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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 65, 00-03-31

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 65, 31 March 2000 Caucasus Report," Vol. 1, No. 36, 3 November

1998). LF

CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] PROSECUTORS CALL FOR DETENTION OF ARMENIAN EX-MINISTER
  • [02] DETAILS OF ARMENIAN-GEORGIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION DISCLOSED
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, TURKEY CONCLUDE SECOND ROUND OF GAS
  • [04] LUKOIL QUIBBLING OVER BAKU COMPENSATION
  • [05] GERMAN CHANCELLOR ARRIVES IN GEORGIA
  • [06] PUTIN CALLS FOR PROLONGING PEACEKEEPERS' ABKHAZ MANDATE
  • [07] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN SEEKS TO MEDIATE WITH
  • [08] ...AS U.S. REGISTERS CONCERN
  • [09] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NATIONAL RECONCILIATION
  • [10] TURKMENISTAN WAIVES DEMAND FOR PRELIMINARY BONUS FOR GAS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] U.S. TROOPS, TANKS TO DETER BALKAN 'MISCHIEF'
  • [12] ROBERTSON WARNS OF FAILURE IN KOSOVA
  • [13] SERBIAN OFFICIALS FLOUTING EU VISA BAN?
  • [14] BELGRADE REGIME BEGINS LEGAL PROSECUTION OF OPPOSITION
  • [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION: NO BALKAN STABILITY WITHOUT SERBIA
  • [16] DONORS TELL BALKAN COUNTRIES TO PROMOTE REFORM
  • [17] MESIC HAILS 'IDYLLIC' RELATIONS WITH CROATIAN GOVERNMENT
  • [18] ISTRIAN MINISTER APOLOGIZES TO GOVERNMENT
  • [19] KLEIN WARNS AGAINST BOSNIAN ELECTION OPTIMISM
  • [20] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION INVITES 'MISINFORMED' U.S. CONGRESSMEN
  • [21] ROMANIA'S LIBERALS DENY PARTY CONFLICT
  • [22] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES LOCAL ELECTION CALENDAR
  • [23] ROMANIA APPROVES CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAMS
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS IMF DEADLINE COULD BE EXTENDED
  • [25] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO LAW ON

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO DEBATE UKRAINE'S SUSPENSION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] PROSECUTORS CALL FOR DETENTION OF ARMENIAN EX-MINISTER

    Armenian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian asked a

    Yerevan court on 30 March to authorize him to request that

    the parliament lift the deputy's immunity of former Interior

    Minister Vano Siradeghian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    Deputies voted in February 1999 to lift Siradeghian's

    immunity to allow his prosecution on charges of ordering

    several contract killings during his tenure from 1992-1996 as

    interior minister on condition that he was not taken into

    custody. His trial on those charges got under way in

    September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 February and 10

    September 1999). Hovsepian said that it is not fair that

    other defendants in the same case have been held in custody

    for 11 months. He added that relatives of the men Siradeghian

    allegedly ordered killed have complained they are being

    subjected to intimidation by his associates. LF

    [02] DETAILS OF ARMENIAN-GEORGIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION DISCLOSED

    Before leaving Tbilisi on 29 March after a two-day official

    visit, Armenian President Robert Kocharian noted that mining,

    transport and energy are priority sectors in Armenian-

    Georgian economic cooperation, Caucasus Press reported the

    following day. Kocharian added that good prospects also exist

    for expanding cooperation in the chemical industry. "Hayots

    ashkharh" on 30 March quoted Kocharian as saying that he and

    his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, agreed on

    construction of a power line to supply energy from Armenia to

    Georgia's southern Djavakheti region, which has a majority

    Armenian population. Also on 29 March, the two countries'

    energy ministers, David Zadoyan and Davit Mirtskhulava,

    signed an agreement on the rescheduling of Georgia's $4.4

    million debt for earlier energy supplies, according to Snark,

    as cited by Groong. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, TURKEY CONCLUDE SECOND ROUND OF GAS

    TALKS

    Azerbaijani, Georgian, and Turkish government working

    groups held talks in Tbilisi on 28-30 March with officials

    from the international consortium developing Azerbaijan's

    Shah Deniz Caspian oil and gas field. On the agenda of those

    talks were the legal and technical aspects of exporting that

    gas through a pipeline from Baku via Tbilisi to Erzerum,

    Caucasus Press reported. Completion of construction of that

    pipeline is scheduled for the end of 2002. The pipeline will

    have an initial throughput capacity of 5 billion cubic meters

    per year. LF

    [04] LUKOIL QUIBBLING OVER BAKU COMPENSATION

    LUKoil's Azerbaijan

    office is engaged in a dispute with an Azerbaijani insurance

    company over damage to one of its gasoline filling stations

    sustained during the Baku landslide earlier this month, Turan

    reported, citing "Uch nogte" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March

