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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS CHARGES OF ILLEGAL ARMS TRADE. Leonid Kuchma on 14 March denied as "absolutely absurd" the accusations that Ukraine has illegally supplied arms to Iraq, Interfax reported. Kuchma's comments came two days after lawmaker Oleksandr Zhyr told the "Ukrayinska pravda" website that he has evidence of Kuchma's alleged involvement in a $100 million arms trade deal with Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 2002). JM

UKRAINIAN ELECTION WATCHDOG CITES ADMINISTRATIVE LEVERAGE AS MAJOR IRREGULARITY. The Committee of Voters of Ukraine has said abuses of office by officials from central and local governments related to support for particular campaigners, usually the pro-government For a United Ukraine bloc, are among the most widespread campaign irregularities, UNIAN reported on 14 March. President Kuchma the same day grudgingly acknowledged the existence of such irregularities, known in Ukraine under the name of "administrative resources." But he immediately added that the practice of utilizing officials' powers for campaigning is also known in the West. "If the authorities interfere [in the campaign], I am ready to use harsh measures. I am for fair and open elections," Kuchma said. JM

UKRAINE HAS 36.8 MILLION ELIGIBLE VOTERS. Central Election Commission head Mykhaylo Ryabets on 14 March said 36.8 million people have been entered on the lists of voters to participate in the parliamentary election on 31 March, UNIAN reported. Ryabets said that this figure may be corrected, but not significantly. Ryabets said there are 33,055 polling stations in the country, including four in military units, 132 in prisons, and 730 in sanatoriums. Also, 58 polling stations have been set up on ships that will be at sea on the day of the election, and there are 89 polling stations abroad. JM

POLL SAYS OUR UKRAINE WELL AHEAD OF RIVAL BLOCS. A poll conducted by the GfK-USM polling agency from 1-8 March among 1,500 Ukrainian voters found that if a parliamentary ballot had been held at that time, Our Ukraine led by Viktor Yushchenko would have won 28.3 percent of the vote, the Communist Party 15.5 percent, the Social Democratic Party (United) 6.5 percent, and the For a United Ukraine bloc 4.9 percent. The other parties obtained results below the 4 percent voting barrier, including: Greens -- 3.5 percent, Women for the Future bloc -- 3.5 percent, Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc -- 3.3 percent, Nataliya Vitrenko Bloc -- 2.5 percent, and the Socialist Party -- 2.2 percent. The poll's margin of error was 2.5 percent. Under Ukraine's election law, polling agencies are not allowed to publicize their surveys later than two weeks before the election date, which sets 15 March as the deadline for the 31 March ballot. JM