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KYIV, PRAGUE DISAGREE ON SIZE OF SOVIET-ERA DEBT. Ukrainian =46oreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan held talks in Kyiv on 22 October. Kavan urged Kyiv to repay its Sovietera debt to the Czech Republic, which dates back to a construction accord in 1985. Kavan said the debt should have been repaid by the end of 2000. "Depending on the dollar-hryvnya exchange rate to be used in calculations, we think Ukraine's debt amounts to $200-220 million," STB television quoted Kavan as saying. Meanwhile, Zlenko said the debt stands at $79.8 million, adding that Kyiv is going to pay it with commodities and gas supplies. JM

MOLDOVA'S TRANSDNIESTER LEADER IN KYIV. Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's Transdniester breakaway region, met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 22 October, Interfax reported. "In particular, the presidents of both countries discussed relations between Ukraine and Transdniester in the energy, transport, and humanitarian spheres. Considerable attention was paid to the situation at the Transdniester-Ukraine border as well as to customs issues," Interfax quoted a Transdniester official as saying. The meeting followed last week's visit by Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh to Chisinau, where Moldova and Ukraine failed to sign an expected accord on the introduction of joint customs service posts. JM

=46ORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER REPORTEDLY SUES 'FINANCIAL TIMES.' The "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported on 22 October that former Premier Viktor Yushchenko has sued the "Financial Times" for an article the newspaper published on 5 June 2000. The article, which dealt with then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to Kyiv, mentioned Yushchenko in one paragraph, saying that his government has been a disappointment and recalling that Yushchenko in his former capacity of National Bank governor was accused of mismanaging bank funds. JM

UKRAINIAN CULTURAL CENTER IN MOSCOW FIREBOMBED. Two vandals set fire to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Moscow on 21 October but did little harm, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 23 October. The paper said that the attackers had thrown leaflets criticizing Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and condemning Ukraine for downing the Russian aircraft over the Black Sea with an errant missile. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian media, the paper said, have devoted much attention to the firebombing or explained what it means. PG

NTV TO BE BROADCAST IN UKRAINE. Interfax reported on 23 October that in the near future, a new company -- NTV-Ukraine -- will begin broadcasting the programs of NTV in Ukraine. The creators of NTV-Ukraine believe, the news agency said, that "the creation of a single information space is possible only on the foundation of a civilized approach to the distribution of information which observes all licensing and copyright laws." PG

MINSK COURT TRIES ALLEGED KIDNAPPERS OF ORT JOURNALIST. The Minsk Oblast Court on 24 October began hearing a case against five suspected kidnappers of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, who disappeared in July 2000, Belapan reported. The defendants include Valery Ihnatovich, a former member of the Interior Ministry's special task force Almaz. According to the prosecution, Ihnatovich and his group kidnapped Zavadski in revenge for the newspaper interview he gave revealing that some Almaz commandos had fought against Russian federal troops in Chechnya. Earlier this year, two Belarusian investigators said a government-organized death squad is responsible for the killing of Zavadski and two opposition politicians, Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001). In explaining why the trial of Ihnatovich and his group is being conducted behind closed doors, Judge Heorhiy Khomich told the agency that "[the court wants] to protect the victims and others." JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS STRIKE TO GET MORE STATE SUPPORT. Some 140 coal mines continued their protest for the second day on 23 October by refusing to deliver coal to customers, New Channel television reported. The protest was sparked by what the miners see as a meager state subsidy to the coal sector projected in the 2002 budget draft that is currently before the parliament. A state program named Ukrainian Coal is calling for 6 billion hryvni ($1.13 billion) to the coal sector, while the draft budget envisages only one-third of this sum. "We have practically exhausted all civilized ways. We met the prime minister twice. We were given vague promises that the financing would be reconsidered. But the government has not actually taken any measures," the network quoted a representative of the Trade Union of Coal Industry Employees as saying. JM

KYIV TO FORM GROUP TO WATCH FOR FLIGHT SECURITY. Transport Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 23 October said the government will create an agency, subordinate to the Transport Ministry and coordinated with the International Civil Aviation Organization, to improve civilian air-flight security and investigate air crashes, AP reported. The decision came after Ukrainian air-defense forces were blamed for accidentally downing a Russian Tu-154 plane with an S-200 missile on 4 October. Meanwhile, a representative of the Ukrainian airline Aerosvit told journalists in Kyiv the same day that Ukraine's air-defense troops have always used passenger plane flights for practicing radar targeting, New Channel television reported. The network added that the S-200 is designed in a way that enables it to hit an aircraft only if the aircraft has been targeted by military radar. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER'S DRIVER, BODYGUARD FOUND DEAD. Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch's driver Pavlo Poterayko was found dead in a Kyiv park on 22 October, Interfax reported on 24 October. Later the same day and in the same park, a police patrol detained an apparently intoxicated man who turned out to be Plyushch's bodyguard Oleksandr Sklyar. Sklyar asked the patrol to call for an ambulance but died before it arrived. Deputy speaker Viktor Medvedchuk told the parliament on 24 October that, according to an official statement by the Interior Ministry, both men died of heart problems. JM

UKRAINIAN TV AVAILABLE IN RUSSIA VIA INTERNET. On 23 October in Moscow, the information service and the information center presented their joint Internet project that makes it possible for Russian audiences to watch Ukraine's leading TV networks UT-1, UT-2, Inter, STB, One Plus One, and ICTV in real time on the Internet. "For the first time, Ukrainian television can be watched all over the Russian Federation," UNIAN quoted Gleb Pavlovskii, the project leader and director of Russia's Effective Politics Center, as saying. JM