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SMALL PLANE CRASHES IN TVER. An Il-18 airplane crashed in Tver Oblast on 19 November, killing 25 passengers and seven crew members, according to the next day. The flight originated in Khatanga in Taimyr Autonomous Okrug and was headed for Moscow. The Defense Ministry has denied that the plane went down because it was hit by an errant missile, as happened last month when a Ukrainian missile knocked down a Tu-154 airliner, according to Interfax. Viktor Osipov, head of the Krasnoyarsk regional directorate for air transport, said on the morning of 20 November that investigators have not yet ruled out terrorism as a cause, according to RIA-Novosti. JAC

KUCHMA APPOINTS NEW ENERGY MINISTER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Vitaliy Hayduk as the country's new fuel and energy minister, Ukrainian media reported on 20 November. Hayduk served as deputy fuel and energy minister from January 2000 to April 2001. "I do not think this is the right moment for reforms. We must stabilize the situation and guarantee that the country will live through the winter normally and there will be light and heating in every home," Inter television quoted Hayduk as saying. JM

RESIDENCE REGISTRATION DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL IN UKRAINE. The Constitutional Court on 20 November ruled that the Interior Ministry's regulations requiring that citizens obtain residence permits from and register their places of residence with relevant Interior Ministry visa and registration departments run counter to the Ukrainian Constitution, Interfax reported. The Constitutional Court's ruling, which is binding and not subject to appeal, came in response to a motion by some 50 lawmakers who argued that the constitution guarantees the freedom of movement for all citizens. The obligatory registration of the population is one vestige of the Soviet era, and Ukrainian regulations in this regard are based on Soviet norms dating back to 1974. JM

UKRAINE DENIES SUPPLYING LABS TO TERRORISTS. The Foreign Ministry has denied allegations of Ukraine's involvement in supplying laboratory equipment that could be used by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda to make chemical and/or biological weapons, UNIAN reported on 20 November. The denial came in response to media reports alleging that three laboratories that could be used for producing such weapons were transported from Ukraine to Afghanistan in 1999. JM

UKRAINE, BELARUS ARE RUSSIA'S TOP TRADE PARTNERS IN CIS. Ukraine has become Russia's top trading partner in the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 November. Russia's trade turnover with Ukraine was up 12 percent to $6.9 billion in the first nine months of 2001, compared with the same period last year. Russia's trade turnover with Belarus was worth $6.8 billion in January-September 2001. JM

VORONIN HAILS CIS, RULES OUT NATO MEMBERSHIP. Visiting Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said in Moscow on 20 November that 10 years after its establishment, the CIS has proved its necessity. He added that he expects the results of the past decade will make it possible to map "future plans for integration" at the organization's Moscow summit set for 30 November. Voronin was less enthusiastic about GUUAM (the organization consists of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova), saying that membership in it "does not promise much for Moldova." Voronin said Moldova has no intention of joining NATO because it "does not plan to intimidate anyone," and added that NATO must be modernized, because "its goals have changed since the times of the USSR." Voronin met on 20 November with Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who said the Moscow mayoralty intends to invest in Moldovan wineries and in the planned Giurgiulesti oil terminal. MS