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FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT BURIED... Large delegations from Turkey and Russia, and smaller groups of senior officials from the United States, Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan converged on Baku on 15 December to attend the funeral of former President Heidar Aliyev, Azerbaijani and international media reported. But few foreign dignitaries, except for acting Georgian President Nino Burdjanadze and presidential candidate Mikhail Saakashvili, accompanied the casket to the Avenue of Honor, where the former president was interred beside his late wife Zarifa, a Western official in Baku informed "RFE/RL Newsline." Tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis filed past the casket lying in state at the Palace of the Republic. LF
UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS CALL FOR SINGLE OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE... The Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) has issued an appeal to Our Ukraine, the Communist Party of Ukraine, and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc to agree on a single presidential candidate by mid-May, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported on 15 December. "Fielding a single candidate from the opposition is necessary because this is expected by the overwhelming majority of Ukraine's voters [and also] simplifies the positioning during the election campaign and actually makes the [2004 presidential] ballot a referendum on confidence in the authorities and the opposition," the appeal reads. The SPU declares its readiness to support any of the four opposition leaders -- Viktor Yushchenko, Petro Symonenko, Yuliya Tymoshenko, or Oleksandr Moroz -- during the election campaign, provided that the four opposition parties agree on a single presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko has ruled out such an agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 December 2003). JM
...AS PRESIDENTIAL-ADMINISTRATION CHIEF URGES CENTER-LEFT ALLIANCE AGAINST RIGHT WING. Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party-united and head of the presidential administration, has call via his website (http://www.medvedchuk.org.ua) for a "broad center-left coalition" in order to "preserve the political stability and the moderate political course" in Ukraine. "The principal threat to democracy is coming today not from the left, but the right political wing," Medvedchuk argues. Our Ukraine lawmaker Taras Stetskiv said Medvedchuk's appeal is intended "to split the opposition and push [Our Ukraine leader Viktor] Yushchenko to the right extremist wing," the Our Ukraine press service reported. JM