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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR CHANGES. In a "Manifesto of Democratic Forces" published on 21 August, the National Salvation Forum, the Ukraine Without Kuchma civic committee, and the For the Truth civic committee called on Ukrainians to fight for a democratic Ukraine and to change the country's power system, Interfax reported. The opposition said it is both "proud and worried" ahead of the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's independence on 24 August. "Despite the bright hopes of millions of citizens for the building of a democratic country and affluent society, we received a totalitarian state whose top authorities have, de facto, put the nation outside the law," the opposition's manifesto reads. Socialist Party leader Moroz said the same day that opposition groups have abandoned plans for an alternative Independence Day parade and street concerts and called on the authorities to limit "pompous" festivities. JM

POLAND, FRANCE, GERMANY WANT UKRAINE IN EUROPE. Ahead of the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's independence, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland have sent a joint letter to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Polish and Ukrainian media reported on 21 August. The letter underscores Ukraine's importance as a European country and expresses support for Ukraine's efforts toward rapprochement with European structures. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WON'T SEEK THIRD TERM. Leonid Kuchma has told the "The Washington Times" that he will not seek a third term in office, although some political forces have urged him to use a loophole in the country's constitution to do so. "I ran for president again because I saw there was nobody else to lead the nation. I will retire at the end of my term [in 2004]," the 22 August issue of the newspaper quoted Kuchma as saying. Kuchma confessed that he would like to see centrist forces come to power after next year's parliamentary elections in Ukraine. He said he will not support any specific individuals for the parliament, nor did he indicate his choice for a successor. JM

'SECRET ARMS SUPPLIES FOR MACEDONIA.' This is the headline of an article in "The Times" on 22 August. It notes that "huge planeloads of arms from Ukraine and Russia are being delivered secretly at night to Petrovec airport in...Macedonia as part of a buildup of arms by the government, according to [unnamed] Western defense sources." The article adds that the Macedonian security forces are not expected to disarm as the UCK is, and they are "rapidly increasing its stockpile of weapons." Ukraine, which is a major arms supplier to Macedonia, had promised the U.S. to "consider suspending" its arms deliveries during peace negotiations, "but since the settlement was signed, giant Antonov transport planes have been spotted landing at night at Petrovec" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 July 2001). PM