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UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION WARNS AGAINST 'STRONG-ARM SCENARIO' IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Lawmaker Volodymyr Stretovych said in the Verkhovna Rada on 22 October that the Our Ukraine bloc of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko has been informed about a secret conference of 140 pro-government legislators with President Leonid Kuchma devoted to discussing a "strong-arm scenario" in the ongoing presidential election campaign, the "Ukrayinska pravda" reported. "Under this scenario, there will be big mug shots [in English-flavored Ukrainian: bigmordy -- the campaign's common usage for large-format pictures of Premier Viktor Yanukovych] of the candidate from the authorities displayed in all shops throughout the country," Stretovych said. "After that, people dressed in sports shirts bearing the inscription 'Yes, Yushchenko!' will start smashing the windows in those shops," he predicted, "and after that the authorities will proclaim a state of emergency because of social unrest." JM

YUSHCHENKO OPPOSES ADOPTING 2005 BUDGET BEFORE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Opposition presidential candidate Yushchenko said at a meeting with some 15,000 voters in Kryvyy Rih on 21 October that the Verkhovna Rada should not adopt a national budget for 2005 before the presidential election, as this law will be implemented by a different cabinet and a different president, Interfax reported. The presidential ballot is slated for 31 October, while the runoff, if necessary, is scheduled for 21 November. The rally in Kryvyy Rih was opened by Yushchenko's ally Yuliya Tymoshenko because his arrival was delayed after the city airport barred his plane from landing, forcing him to travel by car. Streets lamps were reportedly switched off on the city's main thoroughfare as Yushchenko's car was approaching the rally. "[Your presence here] testifies that Ukraine lives not in the time of fear but in the time of courage," Yushchenko said in greeting the crowd. JM

ROMANIA CALLS ON UKRAINE TO 'CLARIFY' REPORTS ON GRANTING DRILLING RIGHTS AROUND DISPUTED ISLAND. The Foreign Ministry on 21 October summoned a representative of the Ukrainian Embassy in Romania, demanding that Kyiv "clarify" reports in the Romanian media the previous day that said Ukraine has granted drilling rights to foreign companies in the vicinity of Serpents Island in the Black Sea, Mediafax reported. The ministry stressed that under the 1997 basic treaty between the two states, the sides pledged to refrain from exploiting mineral resources around the island until they reach agreement on the delimitation of the continental shelf. The ministry also noted that the case is pending before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and that according to international practice the sides should refrain from drilling in the area until the court rules on the case. MS