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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES HUMANITARIAN AID TO IRAQ... President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in Kyiv on 26 March that Ukraine, "within the limits of its capabilities," will provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq, UNIAN reported. Kuchma also said Kyiv wants to participate in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq, but added that he does not know whether Ukraine will be "allowed" to do so. JM

...URGES POLAND TO HELP CONSTRUCT OIL PIPELINE... President Kuchma said the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline should be extended as soon as possible to the Polish port of Gdansk, UNIAN reported. He added that Poland, which has expressed interest in constructing this pipeline, has not been making any specific steps to this end. JM

...AND WANTS TESTS OF 'SIMPLY NONEXISTENT' MELNYCHENKO TAPES. President Kuchma also said that the secret audio recordings allegedly made in his office by his former bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko should be examined in Ukraine and in accordance with Ukrainian laws, UNIAN reported. At the same time, Kuchma stressed that the Melnychenko tapes are "simply nonexistent," adding that now this topic is of interest only for the "Ukrayinska pravda" website and the politicians who gravitate to it. JM

POLISH INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER SURVIVES TWO NO-CONFIDENCE VOTES. The Sejm on 26 March rejected two no-confidence motions in Deputy Premier and Infrastructure Minister Marek Pol, one of which was submitted jointly by Self-Defense and the League of Polish Families and the other jointly by Civic Platform and Law and Justice, PAP reported. The former motion was supported by 211 lawmakers and the latter by 209 lawmakers; 231 votes were necessary to oust Pol from the cabinet. The opposition parties criticize Pol for his proposal to introduce a special road tax for the construction of new highways and for his recent gas-supply deal with Russia (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 18 March 2003). The same day, it became known that two lawmakers from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) cheated during the no-confidence votes by voting for their two absent colleagues. The SLD caucus on 27 March expelled the four deputies concerned from its ranks. JM

FORMER MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE. Former Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz was appointed on 26 March Moldova's new ambassador to Ukraine, Flux reported. Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev said Ukraine is "a strategic country" for Moldova, and expressed the hope that Cernomaz's experience will soon lead to an improvement in the two countries' political and economic relations. MS