Crowds of supporters of the Communist and Socialist parties — estimates ranged from 4,000 to 20,000 — rallied in several Kyiv squares and marched through the city center on June 28, Ukraine’s Constitution Day. A part of the crowd marched on President Leonid Kuchma’s residence but was stopped by riot police. The demonstrators’ slogans and resolutions approved by the rallies, called for Kuchma’s resignation, the reversal of economic reforms, a stop to Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO and the International Monetary Fund, and accession of Ukraine to the Russia-Belarus Union.
In an address broadcast to the country on the first anniversary of the adoption of the constitution, Kuchma offered to consent to a one-year extension of the parliament’s term, if the legislature gets down to voting urgently needed economic reforms. Kuchma observed that the approach of the parliamentary elections, due in the first part of next year, is inhibiting serious and realistic discussion of the reforms in parliament. (Ukrainian and Russian agencies, June 28-29) The conjunction of the leftist obstruction in parliament and its offensive in the streets dramatizes Kuchma’s predicament in seeking to relaunch reforms against strong political resistance.
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