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KUCHMA WORRIES OVER GROWTH FORECAST (21 December) Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma expressed concern over the government's forecast for 6 percent economic growth for 2002. He worries that the global economic slowdown will hit exporters, the backbone of his country's recovery. "We cannot deceive our people every year. We have to have honest figures," Kuchma was quoted as saying by local media. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expected growth to fall short of the 6 percent target, but gave no precise forecast. Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise by up to 8 percent in 2001. Exports account for some 60 percent of GDP. Reuters noted that Kuchma expressed these concerns one day after the U.S. announced it would impose sanctions on $75 million of Ukrainian exports in retaliation for the continued piracy of U.S. music compact discs and other media products. (JMR)

YUSHKO APPOINTED NEW FINANCE MINISTER (27 December) Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has appointed Igor Yushko as new the nation's new finance minister. Prior to his appointment, Yushko served as a parliamentary deputy and used to head one of the country's largest commercial banks, First Ukrainian International Bank. Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh said Yushko, the second-ranking finance ministry official, was appointed after proving his professional skills as a deputy head of the parliamentary committee on banks and financial activities, Reuters reported. He replaces Igor Mityukov, who has been in charge of the Finance Ministry since 1997. Kinakh told reporters that Mityukov was removed for his failure to implement the 2001 budget. President Kuchma also frequently chided Mityukov for slow tax reform. In 2001, the government found it difficult to meet its budget targets, mainly due to lower-thanplanned revenues from privatization. The government has so far raised 2.1 billion gryvnias ($404 million) from sell-offs, compared with the annual plan of 5.9 billion gryvnias. (JMR)

KAZAKHOIL DENIES OWNING SHARES IN ODESSA-BRODY OIL PIPELINE PROJECT. KazakhOil spokeswoman Umitkhan Baltayeva has rejected as untrue Kazakh media reports of the company's alleged involvement in Ukraine's Odessa-Brody oil pipeline project, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 8 January. LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES BILLS ON COMPULSORY TV DEBATES, LOCAL ELECTIONS... Leonid Kuchma has vetoed a bill obliging all candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections to take part in televised debates and requiring that television companies, independently of their form of ownership, broadcast such debates (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 December 2001), Interfax reported on 8 January. Kuchma also vetoed a bill on local elections that stipulated a mixed system in elections to oblast-level councils and a majority system in elections to lower-level councils. JM

...URGES PARLIAMENT TO PASS CD COPYRIGHT LAW. Deputy parliamentary speaker Stepan Havrysh said on 8 January that President Kuchma has urged the parliament to pass a bill on compact disc production to potentially soften the impact of U.S. trade sanctions imposed for Ukraine's failure to fight CD piracy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 2001), Interfax and AP reported. Premier Anatoliy Kinakh has sent a similar appeal to the parliament. JM