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SOME U.S. RESERVISTS LEAVE UKRAINE IN WAKE OF ANTI-NATO PROTESTS. A group of U.S. reservists from a contingent of 225 flew home from Simferopol on June 11 without completing their mission in Crimea, UNIAN reported, quoting Ukrainian military sources. The remaining reservists are scheduled to leave the peninsula on June 12. The reservists arrived in Ukraine last month to upgrade a military training range near the Crimean port of Feodosiya, ahead of the planned multinational Sea Breeze 2006 exercise. The docking of a U.S. naval cargo ship in Feodosiya on May 27, which brought construction equipment and materials as well as small arms, has triggered continuing anti-NATO protests in the port and cast doubt on whether the exercise will be authorized by the Ukrainian parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 2 and 8, 2006). JM
UKRAINIAN SOCIALIST LEADER PREDICTS POLITICAL CRISIS OVER COALITION BUILDING. Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said on June 11 that the coalition talks between his party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and Our Ukraine on forming a new government have reached an impasse, UNIAN reported. According to Moroz, if President Viktor Yushchenko fails to intervene in the negotiation process, the talks will prove fruitless. "To conduct further talks with businessmen from politics, who represent Our Ukraine at the current moment, is devoid of any sense," the Socialist Party press service quoted Moroz as saying. Our Ukraine has reportedly agreed that Yuliya Tymoshenko should head the cabinet of ministers but wants current Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov to become parliamentary speaker. The Socialist Party, however, wants the post of parliament speaker for Moroz. Meanwhile, President Yushchenko said in a radio address to the nation on June 10 that he will not intervene in the coalition talks because he "does not want to form a coalition under pressure." "I think that the politician who aspires to the post of prime minister should shoulder the responsibility for coalition building," Yushchenko noted. JM
TRANSDNIESTRIAN OFFICIAL DEFENDS REFERENDUM PLANS. Transdniestrian parliament speaker Yevgeny Shevchuk said on June 10 that Moldova's criticism of a planned independence referendum in the breakaway region is "unjustified," ITAR-TASS reported the same day. "Moldovan authorities do not want to take into account the opinion of [Transdniester's residents]," Shevchuk said. "Such a position is strange, to say the least, because a referendum is regarded in the whole world as a basic element of the democratic system in any state and a democratic method of making decisions." Shevchuk also criticized a proposal from Moldova, Ukraine, and the United States to replace Russian peacekeepers in the region with an international mission. Transdniestrian Foreign Minister Valeriu Litskai said on June 7 that Tiraspol will not back down in its quest for autonomy and views Montenegro's separation from Serbia as a model (see "RFE/RL Newsline," June 8, 2006). BW
....AS CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE. European finance ministers at the June 9-10 meeting in St. Petersburg repeated their call for Russia to ratify the EU Energy Charter it signed in 1994, which would end Gazprom's monopoly over Russia's pipeline system, the "Financial Times" reported on June 12. Kudrin, in turn, called on June 10 for an "updating" of that document to include nuclear power and take into account "changes" that will result when some unnamed new EU member states cease to be transit countries, Interfax reported. He also noted what he called the "problem" of Ukraine siphoning off Russian export gas from the pipeline system. Russia failed during the talks to secure German agreement for its plans to repay its total debt to the Paris Club of creditor countries as soon as possible, dpa reported. Kudrin said nonetheless that he expects agreement on plans to repay $12 billion out of a total debt of $22 billion. PM
PUTIN SEEKS TO REVITALIZE ATOMIC POWER INDUSTRY. Speaking on June 9 in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin reiterated his somewhat vague plans to greatly expand the role of nuclear power in the Russian economy in the coming decades, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 31, February 2, March 15,and May 31, 2006). Putin also reminded the meeting, which Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and several leading generals attended, that nuclear weapons are important for Russia's status as a world power. Sergei Kiriyenko, who heads the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, argued that Russia must start work on two new reactors each year beginning in 2007 if it is to meet its goal of raising the share of nuclear power in the national total from 16 to 25 percent. Kiriyenko said on February 1 that Russia needs to build about 40 additional nuclear reactors in order to raise the share of nuclear power in total energy production to 25 percent, noting at that time that two reactors must be built each year starting in 2011 or 2012 to meet this goal. Russia currently has 31 nuclear reactors, many of which are old. Putin and Kiriyenko have also called for restoring Soviet-era energy ties between Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, albeit based on market principles. PM