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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

OUR UKRAINE LAUNCHES ANTIGOVERNMENT PROTESTS... Supporters of Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc pitched 10 tents in front of the government headquarters in Kyiv on 29 March, thus inaugurating a series of nationwide antigovernment protests, Interfax reported, quoting the Our Ukraine press service. The protests -- organized by Our Ukraine under the slogan "Stop Robbing the People!" -- will reportedly "inform citizens about the real results and consequences" of the performance of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's cabinet. According to Our Ukraine, Yanukovych's government "is hiding in a budgetary shadow" some 10 billion hryvnyas ($1.9 billion) in budget revenues. "The growth rate of gross domestic product allows [the government] to increase the minimum wage as of 1 April, without waiting until September," Yushchenko said. "The current economic situation is also conducive to increasing social payments." Our Ukraine is reportedly planning to hold a "mass" protest rally outside the government offices on 31 March. JM

...AND ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF NEW, 'EUROPEAN-MODEL' PARTY. Our Ukraine leader Yushchenko has announced that his bloc has begun to create a new, "European-model" party, Interfax reported on 29 March, quoting the Our Ukraine press service. According to Yushchenko, taking part in a parliamentary election under a fully proportional party-list system is a key political task for Our Ukraine. "In order not to lose time, we should now formulate a response to this challenge," Yushchenko said. The "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( quoted Borys Tarasyuk -- leader of the Ukrainian Popular Rukh, which is a constituent of Our Ukraine -- as saying on 30 March that the idea to set up a political party based on Our Ukraine before the 2004 presidential election is "political suicide." "This [idea] will divert organizational and human resources from the main goal -- preparing the victory of [Our Ukraine's presidential] candidate," Tarasyuk said. JM