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COMMUNIST LEADER WARNS AGAINST PROLONGATION OF KUCHMA'S PRESIDENCY, DIVISION OF UKRAINE... In an election campaign broadcast on Ukrainian Radio on 13 March, Communist Party head Petro Symonenko told viewers that that authorities want to create a pro-presidential majority of at least 300 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada by using administrative resources and vote rigging in the 31 March ballot. This majority, according to Symonenko, is expected to amend the constitution in order to allow President Leonid Kuchma to remain in office for a third term, "or perhaps for a lifetime." Symonenko also suggested the existence of a sinister plan under which Ukraine is to be divided into three parts "in line with [former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew] Brzezinski's instructions": right-bank Ukraine run by Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc, left-bank Ukraine "influenced" by the pro-Kuchma For a United Ukraine bloc, and Crimea. Symonenko did not divulge who would run Crimea, but added that "extremist-minded elements in Crimea among the Crimean Tatar population are being used by Our Ukraine to stir up society." JM

...WHILE ANOTHER LEADER ACCUSES OPPOSITION, U.S. OF PREPARING 'YUGOSLAV SCENARIO' COUP. Bohdan Boyko, the head of the Popular Movement of Ukraine election bloc, has claimed that the opposition -- Our Ukraine, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and the Socialist Party -- is planning, with U.S. assistance, to stage a coup according to the "Yugoslav scenario," Inter Television reported on 12 March. Boyko told journalists that the opposition is going to declare the official results of the 31 March election falsified and create a separate parliament based on an alternative vote calculation. According to Boyko, a key role in this plan will be played by the Razumkov Center of Political and Economic Studies, which he claimed is run by sociologists trained in U.S. military institutions. "We have not planned a joint participation in exit polls on the day of the election," Razumkov Center Director Anatoliy Hrytsenko commented. Our Ukraine, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and the Socialist Party have formerly declared their intention to organize an alternative vote count in the election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February 2002). Yushchenko said Boyko's allegations are "paranoid," adding that "there have to be fools in the world, otherwise the clever will not stand out." JM

UKRAINIAN PATRIARCH SEES COMMUNIST PLOT BEHIND MOVE AGAINST HIS CHURCH. The Prosecutor-General's Office has said the registration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) in 1992 was illegitimate, Ukrainian media reported on 13 March. The decision followed a motion of 65 lawmakers who accused the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) led by Patriarch Filaret of illicitly appropriating property from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Meanwhile, the State Committee for Religious Affairs confirmed the same day that the registration was legitimate. New Channel Television suggested that the Prosecutor-General's Office's move is political revenge on Filaret, who has repeatedly voiced his support for Yushchenko's Our Ukraine. Filaret openly blamed the Communist Party for his troubles. "[The communist deputies] came forward with their protest aimed to abolish the Kiev Patriarchate or, if not abolish, then deliver a blow that would knock the Kiev Patriarchate out of existence and thereby help the Communist Party to win over voters who side with the Moscow Patriarchate," Filaret told New Channel Television. JM

OSCE LEADER TORN ON UPCOMING UKRAINIAN BALLOT. On 13 March in Kyiv, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Chairman Adrian Severin said he believes that the 31 March parliamentary election will produce "a strong parliament devoted to the support of necessary reforms...and devoted to the country's integration into European values and structures," Reuters reported. "[I believe that] this parliament will be able to structure itself into a strong majority supporting reformist governmental policy and a strong opposition to draw the attention of the government to its mistakes," Severing told journalists, summing up his three-day visit to Ukraine. He admitted, however, that he is also concerned about "a relatively high level of mistrust in the electoral process among certain candidates, and about the general skepticism...over the possibility of these elections being truly free and fair." JM

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER MAKES POLICY STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT. Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told the Sejm on 14 March that Poland's main foreign policy goal is to join the European Union in 2004 "under favorable conditions," Polish Radio reported. Cimoszewicz said the forthcoming six months will be crucial since Poland must complete EU membership talks during this period in order to be accepted into the EU in the first round of expansion. Cimoszewicz also spoke in favor of cooperation between the EU and Poland's neighbors: Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. He also said Warsaw expects that Ukraine will be invited to participate in the NATO summit in Prague in November. JM

STATUE OF UKRAINIAN NATIONAL POET UNVEILED IN WARSAW. The heads of the foreign ministries of Poland and Ukraine, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and Anatoliy Zlenko, unveiled a statue of Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko in Warsaw on 13 March, PAP reported. The statue by Ukrainian sculptor Anatoliy Kushcha stands on the square bearing the poet's name near the former presidential Belweder Palace. A metal plaque on the plinth carries a line from Shevchenko in both Polish and Ukrainian: "Pole, brother, give me your hand, give me a place in your heart, and we will regain our happiness, in the name of Christ, a quiet Eden!" JM