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KYIV DENIES REPORTS OF NUCLEAR SALES TO AL-QAEDA. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 9 February that reports in some foreign and Ukrainian media alleging sales of tactical nuclear weapons to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network by Ukrainian scientists are "totally groundless and surprising," Interfax reported. The London-based "Al-Hayat" newspaper, referring to unnamed members of Al-Qaeda, reported on 8 February that Ukrainian scientists traveled to the Afghan city of Kandahar in 1998 and struck a deal with Al-Qaeda for the sale of an unspecified number of nuclear "suitcase bombs." The ministry asserts that "suitcase nuclear weapons" were not stored in Ukraine. The statement notes that all tactical nuclear weapons were transferred from Ukraine to Russia in May 1992 under a bilateral agreement with Russia. "I can say this is a completely dull canard, which highlights once again that certain circles in this world are willing to defame Ukraine," Volodymyr Horbulin, a presidential adviser on national security, commented on the "Al-Hayat" allegations. In September 2002, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko alleged that the government documented the transfer of 2,200 of Ukraine's 2,400 nuclear warheads to Russia, while the fate of the remaining 200 warheads is unknown (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 September 2002). JM

BLAST IN KYIV DISTRICT COURT INJURES 10. An explosion in the basement of Kyiv's Darnytsya District Court on 9 February injured 10 people, Interfax reported. The court building's facade was partially destroyed, and windows in nearby buildings were smashed by the shock waves. A police officer on duty in the court reportedly said there was a smell of carbide prior to the explosion. Police are investigating the cause of the blast. JM

TIRASPOL ASKS UKRAINE TO SEND 'PEACEKEEPERS' TO TRANSDNIESTER. Separatist Supreme Soviet speaker Grigorii Marakutsa said Tiraspol is asking Ukraine to send peacekeepers to Transdniester, Flux reported on 9 February. Addressing a delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians in Tiraspol, Marakutsa said it is "only a matter of time" until Moldova will become integrated with Romania, which will lead to the evacuation to the Russian troops in the region. Tiraspol is therefore appealing to Ukraine to deploy to the region a "small contingent of peacekeepers" in addition to the 10 Ukrainian soldiers currently serving as peacekeepers in the region. MS