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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

RFE/RL HOSTS DEBATE BETWEEN UKRAINE'S TYMOSHENKO, MEDVEDCHUK... Former Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko, the leader of the election bloc bearing her name, and former parliamentary deputy speaker Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (United) election bloc, sparred in a discussion broadcast live by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on the evening of 23 January. The politicians touched upon their personal achievements in politics, the Land Code adopted last year, gas accords with Russia, and the record of Premier Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet, among other issues. Asked about her contribution to the well-being of the Ukrainian people, Tymoshenko said she managed to replenish the state budget with 10 billion hryvni ($1.88 billion according to the current exchange rate) when she served as a deputy prime minister responsible for fuel and energy issues in Yushchenko's cabinet. In his turn, Medvedchuk said he has served as a lawmaker for the past eight years and created legislation "that is changing Ukraine." JM

...WHO DISAGREE ON LAND CODE, YUSHCHENKO'S CABINET. Tymoshenko said it is necessary to immediately annul the Land Code adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in October. She argued that the provision allowing Ukrainian companies owned by foreign capital to purchase Ukrainian land may cause the restoration of "serfdom" in Ukraine. Tymoshenko said she supports private land ownership, but only to Ukrainian citizens and only after they are able to earn enough money for purchasing and cultivating land. Medvedchuk maintained that the Land Code suits the interests of the Ukrainian people, adding that its norms will help attract more investments in the country. The two politicians also differed on the assessment of the performance of Yushchenko's cabinet. Tymoshenko said the former prime minister's government allowed the people to feel for the first time in independent Ukraine that their life had improved, even if only a little. Medvedchuk criticized Yushchenko's cabinet for its inability to find consensus with the parliament. Tymoshenko retorted that the cabinet did not seek consensus with those lawmakers whom it was stripping of their "shadowy profits." JM

UKRAINIAN BECOMES YOUNGEST WORLD CHESS CHAMPION EVER. Ukrainian Ruslan Ponomaryov became the new world chess champion in Moscow on 23 January, having drawn the seventh game after 22 moves, and thus securing a 4.5:2.5 victory in his championship final match against his compatriot Vasyl Ivanchuk, ITAR-TASS reported. The 18-year-old Ponomaryov, who is a student at Kramatorsk University (eastern Ukraine), is the first Ukrainian to win this title and simultaneously became the youngest world champion in the 53-year history of world chess championships. JM