Parliament returns to work
On Tuesday 6 February, the seventh session of Ukraine's parliament (Verkhovna Rada) got underway. Parliament members plan to consider 470 issues and 500 draft laws, including civil, criminal, tax, budget and customs codes.
However, according to the chairman of parliament, Ivan Plusch, "experience shows that [the] Verkhovna Rada does not adopt more then 400 draft laws." According to Plusch, most of the draft laws are not ready for adoption. .
First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov stressed that the major task of the seventh session should be the adoption of the codes. For this, he said, strong collaboration between the President, parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers is needed. However, most analysts do not anticipate the adoption of the codes before autumn.
Indeed, the previous session of parliament was called the "session of codes," in refernce to the heavy discussion of the codes that took place. However, despite passing some of the codes during the two hearings, none were adopted.
Ukraine without Kuchma
The "Ukraine without Kuchma" initiative, which started in December 2000, was renewed last week after a break for the winter holidays. Its organizers are the same people who led the student protests in 1990. Protesters built a "tent city" on Kyiv's central Kreshchatyk street. The first tents were put up on 1 February. By 9 February some 20 tents were standing in central Kyiv. The organizers plan to set up more tents when representatives from Ukraine's northern regions, such as Poltava, Chernihiv, and Sumy, arrive on 11 February.
Anti-presidential rallies have attracted thousands of people and captured international attention. The rally participants are demanding that the law on impeachment of the president be passed and that President Leonid Kuchma, Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, head of the Security Service Leonid Derkach and Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko all resign.
A meeting of the Forum of National Salvation, a civic initiative comprised of MPs and "Ukraine without Kuchma" activists, was held at the Verkhovna Rada on 9 February. According to the meeting's chair, Popular Rukh MP Taras Chornovil, the main goal of the Forum was to carry out a "new velvet revolution" in Ukraine.
MP and Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said that the main task of the Forum would be to attract as many people as possible and to change the system of power in Ukraine. Moroz believes that the Forum will have to work in three directions: first, to give all possible support to the "Ukraine without Kuchma" initiative; second, to carry out legislative activities in the parliament in support of the Forum's ideas; and third, to ensure "external influence on the situation in Ukraine through diplomatic channels."
According to political analysts, the protest atmosphere has strengthened. Mykola Tomenko, director of the Institute of Politics, said on 8 February that if the parliament and Kuchma do not find a compromise, "the line of the conflict will extend beyond the parliament and [central Kyiv] to the national level."
Prosecutor-General on vacation
Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko left for vacation on 2 February. Potebenko is a central figure in the investigation of former energy minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who was recently sacked over accusations of fraud, and in the scandal surrounding the disappearance of journalist Georgy Gongadze.
According to MP Anatoliy Matviyenko, Potebenko has taken leave for 45 days, after which he will resign. However, presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko denied reports that Potebenko tendered his resignation. Parliament expects Potebenko to give a full report of his findings sometime in February.
Iryna Solonenko, 9 February 2001
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