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YABLOKO LEADER SAYS PUTIN FAILS TO GRASP EVENTS IN THE CIS. Speaking to journalists in Torino, Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said that President Putin does not understand the present situation in the CIS, utro.ru reported. "Putin has no interest in human rights or democratic norms," Yavlinskii claimed. "Therefore, he does not understand how the things that occurred in Ukraine came about" -- situations in which the people "show they can fight election machinations." According to Yavlinskii, Putin thought he had the upper hand in the former Soviet states and that the international community would turn a blind eye to any actions he took there. However, Yavlinskii said, the events in Ukraine showed Putin that this is not so -- and as a result he has no other option than to accept the situation. VY
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS GERMAN SUPPORT FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATION... Viktor Yushchenko met with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Berlin on 8 March, during the first day of his two-day trip to Germany, Interfax reported. Yushchenko told the German television channel ARD that the meeting focused on obtaining Germany's support for Ukraine joining the World Trade Organization, receiving a market-economy status, and forming a free-trade zone with the EU. Yushchenko also said they discussed prospects for a simplified visa regime between Ukraine and the EU. Yushchenko declared that Ukraine is ready to allow non-visa travel for EU citizens in the near future. According to dpa, Yushchenko told German journalists on 8 March that he hopes Ukraine will achieve EU membership "certainly before the year 2016." JM
...BUT SOME IN GERMANY REMAIN SKEPTICAL. Matthias Wissmann from the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who is chairman of the Bundestag's European Affairs Committee, told journalists on 8 March that Ukraine's EU membership is "unreachable in the foreseeable future," dpa reported. According to Wissmann, such a prospect is unlikely because of Ukraine's "enormous shortfalls in its economic development." Instead of full EU membership, Wissmann called for Ukraine to be given what he termed "a privileged partnership" with the EU, which would include a free-trade accord and expanded economic and security ties. Meanwhile, Gert Weisskirchen, spokesman for the Bundestag faction of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), told "Frankfurter Rundschau" on 8 March that Ukraine should be first satisfied with an "EU associated status." Weisskirchen noted that Turkey, which held such a status for decades, is due to begin talks aimed at full EU membership later this year and is not expected to join the EU before 2015. JM
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS CHARGE SUSPECTS WITH JOURNALIST'S KILLING. The Prosecutor-General's Office has officially charged the recently arrested suspects (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 2005) with killing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported on 8 March. Following his meeting with German President Horst Koehler in Berlin, President Yushchenko announced this news but did not elaborate. Last week Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun said that two police officers of the rank of colonel were arrested in the Gongadze case. Some reports suggested that the Security Service of Ukraine detained three people in the Gongadze case, two colonels and one general. JM