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FORMER UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE CHIEF SUES INTERIOR MINISTER FOR SLANDER. Oleksandr Turchynov from the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, who is a former head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), has filed a slander lawsuit against Interior Ministry Yuriy Lutsenko, Interfax-Ukraine reported on March 6. Lutsenko said in an interview with the March 4-10 issue of the Kyiv-based "Zerkalo nedeli" weekly that the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case over the bugging of official telephone calls, including "interstate negotiations between the leaderships of Ukraine and Russia," by the SBU when Turchynov was its chief. Turchynov said Lutsenko's allegations are "rubbish" and a "brazen lie." "When I was in charge of the SBU, this agency abided by the law and constitution, and did not engage in bugging politicians and statesmen, or eavesdropping on interstate telephone conversations," Turchynov told journalists. JM

FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF PREPARING ELECTION RIGGING. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the Party of Regions, said at a party meeting in Kyiv on March 4 that the authorities are organizing mass falsifications of the March 26 parliamentary elections, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Yanukovych alleged that in southeastern Ukraine lists of voters were translated into Ukrainian with deliberate mistakes so that people could not vote. According to him, lists of voters in that part of the country omit not just families or houses but entire streets or even districts. "Another method used in the falsifications planned by the authorities is the principle by which district electoral commissions are formed of members of the so-called technical pro-government parties. These people have been instructed to suddenly get sick or find other pretexts not to work on election day. Along with elections commission members, stamps will also be disappearing and other tricks will be employed so as to make these commissions illegitimate. Consequently, the voting in those districts will be ruled invalid, too," Yanukovych said. JM

TRANSDNIESTER LEADER SLAMS UKRAINE OVER NEW CUSTOMS RULES. Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester republic, said on March 5 that Ukraine has abandoned its role as an honest broker between Transdniester and Moldova by taking sides in the conflict, Interfax reported the next day. Smirnov's comments came after Kyiv tightened customs and border controls in an effort to combat smuggling. According to the new rules, all cargo crossing the Transdniester portion of the Ukrainian-Moldovan border must clear Moldovan customs. "By declaring new customs rules for Transdniestrian commodities, Ukraine has deviated from the principles of objectivity and sided with a party to the conflict," Smirnov said. "We urge Ukraine to assess the political consequences of this step and prevent a large-scale social and economic catastrophe in the region, which will also affect hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens," he added. BW