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UKRAINIAN PREMIER EXPECTS TO WIN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN FIRST ROUND. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych told journalists on 7 July that he expects to win the 31 October presidential election in the first round, that is, with more than 50 percent of the vote on that day, Interfax reported. Yanukovych made his comment shortly after obtaining a document from the Central Election Commission confirming his registration as a presidential candidate. On 8 July, Yanukovych, who is also leader of the Party of Regions, signed an accord with Popular Democratic Party head Valeriy Pustovoytenko on the creation of an "election coalition of democratic forces." Yanukovych predicted that some 50 parties and other organizations will join the coalition. JM

OUR UKRAINE LEADER WANTS PRESIDENTIAL-ELECTION RIVALS TO CAMPAIGN FAIRLY. Our Ukraine leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko has signed a so-called Declaration for a Fair Election and urged other presidential candidates who share its principles to follow suit, Interfax reported on 7 July. The declaration obliges signatories to provide true statements about their past during the campaign; promote comprehensive and honest media coverage of the campaign; reject unfair campaign methods; rule out pressure on journalists, observers, and voters; and renounce engaging state bodies in campaigning. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT LEAVES TYMOSHENKO WITH IMMUNITY. The Verkhovna Rada has rejected a petition by the Prosecutor-General's Office to lift the parliamentary immunity of Yuliya Tymoshenko, leader of an eponymous opposition bloc, Interfax reported on 7 July. The Prosecutor-General's Office has instituted criminal proceedings against Tymoshenko, accusing her of attempting to bribe a judge (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 May 2004). Tymoshenko denied the accusation, calling it "totally wrong" and a provocation. JM

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS SSPM INITIATIVE IS AIMED AT SECURING INTERNATIONAL GUARANTEES... President Voronin on 7 July told the Russian-language Novosti-Moldova agency that his Stability and Security Pact for Moldova (SSPM) launched early last month is "not a request for assistance, but a demand to receive guarantees in line with the imperatives of the present," Flux reported. Voronin said that by agreeing to sign the SSPM, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, the United States, and the European Union would in fact be guaranteeing Moldova's territorial integrity and its democratic political development. He emphasized that Moldova finds itself at a crossroads where the interests of several world powers clash and, as of late, at NATO's borders as well (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2004). "The time has come to clarify this situation," Voronin said. MS



The campaign for the 31 October presidential election started officially on 3 July. The Central Election Commission has already registered three major contenders for the post of president: Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko, and Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. One more major competitor, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, is expected to apply for registration in the near future. This "preliminary" registration means, in particular, that a registered candidate may immediately begin his/her election campaign. The commission, however, may nullify the registration of a presidential candidate if he or she fails to provide at least 500,000 signatures in support of his or her candidacy by 20 September.

The most theatrical inauguration of the election campaign was made by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, whom surveys suggest leads the presidential race with 24 percent support. On 3 July, Yushchenko with his family visited his native village, Khoruzhivka in Sumy Oblast, where he obtained his 85-year-old mother's blessing for the presidential campaign. "God help you in your good deeds," UNIAN quoted Varvara Yushchenko as saying to her son, after she made the sign of the cross over him.

Yushchenko publicly announced his intention to run in the 2004 presidential race in Kyiv on 4 July, to an estimated crowd of 50,000 people, who were gathered there by Our Ukraine activists as representatives of all of Ukraine's 35,000 settlements. "I am running for president. I will win the election, and this will be a victory of all of us!" Yushchenko said at the rally. "The authorities will work for the people. Corruption will be ended. All will be equal before the law. Bandits will go to jail," he said, outlining the main concerns of his presidency. Shortly after the rally he personally submitted the documents necessary for his registration as a presidential candidate to the Central Election Commission.

After leaving the headquarters of the Central Election Commission, Yushchenko was confronted with another crowd of his supporters, this time numbering some 35,000. This rally was conducted by Oleksandr Zinchenko -- only a year ago a bitter political opponent of the Our Ukraine leader, now manager of Yushchenko's election campaign.

