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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN SECRET SERVICE TO EXAMINE GONGADZE-RELATED MELNYCHENKO TAPES. Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) chief Oleksandr Turchynov told journalists in Kyiv on 20 July that the SBU will examine recordings made by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko in the office of former President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Turchynov said that within a month the SBU will scrutinize up to one hour of recordings relating to the killing of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000. "A preliminary examination of these materials has shown that the recordings were made in the office of ex-President Leonid Kuchma and that the main persona on these recordings is citizen Kuchma," Turchynov said. He added that a simultaneous examination of the recordings will be made by the U.S. FBI. JM

EU TO HELP TIGHTEN UKRAINIAN-MOLDOVAN BORDER. EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana discussed EU-Ukrainian relations with President Viktor Yushchenko and other high-ranking Ukrainian officials in Kyiv on 19 July, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Solana said in Kyiv that he believes Ukraine will soon be recognized as a market economy. Solana also promised Yushchenko that the EU will help Ukraine thwart smuggling through the Transdniestrian stretch of the Ukrainian-Moldovan border. In a letter from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that Solana brought to Kyiv, Brussels obliged itself to send a "fact-finding mission to review the situation in the border area itself and prepare our engagement." Yushchenko and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin asked the EU in June for help in establishing more effective customs controls and surveillance on the Transdniestrian section of their common border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 2005). JM

UKRAINE SCRAPS VISAS FOR JAPANESE. President Yushchenko has issued a decree to cancel visa formalities as of 1 August for Japanese citizens visiting Ukraine for no more than 90 days, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 19 July. Earlier this year, Kyiv made similar moves toward citizens of the EU, Switzerland, and the United States. JM

TRANSDNIESTER TO HOLD LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER. Igor Smirnov, leader of the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester, told journalists on 19 July that elections to Transdniester's Supreme Soviet will be held in December, BASA reported. Smirnov said he made this decision after his talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko last week (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 15 July 2005). The so-called Yushchenko plan for Transdniester envisages holding democratic elections in the region under international monitoring by November. JM