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UNCERTAINTY REMAINS OVER WHO RUNS KYIV. Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, who was suspended by President Kuchma for the duration of the election campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2002), told UNIAN on 12 February that he is staying in office in accordance with the Kyiv City Council's decision. At an emergency session the previous day, the council refused to obey the president's decree and passed a noconfidence vote in Ihor Shovkun, whom Kuchma appointed as acting Kyiv mayor. Shovkun reportedly has taken control over the finance and transport directorates of the city administration. Speaking to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 12 February, Omelchenko said he was suspended following an initiative by Premier Anatoliy Kinakh. Omelchenko added that Kuchma's decree suspending him means administrative support for the Democratic Union election bloc, since Shovkun is running in the election on the Democratic Union's list. JM

UKRAINIAN ELECTION WATCHDOG REPORTS CAMPAIGN IRREGULARITIES. The Committee of Voters of Ukraine is concerned about mass irregularities in the election campaign, such as ignoring the ban on campaigning before 9 February, candidates abusing their official positions, breach of procedure in the formation of election commissions, and violence against candidates, STB Television reported on 12 February. According to the outcome of the committee's January monitoring, none of the culprits were punished. Observers noted mass distribution of fake campaign materials in Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kirovohrad, and Luhansk Oblasts; particularly in the name of opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko. According to the committee, 70 percent of irregularities in January amounted to officials campaigning for the pro-presidential For a United Ukraine bloc. JM

UKRAINIAN SUPREME COURT WANTS COMMISSION TO REVIEW REJECTION OF BLOC. The Supreme Court has obliged the Central Electoral Commission to reconsider its decision not to register the For Yushchenko election bloc led by Oleksandr Rzhavskyy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February 2002), UNIAN reported on 12 February. Many Ukrainian observers see Rzhavskyy's election initiative -- using the name of popular politician Viktor Yushchenko without his approval -- as a dirty election technique intended to confuse the electorate and take away some votes from Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc. JM

KYIV, BELGRADE PLEDGE TO EXPAND TIES. Ukrainian Premier Kinakh said after his meeting with Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic in Kyiv on 12 February that the two countries intend to continue developing and strengthening bilateral political, economic, and cultural relations, Interfax reported. According to Ukrainian official sources, the trade turnover between the two countries in January-November 2001 amounted to $75 million. JM

TYMOSHENKO WANTS TO COOPERATE WITH YUSHCHENKO, BUT HE DOES NOT. The Yuliya Tymoshenko election bloc on 11 February aired its state-sponsored election spot on Ukrainian Television, in which Tymoshenko accused the authorities of plotting to discredit her. "I will not defend myself against every allegation the authorities make. As soon as some allegations are cleared, they will come up with others to set society against me and all those around me," she said in a video recorded before her recent car crash. Tymoshenko appealed to viewers to vote for her bloc as well as for Viktor Yuschenko's Our Ukraine and Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party. She added that the three will cooperate in the new parliament. Meanwhile, Yushchenko said on 13 February that he does not cooperate with Tymoshenko in the election campaign because hers is an "opposition" bloc while his is a "constructive" one. He added that his aim is to unite forces around a "nonmilitant, nonopposition, nonradical program." JM

POLAND TO INTRODUCE VISAS FOR EASTERN NEIGHBORS IN JULY 2003. The government decided on 12 February to introduce visas for the citizens of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus as of 1 July 2003, PAP reported. A timetable for the introduction of these visas is to be given by Warsaw to Brussels this week. Its acceptance will make it possible for Poland to close the EU membership negotiations in the chapter relating to justice and internal affairs. JM

GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER IN SOFIA. Visiting Greek Defense Minister Yannos Papantoniou said in Sofia on 12 February that his country wants all East European candidates to be admitted to NATO, AP reported. Papantoniou added that Greece also supports the "gradual admission" into the organization of Russia and Ukraine, saying that Athens "wants no more division lines in Europe." He spoke after meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Svinarov. MS

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