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RUSSIANS DON'T WANT MOSCOW TO INTERFERE IN UKRAINE'S POLITICAL CRISIS. According to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 24 May, 51 percent of Russians do not want Moscow to get involved in Ukraine's current political crisis, 16 percent say Moscow should support the Ukrainian opposition, and 12 percent say that Moscow should support President Leonid Kuchma. At the same time, however, only 13 percent of the respondents said they trust Kuchma, while 41 percent said that they do not. In response to another question, 72 percent of those polled said that they view Ukraine as another country, with only 8 percent saying that they regret that it is now a foreign one. PG

KREMLIN SAYS WARSAW EXPLOSION A PROVOCATION. The presidential information administration said that an explosion set off in Warsaw near the hotel where Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is staying represented "a provocation" against Russia, Interfax reported. But Russian and Western agencies noted that the "bomb" had been nothing other than the work of police seeking to deal with a suspicious car (see Part II below). Polish officials said there was no trace of Chechen involvement. Kasyanov is in Warsaw to discuss a gas pipeline that would bypass Ukraine. PG

BELGIAN VISA SCANDAL LINKED TO ILLEGAL ARMS FLOWS. Russian security agencies have concluded that the recent visa standoff between Belgium and Russia, in which Brussels briefly suspended issuing visas to Russians, had nothing to do with the propensity of the latter to request asylum, "Vremya novostei" reported on 24 May. Instead, the Belgians took this step after discovering that former KGB agents were organizing the illegal shipment of arms from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine through Belgium and on to Africa and the Balkans. VY

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN NOT PERMITTED TO SUE LUKASHENKA FOR SLANDER. The Minsk City Court has rejected a slander suit by Anatol Lyabedzka, head of the United Civic Party, against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belapan reported on 24 May. In January, Lukashenka suggested on television that Lyabedzka was a foreign spy, saying that he was trained by a Western foundation dealing with espionage. "Our home-grown Lyabedzkas and others were trained for several months or several weeks, all the opposition has been trained [by that foundation]," Lukashenka asserted (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 30 January 2001). The court rejected the suit, arguing that Lukashenka's statement only partly referred to Anatol Lyabedzka. JM

CANDIDATE TO HEAD UKRAINIAN CABINET DISCLOSES PRIORITIES. Anatoliy Kinakh, who was proposed earlier this week by President Leonid Kuchma to head Ukraine's government, has made known which priorities he would follow if approved as prime minister by the parliament, Interfax reported on 24 May. Kinakh told journalists that he would primarily tackle the problems of poverty, tax reform, and energy security. He also said it is necessary "to rethink at a very essential level" the conditions of Ukraine's cooperation with the IMF, but did not provide any details. JM

UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES SAY GONGADZE CASE NOT SOLVED YET. Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov told the parliament on 25 May that his previous statement on the successful outcome of the investigation into the murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze was "premature," Interfax reported. Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko also told the parliament he has "no grounds to state that the killing of Heorhiy Gongadze has been solved." Last week Smyrnov claimed that Gongadze was killed by two criminals who in turn were later murdered (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 22 May 2001). JM

BREAKAWAY REPUBLIC INTRODUCES OWN PASSPORTS. Igor Smirnov, leader of the breakaway "Transdniester Moldovan Republic," has signed a decree replacing Soviet-era passports with documents issued by the separatist authorities. Smirnov's decree was issued on 11 May but was released for publication only on 24 May. Infotag says this means that Smirnov has succeeded in "trapping" Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, who signed an agreement with Smirnov in Tiraspol on 16 May on the mutual recognition of documents issued by the Chisinau and Tiraspol authorities. The new "Transdniester passports" are to be issued in Russian, "Moldovan" (written with Cyrillic characters) and Ukrainian. MS