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...AS OPPOSITION NOTES WHAT ISSUES HE LEFT OUT. Other legislators criticized President Putin for what he didn't say. Former State Duma Speaker and now independent Deputy Gennadii Seleznev commented that Putin didn't mention pension reform or how he would liquidate poverty, Ekho Moskvy reported. Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov noted that Putin's address did not "make it clear how the situation in the Chechen Republic is going to develop and what kind of policy the center is going to pursue there," ITAR-TASS reported. He also criticized the president's speech for failing to mention the Russia-Belarus Union or the prospects of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other CIS countries joining it. Ekho Moskvy also noted that Putin didn't mention Chechnya or some international issues, including the situation in Iraq. Commentator Aleksandr Budberg pointed out in "Izvestiya" on 27 May that Putin's frame of reference was not just for the next year but for the next decade, "'straying' almost halfway into the term of office of his successor." JAC

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS LAND-BORDER TREATY WITH ROMANIA. President Leonid Kuchma has signed into law the Ukrainian-Romanian border treaty that was ratified by the Verkhovna Rada earlier this month, Interfax reported on 27 May. The treaty, which was signed by Kuchma and his Romanian counterpart in June 2003, sanctions the land border between the two states as it was delimited in 1961. It also confirms that Serpents Island in the Black Sea belongs to Ukraine. However, the document leaves open the issue of delimitation of the continental shelf in the vicinity of the island. The Ukrainian-Romanian land border is 609 kilometers long. JM

IRAQI COURT REJECTS APPEAL OF TWO IMPRISONED UKRAINIAN SAILORS. Mykola Mazurenko and Ivan Soschenko, two Ukrainian sailors who were sentenced in October to seven years in prison each for smuggling Iraqi oil from the port of Umm Qasr (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 11 May 2004), have lost an appeal against their sentence with the Iraqi Supreme Court, Interfax reported on 26 May, citing the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivskyy said the Ukrainian government will continue to press for their release. The two are being held in Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghurayb prison complex. JM

UKRAINIAN COURT POSTPONES RULING ON CLOSURE OF OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER. Kyiv's Court of Appeals on 25 May deferred the hearing of the appeal against the closure of the opposition newspaper "Silski visti" for an indefinite time, the Mass Information Institute website ( reported on 26 May. In January, the Pecherskyy District Court in Kyiv imposed a ban on the publication of "Silski visti," finding it guilty of publishing anti-Semitic materials and fomenting interethnic enmity (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 3 February 2004). The Court of Appeals reportedly demanded that "Silski visti" and the International Antifascist Committee, which sued the newspaper, provide additional information and materials for the case. JM

UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST JAILED FOR FIVE DAYS. A court in Mukacheve, Transcarpathian Oblast, on 25 May sentenced journalist Kostyantyn Sydorenko to five days in jail, finding him guilty of resisting police officers, UNIAN reported. Sydorenko denied the charge during the trial that reportedly lasted two minutes. Sydorenko was detained on 23 May -- while he was going to a police station to recover a stolen camera -- on suspicion of possessing explosives (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 2004). Sydorenko covered the controversial mayoral election in Mukacheve on 18 April (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 28 April 2004) for the "Horyacha liniya" (Hot Line) website ( JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REPORTEDLY INVITED TO NATO SUMMIT IN JUNE. President Leonid Kuchma has been invited to the NATO summit in Istanbul on 28-29 June to take part in a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, UNIAN reported on 27 May, quoting Michel Duray, head of the NATO Information and Documentation Center in Ukraine. "This will be a top-level event," Duray told the news agency. Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Douglas Bereuter (Republican, Nebraska), who is president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, visited Kyiv earlier this week and told a news conference on 26 May that Ukraine could join NATO as early as in 2007. Bereuter is to present a report based on his visit at the next session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. JM

EC PRESIDENT DENIES SAYING UKRAINE, BELARUS HAVE NO HOPE OF JOINING EU. Romano Prodi has denied saying that Ukraine and Belarus have no prospects of joining the European Union (see RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 19 May 2004), the "Ukrayinska pravda" website reported, citing an interview he gave to the Kyiv-based newspaper "Den" of 27 May. "We are working together on further strengthening our relations within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy," Prodi told the newspaper. "This policy is not linked to [EU enlargement], because this issue in not on the current agenda." JM

UKRAINIAN EXPERT WARNS AGAINST ECONOMIC OVERHEATING. Anatoliy Halchynskyy, head of the Council of the National Bank of Ukraine, said at an international conference on monetary policies in Kyiv on 28 May that Ukraine's economy shows signs of overheating, Interfax reported. According to Halchynskyy, the current pace of industrial production growth of 17-18 percent is an "economic anomaly" rather than a matter for optimism and might also lead to economic overheating. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS PROPOSE RUNNING JOINT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE TO SOCIALISTS. Petro Symonenko, first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, has proposed to Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz that the parties field a single candidate in this year's presidential election, Interfax reported on 28 May. Symonenko told a news conference in Dnipropetrovsk that he also suggested that the parties form a coalition for the subsequent parliamentary election. Symonenko did not reveal Moroz's response to the proposals. JM

NEW ROUND OF TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS INCONCLUSIVE. The second round of negotiations on the Transdniester conflict ended on 25-26 May without any breakthroughs, Flux reported. Representatives of the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Transdniester participated in the talks. William Hill, the head of the OSCE delegation in Moldova, said the five parties merely presented their viewpoints, and exchanged analyses and commentaries on those viewpoints, "but no papers were signed." He said many contentious issues remain, but expressed the hope that bilateral negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol, which have been suspended for several months, will start again soon. Hill said Transdniester and Moldova have proposed different federal systems for a future common state, but that the OSCE insists on an asymmetrical federation, or any federation that would respect both parties' interests. The next round of the five-party negotiations are set for 21-22 June. ZsM