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Council Of Europe Team In Kyiv For Talks On Crisis

Kyiv, 19 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A Council of Europe delegation is holding talks in Kyiv today with Ukrainian officials on the country's constitutional crisis.

The council's co-rapporteurs for Ukraine, Hanne Severinsen and Renate Wohlwend, are in Ukraine as part of the European human-rights body's monitoring procedure.

They are due to meet parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, the head of President Leonid Kuchma's administration, Viktor Medvedchuk, and other high officials.

Tensions between Kuchma's government and the opposition have been brewing for months over proposed constitutional amendments that call for the country's president to be chosen by parliament rather than by voters beginning in 2006. Opponents say the proposal would undermine democracy.

Severinsen and Wohlwend will present a report before the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. The assembly, based on the report, is due to decide on 26 January whether to hold an extraordinary debate on Ukraine.