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MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER SEEKS HELP FROM MOSCOW. Vasile Tarlev said following his talks in Moscow on 26 February with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kasyanov that his country wants Russian assistance in solving its debt issues with Paris Club states as well as its own internal economic problems, and ITAR-TASS reported. Kasyanov said Russia will help Moldova overcome its "temporary economic problems" by supplying the country with inexpensive Russian gas and electricity throughout 2002. He added that to this end Russia has already reached an agreement with Ukraine to transit electricity and gas over its territory for Moldova, which he said will reduce Chisinau's costs for Russian energy sources by 30 percent. Kasyanov also said that Russia wants to purchase shares in and reconstruct the Moldavian Hydropower Station, which he said would not only provide Moldova with cheap energy, but also give it the opportunity to make money from exporting electricity. VY

CRIMEAN ELECTION COMMISSION OUSTS 30 CANDIDATES FROM ELECTION RACE. The Election Commission of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 26 February canceled the registration of 30 candidates seeking mandates in the 100-member Crimean legislature in the 31 March ballot, UNIAN reported. A majority of those ejected from the election belong to two groups opposing the Crimean Block of Leonid Hrach: the Kunitsyn Team and the Transparent Power Civic Committee. The ousted candidates include former Crimean Premier Serhiy Kunitsyn, who heads the election bloc bearing his name. The previous day, a court in Simferopol annulled the registration of Leonid Hrach, the leader of the Crimean branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 2002). Crimean Election Commission Chairman Ivan Polyakov denied that the commission took Hrach's side by canceling the registration of his key political opponents, Interfax reported on 27 February. Meanwhile, Crimean Communists have pitched seven tents on Simferopol's central square, protesting the annulment of Hrach's registration. JM

UKRAINIAN PRO-PRESIDENTIAL BLOC DENIES SEEKING RIVALS' SUPPORT. Volodymyr Lytvyn, the leader of the For a United Ukraine bloc, has dismissed as "cynical lies" reports referring to sources in the presidential administration that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma "allegedly asked two renowned politicians to assist the bloc," UNIAN reported on 26 February. The "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported on 25 February that President Kuchma asked Oleksandr Volkov (an influential oligarch running on the list of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Union bloc) and Viktor Medvedchuk (the leader of the United Social Democratic Party bloc) for logistical and organizational support to boost the rating of the For a United Ukraine bloc. JM

THREE UKRAINIAN ELECTION BLOCS REPORTEDLY TO CONDUCT ALTERNATE VOTE COUNT. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, and the Socialist Party headed by Oleksandr Moroz have pooled their efforts to organize an alternative vote count in the 31 March parliamentary election, UNIAN reported on 27 February. This news was communicated to journalists by Yuliya Tymoshenko in Kharkiv. According to Tymoshenko, the collection of the officially confirmed voting results from polling stations will allow the three blocs to announce election results ahead of the Central Election Commission and, in this way, "to prevent [the commission] from falsifying the results as they did in the past election." Tymoshenko added that one should expect falsification of election results primarily from the For a United Ukraine bloc, which has "zero percent" support among voters but will obtain 10-12 percent of the vote "owing to compulsion and force [applied to] people." JM

RUSSIA ANNOUNCES UKRAINIAN COMPENSATION FOR DOWNING OF AIRLINER. Aleksei Sazonov, a counselor at the Russian Embassy in Ukraine, told journalists on 26 February that the family of each person who died when a Russian Tu-154 passenger plane was downed on 4 October 2001 by a Ukrainian S-200 missile over the Black Sea will receive at least $10,000 in compensation from Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 9 and 16 October 2001), RIA-Novosti reported. According to Sazonov, the agreement to this effect was reached last week when Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo met with Ukrainian President Kuchma. JM

UKRAINE TO DESTROY 400,000 LAND MINES. Representatives of NATO and Ukraine's defense industry complex signed an accord on 26 February whereby Ukraine obliged itself to destroy 400,000 land mines, New Channel Television reported. Canada, Poland, and Hungary have disbursed nearly $1 million to fund the destruction of the munitions. According to the agreement, those mines whose storage life has expired will be the first to be destroyed. Ukrainian representatives said all of the 5.5 million mines that Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Union are to be destroyed in the future. JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA AGREE TO PRODUCE NEW PASSENGER AIRCRAFT. Ukraine's Antonov design bureau and the aircraft plant in Ulan-Ude (Russia's Republic of Buryatia) signed an accord on 26 February on the joint production of the An-148 passenger jet, UNIAN reported. Petro Balabuyev, Antonov's chief designer, said the plane will be a highly efficient 80-seat aircraft, with a top speed of 850 kilometers per hour and a flying range of 2,500-14,000 kilometers. The aircraft will be equipped with a new version of the D-36 engine which, according to Balabuyev, is the best in the world. JM

RUSSIAN LAWMAKER SEEKS TO EASE POLAND'S PLANNED VISA REGIME. Dmitrii Rogozin, the head of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Relations Committee, said in the Sejm on 26 February that Poland and Russia should jointly seek to lessen the consequences of the introduction of visas between the two countries, PAP reported. To comply with the Schengen Treaty, Poland is planning to introduce visas for Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians as of 1 July 2003. "If we apply together to Brussels on the issue of the visa obligation, and in particular in relation to Kaliningrad Oblast, [then] we will force a number of bureaucrats in Brussels to tear their behinds from their chairs, to be competent and professional, and to cease to pretend that nothing can now be done on this matter," Rogozin said after his meeting with the Sejm's Commission for Foreign Affairs. JM