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...AND WARNS MOSCOW AGAINST SWALLOWING BELARUS. President Lukashenka said in a prerecorded television program broadcast by Russia's NTV on 31 October that the Kremlin's purported proposal that Belarus accede to the Russian Federation as its 90th subject is unacceptable, Belapan reported. According to Lukashenka, Russian President Vladimir Putin made such a proposal during their last meeting, in Sochi in mid-September (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 and 23 September 2003). "I told Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin]: Do you want to get another Chechnya in the west of the country, our former Fatherland?" Lukashenka said. JM

OUR UKRAINE FAILS TO HOLD FORUM IN DONETSK... A forum of democratic forces planned by Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine in Donetsk for 31 October did not take place due to an apparently coordinated attempt to prevent the gathering and fan anti-Yushchenko sentiments in the city (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 2003), Ukrainian media reported. The planned venue was filled by some 2,000 people shouting anti-Yushchenko slogans, while many groups staged anti-Yushchenko rallies in the city and the city itself was adorned with billboards carrying an image of Yushchenko extending his hand in a Nazi salute and calling for the "purity of the nation." "What is going on now is a pathological situation [provoked by] the authorities," Interfax quoted Yushchenko as saying in Donetsk. A rally of several hundred Yushchenko supporters in Donetsk passed a resolution proposing him as a candidate in the 2004 presidential election. JM

...BUT GATHERS IN LVIV. Some 15,000 people took part in a forum of supporters of democracy that was organized by Our Ukraine in Lviv on 1 November, Interfax reported. Yushchenko told the crowd, which was gathered in front of the regional-administration building, that he believes it is possible for democratic forces to field a single candidate in the 2003 presidential ballot. Yushchenko assured participants that draft bills aimed at amending the constitution in order to empower the Verkhovna Rada to elect a president will not be accepted. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. President Leonid Kuchma has proposed deputy parliamentary speaker Hennadiy Vasilyev to the Verkhovna Rada for approval as the country's new prosecutor-general, Interfax reported on 3 November, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Kuchma sacked the previous prosecutor-general, Svyatoslav Piskun, last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2003). "Changing the loyal prosecutor-general for a more loyal one testifies to the fact that the authorities intend to transform the Prosecutor-General's Office into a 'punishing sword of the party,' as it was in 1937," Our Ukraine leader Yushchenko alleged on 1 November. Yushchenko did not rule out that Piskun's sacking might have been linked to "new circumstances" in the case of slain journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Vasilyev, born in 1953, was elected to the legislature in a single-seat constituency in Donetsk Oblast in 2002. He had served in two previous parliaments. He was chief prosecutor in Donetsk Oblast in 1991-96 and again in 1997-98. JM

OSCE MISSION CHIEF CONFIRMS COMPROMISE PROPOSAL FOR TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT... William Hill, OSCE mission chief to Moldova, confirmed on 31 October that a compromise proposal aimed at bridging differences between Chisinau and Tiraspol has been worked out by the three mediators of the conflict (Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE) and handed to the two sides, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. AFP cited Hill as saying the mediators were asked by both Moldova and Transdniester to work out the proposal and that the recommendations they made pertain to the envisaged federal constitution, the division of authority within the federal structure, and "guarantees for the conflict's resolution." According to ITAR-TASS, Hill also said it is not possible for the Russian troops and armament to be withdrawn from Transdniester before the end of 2004, but that the withdrawal could be completed by the first half of 2005. MS

NEW AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TAKES OATH OF OFFICE. Ilham Aliyev was inaugurated as president of Azerbaijan on 31 October, swearing on the Koran and the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic to protect the country's independence and territorial integrity, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported. In a 30-minute address before foreign dignitaries including Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Aliyev pledged to continue the policies espoused by his father, outgoing President Heidar Aliyev, which he summarized as "peace, order, progress, development, creation, and stability," Turan reported. Ilham Aliyev told journalists on 1 November that his offer of dialogue with the opposition remains in force, but that he will not reiterate it indefinitely. Turan reported on 1 November that Heidar Aliyev had issued a decree releasing his son from his post as prime minister, and that Ilham Aliyev has dismissed the government which will, however, continue in office until a new cabinet is unveiled. LF