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UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENTIAL-ELECTION PROCESS. Three parliamentary opposition groups -- Our Ukraine, the Socialist Party, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc -- have proposed a nationwide referendum to resolve the ongoing dispute in Ukraine over direct versus indirect election of the president, Interfax reported on 12 October, quoting Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko. On 23 December, lawmakers from the pro-government majority and the Communist Party preliminarily approved a constitutional-reform bill calling for the election of president in 2006 by the Verkhovna Rada (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 29 December 2003). The proposal to hold the referendum was voiced during a 12 January meeting of parliamentary-caucus leaders devoted to the current parliamentary controversy over a related constitutional-reform bill. According to Yushchenko, under the Ukrainian Constitution, any curbs on the rights of voters may be introduced only via referendums. JM
UKRAINIAN INTERNET JOURNALIST SHOT WITH RUBBER BULLETS. Oleh Yeltsov, editor of the "Ukraina Kriminalnaya" website (http://www.cripo.com.ua), which reports on crime and corruption in government and the private sector in Ukraine, was attacked in Kyiv on 12 January by an unknown assailant who fired rubber bullets at him, Interfax reported. Yeltsov was slightly injured in the attack, but his injuries did not require hospitalization. Yeltsov was attacked in July by two unidentified men who ambushed him with a stun gun and a metal pipe. JM