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FORMER STATE UNIVERSITY RECTOR JOINS BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PARTY. Alyaksandr Kazulin, a former rector of Belarusian State University, has become a member of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party-National Assembly (BSDP-NH), Belapan reported. Kazulin, who took part in a joint convention of the BSDP-NH and the Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly last month, is reportedly the most likely candidate to lead a unified party of Belarusian social democrats. Kazulin also leads the Will of the People movement launched last month and is expected to challenge President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2006 presidential election (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 11 March 2005). JM
UKRAINE SUSPENDS PARTICIPATION IN CIS ELECTION MONITORING MISSIONS. Ukraine has suspended its participation in the CIS Election Monitoring Organization, UNIAN reported on 15 March, quoting Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dmytro Svystkov. Svystkov said Ukrainian observers did not participate in CIS monitoring missions in the recent parliamentary elections in Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. Svystkov explained that Kyiv's reluctance to work with CIS election monitors is due to serious discrepancies in the assessment of the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine between CIS and OSCE observers. According to Svystkov, all OSCE members countries, including those from the CIS, should stick to the same criteria in assessing electoral processes. JM
UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS WANT PARADE ON VICTORY DAY. The parliamentary caucus of the Ukrainian Communist Party has called on the president and the government to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in World War II this year at the "top state level," including holding a "parade of victors" in Kyiv, Interfax reported on 14 March. The caucus said in a statement that it protests the government's attempts "to nullify the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Victory and thus to degrade the historic significance of the Great Victory [and] degrade the role of the victorious Ukrainian people." Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Tomenko said earlier this month that the government, following an initiative by President Viktor Yushchenko, is planning to mark Victory Day on 9 May by gathering Ukrainian war veterans and government officials for a joint ceremonial dinner at tables set along Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main boulevard. JM
UKRAINIAN MINISTER LOOKS FOR 'HIDDEN' $3 BILLION IN 2004 BUDGET REVENUES. Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk told journalists on 14 March that the previous cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych "hid" nearly 17 billion hryvnyas ($3.2 billion) worth of budget revenues in 2004, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. Pynzenyk also said Yanukovych's cabinet gave guarantees for substantial loans to sponsor dubious projects last year. "These are $700 million to build a bridge over the Dnieper in Kyiv, $480 million to reconstruct the Kyiv-Odesa highway, and $107 million to credit the Pivdenmash [rocket-building plant]," Pynzenyk specified. "The government is now investigating what has become of these sums." JM
OSCE LEADER HOPES ELECTIONS WILL GIVE IMPETUS FOR TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT. Dimitrij Rupel, the chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said he hopes recent elections in Ukraine and Moldova will create momentum for a settlement in the Transdniester region, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 March. "The OSCE is committed to an idea of working out a peaceful political solution to the Dniester problem by preserving Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity and granting the Dniester region a special status," Rupel said during a visit to Moldova the same day. During his visit, Rupel met with President Voronin, opposition leaders, and Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov. Rupel said he "supports Moldova's wish to introduce an effective and transparent control over the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, primarily on the Dniester section." He also called on Tiraspol authorities "to refrain from unilateral actions, which can heighten tension, and [to] guarantee members of the OSCE Mission free movement over the region." BW