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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

GERMANY PLEDGES TO SUPPORT UKRAINE'S INTEGRATION INTO EUROPE. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in Kyiv on 6 December that Germany will support Ukraine's efforts to become an associate member of the EU. "Now it's the task for Ukraine's government to take corresponding measures and reach an agreement with the European Commission, and Germany will support it," AP quoted Schroeder as saying. "Ukraine's entry to the EU will not happen during my presidency or the next. I have only one desire: that we make an effort to become an associate member during my term," Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said. Both sides signed an agreement on restructuring Ukraine's $296 million debt to Germany, which is part of a deal reached by Kyiv earlier this year with the Paris Club of creditor countries. Schroeder was the first top Western leader to visit Kyiv since the murder of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in September 2000, for which the opposition has blamed Kuchma and other government officials. JM

CRIMEAN NEWSPAPER PROBED FOR ANTI-SEMITIC PUBLICATION. The Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has launched criminal proceedings against the "Russkii Krym" newspaper in Simferopol in connection with anti-Semitic material it has published, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on 6 December. Prosecutor Oleksandr Dobroriz said a motion will soon be submitted to court to ban the newspaper. An RFE/RL correspondent reported that "Russkii Krym," which is published by the Russian Movement of Crimea, carried an article that claimed to reveal "tricks of the Jews and their ominous role in the contemporary fate of the Russian people." The proceedings against "Russkii Krym," which were initiated under the Criminal Code provision that prohibits stirring up interethnic enmity, is the first criminal case against a media outlet in Crimea. JM

POLISH RADICAL AGRARIANS WARN AGAINST 'SOCIAL EXPLOSION.' The parliamentary caucus of the Self-Defense radical farmers union has sent a letter to President Aleksander Kwasniewski, saying that the creation of an alliance against Self-Defense would only add to spreading corruption and poverty in Poland, and could also provoke an "uncontrollable social explosion," PAP reported on 6 December. The letter was a response to Kwasniewski's appeal to Self-Defense to break with its firebrand populist leader Andrzej Lepper's policies, and to Kwasniewski's threat to form an anti-Self-Defense coalition if the union fails to improve its behavior (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 December 2001). Prosecutors are currently investigating Lepper's allegations of corruption with regard to five prominent politicians (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 4 December 2001). Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General Barbara Piwnik said she will submit the motion to the Sejm to lift Lepper's parliamentary immunity if the prosecutors conclude that his allegations were slanderous. JM

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH SMIRNOV. Vladimir Voronin on 6 December told Russian journalists in Chisinau that he is halting negotiations with separatist leader Igor Smirnov, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Voronin said that after four meetings with Smirnov he has come to understand that "nothing can come out of those discussions." He said talks on seeking a solution to the Transdniester conflict will continue with the Russian and Ukrainian mediators, and that "sooner or later the problem will be settled, but without Smirnov." Voronin also said he "categorically excludes" any forceful solution to the conflict, and that "while Moldova does not have a single tank, the Transdniester has 18." He also said he has "just signed a decree" reducing the army by 3,000 men. "We are not going to fight the Transdniester, as we have other priorities. Corruption and crime are our chief enemies," he said. In related news, the State Duma, acting on a request by Voronin to Russian President Vladimir Putin, decided not to send observers to the Transdniester "presidential" elections on 9 December. MS