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CAMPAIGN MOUNTS TO FREE JAILED UZBEK JOURNALIST. International organizations are putting pressure on the Uzbek government to release jailed journalist Sobirjon Yoqubov, the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported on 20 April. Yoqubov, a 22-year-old journalist with the newspaper "Hurriyat," was arrested on 11 April on a charge of attempting to overthrow the constitutional system in Uzbekistan, an accusation frequently leveled at alleged religious extremists in the country. Both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) have issued press releases calling for Yoqubov's release. The CPJ noted in its news alert that Yoqubov's colleagues have said that he was arrested after writing that slain Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze "became a driving force [for Ukrainians] to realize the necessity of democratic reforms and freedoms." A number of Uzbek journalists and rights activists, who charge that Yoqubov's arrest was politically motivated, have issued an appeal through the website and begun an online petition drive at U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli commented on the case on 19 April, saying, "Our embassy is in contact with the Uzbek authorities and has urged observance of due process and fair and human treatment for Mr. [Yoqubov]," IRIN reported. DK

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FORMS COMMISSION TO MONITOR OBSERVANCE OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS... The Verkhovna Rada on 21 April voted overwhelmingly to set up a commission for checking the observance of constitutional rights and civic freedoms in Ukraine, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. The commission, which will include representatives from all parliamentary groups, is headed by lawmaker Viktor Musiyaka from the Democratic Ukraine caucus. The commission is to present a report within 15 days after its creation. Opposition caucuses demanded that the commission's name reflect its primary goal -- probing the recent arrest of Donetsk Oblast Council head Borys Kolesnykov and dismissal of Odesa Mayor Ruslan Bodelan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 2005) -- but pro-government deputies reportedly rejected that proposal. JM

...AND AGREES TO SENDING TROOPS TO GOLAN HEIGHTS. The Verkhovna Rada on 21 April also approved President Viktor Yushchenko's decision to deploy 200 Ukrainian troops as part of the UN peacekeeping force separating Syrian and Israeli troops on the Golan Heights, Interfax reported. The decision was backed by 287 lawmakers. JM

CRIMEAN LEGISLATURE APPROVES NEW PREMIER. The Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 20 April approved Anatoliy Matviyenko as the republic's new prime minister following the resignation of Serhiy Kunitsyn (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 2005), Ukrainian media reported. Matviyenko, who was supported by 61 deputies from the 100-seat autonomous legislature, is a Verkhovna Rada deputy from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, whose leader heads the Ukrainian cabinet. "I'm a member of [President Viktor Yushchenko's] team and I'll do everything possible to make Yushchenko's presidency successful," Matviyenko pledged in the Crimean legislature following his approval. JM

MOLDOVA'S FOREIGN MINISTER HOPES GUUAM WILL HELP WITH TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT. In an interview with RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service on 21 April, Andrei Stratan said he hopes the upcoming GUUAM summit in Chisinau will move the conflict in Transdniester closer to resolution. Stratan said proposals from Ukraine and Georgia "will help to step up the negotiating process" over the separatist region. "At the summit, along with the countries that are willing to give us a helping hand, we will have the opportunity to examine these proposals," Stratan said. Stratan added, "Federalization is not the best method to reintegrate the Republic of Moldova." GUUAM, a regional grouping of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, is scheduled to hold a summit meeting in Chisinau on 22 April. BW