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Leaders of factions in Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada seek to coordinate positions

February 14, 2014, 7:01 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, February 14, (ITAR-TASS). The leaders of the parliamentary factions are expected to make an attempt on Friday to move forward the stalled process of taking Ukraine out of the political crisis. They may meet Friday in the office of Verkhovna Rada Speaker Vladimir Rybak to discuss the question of forming an agenda for next week's plenary meetings, the first of which is due to be held on February 18.

A member of the Verkhovna Rada staff told Itar-Tass on Thursday night that "so far, there is no confirmation that such a meeting will be held" and that a final decision would be taken only on Friday morning. However, Mikhail Chechetov, a parliament member ftom the ruling Party of Regions, told journalidts on Thursday that Rybak's proposal on holding such a meeting had been supported by the opposition.

If convened, this will be the first attempt in recent days to overcome the deadlocked situation concerning parliamentary agenda priorities, primarily a procedure for discussion of Ukraine's Constitution issue. A specially formed working groups on the elaboration of proposals on amending the Constitution was to meet this week but there was no discussion owing to differences in the opposition ranks.

Batkivshchina with the backing of the Freedom party came out in favour of sharply limiting presidential powers. The UDAR party demanded reverting to the Constitution of 2004 first and only then setting about introducing amendments to the Fundamental Law.

At present, the stand of Batkivshchina, it seems, has undetgone certain cheanges: at a meeting with joutnalists on Thursday at the so-called "national resistance headquarters", Arseny Yatsenyuk, chairman of the party's political bureeau, voiced a demand that the question of resuming the operation of the Constitution of 2004 be put to the vote in the Verkhovna Rada next week. He said the vote is essential for avoiding "backstage talks", since "it will be sern clearly in the conference hall whether there are votes in support of the Ukrainian people's wielfing power in their own state".

A similar position was expressed by Vitaly Kovalchuk, deputy chaitman of the UDAR faction in the Verkhovna Rada, who emphasized that "the way to settle the crisis is to revert to the Constitution of 2004". Only after that, he maintains, the parliament will have a "moral right" to consider all the other matters.

However, Yelena Lukash, acting Minister of Justice, pointed out in an interview to local media on Thursday that despite the calls by the opposition leaders for a reversion to the Constitution of 2004 an appropriate bill has not been registered in the Verkhovna Rada up to now. She described as a paradox the situation when the oppositional leaders publicly proclaimed it as their aim a reversion to the previous Constitution and did not submit a bill on that score.

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