Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 20

Leonid Kuchma has nipped an attempt of leftists to begin the process of abolishing presidency in Ukraine in the bud. On January 28, he vetoed the motion on abolishing the post of president, which the parliament passed on January 14 by a vote of 237-26, Parliament had first sent the motion to the Constitutional Court, for it to rule on whether the bill contradicts the constitution. Commenting on Kuchma’s decision, deputy chief-of-staff Leonid Pidpalov said that the motion had been submitted to the court with numerous procedural irregularities–with the inference left open that the irregularities were Kuchma’s reason for his veto (Ukrainian television and agencies, January 28). Now the leftists and their allies in parliament–the Hromada party of former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko–will need a two-thirds majority (300 votes) to override Kuchma’s veto. The opposition stands virtually no chance of mustering such a majority. The leftists managed to pass the bill on January 14, but only on a third attempt, and then only due to unexpected support from a portion of the generally pro-presidential United Social Democratic Party faction.

The leftists–in particular the Communist Party and the radical Progressive Socialists–had proclaimed abolishing the Ukrainian presidency as one of their main goals. Without a president, it would be easy for the leftist majority in parliament to take the full power in the country and halt reforms. The “red,” however, could benefit were a president elected from their ranks. In an interview with newspaper “Den,” Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said that were he to win the upcoming elections, he would use his power as president to reverse the economic and political course (Den, January 28).–OV