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UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER'S STAFF LAMBASTES POLICE FOR BLAST ALLEGATIONS. Ihor Hryniv, deputy head of the presidential campaign staff of Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko, told journalists on 27 August that police resorted to a "planned provocation" and a "manipulation technique" in linking recent blasts at a market in Kyiv to the Ukrainian Popular Party (UNP), a member of Our Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 2004), Interfax reported. "There is a large distance between UNP members and [Yushchenko], the candidate who joined [the presidential race] by way of self-nomination," Hryniv added. Last week police arrested five suspects in the blasts, and claimed that two of them had UNP membership cards. JM

UKRAINIAN POLLSTERS VOW TO HOLD LARGE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION POLL. An ad hoc consortium of major Ukrainian polling agencies -- the Kyivan International Institute of Sociology, the Razumkov Center for Political and Economic Studies, the Social Monitoring center, the Socis center, and the Democratic Initiatives fund -- are planning to hold an exit poll of 50,000 voters at more than 1,500 polling stations on the presidential election day of 31 October and another one three weeks later, during a hypothetical runoff, UNIAN reported on 27 August. Results of the polls will be published after the closure of polling stations in an election-night program on Ukrainian television and at Serhiy Tihipko, head of the election staff of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, said he sees no need for such polls. "All these exit polls are an attempt at influencing the public opinion," Interfax quoted Tihipko as saying. "They are especially trusted by those wanting to cast doubt on election results." JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PAYS EIGHT-YEAR WAGE BACKLOG TO MINERS. The Ukrainian government has paid the last tranche of an eight-year wage backlog to coal miners, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August, quoting Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Tulub. The wage arrears in the coal-mining sector, which have amassed since 1996, exceeded $200 million. JM