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NEW UKRAINIAN CABINET TAKES OVER... Following the approval of Yuliya Tymoshenko as prime minister and the appointment of a new cabinet by President Viktor Yushchenko on 4 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 2005), 357 deputies endorsed the cabinet's program presented earlier by Tymoshenko in the parliament, Ukrainian media reported. The vote gave Tymoshenko's cabinet immunity from no-confidence motions for a year. The new cabinet consists of Anatoliy Kinakh as first deputy prime minister; Oleh Rybachuk, Mykola Tomenko, and Roman Bezsmertnyy as deputy prime ministers; Yuriy Lutsenko as interior minister; Serhiy Teryokhin as economy minister; Borys Tarasyuk as foreign minister; Anatoliy Hrytsenko as defense minister; Oleksandr Baranivskyy as agriculture minister; Oksana Bilozir as culture minister; Mykola Polishchuk as health minister; Stanislav Nikolayenko as education minister; Yuriy Pavlenko as minister for family, children, and youth issues; Ivan Plachkov as minister for fuel and energy; Vyachesklav Kyrylenko as labor minister; Volodymyr Shandra as industrial policy minister; Yevhen Chervonenko as transport minister; David Zhvaniya as emergency situations minister; Viktor Pynzenyk as financial minister; Roman Zvarych as justice minister; and Pavlo Ihnatenko as environment minister. Yushchenko appointed Oleksandr Turchynov from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc as head of the Security Service of Ukraine. JM

...PLEDGES TO REVERT INFAMOUS PRIVATIZATION OF METALLURGICAL GIANT... During its first working meeting on 5 February, Ukraine's new cabinet decided to annul last year's highly controversial privatization of the Kryvorizhstal steel mill, Ukrainian media reported. Kryvorizhstal, the country's largest metallurgical plant, was sold for $800 million to political allies of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Viktor Pinchuk and Rynat Akhmetov, despite much higher bids from foreign investors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2004). "[The decision] means that we have started the process of returning Kryvorizhstal to the state," Interfax quoted Tymoshenko as saying. She added that the details of the government's decision on Kryvorizhstal will be given in a separate press release. Simultaneously, Tymoshenko stressed that there will be no mass reprivatizations in the country. JM

...AS PRESIDENT BEGINS TO INSTALL NEW REGIONAL GOVERNORS. President Yushchenko on 7 February left Kyiv for Sumy, his native region, to present newly appointed governor of Sumy Oblast to the regional administration staff, Interfax reported. State Secretary Oleksandr Zinchenko and Foreign Minister Tarasyuk accompanied Yushchenko on the trip. On 4 February, following the appointment of new ministers to Tymoshenko's cabinet, Yushchenko signed decrees replacing with loyalists 24 governors of Ukrainian regions and the head of the Sevastopol city administration. Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, Yushchenko's ally during the Orange Revolution, retained his post. JM

U.S. SENATORS PROPOSE UKRAINIAN, GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have sent a joint letter to the Nobel Institute nominating Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for the Nobel Peace Prize, Voice of America (VOA) reported on 4 February. "We think that both presidents represent the very finest courage, dedication, and leadership, which brings about freedom and democracy. We think that these two individuals represent exactly what Mr. Nobel had in mind when he started this prize many years ago," McCain told VOA's Ukrainian Service. Up to 25 people were killed in sporadic fighting after President Saakashvili approved the deployment of troops to the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia last summer. JM

U.S., RUSSIA DISCUSS AGENDA OF UPCOMING SUMMIT. Talking to journalists after his meeting with Secretary of State Rice in Ankara, Foreign Minister Lavrov confirmed that the status of democracy in Russia had been discussed, adding that President Putin is ready to answer any questions on this topic during the Bratislava summit, RTR reported on 6 February. Lavrov said all differences in the U.S.-Russian relations should be "frankly discussed." Lavrov said he also discussed with Rice the agenda of the summit, which will include Iran's nuclear program, Russia's relations with Ukraine and Georgia, the Yukos affair, and U.S.-Russia cooperation in the energy sector. Lavrov added that a new topic is likely to be joint global rescue operations, following the 26 December tsunami in the Indian Ocean. "Only the United States and Russia have the long-distance air transport that can reach any corner of the world and that can be used for joint operations during emergencies," said Lavrov. Finally, Lavrov confirmed that President Bush will travel to Moscow in May for commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. VY

HELSINKI COMMITTEE SAYS WEST IGNORES CENTRAL ASIAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. Aaron Rhodes, executive director of the International Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, told a news conference in Kazakhstan on 5 February that the West is turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Central Asia, Reuters reported. Stressing that the overall rights situation in the region is deteriorating, Rhodes said, "Anything [local governments] consider as politically threatening they label 'terrorist,' and unfortunately a number of Western governments do accept this logic." Rhodes singled out Uzbekistan for harsh criticism, saying, "The number of people who are imprisoned for their beliefs [in Uzbekistan] is extremely high; the number of torture cases and murders by officials is extremely high." He also called attention to authoritarian steps that Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have taken in the wake of Georgia's Rose Revolution and Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Rhodes charged that the West has placed its strategic interests, which include access to the region's energy resources and Central Asia's cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, above human rights concerns. DK