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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

MOSCOW HAS NO INFORMATION ABOUT U.S. SUPPORT FOR UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION PRESS. In response to a Duma inquiry, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it does not have any information that the United States is financing the opposition press in Ukraine, Interfax reported. The ministry said that American and European officials have talked about the creation of a Fund for the Development of Ukrainian Mass Media to which Washington has contributed $750,000. PG

GAZPROM SAID EXPORTING CAPITAL TO UKRAINE. According to an article in "Vremya MN" on 20 June, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has been exporting Russian banking capital to the Ukraine. The paper said that much of the money was exported during the time when current Russian Ambassador to Kyiv Viktor Chernomyrdin was Gazprom head in the early 1990s. PG

RUSSIA REGAINS CONTROL OF SEVASTOPOL HARBORS. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on 20 June that Russia is again in charge of the inner and outer harbors of Sevastopol, RIA-Novosti reported. Ukrainian officials were formerly in control of both. Ivanov's comments came after his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kuzmuk. The two men also agreed to modernize the Black Sea Fleet and reduce its size, Interfax-Ukraine and "Izvestiya" reported on 20 June. VY

PARLIAMENT SAYS UKRAINE HAS NOT BECOME DEMOCRACY YET. The Ukrainian legislature on 20 June held hearings devoted to the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the country's constitution, Interfax reported. In a draft document including conclusions from the hearings, lawmakers said Ukraine has so far failed to fulfill the main constitutional tenet of becoming a democratic country ruled by law. The document also noted that human rights in Ukraine are violated on a mass scale. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT NOTES EU'S 'UNAMBIGUOUSLY POSITIVE SIGNAL.' Leonid Kuchma on 20 June said the EU made an "unambiguously positive signal" with regard to Kyiv for the first time in Ukraine's 10 years of independence, Interfax reported. Kuchma was commenting on his meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson in Kyiv, who told the Ukrainian leader that the recent EU summit in Goteborg decided to offer Ukraine broader political cooperation. Kuchma added that he assured Persson of Ukraine's determination "to follow the path of European choice." JM

UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATORS CHARGE 19 PEOPLE OVER ANTIPRESIDENTIAL RIOTS. The Security Service of Ukraine has concluded its investigation into the antipresidential protest on 9 March and charged 19 people with the organization of and participation in mass disorders that led to many injuries among both protesters and police officers, Interfax reported on 20 June. The 19 people, who are currently under arrest, face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty in court. Those arrested include Andriy Shkil, the leader of the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense. JM

CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS RESORT TO FISTICUFFS OVER PROPOSED OUSTER OF PREMIER. Crimean Premier Serhiy Kunitsyn on 20 June refused to report to the legislature of the Crimean Autonomous Republic on the performance of his cabinet, saying that he delivered such a report earlier this year, Interfax and the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. In response, 55 lawmakers in the 100-seat Crimean legislature endorsed an appeal to Ukrainian President Kuchma to dismiss Kunitsyn. The voting was preceded and followed by turmoil and fistfights among Kunitsyn's opponents and supporters. The peninsula's Acting Deputy Premier Oleksandr Ryabkov and Acting Economy Minister Hennadiy Hovorushchenko were injured while Kunitsyn, who remained seated during the fracas, left the session hall unscathed. "Unfortunately, our parliament is no exception to [such practices characteristic of] all parliaments of the world," Crimea's parliamentary speaker Leonid Hrach commented on the incident. JM

THOUSANDS OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX PROTEST PAPAL VISIT. Some 3,000 Orthodox believers as well as priests and nuns staged a march in Kyiv on 21 June, protesting Pope John Paul II's trip to Ukraine that will take place from 23-27 June, Reuters reported. Participants in the peaceful march, mostly elderly women, carried icons and banners reading "No to the Pope's Visit to Ukraine", "Orthodoxy or Death," and "Defend Orthodoxy from the Pope, Forerunner of the Anti-Christ." "The pope plans to stage a show and pray at stadiums to blind the Ukrainian people. During his visit we will pray to be saved from the Catholic evil," the agency quoted protest organizer Valentyn Lukyanyk as saying. The pope's visit is opposed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, while leaders of the two other Orthodox churches in Ukraine announced that they will meet with the pontiff in Kyiv. JM

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS POWELL. Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz, currently visiting the United States, on 20 June told journalists at RFE/RL's Washington bureau that he met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Cernomaz said they discussed the problem of human- and drug-trafficking from Moldova to Western Europe and that Powell told him he will ask the EU to help Moldova cope with those problems. Cernomaz said much of the trafficking originates from Ukraine. MS