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BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES IMPOSE TRAVEL BAN ON OPPOSITION ACTIVIST. A district visa department in Minsk has nullified a foreign-travel permit in the passport of Lyudmila Hraznova, deputy head of the opposition United Civic Party, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 13 July. The authorities justified their measure by Hraznova's failure to pay a fine of some $2,000 for her role in staging an unauthorized opposition march to mark an anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 2004). But Hraznova asserts that the travel ban was imposed for her recent appearance on television in Latvia where she criticized Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. "This is very similar to what was done in the Soviet Union, when dissidents were not allowed to travel abroad," Hraznova told RFE/RL. "We may find ourselves in the same situation as Soviet-era dissidents. I have a feeling that the [Belarusian] authorities have begun to close an iron curtain." JM

ILLEGAL CAMPAIGNING REPORTED IN UKRAINIAN REGION. The authorities of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast are already taking part in the presidential election campaign for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on 12 July, quoting an anonymous local source. Dnipropetrovsk Governor Volodymyr Yatsuba reportedly chairs a regional election staff consisting of state administration employees. According to the source, the heads of institutions and organizations subsidized from the state budget in the oblast have recently been instructed in raion executive committees how to organize presidential campaign meetings, collect signatures in support of Yanukovych, and "prepare people for street actions." Ukraine's legislation forbids using the state administration in election campaigns. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER CONSIDERS ACCORD ON FAIR ELECTION A 'CONVENTIONALITY.' Answering a journalist's question about his attitude to the signing of an agreement on a fair election by presidential candidates, Prime Minister Yanukovych said on 13 July that such an accord would be a "conventionality," Interfax reported. "If a man is honest, he is honest in his soul," Yanukovych added. Last week Our Ukraine leader and presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko proposed to other presidential candidates to sign a Declaration for a Fair Election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2004). JM

MORE CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The Central Election Commission on 13 July registered Oleksandr Yakovenko, leader of the Communist Party of Workers and Peasants, and Bohdan Boyko, leader of the Popular Rukh for Unity, as candidates for the 31 October presidential ballot. The number of registered candidates has risen to nine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2004). The registration of presidential candidates will last until 28 July. JM

UKRAINE REPORTS CONTINUING ECONOMIC BOOM. The State Statistics Committee disclosed on 14 July that Ukraine's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 12.7 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2004, Interfax reported. In 2003, Ukraine's GDP rose by 9.4 percent. JM

UKRAINIAN POPULATION CONTINUES TO SHRINK. The State Statistics Committee made known on 13 July that as of 1 June Ukraine's population numbered 47.46 million people, 30,000 less than a month before or some 200,000 less than six months before, Interfax reported. JM

WWF CALLS FOR HALT TO DANUBE CANAL PLAN. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on 13 July urged countries abutting the Danube River to pressure Ukraine to halt construction of the Bystraya Canal, Reuters reported. The WWF said the project threatens the river's environmentally sensitive delta. In a statement addressed to a meeting of the Danube Cooperation Process in Bucharest, the WWF urged all participants "to demand that Ukraine's government immediately halt construction activity until a proper and responsible environmental impact assessment has been carried out." The fund described the construction as an "action by the Ukrainian government against the entire Danube -- a European and global treasure" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 2004). MS