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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

PATRIARCHATE OPPOSES PAPAL VISIT TO UKRAINE, RUSSIA. A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox hierarchy told Interfax on 14 February that the church remains opposed to a visit by Pope John Paul II to Russia or Ukraine. The spokesman said that Roman Catholic missionary activity since the fall of communism and disputes over church property in western Ukraine must be discussed and solutions found before a visit would be acceptable. PG

RUSSIA SELLS ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES TO INDIA. The KBM design bureau announced on 14 February that it has signed a contract to supply hundreds of portable anti-aircraft missiles to India during the first six months of 2001, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, export control officials told the Russian news agency that Russian arms exports grew by 34 percent from 1999 to 2000. And Nikolai Svirin, a spokesman for the Russian Agency for Conventional Weapons, told ITAR-TASS on the same day that Russia and Ukraine may earn as much as $5.5 billion each year between now and 2010 by repairing and modernizing tanks in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Vietnam, Romania and India. PG

UKRAINIAN ANTI-PRESIDENTIAL OPPOSITION DEMANDS TYMOSHENKO'S RELEASE... The National Salvation Forum, an anti-presidential group formed from lawmakers and politicians last week, demanded on 14 February that the authorities release former Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko, who was arrested the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 February 2001). The Forum said in a statement that the authorities, instead of arresting "criminals from the entourage of President Leonid Kuchma," have applied "the full power of their punitive-repressive system against a woman." The Forum noted that Tymoshenko was arrested to punish her for her opposition activities and for reforms in the energy and coal sectors. "The arrest of a sick woman who was not hiding from investigators...perfectly demonstrates that the people holding power in Ukraine are immoral and cynical, devoid of universal human values," the Forum said. JM

...SLAMS YUSHCHENKO FOR SIDING WITH KUCHMA. The Forum also addressed an open letter to Premier Viktor Yushchenko saying its members do not understand why Yushchenko signed the statement condemning the Forum and threatening reprisals against "destructive forces" in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 February 2001). Apart from Yushchenko, the statement was signed by President Leonid Kuchma and parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch. "Your signature under the statement contradicts both human and God's laws, because it was put on the day of the arrest of the woman [Yuliya Tymoshenko] who for the past year was your closest aide in implementing reforms," the Forum said. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz commented that Yushchenko's signature under the "provocative" statement "surprised and disappointed" him. Yushchenko commented later the same day that he signed the document because he believes "the path of undemocratic transformations, disinformation, and violent pressure" leads to "deadlock." JM

...IS SKEPTICAL ON SOON MEETING EU REQUIREMENTS FOR VISA ABOLITION... The premier also said he doubts Romania can meet within six months the EU requirements for abolishing visas for Romanian citizens. Nastase said it is more likely that implementing the requirements will take one year. He explained that the most difficult problem is that of securing Romania's border with Ukraine, which necessitates "large financial resources and a great amount of specific equipment." MS

ROMANIA DENIES REPORTS ON INFRINGING ARMS EMBARGO. The Defense Ministry on 14 February denied a report carried by the British media, according to which a team of UN experts has concluded that Romania, alongside Bulgaria and Ukraine, infringed the UN embargo on arms deliveries to Angola, Mediafax reported. The report was published by "The Daily Mail" and "The Guardian" and says that the weapons were delivered to the Angolan UNITA rebels via Togo and Burkina Faso. MS