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Ukraine: No-Confidence Vote In Government Due Today

Kyiv, 26 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's parliament is scheduled today to hold a no-confidence vote in the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. Yesterday, President Leonid Kuchma and Yushchenko had closed-door talks with parliament leaders in Kyiv.

Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko declined to say if the talks had produced any agreement on the vote. But he described the atmosphere at the talks as "constructive."

Yushchenko is opposed by Communists, centrists, and business groups, who are critical of the economic reforms he has supported.

Kuchma has said the removal of Yushchenko would not be in Ukraine's interest. He said stability in Ukraine's government is "absolutely necessary" for further development.

Yushchenko said earlier this week that his is the only Ukrainian government to have achieved positive economic growth in the past 10 years.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is due today to vote on whether to expel Ukraine from the 43-nation human rights body.

The Council's Monitoring Committee has recommended that Ukraine be expelled for delaying political reforms and repressing journalists and opposition figures.

Yesterday, the Council's Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer warned the Strasbourg-based Council against barring Ukraine.

He said the Council should continue to exercise influence in the country. Schwimmer said Ukraine must remain in the European family.

Several members of the Monitoring Committee proposed yesterday that Ukraine should be threatened with suspension in the absence of substantial progress by the next assembly session in June.

Earlier this week, the assembly's president, Lord Russell-Johnston, said the Council is unlikely to expel Ukraine even if the parliamentary assembly votes to do so.

He said the vote will be mostly symbolic as the Committee of Ministers is unlikely to support any expulsion call. That Committee will make the final decision.