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RABINOVICH CONFIRMS HE'LL BUY GUSINSKY NTV SHARES. Vladimir Rabinovich, the head of the All-Ukraine Jewish Congress, has confirmed that he will seek to acquire NTV shares held by Gusinsky's Media-MOST group, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 24 April. In other media moves, Interfax reported the same day that negotiations are taking place to sell the controlling share of stock in Ekho Moskvy to the staff of that radio station. PG

RUSSIA STILL SUFFERS FROM CHORNOBYL DISASTER. Two days before the 15th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear power disaster, Russian health officials said on 24 April that 2.65 million Russians live in the zone contaminated by that nuclear accident, Interfax reported. The officials noted that 184,175 Russians had been exposed to radiation during the cleanup operations in 1986. Russian surveys show, the officials said, that there are still some regions, including 300 population centers in Bryansk Oblast, where radiation remains high. PG

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT... The parliament on 24 April voted by 306 to 10 to postpone the no-confidence vote on Premier Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet by two days, thus changing its decision to hold that vote the same day. Yushchenko will be given 15 minutes on 26 April to make a statement in the parliament and another 15 minutes to answer questions from legislators. The parliament on 24 April spent hours in a heated debate that featured scuffles, while some 1,500 people outside the parliamentary building demonstrated in support of the premier. Yushchenko's supporters from right-wing caucuses blocked the parliamentary rostrum for a long time, preventing Communist Party and "oligarchic" lawmakers from taking the floor. Yuriy Kostenko, leader of the Ukrainian Popular Rukh, commented that "the large-scale action by oligarchs and communists to discredit Yushchenko's government is increasingly acquiring traits of a state coup," the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported. JM

...EXCLUDES TWO LAWMAKERS FROM SESSIONS FOR FIVE DAYS. Also on 24 April, the parliament voted to exclude lawmaker Oleksandr Charodeyev of the Yabluko group from participating in the current parliamentary session for the next five days. The action was taken as punishment for Charodeyev's "insulting Premier Viktor Yushchenko, speaker Ivan Plyushch, and all the Ukrainian people," Interfax reported. Charodeyev told the session that Yushchenko's supporters outside the parliament are "idiots gathered on squares in western Ukraine" and suggested that they might quit the demonstration if they were "paid for three days." Charodeyev also noted that Plyushch should be "simply killed" for his attempts last week to postpone the noconfidence vote on the cabinet. And Charodeyev said Ukraine's coat of arms (Trident) is a "pagan symbol." The parliament also imposed a penalty similar to that of Charodeyev's on Mykhaylo Ratushnyy of the Rukh caucus, who used a megaphone to shout down First Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Viktor Medvedchuk and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko during the 24 April session. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SEES 'NO TRAGEDY' IN CURRENT CRISIS. Yushchenko said in Athens on 24 April that the current political developments in Kyiv are "not a tragedy," AP reported. "From this political crisis one can emerge without using force, using only democratic methods, and through political dialogue," he noted. Commenting on the impending noconfidence vote on his cabinet, Yushchenko said: "I'm sure that we are witnessing an attempt to replace the course of reforms [adopted by] the president, the Ukrainian authorities, and the government with something else that has not yet been specified or presented in public." Yushchenko said the current alliance between the radical leftists and the "oligarchic caucuses" in the parliament is "unnatural" and has no prospects, Interfax reported. JM

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES BRUSSELS NOT TO QUIT KYIV. Speaking before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the European Parliament in Brussels on 24 April, Anatoliy Zlenko appealed to the EU to continue offering support to Ukraine despite "the difficult political situation" in his country, PAP reported. Zlenko noted that Kyiv wants to be treated by Brussels as a "potential EU candidate at some moment in the future." He warned against separating Ukrainians from the EU by a strict visa regime and appealed for more "flexible" visa regulations between Ukraine and EU candidate countries -- particularly Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. Zlenko pledged that the Ukrainian authorities will conduct a "transparent and open investigation" into the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, adding that the Prosecutor-General's Office has so far procrastinated and "made mistakes" in this case. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE FEELS GOOD. Leonid Kuchma said in Vilnius on 24 April that he feels himself to be "strong physically, morally, and politically," Interfax reported. Kuchma also expressed his surprise at the West's stance on the latest developments in Ukraine: "I do not understand and cannot understand why all those past years the West thought that Ukraine was marching along a democratic path, and all of a sudden this appraisal has become the opposite." JM