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BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TO ATTEND UN SUMMIT IN NEW YORK. Alyaksandr Lukashenka is to attend this week's UN summit in New York, Belarusian media reported on 13 September. The U.S. Embassy in Minsk issued a statement saying a visa has been issued to Lukashenka under its obligation, as the host of UN headquarters, to allow entry to leaders attending its events, Reuters reported. Lukashenka, on whom EU countries have imposed travel restrictions over systematic violations of human rights, makes rare visits to the West. The last time he visited the United States was in 2000, for a previous UN summit. A 2003 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe report charged that former and present Belarusian officials were involved in arranging the disappearance of opposition figures in 1999 and 2000 and that "steps were taken at the highest level of the state to actively cover up the true background of the disappearances" (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 10 August 2004). JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS 'UNITY' PACT WITH PARLIAMENTARIANS... Viktor Yushchenko, acting Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, and leaders of various parliamentary groups on 13 September signed a Declaration of Unity and Cooperation for the Future, Ukrainian and international media reported. The signatories agreed to pool their efforts "to secure the interests of the Ukrainian people, improve their welfare, consolidate society, and boost Ukraine's authority in the world." "This is the right step to show the nation that in this difficult time, before a parliamentary election, the political elite has united and showed its attitude to democracy, property, and business issues," Reuters quoted Yushchenko as saying at the signing ceremony. The parliamentary groups that joined the declaration reportedly comprise 237 deputies out of 425. There are currently 25 vacancies in the 450-seat Ukrainian legislature. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, the Social Democratic Party (united), the Communist Party, the United Ukraine group, and the Reform and Order Party did not sign the declaration. JM

...AND ACCUSES FORMER PREMIER OF ABUSING OFFICE. In an interview with AP on 13 September, President Yushchenko accused former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko of abuse of office and said he fired her as a "matter of honor" because she abandoned the ideals of last year's Orange Revolution. Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko of trying to use her cabinet position to write off $1.5 billion worth of state debts of the Unified Energy System of Ukraine, now a defunct company Tymoshenko headed from 1995-97. Yushchenko also alleged that in addition to trying to have Unified Energy System's debts to the state written off, Tymoshenko also tried to cancel its debts to Russia. "The behavior that Yuliya Volodymyrovna displayed in government, and [within] the circle of her allies, was...contrary to state interests," Yushchenko said. Tymoshenko told AP that Yushchenko's charges are a shock to her, adding that he is trying to revive the "old repression that [former President Leonid] Kuchma used against me and my family." JM

UKRAINE'S GDP GROWTH RATE CONTINUES TO SLUMP. Ukraine's gross domestic product (GDP) in August fell by 1.6 percent compared to that in August 2004, while January-August growth in GDP amounted to 2.8 percent, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 13 September, quoting a source in the government. In 2004, the Ukrainian government reported a 12 percent growth in GDP. Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinak said on 14 September that the government downgraded the expected GDP growth in 2005 to 4 percent from the 8.2 percent predicted in the beginning of this year. JM

TRANSDNIESTRIANS REPORTEDLY LINE UP FOR UKRAINIAN CITIZENSHIP. Infotag reported on 13 September that "gigantic" lines of Transdniestrian residents wishing to receive Ukrainian citizenship and Ukrainian foreign-travel passports can be seen in front of the Ukrainian Ethnic Community of Transdniester headquarters in Tiraspol this week. In accordance with amendments to a law on Ukrainian citizenship introduced by the Ukrainian parliament in July, Ukrainian citizenship may now be given to people having Ukrainian roots or whose ancestors lived in Transdniester before October 1940, that is, when the region -- which was called the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic at that time -- was part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The community will reportedly make public lists of Transdniestrians who are eligible to receive Ukrainian citizenship within the next three months. JM

DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA MAY CHANGE TACK ON UKRAINE AND GEORGIA IF THEY JOIN NATO... Sergei Ivanov arrived in Berlin on 13 September for an informal meeting with NATO defense ministers, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 September. The meeting is to focus on efforts to combat international terrorism and emerging threats to global security. Ivanov is also to hold separate, bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. Speaking at a press conference at the Russian Embassy in Germany, Ivanov warned that Russia will revise its foreign policies on Ukraine and Georgia if those states join NATO, adding that such revisions "will not touch only on the military aspects" of those relations. VY

UKRAINE'S ACTING STATE SECRETARY EXPANDS RUSSIAN CONTACTS AMID POLITICAL CRISIS. Speaking to journalists after his meeting in Moscow on 13 September with presidential chief of staff Dmitrii Medvedev, Ukrainian acting State Secretary Oleh Rybachuk said the purpose of his trip was to establish personal contacts and facilitate cooperation with his Russian counterpart, RTR reported. Rybachuk, who was serving as deputy prime minister for European integration when he was appointed acting state secretary following the resignation on 5 September of Oleksandr Zinchenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 2005), said that there is no contradiction in strengthening contacts with Moscow as Ukraine pursues European integration. Rybachuk said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy on 13 September that his talks with Medvedev "exceeded his greatest expectations" and that they frankly discussed topics "that diplomats usually avoid." VY

ANALYST PREDICTS TYMOSHENKO VICTORY IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS... National Strategy Institute founder Stanislav Belkovskii has predicted that ousted Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko will lead a united opposition to victory in Ukraine's parliamentary elections next March, reported on 13 September. Belkovskii, who in April accurately predicted Tymoshenko's resignation in September, said that in the event of a Tymoshenko victory she will not include supporters of President Viktor Yushchenko in a new government. On 9 September, National Strategy Institute Vice President Viktor Militarev said Tymoshenko is "much less evil for Russia than Yushchenko," reported. VY