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RUSSIANS, UKRAINIANS DIFFER ON ATTITUDE TO USSR, EACH OTHER. Most Russians favor the restoration of the Soviet Union and relate to Ukrainians worse than Ukrainians do to Russians, according to a poll conducted in December in both countries by the Levada Analytical Center, gazeta.ru reported on 24 December. The poll was conducted among 1,600 respondents in Russia and 2,000 in Ukraine. Replying to a question about the fate of the Soviet Union, 67 percent of Russians responded that they regret its collapse, while 50 percent of Ukrainians felt the same. On the other hand, 26 percent of Russians and 39 percent of Ukrainians said they do not regret its demise. Asked about their perception of Ukraine, 13 percent of Russians replied "very good," 66 percent "rather good," 14 percent "rather bad," and 3 percent "very bad." Ukrainians were more positive, with 37 percent saying their perception of Russia is "very good" and 46 percent "rather good," while 8 percent replied "rather bad," and 4 percent "very bad." VY
LEADING LEGISLATORS COMMENT ON RUSSIA'S POLICIES IN CIS. Federation Council International Relations Committee Chairman Mikhail Margelov told Interfax on 5 January that recent events in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine "have shown that if Russia has some plan of action, it is not very clear or its implementation is imprecise." "We lost our appeal both in the West and in the former Soviet area because we were poised to strike but didn't strike properly," Margelov said. He added that "nongovernmental organizations and parliamentarians in alliance with the press" can assist diplomats in achieving Russia's foreign-policy goals. "One has the impression now that the burden of caring about the country's image lies only with the president," he said. "But the soloist should be supported by the choir during difficult and dramatic parts." Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia) wrote in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 December that Russia needs to rethink its tactics in the CIS. "Frequently we cannot explain properly the point of our presence in the post-Soviet arena," he wrote. "The West does this under the banner of democratization whereas we, it seems, are only doing it on our own behalf. The slogans of democracy (even given the clear geopolitical subtext) are addressed to the people directly, while our activity pursues Russian interests too openly." RC
...TO PRESENT DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY BY THE END OF JANUARY... President-elect Yushchenko said in Tysovets on 5 January that his economic experts are now working on a "new concept" of the 2005 budget that will be presented in March, Interfax reported. The Verkhovna Rada passed a budget bill in late December that projected a 6.6 percent increase in Ukraine's gross domestic product pushing it to 410 billion hryvnyas ($77 billion), budget revenues at 86.5 billion hryvnyas, and spending at 95.5 billion hryvnyas in 2005. Yushchenko added that his experts are now concluding their work on a development strategy for Ukraine for 2005-09. Yushchenko pledged to present the strategy at a special news conference in Ukraine on 20 January and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of January. JM
...AND TO CRACK DOWN ON CORRUPTION. Yushchenko also said in Tysovets on 5 January that he will seek to uproot corruption in Ukraine, which he said is the country's main problem, Ukrainian news agencies reported. "Corruption exists under extremely centralized state rule," Yushchenko said. "That's why our first task will be replacing the old people, so that the Ukrainian people can see new names." Yushchenko also stressed that the main task for Ukrainian political elites in 2005 is to agree on holding honest and transparent parliamentary elections in 2006. "During the 13 months separating us from the parliamentary elections in Ukraine we want to maximally develop democratic processes," the president-elect pledged. JM
HORSE TRADING BEGINS OVER PORTFOLIOS IN NEW UKRAINIAN CABINET. Ihor Yefremeyev, head of the parliamentary caucus of the Popular Agrarian Party (NAPU), told Interfax on 5 January that his party will demand no fewer than three ministerial posts in exchange for supporting a new cabinet formed by President-elect Yushchenko. "I suppose that a new [parliamentary] majority will consist of 280 deputies," Yefremeyev said. "I am convinced that the NAPU caucus will be in the new majority." The NAPU, which is led by Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, has 29 lawmakers. It is still not clear which parties could form a new pro-government majority. Yushchenko's Our Ukraine and his current political allies -- Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and Anatoliy Kinakh's Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs -- have some 150 deputies in the Verkhovna Rada, well below the 226 votes necessary to pass most legislative resolutions. JM