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UKRAINE DENIES SELLING ARMS TO TALIBAN. The Defense Ministry on 13 February denied that Ukraine was involved in the illegal sale of tanks to Afghanistan's Taliban, AP reported. The ministry said in a statement that the news reports about sales of T-55 tanks to the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan were "groundless and based on unchecked information received from dubious sources." In January, Ukrainian lawmakers urged prosecutors to investigate former Ukrainian Security Service chief Leonid Derkach and his son Andriy, whom Germany's "Der Spiegel" implicated in illegal arms sales to the Taliban (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2002). Even before the "Der Spiegel" report was published, Ukrainian lawmakers had persuaded prosecutors to open a criminal probe into Leonid and Andriy Derkach, as well as National Security and Defense Council chief Yevhen Marchuk, for alleged illegal arms sales (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2002). A court in Turin on 13 February opened preliminary hearings in a case reportedly linked to the possible involvement of Ukrainian officials in illegal arms deals. JM
'OUR UKRAINE' ADVERTISES YUSHCHENKO'S GAINS, PLEDGES MORAL POLITICS. Ukrainian Radio on 13 February aired a government-sponsored campaign spot by the Our Ukraine election bloc led by former Premier Viktor Yushchenko. The spot underscored that the Yushchenko government was the first to pay back wages and pensions "without taking a cent either from Russia or the West," and can also take credit for the economic recovery now under way. The bloc's advertised goal is to build "a fair and open civic society with equally fair, open, and responsible authorities," and to stick to "professional and moral" politics. "We are not seeking allies either among pro-presidential or opposition forces. The Ukrainian nation is our only ally in this election," Yushchenko said in the program. Our Ukraine's election slogan, repeatedly voiced in the broadcast, is "Not by words, but by deeds!" JM
FIVE UKRAINIAN MINERS DIE IN BLAST. A methane explosion killed five miners at a coal mine in Krasnoarmiysk, Donetsk Oblast, on 14 February, Interfax reported. Some 40 miners have died in accidents at Ukrainian coal mines so far this year. JM