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UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS, LAWMAKERS LAUNCH PROBES INTO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'S POISONING. The Prosecutor-General's Office has begun an inquiry into the public allegations that opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko's recent bout of poisoning may have been caused by a deliberate attempt on his life, Interfax reported on 20 September, quoting Prosecutor-General's Office spokesman Serhiy Rudenko. Last week, Yushchenko's campaign manager Oleksandr Zinchenko cited Austrian doctors as saying that Yushchenko's ailment was caused by "a viral infection and chemical substances that usually do not appear in foodstuffs" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 20 September 2004). The Verkhovna Rada voted by 425-17 on 21 September to set up an ad hoc commission to look into reasons behind Yushchenko's poisoning. "What happened to me is not linked to a food problem," Yushchenko told lawmakers before the vote. "What happened to me is a problem linked to the political regime in Ukraine." Yushchenko also commented sarcastically on the official investigation into his poisoning. "You are posing questions that you do not intend to answer," Yushchenko said, referring personally to President Leonid Kuchma. JM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY GROUP RESTORES MEMBERSHIP IN PRO-GOVERNMENT COALITION. Lawmaker Dmytro Svyatash announced in the Verkhovna Rada on 21 September that 15 lawmakers from the Democratic Initiatives-People's Power caucus have restored their membership in the pro-government coalition, Interfax reported. The 15 lawmakers reportedly suspended their participation in the pro-government alliance in protest against the government's decision two weeks ago to pool state stakes in the Halychyna and Ukrtatnafta oil refineries with the basic capital of state-controlled oil company Ukrnafta (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 2004). Last week, President Kuchma revoked the decision, ordering that those stakes be pooled with the basic capital of the state-run gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny. Apart from the Democratic Initiatives-People's Power caucus, the pro-government parliamentary coalition has been abandoned by some 30 lawmakers from the Center and Popular Agrarian Party groups. JM
ETHNIC UKRAINIANS MARCH FROM TRANSDNIESTER TO KYIV TO PROTEST MOLDOVA'S ECONOMIC SANCTIONS. Some 70 ethnic Ukrainians from Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region on 20 September crossed the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and are marching to Kyiv to request that the Ukrainian authorities defend them from the economic sanctions imposed on Transdniester by Moldova, Interfax reported. "We are forced to take this action, because the economic situation in Transdniester is becoming more and more acute," said Volodymyr Bodnar, deputy of the Supreme Council of the unrecognized Transdniestrian Republic and head of the Union of Ukrainians of Transdniester. "Foreign Minister" Valerii Litskai told RFE/RL last week that some 20,000 people in Transdniester have Ukrainian passports. JM