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KIEV, February 06, /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, or national parliament, on Thursday will make another attempt to solve at least the most general organizations problems of its regular session that began on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on the session’s agenda. Neither did they agree a timetable.
Valentin Matveyev, the secretary of the Verkhovna Rada regulations committee, suggested that July 18 be fixed as the session closing day. Apart from that, he suggested that 11 weeks be allocated for plenary meetings, seven weeks - for committee and faction work, and six weeks - for lawmaker activities in their constituencies. Questions to the government were to take 11 hours. Parliament speaker Vladimir Rybak reminded the lawmakers that they were to vote about 1,000 bills that had already been discussed in committees.
Matveyev’s proposals however were not supported by the lawmakers. First they proposed a number of amendments ranging from having a seven-day working week until the political crisis was completely settled to holding plenary session throughout February. But none of the initiatives won support. Only 185 lawmakers voted in favor of the initial timetable of the Rada activities, while 226 votes were needed to adopt it. The initiative to extend plenary meetings throughout next week scored mere 73 votes. As a result, the speaker asked the faction leaders to re-consider the timetable and refer it for the Thursday meeting.
The speaker also asked to work out proposals on the procedure of considering issues of the constitutional reform. This issue will be central at the Thursday meeting and subsequent meetings, since the opposition demands immediate voting on the return of the 2004 constitution, which fixed the parliamentary-presidential form of government and considerably reduced presidential competences.
On Wednesday, Andrei Mokhnik, a deputy chairman of the Svoboda (freedom) party, urged the parliament to launch the constitutional process to “promptly begin comprehensive amendments to the Ukrainian constitution.” Alexander Turchinov of the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party faction said that his faction had already drafted amendments to the law on the constitutional court and had prepared a “detailed text of constitutional changes.” The leader of the UDAR party, Vitaliy Klitschko, said that first it was necessary to re-adopt the 2004 constitution as way out of the current crisis and only then to raise the issue of a new constitution.
Yuri Miroshnichenko of the ruling Party of Regions faction, in turn, said his faction was ready to set up a joint working group involving representatives from all the parliamentary factions to “agree a text to be voted at the Verkhovna Rada in the next few days.” Communist leader Petr Simonenko demanded that amendments to the constitution be made in line with the current constitution and called on lawmakers to appoint members of an ad hoc constitutional commission.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Livitin, who represented a group of lawmakers non-affiliated with any faction, called for a “prompt and common-sense compromise that would exclude a force scenario of subsequent developments.” His proposal was to agree “a plan of steps on the constitutional amendments with fixed dates, and measures in case this plan is not realized.