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UKRAINIAN LEGISLATURE WANTS EXPLANATION OF FORMER DEPUTY PREMIER'S ARREST. The Verkhovna Rada on 2 April requested that the prosecutor-general inform lawmakers concerning the recent arrest of former Deputy Prime Minister Leonid Kozachenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 March 2003), UNIAN reported. Three agrarian groups -- the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation, the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners, and the Ukrainian Grain Association -- have asked parliament to look into the case against Kozachenko, who was responsible for agricultural reforms, and hold a debate on the situation on the Ukrainian grain market. According to the appeal, the abuse-of-office and tax-evasion charges against Kozachenko were brought by incompetent people who, the document adds, might have been inspired either by "politicians who are ready to surrender state interests for pursuing their strictly personal interests," or by "foreign-influenced centers that are not interested in Ukraine's being a flourishing grain producer." JM
KYIV LIFTS BAN ON POULTRY IMPORTS FROM U.S.. Ukraine has lifted a ban on U.S. poultry imports just three months after it came into effect, Interfax reported on 1 April, quoting State Veterinary-Medicine Department chief Petro Verbytskyy. The import ban entered into force on 1 January. Under an agreement reached in Washington last week, U.S. exporters must provide new certificates attesting that the poultry was treated with neither growth stimulants nor agents to ward off infection. According to ITAR-TASS, the poultry ban proved an obstacle to a U.S.-Ukrainian protocol on mutual access to commodities and services markets, which, in its turn, is a prerequisite for Ukraine's entry admission to the World Trade Organization. JM
UKRAINIAN AGENCY APOLOGIZES FOR APRIL FOOL'S DAY JOKE. Ukraine's Forum news agency has apologized to the Defense Ministry and the media for an April Fool's Day report in which it said the Ukrainian anti-nuclear, -biological, and -chemical (NBC) battalion in Kuwait had sided with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 April. Passions reportedly flared after Ukrainian websites quickly quoted the Forum revelation about the NBC unit. The Defense Ministry said the same day that the NBC battalion in Kuwait will include 450 servicemen, not 532, as initially planned. Meanwhile, Communist Party lawmakers Petro Symonenko and Heorhiy Kryuchkov has submitted a draft bill to the Verkhovna Rada calling for the annulment of the parliamentary decision of 20 March to deploy the NBC battalion to Kuwait (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 26 March 2003). JM