Ukrainian Popular Movement (Rukh) deputy Yuri Kostenko received 212 votes in yesterday’s balloting for the post of chairman of parliament. The winner needs 226 votes in the 450-seat chamber. Communist leader Petro Symonenko had come even closer recently (see the Monitor, June 19). The coalition of pro-presidential (“centrist”) and national-democratic (“rightist”) forces, which opposed Symonenko and other leftists, supported Kostenko in yesterday’s voting. It was, by most counts, at least the fifteenth round of balloting for the chairmanship since the new parliament opened on May 12. Symonenko is making another attempt today.
Meeting with the leaders of parliamentary parties yesterday, President Leonid Kuchma expressed consternation over the parliament’s paralysis, which “thwarts decisions on pressing economic issues” and blocks international lending to Ukraine. In a swipe at his leftist opponents, Kuchma warned against “misusing the parliament’s rostrum for unconstitutional actions, discrediting the state institutions, attacking democracy, and negatively affecting the people’s lives.” (DINAU, Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), June 29). Such language might in other cases be construed as preparing public opinion for a presidential initiative to dissolve the parliament and call new elections. Kuchma, however, has more than once pledged not to do that. Instead, the president has begun introducing economic reforms by presidential decree, bypassing the hung parliament. Under the constitution and the parliament’s own rules, the legislature can not pass valid laws before electing its speaker, presidium and commission chairmen.
RUSSIA AGREES TO BEGIN YIELDING CONTROL OF GEORGIA’S BORDERS.