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IS UKRAINE SIGNALING A FUTURE COURSE WITHOUT NATO, EU MEMBERSHIP? President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree on 15 July removing a provision regarding the country's preparations for NATO membership from Ukraine's official military doctrine, Interfax reported on 26 July. Guarantors of Ukraine's military security now include a "strengthening of confidence among states, gradual reduction of the threat of military force, and a policy of Euro-Atlantic integration." The doctrine previously cast NATO and the EU as the basis of the European security system and pledged to prepare the country for "full-fledged membership in those organizations." AM

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT ACCUSES WEST OF HINDERING RUSSIA-UKRAINE TIES. Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western countries on 26 July of obstructing closer relations between Russia and Ukraine, Interfax reported. Putin made the comment while in Yalta for economic talks with Ukrainian President Kuchma; Putin also met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, as well as with Ukrainian and Russian businessmen. "The intelligence [communities] of our Western partners are trying in every way to hamper our movements toward each other," Putin said, adding that Russia and Ukraine can increase their competitiveness through increased integration. That fact has not gone unnoticed by "intelligences both within our countries and outside them." However, Putin said, Russia and Ukraine should not oppose the West. "We are the part of the global economic system," he said (see also "RFE/RL Newsline Part 1"). AM

'OUR UKRAINE' LEADER REJECTS PREMIERSHIP IN CASE OF YANUKOVUCH'S VICTORY. Viktor Yushchenko, the leader of the opposition Our Ukraine bloc and a candidate in the 31 October presidential election, on 26 July rejected the suggestion that he might become prime minister if rival and current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich wins the presidential vote, Interfax reported. "I will not become premier under the circumstances I was offered," Yushchenko said. Serhiy Tihipko, chief of Yanukovych's election staff, recently suggested that Yushchenko has "real prospects" for a return to the premier's post if Yanukovych wins the presidency. Yushchenko called such speculation "a political trick" aimed at minimizing political differences between two main contenders. AM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CREATES TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY. President Kuchma has signed a decree integrating the Transport Ministry and the State Committee for Communications and Information Technology into a new Transport and Communications Ministry, Interfax reported on 26 July. Kuchma appointed Transport Minister Heorhiy Kyrpa to head the expanded ministry, the report added. AM

...AS RUSSIA CITES 'CONCERN' OVER MOLDOVA'S DECISION TO SIT OUT TALKS. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by ITAR-TASS on 26 July that Moldova's decision to suspend participation in international negotiations with Tiraspol until 1 August "lends a political dimension to a humanitarian issue." The ministry said the issue of school closures can only be resolved "through negotiations, not through an escalation of rhetoric." It also said the three international negotiators (the OSCE, Ukraine, and Russia) "have expressed concern about the new negative turn in the dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol." The ministry stressed the need to "display wisdom and to prevent events from getting out of political control." MS

PUTIN SAYS WEST IS OBSTRUCTING CLOSER RELATIONS BETWEEN MOSCOW AND KYIV. President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met on 26 July in the Crimean city of Yalta, Russian, Ukrainian, and international media reported. Putin accused Western countries of actively trying to obstruct closer relations between the two countries. "The intelligence networks of our Western partners are trying in every way to hamper our movement toward one another," Putin told journalists, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Putin added that Russian investment in Ukraine could be as high as $800 million this year. "Russian capital has breathed new life into many Ukrainian projects," Putin said, ITAR-TASS reported. He praised Kuchma and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych by name, saying "we in Russia are sincerely pleased with the success of our partners and friends." Yanukovych is widely believed to be the Kremlin's favored candidate in Ukraine's 31 October presidential election (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 2004). RC

HOMELESS CHORNOBYL WORKER DIES FROM HUNGER STRIKE. Petr Budennyi, who participated in the clean-up of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster, died on 26 July while on a hunger strike against the authorities' failure to provide him with housing that he began at the beginning of this month, NTV and reported. As an invalid/victim of Chornobyl, Budennyi, 57, was eligible for housing benefits, which he had not received for several years. Both of his legs had been amputated due to an illness affecting his blood circulation, a common ailment among Chornobyl survivors, according to He lived in Krasnodar Krai. JAC