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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION RALLIES TO DEMAND PRESIDENT'S OUSTER. Several thousand people gathered on Independence Square in Kyiv on 19 October for a rally organized by the opposition as part of the ongoing "Rise Up, Ukraine!" antipresidential protest campaign, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Opposition leaders appealed to demonstrators to sign a resolution urging President Leonid Kuchma to resign on 21 October. Demonstrators subsequently moved to the presidential administration headquarters on Bankova Street, where they lit candles and set up a plaque reading, "On this street a memorial will be erected to honor victims of the Kuchma regime." The rally coincided with the 10th anniversary of Kuchma's coming to power. In October 1992, the Ukrainian parliament appointed Kuchma as prime minister. Kuchma left the post of prime minister in 1993, and in 1994 he was elected president of Ukraine. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS STOP STRIKE. Ukrainian coal miners suspended a general strike on 18 October after the Verkhovna Rada approved the first reading of a 2003 budget draft that pledges more financial support for the sector, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Last week, miners at approximately 130 of Ukraine's 170 coal mines refused to ship coal to consumers or halted their work completely to protest what they said was insufficient funding for the coal-mining sector in the budget draft proposed by the government. JM

UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES RELEASE RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN. Russian businessman Konstantin Grigorishin was released from detention on 20 October, a week after he was arrested on charges of illegal possession of weapons and drugs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2002), Ukrainian news agencies reported. Grigorishin told journalists the same day that presidential administration chief Viktor Medvedchuk had previously threatened to put him in jail, reportedly because of Grigorishin's refusal to finance Medvedchuk's Social Democratic Party-united's parliamentary-election campaign. Grigorishin heads the Energy Standard Group, a Russian-Ukrainian company. Later on 20 October, Grigorishin was reportedly hospitalized after suffering from symptoms of a heart attack. JM

U.S., BRITISH EXPERTS ASSESS KOLCHUGA ALLEGATIONS. U.S. and British experts have completed a fact-gathering mission in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 2002) but need at least a week to establish whether Ukraine sold a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in contravention of UN sanctions, Reuters reported on 21 October, quoting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. "[The experts] are in the process of reviewing a very large volume of data and information which they collected. They need to assess it, they need to determine if there are any gaps, they need to determine if any additional information is necessary, and they will then at that point reach conclusions," Pascual told journalists. JM