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CHIEF OF STAFF'S INFLUENCE GROWS FOLLOWING WASHINGTON MISSION. Presidential chief of staff Aleksandr Voloshin's recent talks with the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 February 2003) in Washington, D.C., have considerably enhanced his influence in Moscow, "Vremya novostei" wrote on 28 February. Since 2000, Voloshin has been primarily responsible for improving Russian-Ukrainian relations, and his successes in this sphere have led to several other important foreign-policy assignments. Voloshin was sent to Washington to assess the possible costs to Moscow of vetoing a UN Security Council resolution on Iraq and to learn the extent to which Russian companies will be able to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq following a possible U.S.-led military action there, the daily speculated. TV-Tsentr commented on 28 February that normally such a mission would fall to Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, but Rushailo reportedly has not established sufficiently warm relations with U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, so President Vladimir Putin sent Voloshin instead. VY
UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR OVERTHROW OF GOVERNMENT. A congress of opposition legislators of all levels in Kyiv on 2 March called on Ukrainians to take part in protests to depose the current ruling regime, UNIAN reported. The congress, which attracted some 2,000 people (including 1,405 opposition deputies as delegates), was organized by the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc. Deputies from Our Ukraine, including its leader Viktor Yushchenko, attended the congress as guests. The three opposition parties are planning on 9 March to renew their "Rise Up, Ukraine!" campaign intended to force President Leonid Kuchma to resign from his post and to bring about early presidential elections in the country. Addressing the congress, Yushchenko -- whose Our Ukraine avoids identifying too closely with the radical slogans of the Communists, the Socialists, and Tymoshenko's followers -- called on opposition forces to unite "at any price." Tymoshenko told journalists that the problem of fielding a joint presidential candidate from the opposition will be tackled only after the official announcement of a presidential race. JM
UKRAINIAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF RESIGNS. Oleksandr Bondar, chairman of the State Property Fund (FDM), has tendered his resignation, Interfax reported on 1 March, quoting First Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mykola Azarov. Azarov said the government deems the activities of the FDM to have been unsatisfactory, adding that the privatization process supervised by the fund "has failed to become an instrument for speeding up the economy and meeting fiscal objectives." Azarov added that the privatization process in Ukraine has yielded "only" 6 billion hryvnyas ($1.12 billion) to date. Bondar has headed the FDM since October 1998. JM