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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS 2002 DRAFT BUDGET. The cabinet on 5 September endorsed a 2002 draft budget, setting revenues at 57.1 billion hryvni ($10.7 billion) and spending at 61.3 billion hryvni, Interfax reported. The budget deficit is equal to 1.7 percent of Ukraine's GDP. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov explained that, in contrast to this year's zero-deficit budget, the 2002 budget has a deficit because privatization receipts are no longer included in budget revenues. Next year's privatization income is projected to be 5.8 billion hryvni. The government plans to direct 52 percent of budget spending for social programs, increase wages for state workers by 15 percent, and keep the tax burden below 18 percent of the country's GDP. The document also provides for the spending of $400 million to pay off Ukraine's foreign debt. JM

UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER WARNS OPPOSITION OVER ANNIVERSARY OF JOURNALIST'S MURDER. Yuriy Smyrnov told Interfax on 5 September that the police will react with "tough measures" if the opposition resorts to "provocation" during its actions on 15-16 September to mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. "I do not want another 60 of our employees to suffer for nothing," Smyrnov added, referring to scuffles between riot police and demonstrators on 9 March. The antipresidential National Salvation Forum intends to hold a march commemorating Gongadze in Kyiv on 15 September. The following day, Ukrainian journalists plan to gather in Kyiv and set up an Journalistic Ethics Commission in order to react to defamatory media campaigning in the upcoming parliamentary elections. JM

TRANSDNIESTER SUSPENDS NEGOTIATIONS WITH CHISINAU. The Transdniester Supreme Soviet on 5 September decide to "suspend" negotiations with Chisinau in response to what it called the "Moldovan customs blockade," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The separatists' "foreign minister" was cited by ITAR-TASS as saying, "We will agree to resume the dialogue only after the problem has been solved with the help of the guarantors -- Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE." In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 5 September, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said the separatist leadership is "seeking any pretext to dodge the Moldovan leadership's proposal to grant the Transdniester a special status." Voronin said this status would satisfy residents on both sides of Dniester River and preserve everybody's rights. He said that "there is no economic blockade of the Transdniester region," and explained that new custom seals were introduced as a result of Moldova's accession to the World Trade Organization. This "caused a painful reaction" in Tiraspol because its leaders "will no longer be able to carry out illegal operations which earned them up to $1 billion," Voronin said. MS

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT. Visiting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, addressing the Bulgarian parliament on 5 September, said that although his country is "today" not considering admission to NATO, it believes that "every state has the right to decide for itself" on the matter, international agencies reported. Kuchma said Ukraine views NATO enlargement as "the expansion of stability and strengthening of democracy on the European continent" and added: "I would like to congratulate Bulgaria for its choice of foreign policy priorities, which include NATO membership, and to wish Bulgaria success at the [2002] NATO summit." He also said Bulgaria and Ukraine "share the common goal" of achieving EU integration. MS