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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPEALS TO BUSH, BLAIR OVER ARRESTED SAILORS. The Verkhovna Rada appealed on 3 October to U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for their help in resolving the problem of the "Navstar-1" tanker with 21 Ukrainian crewmembers who were apprehended in the Persian Gulf in August by a British Navy ship for smuggling diesel fuel out of Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 2003), Interfax reported. The appeal says the Verkhovna Rada believes that "Ukraine may hope for your goodwill assistance in determining the fate of Ukrainian citizens who have found themselves in an extremely difficult situation." JM

KYIV WARNS MOSCOW AGAINST VIOLATION OF STATE BORDER IN KERCH STRAIT. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement warning the Russian government that its plans to build a dam between Russia's Taman Peninsula and the islet of Tuzla in Kerch Strait may violate Ukraine's state border and territorial integrity, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on 3 October. Following the construction of the dam, the Russian side is reportedly going to set a frontier post on the islet, which Ukraine considers to be its own territory. Kerch Strait is a shallow channel connecting the Azov Sea with the Black Sea and separating Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula in the east. JM

...AND LIFTS IMMUNITY OF FOUR RADICAL AGRARIANS. Also on 2 October, the Polish lower house lifted the parliamentary immunity of Self-Defense leader Andrzej Lepper and his three colleagues, Krzysztof Filipek, Alfred Budner, and Maria Zbyrowska, who in June 2002 dumped grain from railcars on railway tracks at a junction outside Warsaw to protest government agricultural policies (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 19 June 2002). Prosecutors are reportedly preparing an indictment against the four under Article 288 of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment up to five years for destroying someone else's property, damaging it, or rendering it unsuitable for use. JM

POLAND NOTES BIG DROP IN TRAFFIC ON EASTERN BORDER. Major General Jozef Klimowicz, chief of the Polish Border Guards, told Polish Radio on 2 October that traffic at border crossings on Poland's eastern border dropped by 70-90 percent following the introduction the previous day of visas for citizens of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Belarus. "At the section of the Bug Detachment of the Border Guards, some 8,000 people would normally cross the border, but yesterday [1 October] only about 700-800 people crossed the border," Klimowicz said. "So we can see what the situation is: citizens of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine simply do not have visas yet," but are likely to have them in the near future. JM