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POSSIBLE ACCORD ON CIS SINGLE ECONOMIC ZONE SPARKS CONTROVERSIES IN UKRAINE. The parliamentary Committee for European Integration has recommended to President Leonid Kuchma not to sign an agreement on a common economic zone with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 2 September 2003), the signing of which is reportedly expected to take place at a CIS summit in Yalta on 18-19 September, Interfax reported on 10 September. The committee believes the agreement contradicts the country's course for the integration into Europe and the Ukrainian Constitution. Deputy Premier Vitaliy Hayduk told journalists on 10 September that he opposes the creation of a supranational controlling body as stipulated by the draft agreement on the common economic zone of the four CIS countries. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET SUBMITS 2004 BUDGET DRAFT TO PARLIAMENT. The Verkhovna Rada has registered a 2004 budget draft, Interfax reported on 10 September. The document projects budget revenues at 58.2 billion hryvnyas ($10.9 billion) and a deficit of 2.37 billion hryvnyas. The government expects that GPD in 2004 will grow by 4.8 percent, while the annual inflation rate will be 6 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY SPEAKER THROWN OUT OF PARTY. The Political Bureau of the Social Democratic Party-united (SDPU-o) on 10 September expelled deputy parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Zinchenko from the SDPU-o, Ukrainian news agencies reported. SDPU-o lawmaker Nestor Shufrych said Zinchenko was ousted for failing to put his signature to a draft constitutional-reform plan that was recently prepared by the presidential administration and lawmakers from the Communist Party and the Socialist Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 2003). JM

POLISH PROSECUTORS RENEW PROBE INTO ALLEGED DEFAMATION OF POPE. Prosecutors will restart a probe into the alleged public defamation of Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II in Kalisz in 1997, PAP reported on 10 September. During the presidential-election campaign in September 2000, the election staff of Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski presented a video on public television showing National Security Bureau chief Marek Siwiec on his trip with President Aleksander Kwasniewski to Kalisz in 1997 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 26 September 2000). The video showed Siwiec, emerging from a helicopter, mocking the pope by making a sign of the cross and kissing the ground, to which Kwasniewski responded with amusement and encouragement. The probe was closed in January 2003 with no charges made. JM

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT INVITES EU TO JOIN MEDIATORS IN CONFLICT WITH TRANSDNIESTER. Addressing an international conference on "Frozen Conflicts in Europe" on 11 September, President Vladimir Voronin invited the EU to join the team of mediators in the conflict with Transdniester, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. That team includes the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. Voronin also invited the EU to open a permanent representation in Chisinau. European Council Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer told the forum that the EU backs the OSCE and the international community's efforts to find a solution to the conflict, but added that the sides involved in it must agree on the means of bringing about that solution. On 10 September, Deputy Foreign Minister Ion Stavila told RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova service that the proposal made by OSCE Chairman in Office Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to have EU troops participate in peacekeeping operations in Transdniester is "grounds for optimism." Earlier, Voronin had distanced himself from the Dutch foreign minister's proposal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 July 2003). MS

WORLD BANK DECLINES MOLDOVAN REQUEST TO EXTEND CREDIT TERM. The World Bank has turned down the Moldovan government's request to prolong the agreement on the Third Structural Adjustment (SAC-III), which expires on 30 September, BASA-press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 2003). Luca Barbone, World Bank director for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, informed the Moldovan cabinet that the bank sees no possibility to extend the term, and that the remaining two tranches will not be disbursed. Moldova has received only $10.6 million out of the $30 million credit. The credit was frozen in December 2002, when the World Bank established that Moldova did not abide by some of its conditions. MS