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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS OPEN CASE INTO PRESIDENTIAL ALLY. The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office opened an investigation on 10 October into a case of possible abuse of power involving Ukrainian oligarch Petro Poroshenko, former head of the National Security and Defense Council (RNBO) and one of the staunchest allies of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Poroshenko is officially suspected of "hampering the legitimate business activity of two companies constructing a building" in Kyiv's historic center. Poroshenko is suspected of having sought a bribe from the companies for a permit to continue construction, according to Reuters. He has denied the allegations, saying a businessman representing the companies offered him a bribe in return for helping resolve legal difficulties with the project. Yushchenko sacked Poroshenko from the post of RNBO head a month ago in a shakeup that included the dismissal of former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko and her cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 September 2005). JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS MAKE NEW ALLEGATIONS OF BEREZOVSKII FUNDING FOR YUSHCHENKO CAMPAIGN. The Ukrainian Communist Party claimed in a statement on 7 October that Russian financial tycoon Boris Berezovskii has confirmed that he funded President Viktor Yushchenko's election campaign, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The statement also demanded Yushchenko's resignation and urged the Central Election Commission to annul the results of last year's presidential vote and call a new election. The Communists referred to a meeting between Berezovskii and an investigative commission of Ukrainian lawmakers in London on 6 October, when he purportedly said that he had transferred $15 million to support Yushchenko's presidential bid. Berezovskii countered on 7 October by saying the Communists' statement is utterly false. "There was an explicit understanding not to comment on our meeting before the publication of the official full text of my statement to commission members," Berezovskii told Interfax-Ukraine, stressing his readiness to come to Ukraine to testify before the commission. Meanwhile, Ukrainian lawmaker Ihor Shurma, who met with Berezovskii on 6 October, told journalists that the self-exiled Russian oligarch admitted to having financed the development of civil-society institutions in Ukraine prior to the 2004 presidential election. JM

UKRAINE'S NEW JUSTICE MINISTER WANTS PROGRESS IN GONGADZE CASE. Serhiy Holovatyy, whom President Yushchenko appointed as justice minister on 6 October, told Channel 5 on 8 October that Ukraine should replace Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun if it wants to see "real" progress in the investigation into the murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. "[The Gongadze investigation] will depend on who holds this post [Prosecutor-General] and whether a new holder will not prove to be another scoundrel," Holovatyy added. Meanwhile, Piskun reiterated to journalists on 10 October the allegation that Gongadze's murder was organized by former Interior Ministry General Oleksiy Pukach. Pukach was briefly arrested in 2003, but has not been seen in Ukraine since his release on a bail order in November 2003. JM

EU LAUNCHES MONITORING MISSION ON MOLDOVAN-UKRAINIAN BORDER. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrey Stratan, and EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner signed a memorandum on 7 October on the launch of a two-year mission by European Commission monitors on the Ukrainian-Moldovan border beginning on 1 December, RFE/RL and Ukrainian and Moldovan news agencies reported. "What we will do is deploy a number of mobile teams, consisting of approximately 50 border guards and customs officials from EU member states, to the most relevant locations along the entire border, including the Transdniestrian segment," Ferrero-Waldner said at the Palanca checkpoint on the Ukrainian-Moldovan border on 7 October. The EU teams will not operate on Transdniestrian territory. "We are sure this will make it possible to stop all smuggling activities, including trafficking in human beings, drugs, and arms, which take place along the Transdniestrian segment of the Moldova-Ukraine border," Stratan commented on the mission. Brussels will support the mission with 7 million euros ($8.4 million). JM