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PUTIN SAYS RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE BROADCASTING IN UKRAINE NOT AN ISSUE. President Vladimir Putin, speaking to journalists after meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Crimea on 23 April, said he does not think that the issue of Russian-language broadcasting in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 2004) is an issue for confrontation, ITAR-TASS and RTR reported on 23 April. "We should not panic. I do not want to talk [about the issue] too much as it is an internal matter for Ukraine," Putin said. He also said the Single Economic Space treaty, which was ratified by Russia's Federation Council on 22 April, will pave the way for both countries' entry into European and world markets. "We should take a decent place there. We do not want to sell only oil and gas, just as Ukraine should not sell just beets, especially if nobody needs them," Putin said. VY
UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS HAIL ACCORDS ON BORDER, JOINT ECONOMIC AREA. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in Crimea on 23 April to exchange ratification documents of the Ukrainian-Russian border treaty and an accord on the joint use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian media reported. Both agreements were ratified last week by the Verkhovna Rada and the Russian legislature (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 2004). Kuchma and Putin called the accords -- along with a recently ratified agreement on a Single Economic Space that comprises Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan -- crucial events that open new opportunities for developing political dialogue as well as economic and cultural cooperation. Putin said the agreement on the Single Economic Space should now be developed into "an economic-cooperation charter to regulate the procedures for our joint work in the areas of transport, tariffs, communications, [and the] movement of people and goods." JM
CHORNOBYL VETERANS MARCH IN KYIV TO PROTEST CUTS IN BENEFITS. Thousands of veterans of the cleanup operation following the Chornobyl nuclear accident of 1986 took part in a march in Kyiv on 25 April to mark the 18th anniversary of the disaster and to demand compensation for their hard labor and ailing health, ICTV Television reported. "It is important for Ukraine to adopt a national program for minimizing the results of the Chornobyl disaster," Ukraine's Chernobyl Union head Yuriy Andreyev said. "Now we see that the opposite is happening. The revenues side of the budget is growing, but the spending on Chornobyl is decreasing from year to year." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the world community to provide moral and financial aid to the victims of the Chornobyl accident, Interfax reported on 26 April. The UN is reportedly carrying out 12 international Chornobyl projects estimated at $6 million. JM