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MOSCOW OPPOSES PHYSICAL DEMARCATION OF BORDER WITH UKRAINE. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 17 August that Moscow believes that there need not be any physical demarcation of the border between Russia and Ukraine now that the two sides have agreed on the border on maps, RIA-Novosti reported on 17 August. The spokesman said that Moscow believes that the border should help "unite rather than divide" the two countries, and that in any case nothing should be done until there is a formal bilateral treaty on the shared border. VY

THIRTY-SIX UKRAINIAN MINERS KILLED IN METHANE EXPLOSION. A methane explosion killed at least 36 miners in the Zasyadko coal mine in Donetsk on 19 August, Ukrainian and world media reported. At least 10 miners are still missing, and 39 were hospitalized with severe burns. Rescue teams halted their search for survivors due to a fierce fire at the accident site, 1,300 meters underground. In May 1999, a methane explosion in the Zasyadko mine killed 50 miners. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HECKLED AT DIASPORA FORUM. Leonid Kuchma on 18 August addressed the Third World Forum of Ukrainians in Kyiv, which was attended by 300 delegates from the Ukrainian diaspora, 300 delegates from Ukrainian regions, and some 2,500 guests. Dozens of forum participants booed and shouted "Shame!" and "Kuchma, go away!" after the president said he has nothing to do with the disappearance and death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, AP reported. The audience again hissed Kuchma after he began speaking of economic improvements in the country. Kuchma received generous applause after he said Ukrainian should be the country's only official language. Kuchma is rather unpopular with Ukrainians living in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. JM

UKRAINE'S ODESA-BRODY OIL PIPELINE COMPLETED. President Kuchma on 19 August symbolically welded the last connection of the Odesa-Brody pipeline that Ukraine hopes to turn into a major supply route for Caspian oil to European markets. The 667-kilometer pipeline will allow the transportation of 12 million tons of oil annually. Kuchma praised the pipeline's completion as a "great present" for Ukraine's 10th anniversary of independence, which will be celebrated this week. "There is no shorter, more convenient, or cheaper way to transport oil in the region," AP quoted Kuchma as saying. He called for the creation of an international consortium to exploit the Odesa-Brody pipeline. JM

THREE UKRAINIAN PARTIES TO UNITE. The leaders of the Party of Regions, the Popular Democratic Party, and the Labor Ukraine Party -- Mykola Azarov, Valeriy Pustovoytenko, and Serhiy Tyhypko, respectively - - said in a joint statement that they want to unite their organizations in "one powerful party," Ukrainian media reported on 17 August. The statement said the party leaders are confident that the new party "can become the gravitation center for all democratic forces in society." The three leaders also believe that "the new party will become a reliable platform for national unification and will promote further strengthening of freedom and democracy in Ukraine." JM

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL TO CHARGE EX-PREMIER WITH TWO CONTRACT KILLINGS. Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko told the 18 August "Zerkalo nedeli" that he will ask the parliament to agree on instigating criminal proceedings against former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko for ordering the killings of parliamentary deputy Yevhen Scherban in 1996 and of former National Bank Governor Vadym Hetman in 1998. Last week, Potebenko disclosed that a current parliamentary deputy is responsible for those two murders. Lazarenko, who was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 1998, is now in a U.S. prison on charges of money laundering. He is expected to testify in U.S. federal court in September. JM