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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Ukraine Opposition Stops Time and Amends Constitution

The Constitutional Court of Ukraine does not think the innovation violates people's constitutional rights
On December 24, Ukraine's Supreme Rada approved of alterations to the Constitution by voting. The alterations are particularly the legislation #4105 stipulating that next presidential election will be national and take place last week of October 2004. According to the new legislation, a newly elected president will hold the position until 2006 when not the people of Ukraine, but the Supreme Rada is to appoint a new leader. As has been already reported, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine does not think this innovation violates people's constitutional rights. Opponents to the political reform initiated by Leonid Kuchma say that having supported the reform, the Constitutional Court discredited itself. The project gave rise to violent disputes, but still managed to win 276 votes of deputies, which is enough for adoption of the document, the Rada majority says. This time deputies voted by showing hands, as the opposition (or someone else) disabled the Rada electronic system for voting. In this particular case the opposition means Our Ukraine block, the Socialist Party and Julia Timoshenko’s block. Communists voted together with the parliamentary pro-presidential majority (leader of the Communist Party Pyotr Simonenko was obstructed by the opposition for the doing). 

It had been planned to pass the decision even earlier, on December 23, but the opposition blocked activity of the parliament, put a New Year's tree on the speaker's seat, blocked ways to the platform and made paper planes of the project of the political reform. The carnival session lasted late into the night; some sources say it was closed and others insist it continued on Thursday. If it was actually so, then the parliamentary majority and communists had to stop time to pass the decision. About 50 deputies from the opposition spent a night in the parliament and blocked the access to the platform next day as well.

Ukrainian news agencies inform that all attempts of Rada Speaker Vladimir Litvin to organize work of the parliament from outside the presidium failed and ended in mass fighting. Then, opposition factions tried to frustrate the session by shouting slogans through megaphone. It should be mentioned here that deputies of the parliament already had a precedent of spending all night long in the building of the Rada when the Constitution in force was adopted. 

However, despite of all the trouble the voting on the alteration took place. The parliamentary majority and the Communist Party of Ukraine say the results of the voting are legitimate, as changing of the mode of voting has been previously approved by deputies. Opposition factions declare the results illegitimate and say the voting was held in defiance of the parliamentary regulations. Representatives of Julia Timoshenko's block say they will demand that a referendum on constitutional reform must be held. Julia Timoshenko says that three factions of the parliamentary opposition will appeal to the PACE in connection with falsification of the voting on the legislation #4105.

The opposition still intends to block the parliamentary session. A source in Our Ukraine block told PRAVDA.Ru correspondent that the opposition might organize more civil unrest actions. Our Ukraine block, Julia Timoshenko's block and the Socialist Party consider the intention of the parliamentary majority to approve of changes to the Constitution is an anti-national, criminal and anti-constitutional plot.

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