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UKRAINIANS PROTEST IRAQ WAR. More than 100 representatives of Ukrainian organizations including the Communist Party, the Greens Party, and the Russian Bloc protested in Kyiv on 15 March against the U.S. campaign against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The protesters called on the Verkhovna Rada to reject a resolution adopted by the Ukrainian Security Council and defense department to send a Ukrainian antichemical battalion to the Persian Gulf, the news agency reported. The protesters carried slogans like "Not a drop of blood in exchange for oil" and "No Ukrainian battalion to war zone." Protesters marched to the U.S. Embassy and burned an American flag. AM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE WANTS POLITICAL REFORM DURING HIS TENURE. President Leonid Kuchma said on 14 March that amendments to the Ukrainian Constitution must be introduced before his current term is over, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 March 2003). "A new president, elected in 2004, should act within the framework of a reformed political system and thus with new authority," he said. In a reference to the bicameral parliament provided for in his draft proposal for political reform, Kuchma stressed such a structure would not signify the federalization of the country. "We need a two-chamber parliament, not to introduce elements of federative state structure, but to form the necessary balance in relations between the regions and to consider their specific character," he added. AM

UKRAINIAN CABINET APPROVES ACTION PLAN. The Ukrainian government on 15 March approved an action plan for 2003-04 titled "Openness, Activity, Effectiveness," UNIAN reported. The main goals of the government's stated policy are increasing living standards and ensuring civil rights and freedoms. The document predicts that gross domestic policy will increase by 5-6 percent in 2003 and by 8 percent the following year, export of commodities and services will increase by 5 percent, and real wages will grow by 12-15 percent. If the action plan is approved by the Verkhovna Rada, lawmakers have no right to seek the government's ouster for one year after its approval. AM

VOICE OF RUSSIA BEAMED ACROSS UKRAINE. Moscow-based state broadcaster Voice of Russia on 14 March launched programming on Ukraine's domestic radio channels, the company's director told ITAR-TASS. The "Welcome Ukraine" program will be broadcast in Russian during prime afternoon hours each Saturday on Ukrainian state radio's Channel 3, the news agency reported. Programming will highlight historical ties between Russia and Ukraine, as well as include reports on culture, science, and the economies in the two countries. AM

IS BROADCAST COUNCIL BIASED? The KRRiT is a constitutional body that was created in 1993 and tasked with distributing licenses and frequencies to private broadcasters after Poland began de-monopolizing its electronic-media market. Radio broadcast licenses in Poland are given for seven years and television broadcast licenses for 10 years. The KRRiT also appoints the supervisory boards of Poland's public television and radio system. KRRiT members are appointed by the Sejm (four), the Senate (two), and the president (three). They can be dismissed only after the Sejm, the Senate, and the president unanimously reject the KRRiT's annual report. It is generally believed that as of 1997, the KRRiT and, consequently, Polish public television and radio, have been dominated by individuals associated with the Democratic Left Alliance and the Peasant Party. Meanwhile, a group of prominent Polish journalists recently advocated a proposal in the 1 March issue of the weekly "Polityka" that the politically biased KRRiT be replaced by a body elected by the rectors of major Polish universities or by the Senate (governing body) of Jagiellonian University, Poland's oldest and most renowned university in Krakow. ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 11 March)


SWISS EXPERTS IDENTIFY JOURNALIST GONGADZE'S BODY. According to the results of an examination conducted by Swiss forensic experts, a body found in the woods near Kyiv in November 2000 is that of Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Ukrainian media reported on 11 March, quoting Deputy Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin. "I believe it would be unjust to deny that the body belongs to Heorhiy Gongadze from this moment on," Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Secretary-General Robert Menard told journalists in Kyiv the same day. An RSF representative participated in the examination. Lesya Gongadze, Heorhiy's mother, said she is ready to bury the remains of her son, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Shokin said investigators in the Gongadze case are considering several possible scenarios of the journalist's death, including the possibility that he was murdered by law-enforcement officers. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March)

MEDIA RESTRICTIONS PROTESTED AT ANTI-KUCHMA RALLY. Tens of thousands of people took part in an antipresidential rally at the monument to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv on 9 March, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Among the demands of the protest resolution were abolishing censorship and providing the opposition with regular airtime on state television. Police estimated that the rally in Kyiv comprised 10,000-15,000 demonstrators, while opposition sources put the figure at 50,000-150,000. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March)

OUR UKRAINE LEADER PROTESTS BAN ON MAILING FLYERS. Our Ukraine head Viktor Yushchenko said on 5 March that the recent ban on the dissemination of political leaflets through the state postal service, Ukrposhta, deprives the opposition of a crucial means of communication with the electorate, UNIAN reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March)