Yushchenko Faces Loss of Powers

Three factions in the Ukrainian parliament, including the pro-Western bloc of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, are planning to pass a new constitution that would significantly curb presidential powers, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

The Party of the Regions, the Communists and Tymoshenko's bloc, which together have a constitutional majority in the parliament, believe Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko should be stripped of most of his executive powers and become largely a figurehead, Vedomosti cited sources in the factions as saying.

As the head of state, the Ukrainian president currently has the power to hire and fire the heads of security and law enforcement agencies, as well as the foreign minister, among other government posts. But presidential nominees for the prime minister post -- which controls appointments in social and economic agencies -- require parliamentary approval.

The draft constitution will be endorsed by the three factions and then confirmed by the Constitutional Court, a source in Tymoshenko's bloc told Vedomosti.

Alexei Plotnikov, a deputy with the Party of the Regions' parliamentary faction, said the draft would be put up for vote after the May holidays.