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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT MOVES TO EASE BORDER FORMALITIES FOR CHORNOBYL PERSONNEL. Alyaksandr Lukashenka on February 22 approved a draft agreement between Belarus and Ukraine on easing border-crossing formalities along the road and railway route between the Ukrainian city of Slavutych and the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, which run through Belarus's Homel Oblast. The eased formalities, which envisage exemption from customs inspections, would reportedly apply to the personnel of the Chornobyl plant living in Slavutych, vehicles and shipments destined for the plant, as well as foreign experts involved in the carrying out of international projects concerning the construction of the shelter around the reactor ruined in the 1986 explosion. There have recently been reports in Belarusian and Ukrainian media that Lukashenka is to pay an official visit to Kyiv in the near future. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOWS TO PROPOSE REJECTED NOMINEES ONCE AGAIN. Viktor Yushchenko said in Simferopol on February 22 that he will "insist" on approving his nominees, Volodymyr Ohryzko and Viktor Korol, as foreign minister and chief of the Security Service, respectively, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. Earlier the same day, the Verkhovna Rada failed to approve Ohryzko and Korol to these posts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 22, 2007). "These were childish games," Yushchenko said, stressing that the failed votes on Ohryzko and Korol "do not contribute to stability in the country." The votes took place during a three-day row between lawmakers of the ruling coalition and the opposition, in which pro-government deputies blocked the parliamentary rostrum and held control over the electronic voting system, while opposition deputies were in control of the electric system and some other parliamentary facilities, including toilets. The opposition switched off electricity in the parliament building during the afternoon session. JM