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UKRAINIAN PREMIER COLLECTS 1 MILLION SIGNATURES. Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who is also a candidate in the 31 October presidential election, has collected 1 million signatures in support of his candidacy, Interfax reported on 21 July, quoting the press service of Yanukovych's election staff. According to Ukrainian law, each presidential candidate registered by the Central Election Commission must submit at least 500,000 signatures of support by 20 September. AM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT TO AID FAMILIES OF MINERS KILLED IN BLAST. Ukrainian Labor and Social Policy Minister Mykhaylo Papiev said on 21 July that families of the miners killed in the 19 July methane explosion in the Rodynske coal mine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 2004) will receive aid ranging from 83,000 ($15,630) to 221,000 hryvnyas, depending on the miner's job seniority, Interfax reported. Papiev also said that the government will pay the families the equivalent of the miner's wage monthly and will allocate 2,700 hryvnyas for each miner's funeral. The government will begin payments after experts determine the cause of the explosion. AM

...WHILE MOLDOVA 'TEMPORARILY WITHDRAWS' FROM NEGOTIATIONS... Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova told Infotag on 21 July that Moldova is "temporarily withdrawing" until 1 August from the five-party negotiations with Tiraspol under the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia, and Ukraine. Sova said the decision was prompted by the situation created by the separatists when they announced that schools teaching in Moldovan (Romanian) in the Latin script would be closed down (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16, 19, 20, and 21 July 2004). "We were hoping to have this problem discussed at the next round of talks in Tiraspol on 21 July, but, to our surprise, the discussion of this extremely important issue was placed at the end of the agenda and classified under 'miscellaneous.' Under the circumstances, I had no choice but to announce our decision to suspend participation in the talks until 1 August," Sova said. "Unless all our demands, as voiced by President Voronin, are fully met, Moldova will exercise its right to seek amending the current five-party negotiation format." MS