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80 PERCENT OF IMMIGRANTS SAID TO BE ILLEGAL. Illegal immigrants now form as much as 80 percent of the total number of migrants into Russia, "Segodnya" reported on 16 February. Moreover, officials told the paper, the situation may get worse as employers seek to avoid the law and those who would enter legally from CIS countries must obtain a visa (a requirement added in October). Many of the illegals from Asia come via Kazakhstan, "Izvestiya" reported the same day, but many come through Ukraine as well. And the Interior Ministry estimates that the number of illegal Chinese immigrants in the Russian Far East is from 400,000 to 700,000, two to three times the number of Chinese living there legally. In its informal daily poll, "Segodnya" reported that 1,148 respondents would like to see the country's demographic crisis overcome through a stimulation of the birthrate, while only 235 want to attract more in-migration, as the government has suggested. PG

GREF CALLS FOR ANTI-DUMPING MEASURES AGAINST CIS STATES. Economic Development and Trade Minister Gref on 16 February called for stepping up measures to prevent foreign countries from dumping goods onto the Russian market, Interfax reported. He said that CIS countries like Ukraine are more frequently guilty of this practice with respect to Russia than are other states. PG

TURKMENISTAN, RUSSIA CONCLUDE NEW GAS SALES AGREEMENT. The Turkmen government and the ITERA energy corporation signed an agreement in Ashgabat on 16 February whereby Turkmenistan will sell Russia 10 billion cubic meters of gas in 2001, the same amount as last year, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia will pay $40 per thousand cubic meters compared with $36-38 last year, of which half will be paid in hard currency and half in commodities. Also on 16 February, President Niyazov said Turkmenistan will conclude a long-term agreement on the sale of natural gas to Ukraine "very soon," ITAR-TASS reported. LF

CENTRIST UKRAINIAN PARTY CALLS FOR PRESIDENT'S DISMISSAL. The Sobor Party held its congress in Kyiv on 17-18 February and re-elected Anatoliy Matviyenko as its chairman, Interfax reported. The congress demanded that President Leonid Kuchma be immediately dismissed, saying Kuchma "bears direct political and moral responsibility for crisis in the country [and] for Ukraine's slide to authoritarianism." The congress also demanded the dismissal of Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, State Tax Administration head Mykola Azarov, Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko, and National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk who, according to the congress' resolution, "have ultimately discredited themselves as human beings and state officials." JM

UKRAINIAN PICKETERS DEMAND OUSTER OF POTEBENKO, RELEASE OF TYMOSHENKO. Some 1,000 people picketed the ProsecutorGeneral' s Office in Kyiv on 16 February, demanding the dismissal of Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko and the release of former Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko from jail, Interfax reported. The protesters accused Potebenko of delaying the investigation of the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, and of ordering Tymoshenko's arrest because of political motives. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEES NO NEED TO DISMISS YUSHCHENKO. President Kuchma told journalists on 16 February that he is not going "to raise the issue" of Premier Viktor Yushchenko's dismissal, Interfax reported. "He is still young. Let him work," Kuchma said about the 46-year-old Yushchenko. Kuchma also said he will veto the recently adopted bill on a proportional party-list system in parliamentary elections. Kuchma noted that the bill contradicts the constitution. JM

IMF WITHHOLDS LOAN TRANCHE TO KYIV. IMF official Thomas Dawson said in Washington last week that "Ukraine will not qualify to receive the next tranche from the IMF as planned for March because the government failed to fulfill its obligations to increase tax payments to the budget in the form of 'cash' from electricity consumers," the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 19 February. Dawson added that the Ukrainian government must also apply more transparent practices in the sale of state-owned property. JM

PUTIN SUPPORTS KUCHMA WITH VISIT... "Izvestiya" on 12 February led the Russian media in declaring that President Vladimir Putin's visit with Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma gave Moscow the best chance since 1991 to derail Ukraine's movement toward the West. Putin clearly hopes to save the politically weakened Kuchma because any future Ukrainian leader, be it pro-Western Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko or socialist Oleksandr Moroz, will be tougher for Moscow to manipulate.

...AND GAINS UKRAINIAN CONCESSIONS. The Russian and Ukrainian presidents signed a series of accords that will tie the two countries more closely together and expand Russian influence, Russian, Ukrainian, and Western media outlets reported on 12 February. Among the agreements are ones concerning "the restoration of integrity of the energy systems of both countries," construction of the bridge over the Kerch Straits between the Crimea peninsula and Russia's Krasnodar Krai, and the delineation of the border in the Azov Sea.

Ustinov, 47, was born in the Far East but has spent most of his professional life in Krasnodar Krai working as a prosecutor, the same profession as his father. His daughter is preparing to follow in his footsteps. He served in the Soviet army from 1972-1974, after which he studied law at university in Kharkov. In 1978, he began a 20-yearlong stint working in differing capacities within the procuracy in Krasnodar Krai. In 1998, the office of the Prosecutor-General was looking for someone to oversee their operations in the North Caucasus, a job in Russia's "war zone" for which there were not many applicants, according to "Profil" on 26 June 2000. Ustinov volunteered, and it was in connection with this promotion that he was given the now famous apartment on Tverskaya Street.

Ustinov's name has routinely been linked with that of the so-called "Family," the coterie of supporters around then President Boris Yeltsin which included Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko and Boris Berezovskii. "Moskovskii komsomolets," which is close to Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, once printed what it claimed was a transcript of a telephone conversation between Berezovskii and Aleksandr Voloshin, the presidential chief of staff. He tells Voloshin that Ustinov "will be completely loyal and keep quiet." In July 1999, Ustinov was named acting Prosecutor-General; some 10 months later he was confirmed in the position by the Federation Council. At the time, some newspapers reported that Putin had wanted to name Dmitrii Kozak, who is currently deputy head of the presidential administration and who, like Putin, also worked for then Leningrad Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. The "Family" was reportedly pulling strings for Ustinov and won in the end. Kozak has never publicly commented on the rumors, according to "Profil."

Ustinov is reportedly a devoted family man and "straight arrow" who never gets drunk and is unlikely to be caught frolicking on film with nude young women as was his predecessor, Yurii Skuratov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 1999). Friends of Ustinov also report that he likes to entertain them with many Ukrainian songs in his pleasant tenor voice, according "Profil" on 26 June 2000. JAC