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KAZAKH SECURITY HEAD DISMISSES 'KAZAKH TRACE' IN BESLAN EVENTS. Nurtai Dutbaev, who is chairman of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (KNB), said on 9 September that the KNB has no information that any ethnic Kazakhs were involved in the bloody school siege in Beslan, in Russia's republic of North Ossetia, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. Noting that the KNB has been in contact with Russian security services from the outset, Dutbaev stressed that "the situation has not yet been fully clarified." He said initial reports spoke of a Ukrainian-born ethnic Kazakh with Russian citizenship who went over to the side of Chechen militants after fighting in Chechnya for the Russian Army in 1994. Later reports indicated, however, that the alleged Beslan hostage taker was an ethnic Chechen who went by the nickname "The Kazakh." Dutbaev also said press reports of a group of terrorists headed for Russia through Kazakhstan were entirely false, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. "Our [Russian] colleagues have said that someone leaked false information to the press," Dutbaev added. DK

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SIGNALS CHANGE OF TACK OVER EU MEMBERSHIP... Prime Minister and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych told the 10 September issue of the "Financial Times" that Kyiv has ceased urging Brussels to pledge unambiguously that Ukraine's will become an EU member and has proposed instead developing relations through two- or three-year agreements covering specific issues like trade or the free movement of labor. Yanukovych said he hopes this new step-by-step approach will still lead to Ukraine "one day becoming a European Union member." JM

...WHILE HIS MAIN PRESIDENTIAL RIVAL WARNS OF 'NEO-SOVIET REVIVAL.' Opposition presidential candidate and Our Ukraine bloc leader Viktor Yushchenko wrote in the "International Herald Tribune" on 10 September that Ukrainians are anxious about Brussels drawing a new division line between EU member states and non-EU countries and thus creating "a bipolar Europe." According to Yushchenko's piece, titled "Plotting Europe's Eastern Border," non-EU countries in Eastern Europe are witnessing the emergence of "rampant capitalism, Soviet authoritarianism, and even a dose of medieval feudalism." Specifically Ukraine is seeing "ominous signs of a neo-Soviet revival," Yushchenko asserts. Yushchenko says such threatening phenomena in his country can be warded off by the West by proposing full EU membership to Ukraine "on the basis of established criteria for membership." JM

IS UKRAINE'S PRO-GOVERNMENT COALITION FALLING APART? The parliamentary caucus of the Popular Agrarian Party of Ukraine (NAPU) has relieved itself of "coalition obligations" and suspended its membership in the parliamentary majority that supports the cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, UNIAN reported on 10 September. The NAPU, which has 21 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada, is headed by parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn. Moreover, 11 lawmakers from the 16-strong Center group in the Verkhovna Rada said the same day that they are leaving the pro-government majority. The previous day, the Democratic Initiatives-People's Power caucus, which has 15 deputies, also announced its pullout from the pro-government parliamentary coalition. Both the NAPU and the Democratic Initiatives-People's Power caucuses cited a lack of coordination and communication between the government and people's deputies as the main reasons for their withdrawal. JM

MOLDOVAN AUTHORITIES ASK FOR INTERNATIONAL INVOLVEMENT IN DISPUTE. During his 9 September meeting with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) special envoy Petar Stoyanov in Chisinau, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said only the international community's "concentrated and sustained efforts" can positively influence the situation in Transdniester, Flux reported, citing a Moldovan presidential-office press release. Voronin asked the OSCE to send a mission, together with the EU, to monitor the Moldovan-Ukrainian border in order to "ensure a customs and border-control system according to European standards." Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova also met with Stoyanov, a former Bulgarian president, and asked for the organization of an international conference on how to resolve the issue. Stoyanov, who the same day also met with Transdniestrian chief negotiator Valerii Litskai, urged "both sides to ease...tensions and to work out solutions to the various disputes at the negotiating table," according to the OSCE website ( ZsM