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...AS JOURNALISTS, POLITICIANS SAY CENSORSHIP IS THRIVING IN RUSSIA. Speaking on Ekho Moskvy on 21 May, journalist Savik Shuster, who used to host a popular program on NTV and who has begun working for Ukrainian television after being fired by NTV, said: "I can say that it's much easier to work in Ukraine." "There has not been any pressure or hassle over the program," Shuster said. "In principle, nothing is off-limits." Yabloko deputy head Sergei Mitrokhin said on the same broadcast that although the Soviet-era mechanisms of censorship have been dismantled, "we have other bodies, like the Press Ministry, which was set up just for this purpose. There are no equivalent bodies in free democratic countries." Former RTR journalist Yelena Masyuk said that she left RTR because of the restrictions on expression there. "It was impossible to work after the most recent State Duma elections and the presidential election last year," Masyuk said. She said that she once suggested 22 topics for stories to her manager, who approved only two of them. An informal survey taken during the program found that 96 percent of listeners believe that President Putin's recent order to give all political parties equal access to state television will be ignored (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 2005). RC

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONFIRMS 2006 ELECTION ALLIANCE WITH PREMIER, SPEAKER... Viktor Yushchenko reiterated his intention on 22 May to form a coalition for the 2006 parliamentary election of the Our Ukraine People's Union, a party created earlier this year to form the political basis of his presidency, as well as the Fatherland Party led by Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, and People's Party headed by parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, Interfax reported. "I'm sure that the Orange Revolution and the values with which we came to Kyiv's Maydan [Independence Square] truly belong to these three political forces," Yushchenko said in Kaniv, at the grave of Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko. "I support with all my soul our union, our teamwork, our joint political activity for many years ahead," Tymoshenko added. JM

...AFTER REPORTEDLY ADVISING PRIME MINISTER TO RESIGN. The Kyiv-based "Zerkalo nedeli" weekly reported in its 21-27 May issue that during a meeting with Russian oil traders on 19 May, President Yushchenko proposed that Premier Tymoshenko tender her resignation over what he saw as her unsatisfactory management of the current fuel crisis in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 2005). The presidential website ( on 21 May quoted Yushchenko as saying that he trusts Tymoshenko but it did not deny the reported resignation offer. "I trust the prime minister, my generally positive assessment of the government's work is unaltered. Only those doing nothing make no mistakes," Yushchenko asserted. He added that the fuel crisis in Ukraine has been resolved. A joint presidential and prime minister statement on the website said that the two leaders "are one team, whose work is oriented toward the fulfillment of a joint goal -- holding a systemic reform in Ukraine, oriented toward the democratization of society and improvement of people's lives." JM

UKRAINIAN OMBUDSMAN CONDEMNS REPORTED BEATING OF OPPOSITION LAWMAKERS. Ombudsman Nina Karpachova has protested against the reported beating of an unspecified number of lawmakers from the opposition Social Democratic Party-united (SDPU-o) by a riot-police unit in Uzhhorod on 20 May, Interfax reported on 22 May. "Applying force to people's deputies is an actual sign of a police state, in which human rights are grossly violated and no citizen can feel himself/herself protected," Karpachova said in a statement. According to what Karpachova was told by SDPU-o legislator Tamara Proshkuratova, who reportedly was a victim of the beating, the incident took place in a hospital ward when the legislators were visiting former Transcarpathian Oblast Governor Ivan Rizak, who was hospitalized after being charged with abuse of power and of driving a former rector of Uzhhorod University to commit suicide (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May 2005). Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun has dispatched his deputy, Oleksandr Medvedko, to Uzhhorod to investigate the beating charges. JM

CHISINAU PUBLICIZES UKRAINIAN PLAN FOR SETTLING TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT... Moldova's Ministry of Reintegration on 20 May made public Ukraine's plan for settling the conflict over the Transdniester separatist region, Infotag reported. The plan was discussed by representatives of Chisinau and Tiraspol, with the attendance of mediators from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE, in Vinnytsya, Ukraine, last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 May 2005). The plan, within its timeframe of 18 months, essentially provides for passing a law by the Moldovan Parliament by August to define Transdniester's special status as an autonomous entity within the Republic of Moldova; holding early and democratic elections to the Transdniester legislature under international monitoring by November; and subsequently defining the spheres of competence and authority between central and autonomous government bodies. JM

...AND VOICES OPTIMISM OVER ITS PRACTICALITY. Moldovan Minister for Reintegration Vasile Sova has said that Ukraine's plan for resolving the Transdniester conflict is "an important [move] from theoretical discussions to practical steps," Infotag reported on 20 May. "We are embarking on an absolute new stage of the Transdniester conflict settlement, and all the chances to solve the problem exist with a due respect for the just interests of the Republic of Moldova and Transdniester residents," Sova told journalists. Sova also spoke in favor of involving the United States and the European Union in the negotiation process between Chisinau and Tiraspol. "We hope the United States and the European Union will join the work as soon as during the next round of consultations that may be held next month," Sova said. "Romania, along with Ukraine, may also play an essential role in the conflict settlement process," he added. JM