    2000). LUKoil is demanding $1.7 million in compensation in

    line with its insurance policy, but the Ateshgakh insurance

    company is willing to pay only $1.4 million. LF

    [05] GERMAN CHANCELLOR ARRIVES IN GEORGIA

    Gerhard Schroeder

    arrived in Tbilisi on 30 March on a two-day state visit, the

    first ever to Georgia by the head of a G-7 state, Reuters

    reported. Speaking at a joint press conference after

    receiving the Order of the Golden Fleece from Georgian

    President Shevardnadze, Schroeder said that Berlin has raised

    the amount of aid it will grant Georgia this year by 20

    percent, to 60 million marks ($30 million). Addressing the

    Georgian parliament the same day, Schroeder expressed concern

    at Russia's continuing military action in Chechnya, saying

    that the EU should play a role in containing conflicts in the

    South Caucasus, dpa reported. LF

    [06] PUTIN CALLS FOR PROLONGING PEACEKEEPERS' ABKHAZ MANDATE

    Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin on 29 March submitted

    a written request to the Federation Council to extend until

    30 June the mandate of the Russian peacekeeping force

    currently deployed under the CIS aegis along the border

    between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Caucasus Press

    reported. Putin said the peacekeepers' continued presence in

    the conflict zone meets the interests of the Russian

    Federation. In Tbilisi, UN Special Representative Dieter

    Boden said on 30 March he sees no alternative at present to

    the Russian peacekeepers' continued presence. Astamur Tania,

    aide to Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, welcomed Putin's

    initiative, characterizing the CIS peacekeepers as the only

    guarantors of peace and security in the region. A delegation

    from the Abkhaz parliament-in-exile headed by its chairman,

    Tamaz Nadareishvili, was in Moscow earlier this month to try

    to persuade Russian State Duma deputies not to vote for the

    renewal of the peacekeepers' mandate. LF

    [07] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN SEEKS TO MEDIATE WITH

    AUTHORITIES...

    Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Chairman

    Tursunbek Akunov told a press conference in Bishkek on 30

    March that official falsification of the outcome of the

    parliamentary elections has precipitated a political crisis

    in the country, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital

    reported. He added that he is trying to arrange a meeting

    between senior state officials and representatives of the 100

    or so demonstrators who continue their protest picket in

    central Bishkek. Also on 30 March, opposition Democratic

    Movement of Kyrgyzstan Chairman Jypar Djekshev told

    journalists that he has received a written warning from the

    Bishkek city prosecutor saying he violated the law by

    publishing in the weekly "Res Publika" a protest against the

    arrest of Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov. LF

    [08] ...AS U.S. REGISTERS CONCERN

    In Washington, U.S. State

    Department Deputy Spokesman James Foley said on 30 March that

    on her visit to Central Asia next month, Secretary of State

    Madeleine Albright will deliver "a tough message" to the

    Kyrgyz leadership on democracy and human rights, an RFE/RL

    correspondent in Washington reported. LF

    [09] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

    COMMISSION, WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE

    Imomali Rakhmonov has

    met for the last time with the members of the Commission for

    National Reconciliation, whom he thanked for their

    contribution to implementing the 1997 peace agreement, Asia

    Plus Blitz reported on 31 March. The commission held its

    final session earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27

    March 2000). On 30 March, Rakhmonov met with the World Bank

    regional director for Central Asia, Kiyeshi Kadera, and

    discussed an ongoing World Bank-sponsored program to

    alleviate poverty in Tajikistan. LF

    [10] TURKMENISTAN WAIVES DEMAND FOR PRELIMINARY BONUS FOR GAS

    PIPELINE PROJECT

    During talks in Ashgabat on 28-29 March

    with visiting Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Turkmen

    President Saparmurat Niyazov backed down from his earlier

    insistence that the international sponsors of the planned

    Trans-Caspian gas export pipeline pay Turkmenistan a $500

    million bonus prior to the start of construction, Bloomberg

    reported on 30 March, citing the "Wall Street Journal." The

    two presidents again pledged their shared commitment to

    implementing that project, and Demirel undertook to resolve

    with Georgia and Azerbaijan all outstanding political

    questions relating to it, according to Interfax. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] U.S. TROOPS, TANKS TO DETER BALKAN 'MISCHIEF'

