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UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT WANTS TO CONTEST 3,000 PRIVATIZATIONS IN COURT. Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko said on 16 February that the government, jointly with the Prosecutor-General's Office, will challenge in court the privatization of nearly 3,000 businesses, Interfax reported. According to Tymoshenko, the Prosecutor-General's Office opened criminal investigations into each of these 3,000 privatizations in the past, but they were subsequently closed following telephone calls from the "top state leadership." "There will be a detailed plan of action concerning every enterprise [on this list of 3,000] in order to stop illegal actions with regard to state property via court, in an absolutely legitimate way," Tymoshenko added. "We will return to the state what was illegally transferred into private, but dishonest, hands." It is not clear how Tymoshenko's announcement is related to President Viktor Yushchenko's statement the previous day that a list of potential privatization reviews will be "limited" to 30 to 40 enterprises (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February 2005). JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REITERATES PROMISES ON FRESH GOVERNMENT, GONGADZE CASE. President Yushchenko visited Lviv on 16 February to introduce new Governor Petro Oliynyk to the oblast administration staff, Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko repeated his earlier pledge that leading posts in the new government must not be occupied by representatives of the former one or by people who took part in the presidential campaign of his opponent, Viktor Yanukovych. "If we want to form a new policy, we need new personnel," he said. He did not comment on his appointment of former Education Minister Vasyl Kremin as first state secretary deputy in the Presidential Secretariat (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February 2005). Yushchenko also said the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000 is a moral challenge to the current authorities, who should resolve the case. JM
WILL NEW UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER RESIGN? Justice Minister Roman Zvarych wants to resign his government post, Interfax reported on 16 February, quoting an unidentified source in the Cabinet of Ministers. Zvarych spoke on Channel 5 on 16 February but declined to answer a question about whether he has tendered his resignation. "I won't tolerate that some businessmen, who are also people's deputies and have powerful positions in the oil-processing sphere, interfere directly with the work of my ministry," Zvarych said. "Secondly, I won't tolerate attempts by some government members to involve members of my family in corruption schemes." Zvarych, an ethnic Ukrainian born in 1953 and educated at Columbia University in New York, moved to Ukraine in 1991 and was granted Ukrainian citizenship in 1995. JM
UKRAINIAN SECRET SERVICE PROBES EAVESDROPPING ON YUSHCHENKO, TYMOSHENKO. The chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Oleksandr Turchynov, told journalists on 17 February that the SBU has opened an investigation into the illegal tapping of telephone calls made by opposition leaders, including Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, during the presidential election campaign last year, Interfax reported. According to Turchynov, the eavesdropping was carried out on a "serious scale" and authorized by "top leaders of power structures." The notion of "power structures" (sylovy struktury) in the post-Soviet political jargon usually includes secret services, the Interior Ministry, and the Defense Ministry. Turchynov also said it is too early to assert that there was a Russian connection in the poisoning of Yushchenko during the campaign last year. Some Ukrainian media reported on 16 February that the Kyiv-based Channel 5 has passed to Ukrainian investigators a taped telephone conversation between purported officers of Russia's Federal Security Service, who allege that the idea to poison Yushchenko came from Russian political strategist Gleb Pavlovskii, who worked for former Prime Minister Yanukovych in his presidential bid. JM
ROMANIAN, UKRAINIAN PREMIERS SET TO IMPROVE BILATERAL RELATIONS. In a telephone call, Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yuliya Tymoshenko, agreed on 16 February to reconstruct relations between Romania and Ukraine "on a modern, pragmatic, and European basis" after the change in government in Ukraine, RFE/RL's Romanian Service and "Evenimentul zilei" reported. Tymoshenko accepted Popescu-Tariceanu's invitation to visit Bucharest to discuss improvements in bilateral relations, including increased economic cooperation. UB