Following President Leonid Kuchma’s latest attack on parliament and his suggestions that the constitution be amended by referendum (see the Monitor, December 16), the political council of the People’s Democratic Party (NDP) of Ukraine has released a statement rebuking the head of state for his suggestion that the constitution was inadequate and his not giving Ukraine’s political parties their due consideration as political entities. The NDP’s leadership called on Kuchma to begin a dialogue with the parties in parliament to solve the economic and political problems of the state, and warned that calls for revision of the constitution may “seriously destabilize the society” (Ukrainian agencies, December 17; Den, Kievskie vedomosti, December 18). In his address to regional media representatives on December 15, Kuchma proposed to extend by five years the presidential authority to introduce economic legislation by decree. The constitution’s transitional regulation, giving this right to the head of state, expires in June 1999. He also suggested that Ukraine needs a bicameral parliament and claimed that parties represent no more than 3 percent of the nation.
The NDP, the major reformist party, which has the second largest faction in parliament after the communists, has, contrary to general expectations, not yet voiced its support of Kuchma’s second presidential bid. Last week, the NDP’s first deputy head, Yevhen Kushnaryov, criticized the president for slow political and economic reforms. He said that the NDP would not support those actions of the president which contradict the principles of democracy (Den, Segodnya, December 11). Kushnaryov resigned as the head of Kuchma’s staff last month (see the Monitor, November 24). To all appearances, Kuchma is gradually losing support of the party, which was created in early 1996 by state officials loyal to him, including members of presidential staff and government. For this, the NDP was dubbed “the party of power.” –OV
RUSSIAN AIR POWER IN ARMENIA UPGRADED.