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...AS DUMA DEPUTY CLAIMS TO HAVE PHONE TRANSCRIPTS THAT REVEAL ALL... Before arriving in Moscow on 5 March, Rybkin stopped over briefly in Kyiv on 4 March, Russian media reported. According to gazeta.ru, State Duma Deputy and investigative journalist Aleksandr Khinshtein (Unified Russia) obtained from contacts at the Federal Security Service (FSB) transcripts of Rybkin's telephone conversations during the period that he was missing last month -- 5-10 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11, 12, 17, and 18 February 2004). According to the transcripts, Rybkin was picked up at his Moscow apartment on 5 February by Serhiy Bezsmertnyy, brother of Ukrainian parliamentarian Roman Bezsmertnyy. The two drove to Kaluga, where they caught a train to Kyiv. There, they were met by Brinkford holding company Director Ihor Kerez. They were later joined by Ukrainian parliamentarian Davyd Zhvaniya, who is reportedly an associate of self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovskii. According to gazeta.ru, Zhvaniya originally denied meeting with Rybkin during the latter's trip to Kyiv, but now he has confirmed that they met "briefly" and discussed "politics." JAC
FIVE KILLED IN PLANE CRASH AT BAKU AIRPORT. A Ukrainian-owned Ilyushin-76 cargo plane crashed at Baku's Bina Airport on 4 March, killing at least five of the plane's seven-member crew, Interfax and the "Baku Sun" reported. The plane was en route from Ankara to Kabul and crashed minutes into its takeoff from the Baku airport after refueling. Azerbaijani officials reported that an investigation into the crash is now under way. RG
WASHINGTON CONCERNED OVER CLOSURE OF UKRAINIAN BROADCASTER. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on 4 March criticized Ukrainian authorities' decision to halt FM broadcasts by Radio Kontynent, which retransmitted RFE/RL, BBC, Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle programming (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 2004). "The shutdown yesterday of Radio Kontynent and the silencing of RFE/RL, Voice of America, and other international broadcasters is an assault on democracy," Boucher said. "It is very serious in an election year in Ukraine, when the need for news from many sources is at its greatest." The move was also condemned by a number of international organizations, including the London-based Association for International Broadcasting, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, and the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists. Meanwhile, Ukrainian opposition lawmaker Mykola Tomenko on 4 March submitted a draft resolution that proposed a moratorium on all checks and inspections of mass media during the forthcoming presidential election campaign in Ukraine. The measure was backed by just 206 deputies, 20 votes short of the number required for approval, Interfax reported. JM
KYIV WARNS WARSAW OVER DISCRIMINATION IN STEELWORKS PRIVATIZATION. Ukrainian Economy Minister Mykola Derkach told Polish Ambassador to Ukraine Marek Ziolkowski on 4 March that Ukrainian-Polish cooperation will be placed at risk if Ukraine's Industrial Union of Donbas is discriminated against when the Polish steelworks Huta Czestochowa is privatized, Interfax reported. The Ukrainians lost a tender last month for a state stake in Huta Czestochowa to the Indian-Dutch-British holding LMN and charged that the winner was selected based on political rather than economic considerations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February 2004). Derkach added that Poland's rejection of the Ukrainian bid is seen by Kyiv as a "manifestation of 'Ukrainophobia' and discrimination against Ukraine." The Polish daily "Rzeczpospolita" recently reported that the Ukrainian bid was turned down after Poland's Internal Security Agency warned the government that the Industrial Union of Donbas might be involved in money laundering, the accumulation of capital from an unknown origin, and the promotion of Russian interests in Poland. JM