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RUSSIAN MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY NOW PUT AT 55.5 YEARS. Citing a report by the RBK agency, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 10 October that the average life expectancy for Russian men is now 55.5 years. That figure is less than the 67.2 years in the U.S. but is in the mid-range of member states of the CIS, slightly lower than in Ukraine and slightly higher than in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The same day, Interfax-Moscow reported that during the first nine months of 2001, there were almost twice as many deaths -- 99,000 -- in Moscow as births -- 57,000 -- there. PG

RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY MEETS WITH KYRGYZ PRESIDENT. Vladimir Rushailo flew from Dushanbe to Bishkek late on 9 October and met the following day with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev to discuss the possible repercussions on the security situation in Central Asia of the ongoing U.S.-led strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk also attended that meeting. Rushailo told journalists after the talks that if the security situation in Central Asia deteriorates, more troops from the CIS rapid reaction force should be sent to the region. He also said that he and Akaev have succeeded in resolving the problems connected with financing the Bishkek branch of the CIS antiterrorist center. The center's current most important task, Rushailo said, is to monitor the situation in Afghanistan. LF

UKRAINE STRENGTHENS EASTERN BORDER TO STOP ILLEGAL MIGRANTS... Kyiv has beefed up security at the UkrainianRussian border in easternmost Luhansk Oblast, in anticipation of an influx of illegal migrants from Afghanistan and neighboring countries, Interfax reported on 10 October. Ukraine's Border Guards are to establish border checkpoints every 25-30 kilometers along the frontier in that region. The same day, Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said he does not rule out the possibility of terrorists infiltrating Ukraine and committing terrorist acts, UNIAN reported. According to Zlenko, the antiterrorist action of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan may increase the number of refugees and illegal migrants in Ukraine as well as breed anti-American sentiments among Ukraine's Muslims and anti-Islamic sentiments among ethnic Ukrainians. JM

... EXTENDS NO-FLY ZONE OVER CHORNOBYL. Vitaliy Tolstonohov, the general director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, said on 10 October that in the event that any planes appear in the sky above the Chornobyl area without warning it will be regarded as a terrorist act, New Channel television reported. He added that closed airspace has now been extended far beyond the 30-kilometer zone around the Chornobyl plant. "The flights of any aircraft over the Chornobyl plant zone are prohibited, and I think that the air-defense forces will have sufficient time to see to it that this plane is downed," Tolstonohov said. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS GAS DEBT ACCORD WITH RUSSIA BASED ON EQUAL TERMS. Anatoliy Kinakh on 10 October said the recent gas debt accord with Russia (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 9 October 2001) sets a new stage of Ukrainian-Russian cooperation in the energy sector on equal terms. Kinakh stressed that Ukraine managed to secure advantageous terms for re-exporting Russian gas to Europe, on which Russia had initially planned to impose a "draconian" duty, Inter television reported. "The size of the duty is no longer fixed. Ukraine and Russia will determine the terms and amounts of natural gas likely to be exported from our territory, taking into account prevailing market conditions, the level of stability on the natural gas market in Europe and the availability of resources," Kinakh said. JM

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL WANTS RESIGNATIONS OVER PLANE CRASH. Deputy parliamentary speaker Viktor Medvedchuk on 11 October suggested that Ukraine's top military leaders who are responsible for the recent crash of a Russian airliner over the Black Sea should resign, Interfax reported. Medvedchuk said he expects that those responsible for the crash "will find courage to tender their resignations under the officers' code of honor." Medvedchuk's statement signals that Kyiv is apparently preparing to admit its guilt for downing the Russian airliner with a stray missile. Meanwhile, President Kuchma said the same day that he has refused to accept the resignation of Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk over the crash. Without providing any specific date, Kuchma said Kuzmuk tendered his resignation "immediately." JM

MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS PREPARATIONS FOR ROMANIAN COUNTERPART'S VISIT CONTINUE. Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said on 10 October that his government has never received an "official confirmation" from Bucharest that Premier Nastase has canceled his participation on 18 October in the planned trilateral meeting with Tarlev and Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh, and that consequently Moldova is continuing with its preparations for the visit, Romanian radio reported. Tarlev also said it would be "unproductive" to move the focus of Moldovan-Romanian relations from the economic to the political realm. Also on 10 October, Greater Romania Party Senator Ilie Ilascu said in Chisinau that he disagrees with the Romanian government's position and "invectives." Ilascu said that "in previous years, the Moldovan authorities made no less ridiculous statements, but Bucharest never responded to them as toughly as this time around." He commented: "I guess that the [Moldovan] Communist, pro-Moscow leadership, simply set out a bait, and Bucharest swallowed it," Infotag reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SEES 'NO POINT IN JOINING RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION NOW.' President Vladimir Voronin, in an interview with the Kyiv daily "Fakty," on 10 October said that "for now" he can see no point in joining the Russia-Belarus Union, Infotag reported. Voronin said the union is "more words than deeds." He added that Moldova "will be where it is to its advantage to be" and said Chisinau is willing to join the CIS Customs Union provided Ukraine also does so. Moldova, Voronin said, has "historically always looked East." Voronin said that his main aim since his election as president has been to dispel fears that his Party of Moldovan Communists intend to restore the previous political system. "I have met with the presidents of 24 European and Asian countries [since my election], and everybody saw that Voronin has neither a tail, nor hooves," he commented. MS