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BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS CHORNOBYL ANNIVERSARY. Some 4,000 people turned up for an opposition-organized march in Minsk on 26 April to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Belapan reported. The march was sanctioned by the city authorities and took place without incident. JM

BELARUS TO BUY LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT? Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, while visiting Chornobyl-affected areas on 26 April, said he is ready to consider purchasing the Ignalina nuclear power plant from Lithuania, which has been urged by Brussels to close it down before joining the EU. "Our experts have proposed several scenarios to me for buying this plant," Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying. "We do not rule out such scenarios, we are considering them... It simply grieves me to think [that this plant is going to be shut down], it's an excellent plant. Certainly, if the Lithuanians ruin this plant, they will lose a great deal. They won't get what they want from the West. We will try to do our best to preserve and ensure the safety of this plant if we manage [to buy it]." JM

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PLAYS DOWN RUSSIA-NATO RAPPROCHEMENT. President Lukashenka on 26 April said one should not exaggerate the successes of the recent warming in Russia-NATO relations, Belarusian Television reported. "Thus far, the level of cooperation between Russia and NATO is approximately the same as between Belarus and the North Atlantic alliance," Lukashenka noted. He added that Belarus is ready for closer cooperation with NATO. "I think that we will soon carry out joint measures with NATO in the Chornobyl-affected areas," Lukashenka said. "You remember that two years ago, when we were offered cooperation with NATO, I said, 'Good, let's cooperate on Chornobyl.' And we have received such proposals from our colleagues in NATO regarding the implementation of specific measures on this Chornobyl-affected land." JM

UKRAINIAN, POLISH PRESIDENTS AGREE ON OPENING OF CONTROVERSIAL NECROPOLIS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski met on 27 April at a health resort in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast where they discussed oil- and gas-pipeline projects as well as European integration issues, Ukrainian and Polish media reported. However, the only specific result of the meeting was the two presidents' announcements that the Polish military cemetery in Lviv, the so-called Orleta [Eaglets] Cemetery, will be ceremonially opened on 21 May. The renovated necropolis, which houses Polish soldiers and volunteers who died in fighting against Ukrainians in 1918-19, has been a contentious issue in Polish-Ukrainian relations for several years. Its official opening has been repeatedly rescheduled. JM

PRO-KUCHMA BLOC SAID TO BE OVERALL ELECTION WINNER. Volodymyr Lytvyn, the presidential administration chief and the leader of the For a United Ukraine election bloc, told Ukrainian Television on 27 April that For a United Ukraine emerged as the indisputable winner of the 31 March parliamentary and local elections. Lytvyn was referring to the joint statement by Our Ukraine, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2002) that the incumbent authorities lost the general election. Lytvyn stressed that For a United Ukraine has the biggest caucus in the Verkhovna Rada, and added, "A total of 2,101 deputies have been elected to the regional councils throughout Ukraine. Out of that number, 46.5 percent are For a United Ukraine candidates. Our Ukraine is second with 6.7 percent [of councilors], the United Social Democratic Party has 3.8 percent, the Communist Party 3.7 percent, the Socialist Party 0.9 percent, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc 0.28 percent." JM

OUR UKRAINE LEADER BLAMES OPPONENTS FOR ECONOMIC WOES... Our Ukraine bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko has said the political forces that voted him out of the post of prime minister a year ago "are responsible for the wasted potential of that government," UNIAN reported on 27 April. "It was only an adventurous scheme by certain political forces, in particular the United Social Democratic Party, that led to the dismissal of a pragmatic Ukrainian government," Yushchenko added. Speaking about the current economic situation, he noted that the upward momentum the new government inherited from its predecessor has already been exhausted. According to Yushchenko, the economy faces stagnation, growth figures have plummeted by almost two-thirds, a shortfall in budget revenues has been persisting for 10 months now, and privatization has almost ground to a halt. JM

...WHILE POLL SHOWS HIM AS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION FAVORITE. A poll conducted by the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies from 18-21 April among 2,000 Ukrainians found that Yushchenko stood the best chance of winning a presidential election if it had been held at that time, Interfax reported on 27 April. According to the poll, Yushchenko would have obtained 29.3 percent of the vote, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko 12.6 percent, United Social Democratic Party leader Viktor Medvedchuk 6.4 percent, former Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko 6.3 percent, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz 4.1 percent, and Progressive Socialist Party leader Nataliya Vitrenko 3.6 percent. The president of the center, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, said Yushchenko would have fared best in western Ukraine, with 61.7 percent of the vote, while in the east he had a rating of a mere 12.7 percent and would have finished second to Symonenko. JM

ON CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY, RUSSIAN REGIONS REMEMBER... On the 16th anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April, environmental activists organized protests in Russian cities against plans to import spent nuclear fuel into Russia, RFE/RL's regional correspondents reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 2002). In Obninsk, the public organization Union of Chernobyl together with the local branch of Yabloko organized a picket and gathered signatures to send to the State Duma. JAC

...AND CHALLENGE PLANS TO IMPORT SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL. In Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, protestors carried signs saying, "We don't need a new Chernobyl, we need a clean country." Last year, the krai's legislature expressed its opposition to plans by the Atomic Energy Ministry (Minatom) to use Novorossiisk as a transit port for nuclear waste from Bulgaria. And in Vladivostok, about 100 people gathered in the city's main square, despite not having received permission for the demonstration from the mayoral administration. Local environmental activist Boris Preobrazhenskii declared that in Primorskii Krai, several potential Chernobyls exist: Some 100 kilometers from Vladivostok there are dozens of nuclear submarines, and this year Minatom plans to construct two special terminals for receiving radioactive waste from Japan. JAC