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ANOTHER CHORNOBYL DISASTER 'OUT OF THE QUESTION.' Saratov Oblast Governor Pavel Ipatov, who is also the former head of the Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant, told Interfax in Moscow on April 18 that "a repetition of the [Chornobyl] tragedy in Russia is out of the question." He stressed that Russia "is moving along the way of developing new reactors of the fourth generation with higher security standards.... There is currently no alternative to the development of atomic energy, because hydrocarbon reserves are not limitless and the promised thermonuclear technologies do not yet exist." Ipatov argued that Russia can now attain "the level of the best Soviet times in its production of nuclear energy." PM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST JAILED FOR ORGANIZING RALLY THAT IS YET TO TAKE PLACE. Uladzimir Katsora, head of the regional campaign office in Homel of opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich in the March 19 presidential election, was sentenced to 10 days in jail on April 18, Belapan reported. Katsora was reportedly arrested earlier the same day and found guilty of organizing an unsanctioned demonstration. "Katsora has filed an application with the Homel City Executive Committee for permission to stage a demonstration in the city on April 25 on the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl accident," Yury Zakharanka, Katsora's colleague, told the agency. "Although the demonstration is yet to be staged and the city authorities have not yet announced its decision on the application, he has already been convicted." JM

GREENPEACE SAYS CHORNOBYL DEATH TOLL 'GROSSLY' UNDERESTIMATED. The global environmental group Greenpeace said in a report unveiled on April 18 that the health effects of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear accident have been "grossly" underestimated, international news agencies reported. According to Greenpeace, more than 93,000 people -- mostly in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia -- are likely to die from cancers caused by radiation connected with the accident. Last year's report by an expert panel comprising the International Atomic Energy Agency and several other UN groups said fewer than 50 deaths could be confirmed as being connected to Chornobyl, while the number of radiation-related deaths among the 600,000 people who participated in fighting the consequences of the accident would ultimately be around 4,000. The UN report also estimated that the increase in cancer deaths among the 5 million people exposed to lower levels of radiation would be around 5,000. JM

FORMER PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES PRESIDENTIAL AIDES OF THWARTING REBIRTH OF ORANGE COALITION... Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the eponymous political bloc, accused Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, Petro Poroshenko, and Mykola Martynenko from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc on April 18 of clinching a coalition deal with the Party of Regions led by President Viktor Yushchenko's political rival, former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian media reported. "A program has been launched now to discredit talks among democratic forces and those same people are working now to lay the ground for the announcement of a so-called broad coalition between the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine," Tymoshenko said at a news conference in Kyiv. She demanded direct talks with Yushchenko to break the deadlock in negotiations between her bloc, Our Ukraine, and the Socialist Party to restore the 2004 Orange Revolution coalition. The three groups signed a protocol to this effect last week, but Our Ukraine reportedly opposes Tymoshenko's desire to head a new cabinet. Tymoshenko confirmed on April 18 that she wants to be prime minister, adding that Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz should become speaker of the newly elected Verkhovna Rada. JM

...AS OUR UKRAINE URGES HER TO RETRACT CHARGES. Our Ukraine demanded in a statement on April 18 that Tymoshenko withdraw her allegations that some of its activists were involved in talks on forming a coalition with the Party of Regions, Ukrainian media reported. "The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc is continuing the list of lies that was started during the parliamentary elections. [The bloc] is doing everything possible and impossible to have a coalition with Our Ukraine broken up by reducing the negotiating process to granting the prime ministerial position to Yuliya Tymoshenko and the position of Verkhovna Rada chairman to the Socialist Party," the statement says. Meanwhile, the presidential press service said the same day that Yushchenko is concerned that potential members of a governing coalition "waste time and energy on mutual accusations and settling scores in the media." "The head of state urges politicians to cease engaging in blackmail and ultimatums and notes that such a tone damages relations of trust between participants of a future coalition," the press service added. JM