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WTO HEAD SAYS RUSSIA UNLIKELY TO COMPLETE TALKS THIS YEAR. Pascal Lamy, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said on 16 October that he does not expect Russia and Ukraine to complete their accession talks by the end of this year, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. According to Lamy, Saudi Arabia is the only WTO aspirant likely to complete accession talks by the time the economy ministers of member countries gather in Hong Kong for their week-long session in mid-December. Russian government officials have said they hoped to complete accession talks before year's end. BW

BELARUSIANS SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH POLITICALLY OPPRESSED COMPATRIOTS. People in Minsk and some other Belarusian cities lit candles in their windows in the evening of 16 October to mark a 'Day of Solidarity' with politically oppressed compatriots and the families of missing opposition activists, Belapan and the Charter-97 website ( reported. The action came in response to appeals to participate from Iryna Krasouskaya, wife of "disappeared" businessman Anatol Krasouski; journalist Iryna Khalip; and opposition youth activist Mikita Sasim. Small rallies to support democracy in Belarus were held the same day in Warsaw and Kyiv. Students at six universities in the U.S. states of California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Washington organized marches on 16 October in support of democracy in Belarus. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT EXTENDS FRIENDLY HAND TO OLIGARCHS. President Viktor Yushchenko said at a meeting with some 20 Ukrainian industrial and financial tycoons on 14 October that the government and big business in Ukraine need to "hold out hands to each other and find understanding on key strategic issues," Interfax-Ukraine reported. Yushchenko called on domestic oligarchs to invest in strategic projects in the country, including in developing transport corridors, aviation, rocket manufacturing, high technologies, and machine building. He also appealed to them to leave the shadow economy sector and pay taxes as expected. Yushchenko said he has instructed the government to draft within a month a law that would guarantee property rights to facilities privatized before 2005. JM

UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS CLASH WITH LEFTISTS ON UPA ANNIVERSARY. Some 3,000 adherents of nationalist and national-patriotic organizations took part in a rally on Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main boulevard, on 15 October to mark the 63rd anniversary of the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Ukrainian and international media reported. Participants demanded that the government recognize the UPA as a warring party in World War II and that UPA soldiers be given combatant rights. Fistfights broke out and eggs and kefir cartons were used as projectiles when the rally was approached by some 8,000 followers of the Communist Party and the Progressive Socialist Party, which routinely denounce the UPA as a fascist organization. The UPA, which numbered more than 100,000 in western Ukraine at its peak in 1943, fought for Ukraine's independence against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Army, and Polish anti-Nazi guerillas during World War II. JM

UKRAINE'S WTO MEMBERSHIP SEEN UNLIKELY IN 2005. World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy has said Ukraine will not be able to conclude negotiations on WTO membership that would open the way for acceptance into the organization at its summit in Hong Kong in December, Ukrainian media reported on 17 October. Meanwhile, President Yushchenko said in an interview with the BBC on 16 October that he believes Ukrainian accession to the WTO this year is a realistic goal. JM

TRANSDNIESTER INVITES MONITORS TO INSPECT 'MILITARY PLANTS.' Transdniester President Igor Smirnov has declared that he wants monitors from the Organization of Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), Russia, and Ukraine to inspect "military plants" in the region, BASA reported on 15 October. "I have invited Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE to monitor the military plants that do not exist but are named this way," Smirnov said. "These are enterprises that produce weapons with which we allegedly make business," he claimed. "Observers have already arrived, I have signed an order in this regard. I think that the results of monitoring will demonstrate the mendacious nature of accusations hurled by those who rule Moldova." Smirnov explained that he made the decision following the visit of a Russian delegation led by Russian Security Council deputy head Yurii Zubakov to Tiraspol last week. Chisinau has repeatedly accused Tiraspol of selling weapons of its own manufacture and from Russian military arsenals in the breakaway region. JM