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...AS COLLEAGUE COUNTERS THAT MANY GROUPS SUFFERED OR COLLABORATED. Duma Deputy and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia) said the deportation of ethnic Lithuanians from the Baltics cannot be justified, but stressed that it was not only Baltic peoples who suffered under the Stalin regime, RIA-Novosti reported on 15 June. Russians were among those who suffered most, he added. "It was a crime committed by a ruling regime against its own people within the framework of what was then a single state, but not a crime of one state against another," Kosachev said. Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, and members of other nations were among those who collaborated with Soviet state security forces, he said. Comparisons based on who suffered more are inappropriate, Kosachev said. The Russian State Duma has decided not to bring counterclaims against the Baltic states, Kosachev said, "since once we begin [seeking compensation], we would never stop." VY

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REVEALS ILLEGAL VAT REFUNDS... President Viktor Yushchenko said at a meeting with regional governors in Kyiv on 15 June that some 200 Ukrainian firms received illegal value-added-tax (VAT) refunds in 2004, Interfax reported. Yushchenko added that law-enforcement bodies have prepared documents to challenge in court VAT refunds totaling 3.3 billion hryvnyas ($650 million). Meanwhile, Yushchenko's spokeswoman Iryna Herashchenko told journalists later the same day that the Ukrainian Security Service has a list of some 1,000 Ukrainian firms that allegedly received illegal VAT refunds in 2004. JM

...AND QUESTIONS GDP FIGURE IN 2004. President Yushchenko also said at the same meeting with regional governors that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004, in connection with the illegal VAT refunds, was overstated by some 30 billion hryvnyas ($6 billion). "The Ukrainian Security Service a few days ago officially asked for the [GDP] base in 2004 to be reviewed. According to their calculations, around 30 billion hryvnyas were fictitiously included to GDP in 2004," UNIAN quoted Yushchenko as saying. JM

ZAPORIZHZHYA MAYOR ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. Ukrainian investigators have accused Yevhen Kartashov, mayor of the city of Zaporizhzhya in eastern Ukraine, of corruption, Interfax reported on 15 June. Earlier this month, President Yushchenko harshly criticized Kartashov and instructed regional prosecutors to look into alleged violations of law committed by the local authorities during their "work with entrepreneurs." JM

NUMBER OF UKRAINIAN MILLIONAIRES DOUBLES IN 2004. Last year, 1,871 Ukrainians declared annual income of more than 1 million hryvnyas (nearly $200,000) compared to 876 such individuals in 2003, Interfax reported on 15 June, citing an official from the State Tax Administration. JM

MOLDOVAN SPEAKER SAYS CHISINAU WANTS DIALOGUE ON TRANSDNIESTER... Parliamentary speaker Marian Lupu told journalists in Chisinau on 15 June that last week's parliamentary votes on the settlement of the Transdniester conflict (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 15 June 2005) "open the door for a dialogue both inside and outside the country," Flux reported. Lupu declared that Chisinau would also like to hear "the voice of the population from Transdniester" on the settlement. He also said Chisinau is not pursuing an anti-Russian policy, thus alluding to Russian criticism of last week's votes on Transdniester (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2005). JM

...AS DEPUTY SPEAKER RULES OUT TALKS WITH 'CRIMINAL' REGIME IN TIRASPOL. Deputy parliamentary speaker Iurie Rosca told Flux on 15 June that Chisinau does not consider the separatist authorities in Tiraspol a valid negotiation partner regarding the Transdniester settlement. Rosca was commenting on Tiraspol's criticism of the Moldovan parliament's votes endorsing Ukraine's plan for Transdniester and calling for a Russian military pullout from Transdniester (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2005). "The documents approved on 10 June by the parliament clearly emphasize the fundamental detail that the current regime in Tiraspol is criminal...and cannot be a dialogue partner for the legal authorities of the Republic of Moldova," Rosca noted. JM