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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW PREMIER... The Verkhovna Rada on 21 November approved Donetsk Governor Viktor Yanukovych as new prime minister with 234 votes, eight more than were required, Reuters and AP reported. The parliamentary opposition that controls 210 votes -- Our Ukraine, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc -- did not take part in the voting. UNIAN reported that one lawmaker each from Our Ukraine and from the Socialist Party voted for Yanukovych despite their caucuses' decision to boycott the vote. "The most important task is to strengthen the positive dynamic and the tempo of economic growth. This progress must give the signal to the world that Ukraine is a country which is developing quickly and transforming into a democratic country," Yanukovych told deputies prior to the vote. JM
...WHO CONFESSES TO IMPRISONMENT IN YOUTH. Yanukovych on 20 November disseminated a short autobiography among Ukrainian media in which he confesses that in 1968 he was convicted and sent to a penal colony for juveniles. Yanukovych specified neither the nature of his conviction nor how long he was incarcerated. He also said that in 1970 he was convicted for "causing bodily injuries of a medium level [of harmfulness]" but did not say whether he was imprisoned for the deed. Yanukovych made public his income declaration, saying he earned some 17,500 hryvnyas ($3,300) in 2001 in his post as Donetsk Oblast governor. JM
NEW POLISH-UKRAINIAN BORDER CROSSING OPENED. Poland and Ukraine on 20 November opened a new border crossing in Kroscienko-Smolnica in the Bieszczady Mountains, PAP reported, quoting Podkarpacie Province governor spokesman Jan Koryl. "The crossing is international in character and is intended for cars and freight vehicles up to 3.5 tons in weight," Koryl said. JM
...AND REJECTS RUMORS OF HIS LIKELY DISMISSAL BY PRESIDENT. Speaking on Romanian Television on 19 November, Nastase said he shares President Ion Iliescu's opinion that the Romanian government must become more efficient following the current NATO Prague summit and the EU summit in Copenhagen in December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November 2002). The premier added that he does not believe the president is considering changing the head of government. "Those who insinuated this intention probably had in mind [Ukrainian] President [Leonid] Kuchma, but are somehow mistaken as to the country where this could be relevant," Mediafax quoted Nastase as saying on 20 November. MS
ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS FAST-TRACK RESTORATION OF CITIZENSHIP. The government issued an emergency ordinance on 20 November under which the fast-track, cost-free procedure for regaining Romanian citizenship was suspended for six months. The legislation applied to those whose citizenship was revoked by the communist authorities or were forced to renounce it due to "circumstances beyond their volition," such as immigration or living in territories lost by Romania after World War II. It also applied to those persons' descendants. The government justified the suspension by citing the "explosive" increase in the number of people reapplying for citizenship -- more than 13,000 since August. Mediafax cited the daily "Kyiv Post" as reporting that the increase in requests was due to the fact that many Ukrainians and Moldovans who were former Romanian citizens, or descendants of former Romanian citizens, recently applied because they expect Romania to become a member of the European Union and Romanian citizenship would thus facilitate work and travel in Western Europe. MS