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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO ACCEPT YUSHCHENKO AS PREMIER? Oleksandr Zadorozhnyy, the permanent presidential representative in the Verkhovna Rada, told journalists on 22 May that President Leonid Kuchma does not rule out the formation of a cabinet headed by Our Ukraine leader and former Premier Viktor Yushchenko, provided that Yushchenko's bloc backs the candidacy of United Ukraine leader Volodymyr Lytvyn for parliamentary speaker, UNIAN reported. According to Zadorozhnyy, such an agreement was reached during Kuchma's meeting with Lytvyn and Yushchenko the previous day. Zadorozhnyy noted, however, that Yushchenko issued an "ultimatum" on 22 May, demanding that Kuchma dismiss the government of Anatoliy Kinakh ahead of the election of parliamentary leadership. Zadorozhnyy added that this demand "destabilizes the situation in the state" and cannot be endorsed by Kuchma. Meanwhile, Our Ukraine lawmaker Mykola Tomenko said Our Ukraine will sign an accord on joint actions in the parliament with United Ukraine only after Kuchma issues two decrees -- one dismissing Kinakh's cabinet and the other proposing Yushchenko as a new premier for parliamentary approval. JM

OPPOSITION BLOCS DISLIKE POSSIBLE OUR UKRAINE-UNITED UKRAINE ALLIANCE. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz appealed on 22 May to Our Ukraine lawmakers not to form a parliamentary coalition with United Ukraine, UNIAN reported. Moroz said the people voted for Our Ukraine as an alternative for the government. "I'd like all of you [from Our Ukraine] to avoid reasons for regretting after some time that we are living in the times of betrayal and mercenariness," Moroz said. Former Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko said her parliamentary bloc will not support any joint proposals from Our Ukraine and United Ukraine for the distribution of parliamentary posts. Tymoshenko noted that there are still chances to form a parliamentary coalition between her bloc, Our Ukraine, the Communist Party, and the Socialist Party. JM

WORLD BANK MAY VIEW $250 MILLION LOAN TO UKRAINE THIS FALL. World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn concluded two-day talks with government officials on 21 May by praising Ukraine for progress in reforms and exceptional growth despite two years of global economic turmoil, AP reported. Linn predicted that Ukraine's economy will grow by 4-6 percent in 2002. Linn noted that Ukraine has made "remarkable progress" in eliminating pension and public-sector wage arrears, initiating land reform, improving the business environment, making privatization more transparent, and implementing targeted social assistance. However, he called for more vigorous tax collection, reduced tax exemptions, restructuring of the State Savings Bank, continued energy-sector reforms, and more efficient government administration. Linn said this fall he will most likely propose that the bank's board of directors release a $250 million loan to Ukraine in one installment instead of dividing it into separate tranches as was done previously. JM

UKRAINIAN EX-BODYGUARD CONFIRMS TESTIFYING TO U.S. GRAND JURY. At a briefing organized by RFE/RL in Washington on 21 May, former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko confirmed earlier media reports that he has testified before a grand jury in San Francisco. Melnychenko said he was asked for help in an investigation, adding that this investigation does not concern former Ukrainian Premier Pavlo Lazarenko. He refused to reveal any details, saying only that the investigation will help in combating organized crime. Melnychenko reiterated his former allegations that President Kuchma authorized an illegal sale of radar systems to Iraq (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 April 2002). JM

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO. Foreign Minister Nicolae Dudau told an international forum of parliamentarians in Chisinau on 21 May that the Moldovan leadership can resume negotiations with Chisinau only if the other side displays responsibility, Infotag reported. Dudau said that no one can doubt that the only way to solve the conflict with the separatist Transdniestrian leadership is through negotiations leading to an accord on a special status for the region. For that to happen, however, an "effort" by Tiraspol is also needed. He said the separatists should agree to the setting up of a single customs authority for the entire Moldovan territory, to "consolidate" the Moldovan border with Ukraine, and to "eliminate all obstacles to the withdrawal of the Russian military arsenal" from the region. Dudau said Moldova intends to remain neutral. It will not join military alliances, nor will it allow other countries to set up military bases on its territory, he concluded. MS