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UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL SAYS NOTHING HINDERS A TYMOSHENKO VISIT TO MOSCOW. Petro Poroshenko, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said in Moscow on 21 April that he believes Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko will visit Moscow "very soon," Interfax reported. He said that Russian officials had assured him that "Tymoshenko is expected and will be received at the very highest level at any convenient time." Tymoshenko's scheduled visit to Russia earlier this week was postponed indefinitely without explanation, although most analysts believe the move was connected with fears that Tymoshenko could be questioned or even detained by Russian law enforcement authorities investigating a case of allegedly bribery of Defense Ministry officials. Poroshenko also told journalists that the issue of the Chornobyl nuclear-power plant is a priority issue in Ukraine's relations with Russia, the United States, and the European Union. He said Chornobyl is not just a Ukrainian problem and that outstanding issues include improving safety at the plant and developing a waste-disposal plan. RC

KAZAKH PRESIDENT ADDRESSES MEDIA FORUM. Nursultan Nazarbaev told participants in the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty on 21 April that freedom of speech and the media are an "integral part" of Kazakhstan's progress toward democracy and an open society, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. The president called free media a "supreme value," but warned that the media should not serve as a weapon in "information wars," "Kazakhstan Today" reported. Turning to recent events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, Nazarbaev commented: "As clear-headed people, we understand the deeper reasons for these events. These reasons lie not in some mythical plots by outside forces, but are the result of the logic of internal development. Poverty and unemployment...are fertile ground for people's dissatisfaction with the authorities." DK

UKRAINE EDGES TOWARD NATO MEMBERSHIP TALKS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk told a news conference after a foreign-minister level NATO-Ukraine meeting in Vilnius on 21 April that Kyiv could complete the necessary military and political reforms for joining NATO within the three years, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer backed Kyiv's NATO membership goal but refused to give a timetable. "NATO has invited Ukraine to intensified dialogue on Ukraine's aspirations to membership...without prejudice to any eventual alliance decision," Reuters quoted Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as saying. "It would be the choice of Ukraine to choose its partners and it is the sovereign matter of Ukraine," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Vilnius the same day. JM

UKRAINIAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS SET TO END BORDER SPAT. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met with his Romanian counterpart, Traian Basescu, in Bucharest on 21 April, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. "We both believe that we need to boost mutual trust," Reuters quoted Yushchenko as saying after his meeting with Basescu. Both presidents reportedly pledged to tackle bilateral disputes such as the delimitation of an oil-rich continental shelf in the Black Sea around Serpents Island and a Ukrainian project to use a shipping canal in the Danube delta (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 9 September 2004). They also said they will set up a commission to cooperate in solving the conflict in Moldova's separatist Transdniester region and in monitoring ethnic minority issues in both states. "We will create a Basescu-Yushchenko commission which will tackle the most painful bilateral problems," Yushchenko said. JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT PUTS CAPS ON GASOLINE PRICES. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko said at a meeting with regional governors and business executives in Kyiv on 22 April that prices for gasoline in Ukraine will be stabilized at a level below 3 hryvnyas ($0.6) per liter, as established by the Economy Ministry earlier this week, the "Ukrayinskaya pravda" website ( reported. "The artificially created [fuel] crisis will end within two-three days," Tymoshenko pledged. She said the Russian oil companies LUKoil and TNK-BP "have planned to bring all consumers in Ukraine to their knees" but added that this problem "will be solved with them today or tomorrow." The Economy Ministry said in a statement on 21 April that it will guarantee the property rights of Russian oil companies for Ukraine's biggest refineries only if they agree to cut retail fuel prices. Earlier this week TNK-BP, LUKoil, and Alliance group wrote a letter to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, asking him to intervene in the dispute and saying they are concerned by threats from Ukrainian officials to revise privatization deals. The companies are unwilling to cut prices at their gasoline station networks in Ukraine, saying higher world crude prices are behind the increases. JM

UKRAINE AND ROMANIA PREPARE TRANSDNIESTER PLAN. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Romanian President Traian Basescu said they have a common vision for resolving Moldova's Transdniester conflict, international news agencies reported on 21 April. The two presidents made their remarks after meeting in Bucharest, where they were working on a joint peace plan for the breakaway region. The details of the plan, which they plan to present at the GUUAM summit in Chisinau, were not revealed. Yushchenko said, however, that the conflict would be a major focus of the summit, which begins on 22 April. "Myself and Mr. Basescu have a common point of view on the Transdniester settlement issue, and we will present our position in Chisinau," Yushchenko said. "I have a feeling that Ukraine and Romania will play an essential role in the Transdniester conflict settlement. I am sure the summit participants will listen to our position tomorrow." BW