraine can play a decisive role in changing the negative image of NATO amongst Ukrainians. As a result of the Yugoslav events, 42 percent of Ukrainian citizens currently believe that NATO is an aggression block, Interfax reports.
Natalya Krasnoboka, 24 November 2000
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Den', Daily national newspaper
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Ukrainska Pravda, Online independent
Facts, Daily national newspaper
The Kyiv Post, National weekly in English
UA Today, Information server
Korrespondent.net, Online newspaper
Unian, Information agency
Interfax, Information agency
Izvestia, Daily Russian newspaper