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IS FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER HIDING FROM ARREST? Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the opposition Party of Regions, is staying abroad following a warning that he may be arrested, Ukrainian media reported on 30 August, citing lawmaker Taras Chornovil from the Party of Regions parliamentary caucus. Chornovil added that fearing arrest, Yanukovych did not take part in recent celebrations of Miners' Day in Ukraine, as was his custom in the past. Earlier this month, the Party of Regions press service said Yanukovych would go to Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic for a short vacation. Meanwhile, Yanukovych's press secretary Hanna Herman suggested to "Ukrayinska pravda" (http://www.pravda.com.ua) on 30 August that Yanukovych may currently be in Ukraine. "I don't know [where Yanukovych is], I only know that, according to what I've heard, today in the morning he bought flowers for his teacher, and these flowers are to be sent to her on his behalf," Herman said. On 29 August Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko told journalists that Yanukovych may be involved in the misuse of budget funds. JM
UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL DENIES ALLEGATIONS OF ARMS SMUGGLING FROM TRANSDNIESTER. National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) Secretary Petro Poroshenko told journalists in Kyiv on 30 August that media reports alleging that weapons are smuggled from Transdniester to the Ukrainian port of Illichivsk are not true, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "As the RNBO secretary, I personally refute [those reports] and state that there have not been any similar facts [of smuggling]," Poroshenko said. He added that he has requested that the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Ukrainian Security Service check those reports. "If they are confirmed, [the guilty parties] must be held accountable. If they are not, [I want to know] who made those allegations, since they discredit our borders," Poroshenko added. JM
POLL SHOWS DROP IN POPULARITY OF UKRAINE'S RULING PARTIES. The Razumkov Center polling agency found in a survey conducted from 5-12 August that six political parties would have been able at that time to overcome the 3 percent voting threshold to qualify for parliamentary representation, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 30 August. The Our Ukraine People's Union was supported by 20 percent of those polled, the Party of Regions by 14.2 percent, the Fatherland party by 10.5 percent, the Communist Party by 5.5 percent, the Socialist Party by 4.2 percent, and the People's Party by 4.1 percent. In a similar poll conducted in May, the ruling Our Ukraine People's Union and Fatherland were backed by 31.6 percent and 15.5 percent of voters, respectively. JM
MOLDOVA OFFERS CITIZENSHIP CONFIRMATION FOR TRANSDNIESTRIANS. The Moldovan government decided on 30 August that all residents of the breakaway region of Transdniester will be given the possibility to confirm their Moldovan citizenship under a simplified procedure from 10 September to 31 December, Infotag and BASA reported. Under the resolution, Transdniestrians can confirm their Moldovan citizenship at any Center for the Documentation of the Population in districts on the right bank of the Dniester River. To do this, they must produce their Soviet-era passports, where a special stamp confirming citizenship will be placed. Those Transdniestrians who do not possess passports will be given identity cards of the Republic of Moldova -- so-called domestic passports -- free of charge. According to Moldova's Information Ministry, more than 270,000 Transdniestrians have Moldovan citizenship, at least 80,000 possess Russian citizenship, and approximately the same number have Ukrainian citizenship. According to the website of the Tiraspol-based Olviya-Press news agency (http://www.olvia.idknet.com/newwebru.htm), Transdniester is inhabited by 750,000 people. JM