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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL MOVES TO STRIP OPPOSITION HEAD OF DEPUTY IMMUNITY... Prosecutor-General Hennadiy Vasylyev has requested that the Verkhovna Rada strip Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the eponymous opposition bloc, of her parliamentary immunity, thus enabling prosecutors to proceed with a criminal case against her, Interfax reported on 10 June. Last month the Prosecutor-General's Office instituted criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko on charges of organizing bribery of a judge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2004). Vasylyev's request will now be viewed by the parliamentary Regulations Committee, which will decide whether to submit it for consideration of the entire house or return to the sender. Tymoshenko commented the same day that the Prosecutor-General's Office has fabricated the case against her in order to prevent a presidential-campaign coalition between her bloc and Our Ukraine led by Viktor Yushchenko. JM

...AND CLAIMS PROGRESS IN PROBING JOURNALIST'S DEATH. Prosecutor-General Vasylyev told journalists in Kyiv on 10 June that investigators have made progress in their probe of the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Interfax reported. Vasylyev said his office questioned Ukrainian businessman Volodymyr Tsvil who is now living in Munich. Tsvil, who claims to know some details connected with the clandestine recordings made by presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko in President Leonid Kuchma's office, told Deutsche Welle last month that Yevhen Marchuk and Volodymyr Radchenko, former chiefs of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and current SBU head Ihor Smeshko knew that Melnychenko was secretly taping Kuchma. The Melnychenko tapes link high-ranking Ukrainian officials, including Kuchma, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, to Gongadze's murder. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CANCELS STATE MONOPOLY IN ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTION. President Kuchma has introduced amendments to a 2002 decree that effectively annuls the state monopoly in the manufacturing of alcoholic drinks and tobacco products, UNIAN reported on 11 June. Kuchma's move followed last month's ruling of the Constitutional Court saying that the decree's provisions pertaining to the establishment of state monopoly in the production of and trade in alcohol and tobacco products contradict the Ukrainian Constitution. JM

EU ENLARGEMENT COMMISSIONER SAYS UKRAINE NOT ON THE AGENDA. Guenther Verheugen told journalists in Prague on 10 June that Ukraine's accession to the European Union is not on Brussels' current agenda, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. "That doesn't mean that it cannot be on the agenda of Ukraine," Verheugen added." What we can offer Ukraine is the 'neighborhood policy' and we are offering Ukraine a very ambitious action plan. That would mean of course that Ukraine will come closer and closer [to the EU].... But we cannot make promises which we are not able to keep at a very short notice." JM