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ODESA-BRODY OIL TRANSPORT MAY BEGIN IN APRIL-MAY. Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Yermilov told Interfax Ukraine on 25 February that oil for the Odesa-Brody pipeline might begin entering the pipeline in April-May. Yermilov noted that Poland and Ukraine have reached an agreement about transporting oil by rail from the present end of the pipeline in Brody to Polish refineries. According to Yermilov, between 1 million and 5 million tons of oil would be transported to Poland by rail annually. Confirming Yermilov's statement, Faouzi Bensarsa, a representative of the European Commission, confirmed that contracts exist for the purchase of Caspian oil by Ukraine, Interfax Ukraine reported on 24 February. The agency also reported that ChevronTexaco is awaiting clarification from Ukraine concerning tariff rates to be charged for the Odesa-Brody pipeline. RK

POLISH DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS NO ALTERNATIVE TO AUSTERITY PLAN. Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Jerzy Hausner said on 24 February that there is no alternative to the government-proposed fiscal-austerity plan, PAP reported, and that if any element is removed, "the whole construction collapses." He added that the bills will be presented in the Sejm in a way that will make clear to "Poles and markets that the plan is not being watered down." Prime Minister Leszek Miller said the same day that party discipline for the coalition deputies in the Sejm will be enforced in voting on the bills, and repeated that if the plan is not approved the only option is to dissolve the Sejm and hold early parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 27 January 2004; and "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 13 February 2004). The first votes on bills in the plan are set for 5 March. DW

LNM GROUP WINS POLISH STEEL TENDER. The LNM Group, the world's second-largest steel producer, has won a tender for buying selected production assets of Poland's Huta Czestochowa steel works beating Ukraine's Industrial Union of the Donbas, the Polish and Ukrainian press reported on 23 February. The announcement immediately created a stir in the Ukrainian media and raised questions of possible improprieties in the tender process. Two articles on the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( on 24 February hinted that bribery might have been involved and argued that the selection was a defeat for pro-Western forces in Ukraine. Last October, the LNM Group bought the biggest Polish steel company Polskie Huty Stali for $1.6 billion beating out US Steel. The LNM Group is registered in the Dutch Antilles and has facilities in 12 countries. In 2003, revenues exceeded $12 billion. It has steel-making interests in Kazakhstan, Romania, Algeria, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. RK

...WHILE MEDIATORS MEET IN BELGRADE. Representatives of the three mediators in the Transdniester conflict (Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE) met on 24 February in Belgrade to discuss the resumption of negotiations, Infotag reported. Last week, Moldova and Transdniester sent their formal replies to a new plan for Moldova's federalization worked out by the mediators at their 26-27 meeting in Sofia. MS