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BELARUS WITHDRAWS UN DRAFT RESOLUTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S.. Belarus has withdrawn a draft resolution called "Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in the United States of America" from the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 10 November 2004), Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported on 15 November. Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Savinykh said Minsk from the very start did not want to submit the resolution, which urges the United States to improve its human rights situation, to a vote in the UN General Assembly. "Everybody understands that the U.S.A.'s influence and pressure on all in the world has reached such levels that few countries would dare to vote openly for the resolution," Savinykh explained. According to Savinykh, by submitting the resolution, Minsk aimed to show that nobody, not even a global superpower, has a monopoly on criticism or should be excluded from the international monitoring of human rights. Minsk's resolution on the human rights situation in the United States followed a critical resolution on Belarus that was introduced by the Unites States and the EU to the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly. JM

YANUKOVYCH BLAMES YUSHCHENKO FOR UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC PREDICAMENT... Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych took part on 15 November in a 100-minute televised debate with his presidential rival in the 21 November runoff, Viktor Yushchenko. The debate was held on state-owned television channel UT-1 and simultaneously broadcast by several other channels in Ukraine. Yanukovych referred to his government as "new authorities" in Ukraine and portrayed Yushchenko as a "bankrupt politician" and fake oppositionist. According to Yanukovych, Yushchenko in his capacity as head of the National Bank in 1993-99 and prime minister in 1999-2001 is largely responsible for Ukraine's current poverty and economic plight as well as for widespread public distrust of the authorities. Yanukovych stressed that his government achieved 9.6 percent economic growth in 2003 and 13.4 percent growth in the first nine months of 2004. JM

...AS THE LATTER ACCUSES THE FORMER OF ECONOMIC INAPTITUDE. Yushchenko accused Yanukovych during the 15 November presidential debate of trying to mislead Ukrainians with statistics, arguing that official economic-growth figures have translated into neither higher budget revenues nor greater purchasing power for Ukrainians. "You [Yanukovych] have said you're going to be a president of rich people," Yushchenko said. "But two-thirds of my nation lives below the poverty line. What is the 13.4 percent growth being turned into?" Yushchenko accused Yanukovych's government of condoning corruption and allowing 55 percent of the economy to function in the shadows. Yushchenko also claimed Yanukovych's government has no consistent foreign policy, adding that it vacillates between Brussels and Moscow and runs a risk of "los[ing] in both the East and the West." JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE SEEN AS 'NEW STANDARD.' Members of Yanukovych's and Yushchenko's election staffs positively assessed the live debate between the two presidential candidates on UT-1 on 15 November, Interfax reported on 16 November. "I think that this [debate] sets an absolutely new standard [in Ukrainian political life]," Yanukovych's campaign manager, Serhiy Tihipko, commented. Anatoliy Hrytsenko, an analyst in Yushchenko's campaign staff, agreed and said the debate was "very important, indeed." Tihipko argued that debate viewers saw a "self-assured politician" in Yanukovych who "easily oriented himself in all issues and behaved with absolute dignity." Lawmaker Mykola Tomenko, a member of Yushchenko's campaign staff, claimed that Yushchenko behaved like a future president while Yanukovych assumed the role of an opposition politician. JM