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U.S. TO AID UKRAINIAN CIVIL SOCIETY RATHER THAN GOVERNMENT. The United States will divert money from the Ukrainian government to civil-society groups because the government did not cooperate sufficiently with an inquiry into allegations that it sold embargoed military equipment to Iraq, Reuters reported on 31 January, quoting a U.S. official on conditions of anonymity. The decision was the outcome of a recently completed review of U.S. policy toward Ukraine, which has tightened since evidence emerged suggesting that President Leonid Kuchma in 2000 planned to sell a Kolchuga radar system to Baghdad. "We will make a major effort to take funds that previously would have gone to the government and we will put a heavy emphasis on support for nongovernmental organizations," the source said. "The policy review reaffirms that support for a stable democratic market-oriented Ukraine -- increasingly integrated into Euro-Atlantic institutions -- remains in the U.S. interest," U.S. State Department spokesman Louis Fintour said, but he added that the Kolchuga allegations have forced Washington to adjust its assistance program "to bolster support for democratic reform in Ukraine." The United States, citing the alleged Kolchuga sale, has already suspended $55 million in aid to Ukraine, representing some 35 percent of the total under the Freedom Support Act. JM

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS COMPATRIOTS IN UKRAINE. Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov on 1 February visited the Bolhrad and Izmayil districts of Ukraine's Odesa Oblast, where large Bulgarian communities live, Interfax and UNIAN reported. According to the 2001 census, some 205,000 Bulgarians live in Ukraine, including 150,000 in Odesa Oblast. UNIAN reported that Odesa Governor Serhiy Hrynevetskyy on 31 January appointed Anton Kisse, a leader of the Bulgarian diaspora in Ukraine, as his deputy. JM

THREE UKRAINIAN MINERS DIE IN BLAZE. Three miners died and three were seriously injured in a fire at the Dzerzhinskyy coal mine in Donetsk Oblast on 2 February, Interfax reported. JM

CHISINAU, TIRASPOL AGREE TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS. William Hill, the OSCE's mission head in Moldova, on 31 January announced that Chisinau and Tiraspol have agreed to resume the negotiations on a settlement based on the OSCE proposals for Moldova's federalization, Infotag reported. Hill said negotiators representing the two sides will meet weekly, and that once a month negotiations will take place in the presence of representatives of the three mediators -- the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. Hill said the OSCE regards the settlement of the Transdniester conflict as one of its chief tasks in 2003. For this purpose, he added, the OSCE chairman in office has appointed Adriaan Jacobovitz as his permanent representative for the Transdniester settlement, and Jacobovitz will work on a permanent basis with the OSCE mission. Jacobovitz himself said the negotiations have been dragging on far too long and the conflict requires priority attention. MS

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA. Volodymyr Shkydchenko held talks in Tbilisi on 31 January with his Georgian counterpart Tevzadze, Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze, and President Eduard Shevardnadze, Caucasus Press reported. Shkydchenko said he and Tevzadze discussed mutual cooperation, including continued help in the training of Georgian military personnel but added that they did not discuss either the possible replacement of the Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia by a Ukrainian contingent or the purchase by Georgia of Ukrainian air-defense missiles. Shkydchenko also denied Azerbaijani press reports that Ukraine has offered to make forces available to guard the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil-export pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 January 2003). On 1 February, Caucasus Press quoted Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze as saying that Tbilisi is negotiating with Ukraine and the Czech Republic the possible purchase of air-defense missiles, but that the issue was not raised during Shkydchenko's visit. LF