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MOSCOW SATISFIED WITH UKRAINE'S LANGUAGE POLICY. Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi told ITAR-TASS on 6 February that the Russian government finds Kyiv's approach to Russian language use in Ukraine quite acceptable. He made the remarks in the Ukrainian capital where he had discussed developing "language cooperation" between the two countries with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. PG
PROTESTERS IN KYIV WANT UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO QUIT... Some 5,000 people took part in an anti-presidential demonstration in Kyiv on 6 February, demanding that President Leonid Kuchma step down over allegations of his complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. The protesters from both left- and right-wing parties and organizations marched in downtown Kyiv, picketed the parliamentary building, and tried to storm the presidential administration building but were stopped by a police cordon and a high wall erected around the administration compound. The protesters adopted a resolution demanding the resignation of Kuchma, Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach, whom they hold responsible for the alleged murder of Gongadze. "It is impossible to live in a country where they get rid of everybody who disagrees with Leonid Kuchma," Yuriy Lutsenko, an organizer of the protest, told the crowd. JM
...WHILE KUCHMA SHRUGS OFF OUSTER DEMAND. "The president, who has been elected by the majority of Ukrainian residents, 16 million people, will not yield to the resignation demand of 2,000," presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko told the Ekho Moskvy radio station the same day. Lawmaker Serhiy Kurkin told Interfax that Kuchma voiced a similar argument the previous day during a meeting with Ukraine's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. According to Kurkin, Kuchma said the 16 million votes cast for him in 1999 constitute "the credit of trust on which I am leaning." Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz appealed to lawmakers in the parliament to pass legislation that would regulate the procedure for the president's impeachment. JM
EU EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER MEDIA FREEDOM IN UKRAINE. "The European Union wishes to repeat its concerns about the continuing problematic environment for the media in Ukraine and wants to stress to the Ukrainian authorities the need to ensure a safe, secure, and harassment-free environment for journalists to operate in," the EU's Swedish presidency said in a statement released on 6 February. The statement also called on the Ukrainian authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the disappearance of Heorhiy Gongadze. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ihor Hrushko reacted to the EU statement by saying that it is "a biased opinion, a hasty measure that does not agree quite fittingly with what the initiators of this statement actually have in mind," Interfax reported. JM