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RUSSIAN PUNDIT SAYS KYIV AUTHORITIES WILL PREVENT 'CHESTNUT REVOLUTION.' In comments broadcast on RTR and Radio Mayak and published by RIA-Novosti, Politika Foundation head Vyacheslav Nikonov said on 14 October that, compared with the situations in Belgrade and Tbilisi after their recent elections, the Ukrainian "authorities have more rather than less chance of being the victor." "If [Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor] Yushchenko does not gain a decisive victory, then [the chances of] a repetition of the Belgrade and Tbilisi scenarios are relatively high." Political analyst Sergei Markov charged: "Yushchenko's headquarters are trying to find an ideological basis for the transition to street actions. Their logic [will be] that Yushchenko led the entire time, but didn't win, which means that the election [results] were falsified." NTV suggested earlier in the week that Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's popularity among Ukrainian voters in Russia has been enhanced by a "massive propaganda campaign" sponsored by the Kremlin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 2004). JAC

WASHINGTON URGES UKRAINE TO HOLD FAIR PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on 14 October read a statement expressing Washington's concern over many violations taking place in the campaign for the 31 October presidential ballot in Ukraine. "We urge the Ukrainian authorities to end immediately the ongoing violations of democratic norms, to allow Ukrainians to choose freely, and to adhere scrupulously to internationally accepted standards for tabulating and registering results on election day," the statement read. Boucher warned that if the elections fail to meet democratic standards, Ukraine cannot count on U.S. support for its aspirations to become "part of the Euro-Atlantic community." "We would also need to reexamine our relationship with those who engaged in election fraud and manipulation," Boucher added. JM

UKRAINIAN POLLSTERS SAY YANUKOVYCH AHEAD OF YUSHCHENKO IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. According to a poll conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Studies, the Ukrainian Center of Political Management, and the Social Monitoring Center from 7-10 October, presidential candidate and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych will be supported by 34.2 percent of voters in the first round and 42.2 percent in the runoff, while his main rival, Viktor Yushchenko, will be backed by 30.5 percent and 34.4 percent of voters, respectively, Interfax reported on 14 October. The poll also found that 16.5 percent of voters have not yet decided whom to support in the 31 October presidential ballot. Social Monitoring Center Olha Balakireva commented that Yanukovych has outdone Yushchenko in the presidential race by promising to make Russian an official language and to introduce double citizenship in Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER BLAMES PROFITEERS, POLITICAL OPPONENTS FOR FOOD PRICE HIKES. Prime Minister Yanukovych charged on 14 October that profiteers and "some political forces" wishing to destabilize the situation on the food markets are responsible for recent food-price hikes in Ukraine, Ukrainian media reported. Yanukovych reportedly ordered that the law enforcement bodies intervene and keep food prices in check. Meanwhile, lawmaker Petro Poroshenko from the opposition Our Ukraine bloc said the primary reason for the price hikes is Yanukovych's recent decision to raise pensions for more than 11 million people in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2004). JM

NATO REFRAINS FROM ENTERING ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN CANAL DISPUTE. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Poiana-Brasov, Romania, on 14 October that the alliance has no joint official position on Ukraine's construction of the Bystraya Canal in the Danube Delta, Mediafax reported. De Hoop Scheffer, who attended the informal two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in Poiana-Brasov, said the dispute is one between Ukraine and Romania and that he hopes it will be soon settled. "If a country joins NATO, its problems with neighboring states do not necessarily become a problem of NATO," he said. Mediafax also reported that border police along the Romanian side of one of the main branches that flows into the Black Sea, the Chilia, have been reinforced in response to alleged attempts by Ukraine to alter the placement of buoys marking the border and incursions by Ukrainian vessels into Romanian waters. Romanian Ambassador to Ukraine Alexandru Cornea was summoned the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv in connection with a 9 October incident in which a Romanian vessel blocked the passage of a Ukrainian ship that allegedly entered Romania's territorial waters. MS