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23 December 1998
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President Kuchma Calls For Referendum On Constitution

Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma has called for national referendum on the main provisions of the Ukrainian Constitution. Mr. Kuchma made the call on December 15 during a meeting with journalists. "I see no other way than holding a referendum in the future on the main provisions of the Constitution," Mr. Kuchma said. Mr. Kuchma said he stood by his view that the Constitution should not have been adopted by Parliament but via a national referendum. According to him, the main shortcoming of the existing Constitution is that its norms do not permit the creation of a workable government organ and achieve a balance between the two arms of government. "Today, Ukraine needs a two-chamber parliament. I have no doubt about that," Mr. Kuchma told journalists. According to him, the two-chamber parliament would include a lower and an upper chamber consisting of representatives of regions. The upper chamber would lay emphasis on economic interests rather than political interests when making decisions, the Ukrainian leader said. He added that the upper chamber might also act as an intermediate organ that would filter incomplete laws adopted by the lower chamber. Under the existing system, in which the president works directly with Parliament, the president is forced to return for redrafting most of the laws sent by Parliament to the president for signing, Mr. Kuchma said.

President Kuchma: I Oppose Parliamentary Fractions' Attempt To Monopolize Nomination Of Presidential Candidates

President Kuchma has expressed opposition to "parliamentary fractions' attempt to monopolize the right to nominate candidates for the forthcoming presidential elections." He was peaking on December 15 during a meeting with local journalists. According to Mr. Kuchma, "our parties are not the people of Ukraine, they represent only 2-3% of the population." Mr. Kuchma added that the draft law on presidential elections contained too many contradictions. He warned against repeating the mistakes that were made when adopting the law on election of parliamentary deputies. He also expressed opposition to any attempt to reduce the number of signatures that future presidential candidates are presently required to gather. Mr. Kuchma also said he is categorically opposed to commencement of election campaigns 150 days before the election date because "90 days are more than enough." Mr. Kuchma said he would not sign the election law unless it was well drafted.

Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors Get 400 Dollars From Swiss Fund

The Swiss-based Fund for Needy Victims of the Holocaust on Friday began paying out 400 dollars each to 3,200 Jewish survivors of the World War II genocide in Ukraine. As Rolf Bolch, president of the fund, told a news conference, the payments are neither compensation nor restitution for suffering as it is not Switzerland's task to pay compensation. According to him, the money is only intended as help. According to Mr. Bolch, there are 3,200 Jewish and about 9,000 non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Ukraine. The fund was founded in March last year and currently has 273 million Swiss francs of donations from Swiss commercial banks, Switzerland's central bank, and others. It has already paid out up to 6.8 million Swiss francs to more than 4,500 people in different countries.

Ukraine And Malawi Establish Diplomatic Relations

The Ukrainian Permanent Representation to the UN Headquarters in New York, NY, was the venue of a formal ceremony to sign a protocol on establishing diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Malawi. Ukraine's UN Permanent Representative Volodymyr Yelchenko and David Rubadiri, Mr. Yelchenko's Malawi counterpart, on behalf of their governments signed the document making Malawi Ukraine's 151st foreign nation with whom to maintain diplomatic relations.

Cabinet Of Ministers Approves Social Welfare And Anti-Aids Measures

In implementation of the Ukrainian law on prevention of AIDS and improving social welfare, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved a series of documents regulating the measures aimed at preventing the disease. The documents include regulations on medical checkups aimed at diagnosing HIV infections. All Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, refugees, and permanent residents will be able to undergo HIV checks free of charge, voluntarily, and anonymously. HIV carriers will be entitled to compensation for using their blood for research. The regulations direct the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to require Ukrainian diplomatic and consular offices abroad to demand that foreigners intending to visit Ukraine for a period longer than three months provide certificates proving that they are not HIV carriers.

Foreign Ministry Rejects Allegation Of Inaction In Ex-Prime Minister Lazarenko's Case

Viktor Kyryk, head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's Consular Department has accused former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko of trying to misinform Parliament in his address to Parliament upon his return to Ukraine from Switzerland, from where he was recently released on bail. In the address to Parliament, Mr. Lazarenko accused the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Borys Tarasiuk, in particular, of inaction during his detention in a Swiss jail. He also accused the ministry of blocking his efforts to obtain a Swiss visa. Mr. Kyryk told a news conference on December 22 that the ministry possesses documented facts confirming that the ministry and the Ukrainian embassy in Switzerland constantly acted to protect "the Ukrainian citizen's interests abroad" from December 3 until his return to Ukraine. According to Mr. Kyryk, clarifying the circumstances surrounding Mr. Lazarenko's arrest in Switzerland was "one of the most difficult problems." He told journalists that the Foreign Ministry now fully shares Switzerland's views on the reason for Mr. Lazarenko's arrest. He disclosed that Mr. Lazarenko agreed to meet with Ukrainian embassy officials only on December 16 and never applied to the Foreign Ministry for a visa. Mr. Lazarenko earlier told a parliamentary session that he did not break any Swiss rules and never held dual citizenship. According to him, the Panamanian passport he used to enter Switzerland clearly indicated that he is a Ukrainian citizen. He added that the Panamanian passport was required only for visa-free entry into Switzerland. Mr. Lazarenko thanked Parliament as the only Ukrainian government organ that protected his interests while he was under arrest. The former prime minister further told Parliament that he was arrested in Switzerland at the request of the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office. According to him, 19 of the 21 charges brought against him were immediately rejected by his lawyer.

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