    Defense

    Department spokesman Ken Bacon said in Washington on 30 March

    that some 125 special reconnaissance soldiers will soon be

    stationed on the border between Kosova and Serbia as the

    "eyes and ears" of NATO. Those men and women will investigate

    on foot any reports of violations of the demilitarized Ground

    Safety Zone (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 March 2000). He added

    that the U.S. will also send another 14 tanks and six

    artillery pieces to Macedonia to deter "any mischief that

    might take place along the borders" of that country, Reuters

    reported. Elsewhere, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman

    James Foley said that Washington's "antennae are up"

    regarding possible activity by militant Albanians in the

    Presevo Valley area. Meanwhile in Prishtina, a KFOR spokesman

    said that experts are evaluating photographic evidence of a

    reported recent Serbian incursion in to the demilitarized

    zone. On 30 March, General Vladimir Lazarevic, who commands

    the Yugoslav Third Army, visited the Presevo region, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [12] ROBERTSON WARNS OF FAILURE IN KOSOVA

    NATO Secretary-General

    Lord Robertson said in Stockholm on 31 March that the

    Atlantic alliance's mission in Kosova may fail unless member

    states provide more money and other resources. "I think it is

    quite possible that we will fail and therefore that the whole

    world will fail. It is for the international community to

    make the decision as to whether we want it to succeed and

    whether they are willing to back up fine words with financial

    resources," Reuters quoted Robertson as saying. He stressed

    that "we are on a razor's edge between success and failure.

    We are rebuilding a multi-ethnic democracy in [Kosova]. It's

    not going to be an easy job," Robertson added. PM

    [13] SERBIAN OFFICIALS FLOUTING EU VISA BAN?

    Four Yugoslav

    legislators banned by the EU from receiving visas have

    arrived in Marseilles for a conference on security and

    cooperation in the Mediterranean region, Reuters reported

    from Belgrade on 31 March. The four are led by Srdja Bozovic,

    who is speaker of the upper house of parliament. Also present

    is Ivica Dacic, who heads Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic's Socialist Party organization in Belgrade and

    until recently was Milosevic's press spokesman. Jela Veselic

    and Vladimir Stambuk represent the United Yugoslav Left

    (JUL), which is led by Milosevic's wife and is the political

    home of mainly elderly, old-style Communists. JUL's Zivko

    Sokolavacki flouted the visa ban in October 1999 to travel to

    a conference in Berlin. PM

    [14] BELGRADE REGIME BEGINS LEGAL PROSECUTION OF OPPOSITION

    LEADERS

    A Belgrade court held its first hearings on 30 March

    in the trials of several opposition leaders for allegedly

    slandering prominent regime politicians during opposition

    rallies in late 1999. Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic,

    who was the first of the leaders to be summoned by the court,

    called the trials a "political farce," "Danas" reported.

    Vladan Batic of the Alliance for Change said that the trials

    are part of a wider campaign of repression, Reuters reported.

    A lawyer for the Democratic Party's Zoran Djindjic added that

    the trials recall the communist practice of giving jail

    sentences to critics. Among the other prominent opposition

    leaders facing trial are Milan Protic and Goran Svilanovic.

    If found guilty, each of the opposition politicians faces up

    to three years in prison. PM

    [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION: NO BALKAN STABILITY WITHOUT SERBIA

    Representatives of several Serbian opposition parties

    discussed the democratization of Serbia and their country's

    integration into European structures with EU and U.S.

    officials in Brussels, "Vesti" reported on 31 March. The

    Serbian politicians stressed that there can be no stability

    in the Balkans without a democratic Serbia firmly linked to

    its neighbors. The talks took place at the donors' conference

    for the EU's Balkan Stability Pact (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29

    March 2000). PM

    [16] DONORS TELL BALKAN COUNTRIES TO PROMOTE REFORM

    World Bank

    President James Wolfensohn and several other speakers told

    the Brussels gathering that donors will shun southeastern

    Europe unless the governments in that region learn to work

    together rather than compete with each one another for

    foreign help, "Die Presse" reported on 31 March. The

    conference nonetheless produced pledges of $1.75 billion for

    some 300 projects due to be launched in the immediate future.

