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ARMENIA, UKRAINE CONCERNED BY ESCALATION OF GEORGIAN-RUSSIAN TENSIONS. Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 11 September, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said he is sure President Robert Kocharian would agree "with pleasure" to mediate between Russia and Georgia if asked to do so, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. In Kyiv, Foreign Ministry press service spokesman Serhiy Borodenkov said on 12 September that Ukraine is "extremely concerned" over the Russian-Georgian crisis, and believes that it should be resolved by exclusively peaceful means, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

BELARUSIAN TELEVISION WARNS AGAINST MEDIA 'PROVOCATION' FROM RUSSIA... Quoting a telephone call from an unidentified individual from the Russian State Duma, Belarusian Television reported on 12 September that Russia's Union of Rightist Forces leader Boris Nemtsov is preparing a "new provocation against the Russia-Belarus Union" on "Russian [television] channels." According to the Belarusian Television's interlocutor, Nemtsov wants Belarusian opposition leaders to appear on television in Moscow in order to "present the situation in Belarus in an extremely negative light." "Nemtsov hates your president, therefore he is collecting all the [possible] negative information about [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka. They even want to compare him to Hitler," the anonymous interlocutor said. Earlier this month, "Sovetskaya Belorussiya" published a transcript of a telephone conversation between Nemtsov and Belarus's United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka in which they allegedly discussed how to oust Lukashenka (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 10 September 2002). JM

UKRAINIAN COURT BANS 16 SEPTEMBER ANTIPRESIDENTIAL RALLY IN KYIV... A local court in Kyiv on 12 September complied with the request of the Kyiv city administration to prohibit the planned opposition rally on European Square in Kyiv on 16 September, UNIAN reported. The court said the rally might disrupt the city's daily routine by provoking "mass violations of the public order" and added that opposition parties could move their protest to a sports complex outside the capital. The judge said the verdict is not subject to appeal. Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko said on 13 September that the city administration will take every measure to implement the ban. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party have planned to inaugurate the "Rise Up, Ukraine!" nationwide antipresidential campaign with the 16 September rally in Kyiv. JM

...AS ORGANIZERS PLEDGE TO LAUNCH PROTESTS 'UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.' Quoting from a joint statement by the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party, Socialist Party lawmaker Ivan Bokyy said in the Verkhovna Rada on 13 September that the "Rise Up, Ukraine" protest campaign will take place "under any circumstances." The statement stated that the protesters will be armed only with "[our] words and the constitution, and if the authorities resort to provocations and pogroms, they will be fully responsible [for that]." Bokyy told the parliament that President Leonid Kuchma plans to "run away" from Ukraine on 16 September. The presidential administration announced the previous day that Kuchma will take part in an economic forum in Salzburg (Austria) on 15-17 September. Meanwhile, Iosip Vinskyy from the Socialist Party told journalists that the opposition will appeal against the ban to the Kyiv Appeals Court on 16 September. According to Vinskyy, an appeal to a higher-instance court automatically suspends the relevant verdict of a lower-instance court. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST LEADER ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF LOSING 200 NUCLEAR WARHEADS. Speaking at a news conference in Kharkiv (eastern Ukraine) on 12 September, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said, "We will once again raise the issue of [Ukraine's] arms sales, in particular, regarding the whereabouts of 200 Ukrainian nuclear warheads." Symonenko said he has already spoken about this issue in the parliament. He explained that Ukraine, in order to meet its international obligations, had to ship 2,400 nuclear warheads to Russia but transferred only 2,200. "We do not know where those [missing] 200 are," he noted. In commenting on Symonenko's claims, Defense Ministry spokesman Kostyantyn Khivrenko said, "This could hardly be possible. Two hundred warheads are not a needle in a haystack." JM

UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST RECEIVES OFFICIAL PROTECTION. Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has provided personal protection for Olena Prytula, the editor in chief of the "Ukrayinska pravda" website, UNIAN reported on 12 September, quoting an SBU spokesman. Prytula appealed for official protection earlier this week, arguing that her life could be in danger in connection with the investigation into the death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2002). JM


NEWSPAPER ORDERED TO PUBLISH MOTION TO LIFT TYMOSHENKO'S IMMUNITY? The Kyiv-based newspaper "2000" on 6 September published on six full pages a request by Prosecutor-General Piskun to the Verkhovna Rada to lift the deputy immunity of opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko. "Ukrayinska pravda" suggested that the request -- which has not yet been addressed by parliament -- was publicized following an instruction from either the presidential administration or the Prosecutor-General's Office in order to start an anti-Tymoshenko campaign in the state-run media. According to the published request, prosecutors suspect Tymoshenko of bribery, abuse of office, forgery, embezzlement of property, and tax evasion. The charges are connected with Tymoshenko's work as head of Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine in 1995-97 and her position as deputy premier in Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet in 1999-2000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September)