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Dmitrii Nikolaevich Kozak, 42, is perhaps best known for not being named Russia's prosecutor-general. Last May, according to a variety of sources, President Putin had reportedly signed a decree naming Kozak as prosecutorgeneral. But Putin was then reportedly persuaded by presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin to sign and release another decree naming then acting ProsecutorGeneral Vladimir Ustinov to the post. Voloshin was allegedly acting on behalf of Boris Berezovskii, who was close to Ustinov. "Segodnya" reported at the time that Voloshin was not sure that Kozak would drop investigations of Aeroflot financing and alleged kickbacks from the Swiss firm Mabetex to top Kremlin officials. When asked about the incident in an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 12 February, Kozak offered a different explanation. He said that Ustinov was named to the position because he, Kozak, didn't want it.

If true, that might be the first time Kozak has rejected an offer from Vladimir Putin. According to "In the First Person," a book of interviews with Putin, Putin takes credit for persuading Kozak to stay in the city government of St. Petersburg after Mayor Anatolii Sobchak was defeated in 1996. According to an article about Kozak in "Profil" of 5 June 2000, Kozak did not expect to last with the city's new head Vladimir Yakovlev for more than six months. However, he wound up staying two and a half years -- despite trying to resign on three separate occasions.

In addition to serving under Mayor Sobchak at the same time, Kozak and Putin attended the same law school, Leningrad State University, although Kozak completed his studies in 1985, some ten years after Putin. Some six years younger than Putin, Kozak was born in 1958 in the Kirovograd Oblast of Ukraine. After law school, Kozak worked as an assistant prosecutor in Leningrad until 1989. He then worked briefly at the Association of Marine Trading Ports. In 1990, Anatolii Sobchak, who was then chairman of the city council, asked him to serve on the legal department of the executive committee of the Leningrad City Soviet. When Sobchak became mayor, Kozak was appointed chairman of the city administration's judicial committee, according to "Profil". In this capacity, he checked the legality of several deals put together by the first deputy mayor at that time, Vladimir Putin, such as the privatization of the Baltic Sea Steamship Line and the hotel Astoria.

In May 1999, Putin intervened in Kozak's life again, asking him to come to Moscow. He was to serve as a deputy head of the presidential administration, but when Putin was named prime minister two months later, Kozak got the job of head of the governmental apparatus. About a year later, Voloshin again reportedly interfered in his career by making sure that Kozak was replaced with Igor Shuvalov, the former head of the Federal Property Fund and a close Voloshin ally. Kozak was transferred to the position of deputy head of the presidential administration responsible for legal questions. It has been in this position that Kozak has focused on judicial reform. With the ProsecutorGeneral' s office already making strong public
pronouncements against the judicial reform package, Kozak may find that he butts heads with Voloshin or one of his allies again.

DUMA DELEGATION EXPLORES TIES WITH UKRAINE. A Duma delegation lead by Unity deputy Sergei Apatenko is in Kyiv to consult with Ukrainian parliamentarians who have set up a parliamentary group "For the Union of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia," ITAR-TASS reported on 16 March. The Ukrainian effort currently unites 60 members of the Verkhovna Rada. PG

MOSCOW RESTRICTS CERTAIN IMPORTS. The Russian government has imposed new and higher duties on the importing of Ukrainianproduced pipes as an antidumping measure, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 March. Meanwhile, the State Customs Committee also imposed new restrictions on imports from Asian countries, some of whose companies have sought to avoid Russian customs, the Russian agency reported on 17 March. Companies from these countries will no longer be able to send their products to Russia via the Baltic states and Europe. PG

GEORGIA, ABKHAZ AGAIN ABJURE USE OF VIOLENCE... At the close of the 15-16 March talks in Yalta between Georgian and Abkhaz government delegations, Georgian State Minister Gia Arsenishvili and Abkhaz Premier Vyacheslav Tsugba signed yet another undertaking to abjure the use of force in seeking to resolve the Abkhaz conflict, and asking the UN, the OSCE, and the CIS to act as guarantors of a nonresumption of hostilities, Reuters and Caucasus Press reported. The two sides earlier signed such pledges in May 1998 and August 2000. Arsenishvili and Tsugba also pledged to expedite the return to their homes in Abkhazia of Georgian displaced persons who fled during the 1992-1993 fighting, and empowered Russian peacekeepers, who since 1994 have been deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia under the CIS aegis, to intervene to curtail any future outbreak of hostilities. UN Special Representative Dieter Boden said the program of confidence-building measures agreed on during the talks "should assist in achieving...a complete peaceful solution of the conflict," while Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko said the talks "justified our expectations," AP and ITAR-TASS reported. LF

UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER FIRED? Yuriy Karmazin, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, told journalists on 19 March that President Leonid Kuchma on 17 March dismissed Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, Interfax reported. A report by ITAR-TASS on 17 March also alleged that Kravchenko was dismissed. The Presidential Administration Office said it has no information about Kravchenko's sacking. Kuchma is currently on a short vacation in the Crimean peninsula. Kravchenko's ouster is one of the key demands of the "Ukraine Without Kuchma" movement. Kuchma's opponents blame Kravchenko for the murder of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Meanwhile, according to an official report, Kuchma appointed Mykola Humynskyy as deputy head of the Security Service and Serhiy Kyslov as deputy head of the State Protection Directorate. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF GONGADZE CASE. Viktor Yushchenko on 16 March called for a thorough investigation into the murder of Gongadze, Interfax reported. Yushchenko added that he does not believe President Kuchma ordered Gongadze to be killed. "Morally, I cannot assume that the country's president may somehow be involved in Heorhiy Gongadze's disappearance. It would be a tragedy for me," Yushchenko said. JM

U.S. AMBASSADOR CRITICIZES UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES, OPPOSITION. Carlos Pascual on 16 March criticized the actions of both opposition demonstrators and the authorities during violent protests in Kyiv on 9 March. "The events on 9 March were disappointing from all sides. The challenge for Ukraine's authorities is to give the people confidence that they can express dissent without fear of violent repression. Peaceful action is also very important on the part of demonstrators and restraint is also required [on their part]," AP quoted Pascual as saying. Pascual spoke after presenting a new $750,000 media development fund in Ukraine, a two-year project sponsored by the U.S. to encourage an independent press. The fund is aimed at improving the legal, administrative and tax environment for Ukrainian media, expanding the use of the Internet, improving professional standards among journalists, and providing direct grant support for Ukrainian media and nongovernmental organizations. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS STAGE ANTI-GOVERNMENT MARCH IN DONETSK. Some 3,000 mostly elderly people took part in a march organized by the Communist Party in Donetsk on 17 March, Reuters reported. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yushchenko, as well as forging closer ties between Ukraine and Russia. Some 350 people participated in a similar rally in Dnipropetrovsk the same day, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko told a 17 March conference of lawmakers from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia that only a union of those three countries will help Ukraine "overcome the misery which we find ourselves in and avoid new threats." JM

ANOTHER RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT DEFECTS. The Russian Embassy in Panama said that it had told local officials about the disappearance of its cultural attache, Igor Dereichuk, two weeks ago, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 March. But Dereichuk's relatives in Kyiv said that he has told them that he simply does not want to work for the Russian Foreign Ministry any longer. Dereichuk is the third Russian diplomat to break with Moscow in this way in the last six months, following Sergei Tretyakov's departure from the United Nations and a still unnamed officer who left his post in Ottawa.