    Among the first are expanding the Macedonian border crossing

    at Blace and constructing a new Danube bridge linking

    Bulgaria and Romania. Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach said that

    he will meet every three weeks with European Commissioner

    Chris Patten and Javier Solana to review progress on each of

    the many projects. Hombach stressed that these meetings are

    the response of "those who think in political terms to the

    foot-dragging of the bureaucracy," the "Frankfurter

    Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM

    [17] MESIC HAILS 'IDYLLIC' RELATIONS WITH CROATIAN GOVERNMENT

    President Stipe Mesic said that his relations with Prime

    Minister Ivica Racan and the government are "idyllic,"

    "Jutarnji list" reported on 31 March. He made the remarks

    after a working "lunch of reconciliation" with Racan and

    parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic. None of the participants

    provided any details of the meeting, except to say that Mesic

    and Racan agreed to merge their respective commissions that

    are examining reducing presidential powers. Strains in

    relations between Mesic and the government became public

    recently, threatening to split the governing coalition of one

    large and one smaller coalition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30

    March 2000). PM

    [18] ISTRIAN MINISTER APOLOGIZES TO GOVERNMENT

    Ivan Jakovcic, who

    heads the Istrian Democratic League and is Croatia's minister

    for relations with the EU, apologized for his recent remarks

    against the government, "Jutarnji list" reported on 31 March

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March 2000). He acknowledged that

    his call for Istrian autonomy if the government does not bail

    out the failed Istarska Banka was "perhaps too strong." He

    added that he does not want to provoke an "unnecessary

    crisis." The government set up a commission on 30 March to

    look into Istarska's problems. PM

    [19] KLEIN WARNS AGAINST BOSNIAN ELECTION OPTIMISM

    The UN's chief

    envoy Jacques Klein said in Sarajevo on 30 March that

    nationalist parties are likely to win the majority of votes

    in the Bosnian local elections scheduled for April, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. Klein stressed that four years

    after the end of the war is still "too soon" to expect any

    dramatic political changes in Bosnia, comparable to those

    that took place in Croatia in January and February. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION INVITES 'MISINFORMED' U.S. CONGRESSMEN

    The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) said on 30

    March that it will invite U.S. Congressmen Christopher

    Smith and Frank Wolf to visit Romania and "see for

    themselves" the "true state of mind of the population" and

    "Romanian realities." The PDSR said those "realities" are

    known to Smith and Wolf only from "statements by

    individuals who represent President Emil Constantinescu,"

    RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two congressmen

    recently warned of the possible consequences if the PDSR

    and former President Ion Iliescu returned to power (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March 2000). MS

    [21] ROMANIA'S LIBERALS DENY PARTY CONFLICT

    National Liberal

    Party (PNL) Chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus said on 30

    March that media reports of a struggle for power within the

    PNL are "absurd" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 24 March 2000).

    Ionescu-Quintus said he will stick by his decision not to

    seek another mandate as PNL chairman in 2001, noting that

    he considers Valeriu Stoica, PNL first deputy chairman, as

    the most suitable person to be his heir. He added, however,

    that he has "no right" to personally decide on the matter

    and that the decision must be taken by the PNL congress. MS

    [22] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES LOCAL ELECTION CALENDAR

    The

    cabinet decided on 30 March that local elections will be

    held on 3 June, with runoffs scheduled for 17 June. There

    will be no additional rounds in localities where less than

    50 percent of the electorate vote. MS

    [23] ROMANIA APPROVES CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAMS

    The Romanian

    cabinet on 30 March approved a package of programs designed

    to improve child protection services and orphanages in the

    country, Reuters reported. The EU has specifically called

    on Romania to take steps to improve child protection

    institutions. VG

    [24] MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS IMF DEADLINE COULD BE EXTENDED

    Dumitru Braghis said on 30 March that the IMF's deadline of

    31 March for the parliament to pass the 2000 budget and

    approve the privatization of the wine and tobacco

    industries could be extended for "five to seven days, not

    more," BASA-Press reported. The passage of those bills

    within the deadline is an IMF condition for resuming

    credits to Moldova. Braghis added that his cabinet will

    negotiate an extension only if it is sure that the

    parliament will pass the bills. He said current budget

    revenues indicate that the government will be able to get

    by next month without foreign assistance. VG

    [25] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO LAW ON

    COMMUNIST REGIME

    The Bulgarian National Assembly on 30

    March passed in the first reading a bill that declares the

    former communist regime, which held sway from 9 September

    1944 to 1989, as unlawful, BTA reported. The bill was

    passed by a vote of 137 to 60 with two abstentions. After

    the debate and the vote, which was broadcast live on

    Bulgarian television, deputies from the Bulgarian Socialist

    Party (BSP) staged a walkout. The bill enumerates the

    crimes of the former regime, declares both the regime and

    the Communist Party unlawful and culpable, and lifts the

    statute of limitations on crimes committed by the regime.

    The bill was supported by deputies from Union of Democratic

    Forces, the People's Union, and the Alliance of National

    Salvation, while legislators from the BSP and one member of

    Euro-Left voted against it. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO DEBATE UKRAINE'S SUSPENSION

    By Askold Krushelnycky

    Ukraine will learn next week whether the Council of

    Europe will start moves to suspend its membership. The

    council's Parliamentary Assembly will debate and vote on the

    issue on 4 April.

