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PUTIN SAYS MOSCOW DID NOT INTERFERE IN UKRAINIAN POLL. President Putin told German journalists on 6 May that the Kremlin did not interfere in last year's presidential election in Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. "We did nothing that can be qualified as direct interference into the affairs of the republic," Putin said. "Give me at least one example of when I campaigned for one of the candidates." He said that Moscow "intensified contacts with the acting authorities [in Ukraine] mostly upon their own initiative," adding that Moscow's only goal in such situations is "not to allow using unlawful methods in the political struggle in the post-Soviet space." Putin said that he is "worried about destabilization" in the region, adding, "look what happened in Kyrgyzstan." During the campaign, Putin met several times with then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his favored successor, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. On 8 December, just days before the final vote, State Duma Speaker and Kremlin insider Boris Gryzlov said, "Only the victory of the pro-Russian candidate [Yanukovych]...can save the country from collapse" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 2004). RC

UZBEKISTAN WITHDRAWS FROM GUUAM. A source in the Moldovan presidential administration told Interfax on 5 May that Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has received a statement from Uzbek President Islam Karimov announcing Uzbekistan's withdrawal from GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Moldova). As quoted by the news agency, the statement explained that Uzbekistan chose to end its membership because "emphasis has [lately] been placed on the ideological and military-political elements of cooperation within GUUAM, the resolution of frozen conflicts, the formation of military blocs, and revision of existing security systems." Karimov chose not to attend a 22 April GUUAM summit in Moldova. Uzbekistan joined GUUAM in 1999 but suspended its participation in the organization's activities in June 2002 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2002). DK

JAILED UKRAINIANS IN MINSK FACE DEPORTATION, FIVE-YEAR ENTRY BAN. Five Ukrainians jailed by the Belarusian authorities for their participation in an unauthorized opposition demonstration in Minsk on 26 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2005) face deportation and a five-year ban on reentering the country, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported. The embassy added that it is preparing, jointly with a lawyer from an international human rights association, a complaint against the Belarusian Interior Ministry's deportation and entry ban order. One of the five Ukrainians, Oleksiy Panasyuk, who was sentenced to nine days in jail, was reportedly released on 5 May after serving his term and deported to Ukraine. Three of his colleagues were sentenced to 10 days each, and another to 15 days. JM

POLLSTERS SAY THREE IN FOUR UKRAINIANS WANT OFFICIAL STATUS FOR RUSSIAN LANGUAGE... The Democratic Initiatives Fund and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found in a poll conducted among 2,045 adult Ukrainians on 14-24 April that 76 percent want the Russian language to be granted official status in Ukraine, Interfax reported on 5 May. Regarding the languages spoken at work, the poll found that 32 percent of respondents speak Russian, 31 percent speak Ukrainian, and 22 percent use both languages. According to the poll, 76 percent of Ukrainians support their country's independence, which is the same percentage as registered in the referendum on 1 December 1991. JM

...AND SEVEN PARTIES COULD CROSS 3 PERCENT PARLIAMENTARY HURDLE. The Democratic Initiatives Fund and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology also found in the 14-24 April poll that eight parties could exceed the 3 percent voting barrier to qualify for parliamentary seats if an election were held "next Sunday," Interfax reported on 5 May. Those parties are: The Party of Regions led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych (13.3 percent backing); the Fatherland Party led by Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko (10.7 percent); the Our Ukraine People's Union led by Roman Bezsmertnyy (10.8 percent); the Our Ukraine Party headed by Viktor Pynzenyk (8.3 percent); the Socialist Party chaired by Oleksandr Moroz (7.4 percent); the Communist Party of Petro Symonenko (6.5 percent); and the Progressive Socialist Party headed by Nataliya Vitrenko (4.2 percent). The Social Democratic Party-united of Viktor Medvedchuk fell just short of the parliamentary threshold with 2.7 percent in the poll. JM

ANOTHER FORMER UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL PLACED ON INTERNATIONAL WANTED LIST. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has put Volodymyr Scherban, former governor of Sumy Oblast, on an international wanted list following a relevant decision by regional prosecutors, Interfax reported on 5 May. The previous day, Ukrainian media reported that Kyiv placed Ihor Bakay, former head of the presidential property-management department, on Interpol's wanted list (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2005). JM