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UN OFFICIAL PRESENTS CHORNOBYL RECOVERY PACKAGE IN BELARUS. At a news conference in Minsk on 6 March, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima unveiled three projects for social, economic, and environmental rehabilitation of the areas contaminated after the explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, Belapan reported. Oshima urged donors, international organizations, and the governments of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine to work together on these projects. The proposals include establishing credit unions, improving health services and promoting healthy lifestyles among children, and raising incomes of the affected population by encouraging private enterprise in agriculture. The projects fall into line with a UN report's recommendation that the focus of Chornobyl assistance should shift from humanitarian and technical measures to sustainable socioeconomic development for the region's residents and the more than 200,000 people who took part in cleanup efforts. JM

FOR A UNITED UKRAINE TO HAVE THE LARGEST PARLIAMENTARY GROUP. According to data from the Central Election Commission, the pro-presidential For a United Ukraine will have 119 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada, thus making it the largest caucus in the new parliament, UNIAN reported on 6 April. For a United Ukraine won 35 seats from the party list and 66 seats in single-mandate constituencies; in addition, 18 deputies who ran on an independent ticket have announced their intention of joining the pro-presidential bloc. Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine will have 113 deputies; the Communist Party, 66 deputies; the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, 23 deputies; the Socialist Party, 23 deputies; and the Social Democratic Party Ukraine-united (SDPU-o), 17 deputies. JM

COMMUNISTS LOSE IN CRIMEAN ELECTION. The Communist Party won only 28 mandates in the 100-member Crimean Supreme Council, losing to former Premier Serhiy Kunitsyn's bloc, which was supported by the government in Kyiv, "Moloda Ukrayina" reported on 4 April. Kunitsyn's bloc took 39 mandates. Representatives of Crimea's Tatar community obtained seven seats in the autonomous legislature, while the SDPU-o will have three deputies. The general picture of the election on the peninsula is still unclear because the work of the Crimean Election Commission has been paralyzed by the nonparticipation in its sessions of several members associated with the Communist Party. In addition, the results of voting in several Crimean constituencies have been questioned by contestants. JM

ELECTION WATCHDOG SAYS UKRAINE'S 31 MARCH POLL THE 'WORST ORGANIZED' OF ALL. The Committee of Voters of Ukraine (KVU) believes that the 31 March parliamentary election was the "worst organized" poll in the country's history, New Channel Television reported on 5 April. According to KVU estimates, some 15 percent of the public was unable to vote because of long lines at polling stations. Widespread violations include voting in areas outside the voting booth and the fact that most polling stations were still open after 8 p.m., which was the voting closure time. KVU head Ihor Popov said, however, that calls to invalidate the election should not be heeded by election authorities. "It would be very disregard the will of the people who voted at these elections and who waited in these queues and who fainted in these queues but who cast their ballots," Popov noted. JM

EUROPE'S OMBUDSMEN MEET IN VILNIUS. Ombudsmen from 33 European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, gathered in Vilnius on 5 April for a two-day conference titled "The Functions and Role of Ombudsmen in Democratic States," "Lietuvos rytas" reported the next day. The conference was organized by the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commission and the Lithuanian parliament's Ombudsmen Office. Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles told President Valdas Adamkus that Vilnius was chosen as the site of the conference because Lithuania has reached European standards in human rights and democracy. The Ombudsman of Kaliningrad called at the conference for an EU conference to discuss implications for the region's 1 million inhabitants when its nearest neighbors -- Poland and Lithuania -- join the European Union in 2004. So far the EU has rejected Russia's requests to soften EU customs and visa regimes for the region. SG


NGOS REPORT BIAS IN TV ELECTION COVERAGE. The Equal Opportunities Committee and the Open Space Association have found in a monitoring project on the campaign coverage in Ukraine's leading media that the First Channel of Ukrainian Television (UT-1) turned out to be the most biased, "Ukrayina Moloda" reported on 28 March. UT-1 offered the pro-government For a United Ukraine bloc as much airtime as that given to all other contenders combined. Moreover, UT-1 has not said a single critical word about For a United Ukraine. A similar bias was observed in the private Inter Television, which was keen to promote the United Social Democratic Party, while also favoring For a United Ukraine and the Communist Party. Our Ukraine was targeted by Inter as the object of exclusively negative reporting. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March)