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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY PROBE INCONCLUSIVE ABOUT YUSHCHENKO'S ILLNESS. The ad hoc parliamentary commission for investigating an alleged poisoning of opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko has failed to confirm that the Our Ukraine leader was deliberately poisoned, Ukrainian media reported on 7 October. "[The commission's investigation] gives no grounds today to assert that there has been an attempt on the life of Viktor Yushchenko," lawmaker Volodymyr Sivkovych, head of the commission, said in the Verkhovna Rada on 7 October. "[The investigation] also gives no grounds to say that Viktor Yushchenko's organism has not been influenced by some poison or other substance," Sivkovych added. Deputy speaker Oleksandr Zinchenko read a statement -- signed by Ukrainian doctor Mykola Korpan and Michael Zimpfer, director of the Rudolfinerhaus hospital in Vienna, which has been treating Yushchenko's mysterious illness -- saying that Yushchenko may have been affected by a biological agent. JM

PROTESTS AND CONTROVERSY IN THE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT. Lawmakers from the pro-government coalition in the Verkhovna Rada on 8 October walked out of the session hall in protest against what they say is the opposition's use of the parliamentary rostrum for exercising "shady election techniques," Interfax reported. Lawmaker Volodymyr Zubanov read the pro-government coalition's statement saying that the opposition in the Verkhovna Rada "is defaming the honor and dignity of the authorities." The statement also accused the parliamentary leadership of failing to "counteract the rudeness of the political opposition forces." According to Interfax, two deputies from the pro-government Agrarian Party and Regions of Ukraine caucuses remained in the hall and took part in several votes, using the magnetic voting cards of their absent colleagues and thus contributing to the formal passage of several bills. It is not clear whether these bills will be considered as legally adopted by the legislature. JM