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PRESIDENT WANTS UKRAINE TO JOIN EU BY 2011. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told a government meeting on 8 February that Ukraine must join the European Union by 2011, Interfax reported. Kuchma noted that to qualify for EU membership, Ukraine should secure annual economic growth of between 5-7 percent, join the World Trade Organization by the end of 2003, and create a free-trade zone with Central and Eastern European countries by 2004, Reuters reported. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER SAYS NO IMPEACHMENT ON THE AGENDA. Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch on 8 February denied earlier reports by a number of Ukrainian media outlets that the Verkhovna Rada put the issue of President Kuchma's impeachment on the agenda of its current session (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2002), Interfax reported. JM

UKRAINIAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS MELNYCHENKO'S ELECTION BID... The Supreme Court on 8 February upheld the decision of the Central Election Commission denying the registration of former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, who has been granted asylum in the United States, as a candidate on the Socialist Party list in the upcoming parliamentary election, Interfax reported. The court said the information Melnychenko supplied about his place of residence in the past five years is "essentially unreliable." Meanwhile, earlier this month the commission accepted a parliamentary bid by former Ukrainian banker Viktor Zherdytskyy, who has been in a German jail since 2000 awaiting trial for allegedly embezzling several hundred thousand dollars intended to assist Ukrainian victims of World War II. JM

...AS PROSECUTOR DISMISSES U.S. EXAMINATION OF MELNYCHENKO'S TAPES. Deputy Prosecutor-General Oleksiy Bahanets on 8 February said the results of the recent U.S. examination of Melnychenko's recordings, which provoked Ukraine's "tape scandal" in 2000, "have no legal force for the Ukrainian investigation," Interfax reported. Bahanets noted that, according to Ukrainian legislation, such an examination may be made only by "a competent expert with an appropriate license." Lawmaker Oleksandr Zhyr said on RFE/RL on 7 February that Bruce Koenig, a veteran FBI expert on audio and video recordings, examined samples of Melnychenko's recordings and concluded that they are authentic and unaltered (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 February 2002). Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office maintains that Melnychenko's tapes are doctored. JM

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT TO MEDIATE BETWEEN POLITICAL PARTIES. The opposition Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) on 8 February wrote to President Ferenc Madl asking him to act as mediator between parliamentary parties on the issues of the Status Law and EU accession, in view of the "uncivilized tone used in the election campaign." SZDSZ Chairman Gabor Kuncze recalled that governing party deputies had called the opposition "traitors," and several people also heard Prime Minister Viktor Orban utter the word in parliament. Kuncze said it is vital that Orban apologize to the opposition parties for his remarks. Hungarian radio reported that Madl said last week during his visit to Kyiv that he will try to mediate between the leaders of the parliamentary parties because the Status Law and EU accession have become matters of dispute and it is "regrettable that the tone of the campaign has become uncivilized." MSZ

...AND PPCD CALLS FOR EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. On 10 February, the PPCD said it will participate in the early local elections, but also called for early parliamentary elections, Romanian radio reported. In a press release, the party said the regime of President Vladimir Voronin has led to the intensification of cronyism and corruption, intensified the process of Russification, and enforced assimilation of the Romanian majority as well as the Ukrainian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian minorities. At the same time, the PPCD said, the regime has repeatedly acted against political pluralism and for the annihilation of the democratic opposition. The PPCD also accused the regime of having caused a deterioration in relations with Romania and Ukraine and with the European institutions, describing those relations as being governed today by "suspicion and hostility." MS

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TWO JOURNALISTS ASSAULTED. Ivan Besyada, press secretary of the Lviv branch of the Our Ukraine movement and staff member of the paper "Za Svodonuyu Ukrainu," was attacked in his home. Tania Goriacheva, editor in chief of the paper "Berdyansk Delovoy" in Berdyansk in Zaprozhye Oblast, was subjected to an acid attack. In both cases, there is reason to believe that the assaults were related to the journalists' work. ("Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations CIS States Bulletin," 28 January-2 February)

OUR UKRAINE LEADER, COMMUNIST PARTY HEAD MEET ON RFE/RL AIRWAVES. RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 4 February broadcast live a discussion between former Premier Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the Our Ukraine election bloc, and Communist Party head Petro Symonenko. It was the second high-profile political debate aired by RFE/RL during the election campaign in Ukraine, following a meeting between Yuliya Tymoshenko and Viktor Medvedchuk two weeks ago. Symonenko slammed the reforms undertaken by all governments of independent Ukraine, including Yushchenko's, as detrimental to the interests of the people. Yushchenko stressed the importance of a democratically elected parliamentary majority in pursuing changes to the economy and society. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February)

CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION ALLOCATES AIRTIME. The Central Election Commission (CEC) on 6 February drew lots to allocate airtime and space in newspapers to political parties and election blocs, UNIAN and Interfax reported. This was done to ensure their rights to state-financed election advertising on the nationwide Ukrainian Television (First Channel), Ukrainian Radio (First Program), and in the governmental "Uryadovyy Kuryer" and parliamentary "Holos Ukrayiny" newspapers. CEC Chairman Mykhaylo Ryabets told journalists that the commission registered 4,113 candidates running in the 31 March parliamentary elections on party lists, and 3,107 candidates in single-seat constituencies. Ryabets added that 268 deputies of the current parliament are seeking re-election. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February)

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. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February)

PRESIDENT STIFFENS CONTROLS ON CD PRODUCTION. Leonid Kuchma has issued a decree intended to curb CD piracy in the country in a move aimed at halting $75 million of U.S. trade sanctions, Interfax reported on 30 January. The decree orders the government to designate state officials to monitor CD production and sales, and requires that every CD be stamped with a special identification code. Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor-General Oleksiy Bahanets has said that an investigation of five Ukrainians plants determined that those plants did not have the facilities to produce the large number of pirated CDs claimed by the United States. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January)