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BELARUS TO SPEND $1.5 BILLION ON CHORNOBYL AFTERMATH DURING NEXT FIVE YEARS. Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski said in the Chamber of Representatives, Belarus's lower house, on April 12 that the government is planning to spend 3.3 trillion rubles ($1.5 billion) in 2006-2010 for its Chornobyl relief program, Belapan reported. Sidorski noted that the main objective of the program is to achieve the "real economic revival and sustainable development" of the contaminated areas. Sixty-three percent of the planned funds are to go toward allowances for Chornobyl victims. Sidorski said that 11,242 persons disabled by the disaster and some 115,000 veterans of Chornobyl cleanup operations are entitled to these allowances. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REMAINS NONCOMMITTAL ABOUT FUTURE PREMIER... During a news conference in Kyiv on April 12, President Viktor Yushchenko sidestepped questions on whether he wants Yuliya Tymoshenko, whom he sacked from the post of prime minister in September, to head a new cabinet, Reuters reported. Even though three weeks have passed since the parliamentary elections, Yushchenko said he cannot indicate his preference regarding the premiership until he sees the program of the future governing coalition. "Dozens of issues must be discussed and agreements concluded so that voters are not disappointed. Once this is done, I will be ready to tell you which candidate I support," Yushchenko said. Tymoshenko, Our Ukraine People's Union leader Roman Bezsmertnyy, and Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz are expected to sign a protocol on April 13 declaring their intention to form a coalition of democratic forces in the newly elected Verkhovna Rada to form a new government. JM

...AND SEES NO NEED FOR REVIEW OF GAS DEAL WITH RUSSIA. President Yushchenko also told journalists in Kyiv on April 12 that he sees no need to review the recent gas-supply deal with Russia, Reuters reported. The deal has been the source of considerable controversy since it was signed in January. "In the framework of a difficult negotiation process, which often seemed complicated to Ukraine, we have achieved what is most important for securing our strategic national interests," Yushchenko said. "We have a price of $95 [per 1,000 cubic meters] for Russian gas at the Ukrainian border. This is the cheapest price in countries bordering Russia." Yuliya Tymoshenko has announced that if she regains the post of prime minister, she will immediately annul the gas deal. Under the 4 January gas accord -- between Ukraine's gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny, Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, and a Swiss-based intermediary -- Ukraine is to obtain 34 billion cubic meters of gas in 2006 from Russia for $95 per 1,000 cubic meters. Critics of the gas deal say it is valid for only the first six months of the year and the price will be revised upward after that. JM

AMBASSADOR SAYS RUSSIA WILL 'NEVER GIVE UP' INTERESTS IN TRANSDNIESTER. Russian Ambassador to Moldova Nikolai Ryabov said on April 12 that Moscow "will never give up its interests" in the breakaway Transdniester region, "where it has been present for more than a century," Interfax reported the same day. Ryabov said in Transdniester's capital Tiraspol that Russians "rest in the cemeteries there. A huge part of our history belongs to this region." Ryabov also said that Moscow plans to push for an end to new customs regulations on the Transdniester section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. Moldova and Ukraine implemented the new rules in March as part of an effort to combat smuggling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 6, 7, and 8, 2006). "We will certainly be able to find a way out of the crisis through joint efforts. Moscow will push for the end of the economic blockade of [Transdniester]," he said. "Russia will not allow anybody to dictate terms in the [Transdniester] settlement process. Moscow will demand that those standing behind this economic blockade abandon their policies." BW


RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report Vol. 8, No. 14, 13 April 2006

A Survey of Developments in Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team

"RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services.