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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENT'S VETO ON LAND-SALES BAN. On January 9, the Verkhovna Rada overrode President Viktor Yushchenko's veto on the extension of the moratorium on land sales with 67 votes more than the 300 required, Interfax reported the same day. The extension of the moratorium was backed by the "anticrisis coalition," as well as 120 deputies from the opposition Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Yushchenko's ally in the Orange Revolution, and five deputies from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine caucus. "The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has extended the existence of the black market of land in Ukraine," Our Ukraine leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko said. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, first deputy head of the Presidential Secretariat, said the Verkhovna Rada decision may be challenged in the Constitutional Court. AM

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKER CRITICIZES BELARUSIAN ENERGY POLICY. Oleksiy Ivchenko, a deputy in the pro-presidential Our Ukraine caucus and former head of Naftohaz Ukrayiny, the state-owned oil and gas monopoly, described Belarusian energy policy as incorrect, Interfax reported on January 9. "The main mistake of Belarus, as well as Moldova, was the fact that they gave their strategic gas-transportation systems to Russia," Ivchenko said. Ivchenko also described Belarus's current policy toward Russia as ineffective. This policy, he said, should be implemented in time, as Ukraine did in early 2006, and as the result, the Ukrainian gas-transportation system remained under Ukraine's ownership. "Moreover, Ukraine got the most efficient and best price for gas -- $95 [for 1,000 cubic meters] and the highest gas-transit rate," he added. AM