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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS LAUNCH BRIBERY CASE AGAINST OPPOSITION LEADER. The Prosecutor-General's Office has instituted criminal proceedings against lawmaker Yuliya Tymoshenko, leader of the eponymous opposition bloc, on charges of attempting to bribe a judge following a complaint from Volodymyr Borovko, Ukrainian media reported on 20 May. Earlier this week, Borovko said that journalists that Tymoshenko had given him $125,000 to give to the judge in order to influence the court's decision and release her former business partners from custody. Borovko said the partners included Hennadiy Tymoshenko (her father-in-law) and Antonina Bolyura, former executives at the Unified Energy Systems, which Yuliya Tymoshenko headed from 1996 to 97. Borovko claimed he failed to fulfill Yuliya Tymoshenko's request and that she is now threatening him and demanding the money back. Tymoshenko has denied the accusations as "totally wrong" and provocative. On 20 May, police reportedly arrested Bolyura, who was hospitalized, and took her into custody. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS REPAYMENT OF WAGE ARREARS BY 2005. President Leonid Kuchma has instructed the government and regional governors to repay all wage arrears by the end of this year, Interfax reported on 20 May. The total sum of overdue wages in Ukraine, according to Kuchma, is 2.2 billion hryvnyas ($413 million). JM

EX-U.S. PRESIDENT BUSH ON PRIVATE TRIP TO UKRAINE. Former U.S. President George Bush arrived in Ukraine on 20 May for a two-day private trip, Ukrainian media reported. Bush was reportedly invited to Ukraine by lawmaker Viktor Pinchuk, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law. Bush is expected to meet with Kuchma, representatives of the government and the opposition, and deliver a lecture to students at the Taras Shevchenko University in Kyiv. Bush visited Kyiv as U.S. president in August 1991 and delivered an infamous speech in the Ukrainian legislature -- later mocked by international media as the "chicken Kiev speech" -- calling on Ukrainians not to abandon the Soviet Union and warning against "suicidal nationalism." JM