Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 118

In a broadcast to the nation yesterday, President Leonid Kuchma termed the economic situation a “crisis,” requiring urgent reforms. Since the legislation “can no longer wait until parliament overcomes its paralysis,” Kuchma said, he will introduce economic reforms by presidential decrees. The president also cited a decision of the National Security and Defense Council which determined that the situation in parliament “blocks economic transformations and threatens national security.” (Ukrainian TV and agencies, June 18)

That determination would seem to imply that the president is within his rights to bypass parliament in order to discharge his responsibilities to the country’s security. The constitution, as interpreted by the pro-presidential camp, entitles the president to decree reforms. Leftists, however, immediately challenged that interpretation yesterday. The terms of their challenge promised a rerun of past constitutional disputes between the executive branch and the parliamentary left. (Ukrainian agencies, RTR, June 18)

As Kuchma spoke, Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko at a special cabinet meeting tasked ministers to draft fifteen presidential decrees. The focus is said to be on tax reform, budget reform and fiscal policy–issues that topped the agenda of the Ukrainian leaders’ talks with World Bank and International Monetary Fund delegations in Kyiv in recent days. World Bank representative Paul Siegelbaum was cited yesterday as saying that the bank is prepared to lend Ukraine US$4 billion in the next three years–if the country proceeds with reforms. (Ukrainian agencies, June 18)