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BELARUS, UKRAINE MARK CHORNOBYL DISASTER ANNIVERSARY. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 26 April went to visit radiation-hit areas in Homel Oblast to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the explosion at Ukraine's Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Top Ukrainian officials, including President Leonid Kuchma, Premier Viktor Yushchenko, and Parliamentary Speaker Ivan Plyushch laid flowers at the memorial grave of Chornobyl heroes and at the monument to the servicemen who were involved in helping with the cleanup in the aftermath of the disaster. The Belarusian opposition is expected to hold a Chornobyl commemoration rally in Minsk later in the day. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT... The parliament on 26 April voted by 263 to 69 with 24 abstentions to approve a Communist-sponsored resolution accusing Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet of failing to improve the economy and leading the country to ruin. The parliament needed 226 votes to pass a no-confidence motion. Apart from the Communist Party caucus, the motion was supported by lawmakers from the Labor Ukraine, Social Democratic Party (United), Democratic Union, Ukraine's Regions, Greens, Popular Democratic Party, and Yabluko parliamentary groups, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported. The constitution requires the premier to hand his resignation to the president. Yushchenko's cabinet will become a caretaker government for a maximum 60 days, until a new government is formed. Some 10,000 Yushchenko's supporters gathered by noon in front of the parliament. "I will continue my fight. I am quitting in order to be back," Yushchenko told the crowd after the vote. JM

...DESPITE PREMIER'S CONCILIATORY PROPOSALS. Speaking to the parliament before the vote, Yushchenko proposed to introduce a two-month moratorium on hostile political actions and to jointly form a "powerful team of like-minded people." Yushchenko added: "We propose that the parliamentary majority put forward the candidacies of those deputies who should be included in central power bodies." Asked about which party he will join following his ouster, Yushchenko said: "I'm a democrat by nature, and I will support Ukrainian democracy." JM

SLOVAK HIGH COURT UPHOLDS DECISION TO HALT PROSECUTION OF SUSPECTED DUCKY ASSASSIN. Slovakia's Supreme Court on 25 April upheld a November 2000 decision by the Bratislava regional court to halt the prosecution of Ukrainian Oleg Tkhoryk, CTK and AP reported. Tkhoryk was suspected of having murdered former Economy Minister Jan Ducky in early 1999. Ducky was a prominent member of Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. The Bratislava court said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a doubt that Tkhoryk was Ducky's assassin but the Prosecutor-General's Office appealed that decision. Ducky was economy minister in Meciar's second (1992-94) and third (1994-98) cabinets and later became head of the Slovensky plynarensky priemysel (SPP) gas utility, one of Slovakia's most profitable state companies. He was dismissed as SPP head by the Mikulas Dzurinda cabinet, which launched an investigation into possible illicit deals by Ducky. MS

MOSCOW TO BACK UKRAINE AT PACE SESSION. Federation Council chairman Stroev said that the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will support Ukraine against efforts to suspend or expel it because of Kyiv's media policies, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

RUSSIANS DIVIDED ON HONORING STOLYPIN. Russian politicians are divided on a proposal by film director Nikita Mikhalkov to honor tsaristera Prime Minister Petr Stolypin and to move his body from Kyiv to Saratov, Russian agencies reported on 25 April. Unity leaders Sergei Shoigu and Lyubov Sliska said they were very much in favor of the move, but Communist leader Zyuganov said that he is opposed because of Stolypin's role in privatizing land and his use of field court martials against revolutionaries and others. Meanwhile, writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that Stolypin was "the greatest statesman of Russia of the 19th century," Interfax reported the same day. PG

RUSSIANS FEAR ANOTHER CHORNOBYL POSSIBLE. According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 25 April, 77 percent of Russians consider it likely that there will be another Chornobyl type nuclear power plant accident sometime in the next several years. The poll was released on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the explosion and fire at that atomic energy station. PG