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NEW UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SACKS TWO GENERALS. Newly appointed Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko has dismissed Lieutenant General Serhiy Popkov, deputy interior minister and commander of the Interior Troops, as well as Major General Hennadiy Heorhiyenko, head of the Interior Ministry's Traffic Police Department, Interfax reported on 10 February. According to Ukrainian and foreign media reports, Popkov was on the verge of bringing special-task police troops to Kyiv in late December to break up the Orange Revolution. Papkov denied the media allegations, saying the troops were on battle alert, but never left their deployment units. "This is the very minister the Interior Ministry needs today," President Viktor Yushchenko said on 7 February, while introducing Lutsenko to the Interior Ministry staff. "He is an exceptionally honest man." Lutsenko, an electronics engineer by education, reportedly has not had any previous experience in dealing with the Interior Ministry and police apart from when he led the opposition Ukraine Without Kuchma street protests in 2001-02 and the Orange Revolution protests in November-December 2004 in Kyiv. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REPORTEDLY ASSAILED WITH SNOWBALLS IN DONETSK. President Viktor Yushchenko arrived in Donetsk on 10 February to introduce newly appointed Donetsk Governor Vadym Chuprun to the regional administration staff, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua/) reported. While approaching the oblast administration building, Yushchenko was pelted with snowballs thrown by a group of supporters of former presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych holding placards reading "Yushchenko [Is An] Impostor" and "Forever with Russia." Yushchenko took cover from the bombardment behind his umbrella. He subsequently shook hands with members of a group of his backers who also gathered in front of the oblast administration building. JM
UKRAINIAN TOP PROSECUTOR SAYS YUSHCHENKO PROBABLY POISONED AT DINNER. Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun has said Yushchenko was most likely poisoned around 5 September, the date on which he dined with officials from the Security Service of Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 December 2004), Reuters reported on 9 February. "There is no doubt that this was a planned act, in which several people from the government were probably involved," Piskun said in an interview with the Vienna-based newspaper "Der Standard" released ahead of its publication due on 10 February. "The general timing is around this dinner [on 5 September]. But we cannot say with certainty that it was on this day," Piskun said. JM
CAN AZERBAIJANI YOUTH GROUP UNIFY OPPOSITION? Razi Nurullaev announced at a news conference in Baku on 9 February that he has resigned as deputy chairman of the AHChP conservative wing in order to align himself with the embryonic youth movement Yokh (No!), according to gazeta.ru on 9 February and zerkalo.az on 10 February. Nurullaev said he hopes Yokh can play a role similar to the youth movements Kmara in Georgia and Pora in Ukraine in uniting opposition forces to bring about a peaceful regime change. He said he traveled to Kyiv in late December to consult with Pora leader Vladislav Kaskiv. But both gazeta.ru and zerkalo.az estimated his chances of doing so as minimal, given that political conditions in Azerbaijan are very different from Georgia in late 2003 and Ukraine in late 2004. In addition, Yokh, which intends to function without a formal leader or statutes, at present numbers only some 20-30 members, most of them without any previous experience of political activism. LF