    The Council of Europe is responding to Ukrainian

    President Leonid Kuchma's recent decision to press ahead with

    plans for a referendum on constitutional changes that

    Parliamentary Assembly members have strongly criticized. The

    referendum has been modified since the council expressed its

    disapproval, but it has not been canceled.

    In January, Kuchma said that he wanted to hold a

    referendum on 16 April to seek popular approval for extending

    his powers and remodeling the parliament to introduce a

    second chamber. He said the changes are needed to press ahead

    with economic reforms that have often been blocked by a

    bitterly divided, single-chamber legislature.

    A month later, two members of the council's

    Parliamentary Assembly visited Ukraine to examine the

    proposed referendum. They found that there was no basis for

    it in Ukrainian law and that it encroached on the existing

    parliament's powers. They also said the move would be bad for

    Ukrainian democracy.

    The two council members publicly warned that Ukraine

    might be suspended from the council if the referendum went

    ahead. In response, Kuchma said he would allow Ukraine's

    Constitutional Court to decide whether the referendum could

    be held.

    Earlier this week, that court excluded two out of the

    six questions Kuchma had wanted to ask in the referendum but

    allowed the other four to go forward. On 30 March, Kuchma

    agreed to the changes and his spokesman said the referendum

    would be held.

    Danish parliamentary deputy Hanne Severinsen, one of the

    two assembly members who visited Ukraine, told RFE/RL that on

    31 March, a Council of Europe advisory body of constitutional

    experts--known as the Venice Commission--will examine the

    Ukrainian court's decision. She said she believes the

    referendum still violates council principles and doubts she

    will alter her draft proposal to suspend Ukraine, whatever

    the Venice Commission advises.

    "The draft resolution, which has already been [drafted],

    will still be our suggestion to the [assembly's] monitoring

    committee," Severinsen commented. And that also means the

    suggestion to the Parliamentary Assembly [on 4 April]--that

    if this binding referendum is carried through, we ask the

    [council's] Committee of Ministers to start preparations for

    suspension."

    The Committee of Ministers is the organization's chief

    executive body and as such is empowered to suspend a member

    on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Assembly. In its

    51-year history, the Council of Europe has never suspended a

    member-state, although Greece was severely criticized for

    human-rights abuses by its military regime in the 1970s and

    voluntarily ceased participation in council organs.

    A few years ago, however, the Parliamentary Assembly

    came close to recommending Ukraine's suspension because that

    country had not fulfilled its commitment to end capital

    punishment. Kyiv has since outlawed the death penalty.

    Assembly member Severinsen told RFE/RL that Ukraine

    might be able to avoid suspension if the referendum results

    are merely advisory, rather than binding. But a spokesman for

    the Constitutional Court, Pavlo Yehrafov, said on 29 March

    that the referendum is binding. "Government bodies will be

    obliged to take [those results] into account and adopt the

    appropriate measures about those questions addressed in the

    referendum," he commented.

    The two referendum questions rejected by the

    Constitutional Court dealt with granting the president the

    right to dismiss the parliament if a majority of respondents

    expressed no confidence and allowing the results of

    referendums to alter the constitution.

    The four remaining questions include one on permitting

    the president to dissolve the parliament if it cannot form a

    working majority within one month. The other three deal with

    reducing the size of the parliament, creating a second

    parliamentary chamber, and reducing deputies' immunity from

    prosecution.

    The referendum is opposed by parliamentary deputies

    across Ukraine's political spectrum. The leader of the

    center-right Rukh party, Yury Kostenko, said it would be seen

    by other countries as a threat to Ukraine's democratic

    development and will cause domestic problems as well.

    Serhiy Holovaty, a member of Ukraine's delegation to the

    Parliamentary Assembly, strongly opposes the referendum. He

    praised the Constitutional Court decision because, he said,

    it barred the two questions that most threatened democratic

    practices:

    "The possibility of introducing a new constitution in

    Ukraine by using this referendum has been eliminated," he

    noted. "That's a blow against those forces that wanted to put

    Ukraine on the same track as [Belarusian President Aleksandr]

    Lukashenka. Because of this decision, Ukraine will not go

    down the Belarusian path. Through its decision, the

    Constitutional Court has supported parliament as an

    institution."

    A recent opinion survey conducted for Ukraine's

    Institute of Politics found that less than 50 percent of

    Ukrainians surveyed plan to vote in the referendum. If less

    than half the electorate does not cast a ballot, the

    referendum will be declared invalid.

    The author is an RFE/RL senior corespondent based in

    Prague.

    31-03-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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