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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES DRAFT ACCORD ON CIS SINGLE ECONOMIC AREA. Following a request from Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September), the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September began to mull the controversial draft accord between Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine on the creation of a single economic zone, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Deputy Premier Mykola Azarov, who represented Kyiv in drafting the accord, told lawmakers that the document does not threaten Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization or its future integration with the European Union. Azarov also argued that the accord will not impair the country's sovereignty. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko said Kyiv should sign this accord with "reservations" in order to avoid violating the country's constitution and legislation. Our Ukraine, led by Viktor Yushchenko, issued a statement on 15 September calling on President Leonid Kuchma not to sign this accord. JM

NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR TAKES DUTY IN UKRAINE. John Herbst, the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, presented his credentials to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hryshchenko in Kyiv on 15 September, Ukrainian news agencies reported. "My primary goal is to improve our bilateral relations in all aspects," Herbst told journalists after his meeting with Hryshchenko. "As Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the [Ukrainian] government, we too want to see Ukraine integrated into the Euroatlantic community," Interfax quoted Herbst as saying. Herbst previously served as ambassador to Tashkent. JM

POLISH PREMIER'S CHIEF OF STAFF DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN RYWINGATE. Aleksandra Jakubowska, chief of staff of Prime Minister Leszek Miller's cabinet, told journalists on 15 September that she was not involved in the bribery scandal known in Poland as Rywingate (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 14 January 2003) and is not going to resign, Polish media reported. While testifying earlier this month before the parliamentary commission investigating the scandal, former PAP journalist Anna Wojciechowska suggested that Jakubowska in 2002 might have intentionally deleted two words from the media bill that lies at the heart of the Rywingate scandal. JM