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UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS SEEKING PARLIAMENTARY SEATS URGED TO TAKE LEAVE. Premier Anatoliy Kinakh on 1 February pledged to ensure that all government officials seeking parliamentary mandates in single-seat constituencies as well as "a maximum number" of those officials running as party-list candidates will take leave during the election campaign, Interfax reported. Kinakh noted that the election law does not include such a requirement, but added that he will insist on this measure in order to avoid possible accusations that government officials use "administrative leverage" to help their election bids. He did not say whether he himself will take such leave. Kinakh is running on the list of the For a United Ukraine election bloc. JM

FOR A UNITED UKRAINE LEADER REJECTS INVOLVEMENT IN 'TAPE SCANDAL.' Presidential administration head Volodymyr Lytvyn, who leads the For a United Ukraine election bloc, said on 1 February that he has no connection to the "tape scandal" provoked by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, Interfax reported. Melnychenko's secret recordings from the president's office, which were made public by Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz in 2000, suggested that President Leonid Kuchma, former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, and Lytvyn might have been involved in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Last week, Moroz made public five questions about the "tape scandal" that he would like to pose to Lytvyn in their anticipated public debate on radio or television. "Let Moroz elucidate this problem with Melnychenko or the Prosecutor-General's Office, while I am ready for debates on election programs," Lytvyn responded. JM

UKRAINE TO GET $60 MILLION FROM WORLD BANK TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS. The World Bank is ready to allot $60 million to Ukraine to combat AIDS and tuberculosis, New Channel Television reported on 1 February, quoting unnamed World Bank officials who spent two weeks in Ukraine studying the situation pertaining to those illnesses. The money will be primarily channeled into diagnosing AIDS and tuberculosis, supplying medicines, and monitoring infected people. Meanwhile, a World Bank mission led by its director for Belarus and Ukraine, Luca Barbone, has arrived in Kyiv to discuss conditions for a $250 million loan. The funds are part of the World Bank's $750 million loan program to Ukraine announced in 2000. Last year, Ukraine received a $250 million tranche of the package. JM

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT READY TO MEET SMIRNOV AS 'HEAD OF LOCAL ADMINISTRATION'... After his talks with Trubnikov, who urged a resumption of the parleys with Tiraspol, President Voronin told journalists that the negotiations can only be resumed at "expert level," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Voronin said he is ready to meet separatist leader Igor Smirnov only in Smirnov's capacity as head of "the local public administration" in Transdniester in order to discuss with him "problems of the local population." Voronin also said that he has proposed to Trubnikov that the custom checkpoints that Moldova wants set up on Ukrainian territory be manned -- in addition to those of Moldova, the Transdniester, and Ukraine -- by custom officials from neutral states "such as Germany, Austria, and Portugal." Voronin said Ukraine and the Transdniester are opposed to the checkpoints, "and we well-know why." MS