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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

IRANIAN PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami arrived in Kyiv on 15 October for a two-day official visit, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Khatami and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma agreed on the creation of a joint aircraft-construction consortium and discussed the possibility for constructing a gas pipeline from Iran to Europe transiting Ukraine, UNIAN reported. The two sides signed accords on bilateral trade and cooperation in health care as well as an anti-drug trafficking memorandum. Khatami told journalists that Iraq poses a threat to other countries if it possesses weapons of mass destruction, but called for a peaceful solution to the conflict between Baghdad and Washington. '"We are against unilateral action by the United States," Khatami added. Kuchma said Ukraine too supports a peaceful solution to the Iraq problem. JM

CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAID TO BE ILLEGAL. The administration of Ukrainian President Kuchma believes the criminal case instigated against Kuchma by Judge Yuriy Vasylenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002) is illegal and anticonstitutional, UNIAN reported on 15 October, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Presidential administration chief Viktor Medvedchuk called the case an example of "legal nihilism." According to the Ukrainian Constitution, the president of Ukraine enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office and may be held accountable before a court of law only after a procedure of impeachment has been initiated against the president. However, there are no laws in Ukraine defining the procedure for impeachment. Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych also said the case against Kuchma is "beneath all criticism from a legal point of view." Lavrynovych admitted, however, that bringing to court persons shielded by immunity from prosecution has not been clearly regulated in Ukraine. JM

POLAND HOSTS CONFERENCE ON UKRAINE'S RELATIONS WITH EU... On 15 October in Warsaw, President Kwasniewski opened a two-day conference devoted to relations between the European Union and Ukraine and stressed that a democratic Ukraine is essential for European security, PAP reported. The conference was organized under the patronage of Kwasniewski and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and gathered representatives of the Ukrainian authorities (including presidential administration chief Viktor Medvedchuk and National Defense and Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk) and the opposition (including Oleksandr Moroz and Viktor Yushchenko), as well as participants from Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary. Ukrainian President Kuchma was expected to arrive in Warsaw on 16 October to meet with Kwasniewski and Solana. Warsaw originally intended to use the conference to initiate dialogue between the Ukrainian authorities and the opposition, but backed down after Kuchma charged that this could constitute "interference" in Ukraine's domestic affairs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2002). JM

...AS SOLANA SLAMS KYIV FOR 'PLAYING WITH THE RULES.' "Europe won't be stable and secure if Ukraine is not stable and secure," AP quoted Solana as saying at the conference. Solana said his main concern is that Ukraine is not making progress on its democratic path. He called for allowing freedom of the media and eliminating murky links between politics and business. "Ukraine is not playing by the rules but playing with the rules. We would like one day to embrace your country, but we have to know what country you are," Solana said. "But at this time I have to tell you this is impossible," he added. JM