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OUR UKRAINE URGES DEBATE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS... Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party said in a public statement on 4 February that it welcomes the Verkhovna Rada's decision to exclude a clause envisaging presidential elections in parliament from the constitutional reform bill that was backed by 304 votes the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 February 2004), UNIAN reported. The statement also claimed that the bill, which was preliminarily approved with that and other presidential clauses on 24 December, was adopted through an illegitimate vote. "We will never agree...when the Verkhovna Rada votes without debating the bill, without familiarizing deputies with proposed changes, without taking into account the positions of political forces, just in a show of hands and not even attempting to count them," the statement read. Our Ukraine has proposed returning to debate all three constitutional-reform drafts submitted to the Verkhovna Rada last year (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 December 2003) and conducting a new vote on all of them. JM
...AS YULIYA TYMOSHENKO BLOC WANTS TO TURN TO THE COURTS OVER REFORMS. Yuliya Tymoshenko said in the Verkhovna Rada on 4 February that her parliamentary caucus will challenge the constitutional-reform bill endorsed by deputies on 3 February before the Constitutional Court and a court of general jurisprudence, Interfax reported. "[Our caucus] will consistently act to prevent this reform from becoming a reality, not because we are against democratization but because we are against giving power forever to the [oligarchic] clans," Tymoshenko said. She added that if the constitutional-reform bill is adopted in a final reading by parliament, the president elected in 2004 "will have no powers." She claims that after passing the constitutional reforms, the oligarchic clans will continue to wield de facto power in Ukraine through control of the Verkhovna Rada and that chamber's election of a prime minister, who would inherit many powers currently vested in the president. JM
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES AMENDED FEDERALIZATION PLAN WITH OSCE MISSION CHIEF. President Vladimir Voronin and OSCE mission chief in Moldova William Hill met in Chisinau on 3 February to discuss new proposals for a federalization plan, ITAR-TASS and Moldovan media reported. The proposals are apparently the "compromise plan" worked out in Sofia last week at a meeting of the three Transdniester conflict mediators -- Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 January 2004). Voronin and Hill also discussed the peacekeeping framework that is to follow the implementation of the federalization plan. No further details have emerged from the meeting. MS