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UKRAINIAN BLOCS, PARTIES HOLD ELECTION CONVENTIONS. A number of election blocs and parties held congresses over the past weekend to approve their election manifestos and list of candidates for the 31 March legislative ballot, Interfax and UNIAN reported. In particular, such gatherings were organized by the For a United Ukraine bloc, the Socialist Party, the Natalya Vitrenko Bloc, the Women for the Future political association, the All-Ukrainian Leftist Union "Justice," and the Russian Bloc. JM

UKRAINE'S SOCIALIST PARTY INCLUDES MELNYCHENKO ON ITS ELECTION LIST. A congress of the Socialist Party on 12 January approved its election list for the 31 March parliamentary election. The list is headed by Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz and includes former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko (No. 15), who is currently in the United States. In 2000, Melnychenko triggered Ukraine's biggest political scandal by releasing what he said were records of conversations in the president's office, which implied President Leonid Kuchma's complicity in the murder of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and a host of other crimes. Referring to a conversation with Melnychenko, Moroz told journalists that the former presidential security officer will take part in the election campaign on Ukraine's territory. JM

FOR A UNITED UKRAINE OPTS FOR STABILITY. A congress of the propresidential For a United Ukraine bloc on 12 January adopted its election manifesto calling for the preservation of civic stability and social unity, stable national currency and economic growth, as well as an increase in real incomes of the population, Interfax reported. The first five of the bloc's election list are the bloc's leader and head of the presidential administration, Volodymyr Lytvyn; the head of the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh; lawmaker Yekateryna Vashchuk; director-general of the Mariupol Illicha metallurgical plant, Volodymyr Boyko; and rector of the National Taras Shevchenko University, Viktor Skopenko. Lytvyn told the congress that this year's parliamentary election will be "a catalyst for the birth of a new party system" in Ukraine "for a long term." JM