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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINE WARNS RUSSIA ABOUT RESPONSIBILITY FOR POSSIBLE BORDER CONFLICT... The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has warned Moscow in a diplomatic note that the Russian side will be held fully accountable for any potential border conflict connected with the construction of a Russian dam in the Kerch Strait (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 2003), Interfax reported, quoting ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy. Lubkivskyy said Kyiv is concerned about a request by the Russian side to provide "the copies of documents, including cartographic ones, on which the Ukrainian side is basing its suppositions regarding its ownership of the island of Tuzla," which the dam project is gradually approaching. The dam is now reportedly some 400 meters from the Ukrainian frontier. "It is unacceptable for Ukraine to confirm the indisputable fact that the Tuzla island is an inalienable part of the Ukrainian territory," Lubkivskyy said. JM

...AS NATO HEAD PLEDGES TO RAISE ISSUE OF DAM WITH MOSCOW. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Kyiv on 20 October that he will speak about the Tuzla situation during his upcoming visit to Moscow, Interfax reported. Robertson said Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, with whom he met earlier the same day, did not ask for NATO's assistance in resolving the looming dispute. According to Robertson, the Ukrainian-Russian border problem in the Kerch Strait should be settled by both concerned sides with the participation of such organizations as the United Nations. Meanwhile, lawmaker Ihor Ostash from the Our Ukraine bloc, who visited Tuzla last week, told journalists on 20 October that the dam construction is very likely to trigger a "provocation" that could even lead to a Ukrainian-Russian military clash. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST LEADER SAYS POLITICAL REFORM IS OVER. Communist Party head Petro Symonenko told journalists in Kyiv on 20 October that the political reform proposed by the presidential administration and the pro-presidential majority (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 26 August and 2 September 2003) has failed, Interfax reported. "The constitutional reform...has been concocted as a distracting political maneuver," Symonenko said. He was commenting on a meeting of the leaders of parliamentary groups earlier the same day. The Verkhovna Rada's activities appear to be suspended by a bitter row over the adoption of a fully proportional election law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2003). Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said on 20 October that as long as opposition and pro-presidential parliamentary leaders fail to find a compromise regarding the election law, he does not see much sense in holding plenary sessions of the Verkhovna Rada. JM

U.S. HOUSE CONDEMNS 1932-33 FAMINE IN UKRAINE AS 'MASS MURDER.' The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on 20 October honoring victims of the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine and branding the tragedy as a "deliberate act of terror and mass murder against the Ukrainian people" perpetrated by the Soviet regime of Josef Stalin (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 21 October 2003), RFE/RL reported. "The official recognition of the famine by the Government of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada represents a significant step in the reestablishment of Ukraine's national identity, the elimination of the legacy of the Soviet dictatorship, and the advancement of efforts to establish a democratic and free Ukraine that is fully integrated into the Western community of nations," the resolution reads. JM