The slogan of Yushchenko's election campaign is "I Believe, I Know, We Can." The following is how Zinchenko, according to the "Ukrayinska pravda" website, decoded this phrase, speaking at the rally in front of the Central Election Commission headquarters on 4 July: "I believe! Look in Yushchenko's eyes. Is there any doubt that he believes?! He believes in God, in his parents, in Ukraine. I know! This is the man who led the National Bank and the government. And you know what a prime minister he was! We can! Everything depends on us! On 31 October we will witness an event that in modern history can be compared only with the winning of [Ukrainian] independence in 1991."

Last week, Yushchenko signed an important coalition accord with Yuliya Tymoshenko, the leader of the eponymous opposition bloc, to pool efforts in the presidential-election campaign in order to promote his election victory. The accord sets up a new parliamentary group, the Force of the People (Syla narodu), which will unite all lawmakers of the pro-Yushchenko coalition. The deal also proposes a program of joint actions, called the "Manifest of People's Victory," in order to "take over power in Ukraine for cleaning [the country] of criminal clans and political banditry" and build a "democratic and just state under the rule of law." The accord stipulates that in the event of Yushchenko's victory in the 2004 presidential ballot, the distribution of posts in the future government among coalition members will be carried out proportionally to their gains in the 2002 parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who with backing reaching 16 percent is second after Viktor Yushchenko in pre-election surveys, inaugurated his election campaign less conspicuously than the latter. Yanukovych was formally proposed as a presidential candidate by a congress of the Party of Regions in Zaporizhzhya on 4 July. Yanukovych appointed Serhiy Tyhypko, head of the National Bank and leader of the Labor Ukraine Party, as chief of his election staff.

Oleksandr Moroz and Petro Symonenko were proposed as presidential candidates by the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, respectively, at party congresses that took place in Kyiv on 4 July. The Socialist Party congress adopted an appeal to the Communist Party to run a joint presidential candidate from the Socialist Party in the 2004 presidential election.

It is expected that the list of registered presidential hopefuls will be much longer. The Central Election Commission, apart from Yanukovych, Yushchenko, and Moroz, registered Oleksandr Rzhavskyy, leader of the Single Family association. Natalya Vitrenko, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, has also declared her intention to run, along with leaders of several other minor parties.

Ukrainian media have already registered some examples of dirty election techniques that, according to many observers, will be used profusely in this year's presidential campaign. On 2 July, three Ukrainian regions, Kharkiv, Sumy, and Poltava, were flooded with more than 3 million bogus leaflets of the Socialist Party -- titled "To Prevent the Traitor From Coming to Power" -- in which Moroz accuses Yushchenko of being "an agent of the Kremlin" and a "guarantor of the interests of Russian capital."

Moreover, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website on 6 July quoted two temnyks -- unsigned secret instructions that are regularly sent to major state-controlled and private media outlets -- that effectively tell journalists to reduce their coverage of Yushchenko's moves in the presidential campaign to factual reports, without expanding them with any commentaries. On the other hand, one of the temnyks instructs journalists to highlight the recent publication of a book whose author, described as a "medium-level tax inspector," discloses, among other revelations, that Yushchenko stole "millions of dollars" from the state in 1991-92.

"I'm looking to next year with fear," President Leonid Kuchma told journalists in December 2003. "Everybody agrees that the [2004] election will be the scariest and dirtiest ever." Given that the presidential administration led by Viktor Medvedchuk is widely seen in Ukraine as the main compiler of temnyks, Kuchma may be one of the best-informed persons with regard to what some presidential candidates should fear in the next several months.

FEDERATION COUNCIL RATIFIES AMENDED CFE TREATY. The Federation Council voted on 7 July by 137 in favor, one against, and no abstentions to ratify the 1999 amendments to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), Interfax reported. The Russian State Duma ratified the accord on 25 June by a vote of 398 in favor, four against, and three abstentions, Interfax reported on 25 June. Mikhail Margelov, who heads the Federation Council's Committee for International Relations, decried on 7 July repeated statements by the Baltic states that they will accede to the CFE Treaty only after all 30 original signatories have ratified it. To date only Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have done so. LF