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UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS 'GROUNDLESS.' Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych told representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Kyiv on March 5 that the calls by some politicians for early parliamentary and presidential elections in Ukraine are "groundless," Interfax-Ukraine reported. Last week, a lawmaker from the Party of Regions headed by Yanukovych announced that he plans to submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on holding early presidential and parliamentary elections in the fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 1 and 2, 2007). JM
MOLDOVA TO LIBERALIZE ECONOMY IN 2008. Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said on March 4 that the government will in January 2008 unveil a new policy designed to fully liberalize the economy. Speaking on the television channel NIT, he gave few details of the plan, but spoke of easing business conditions and improving tax collection and fiscal controls, Moldpress reported the same day. With an eye to the experience of large-scale economic reform in Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s, Voronin stressed that the reforms will not be destructive in nature. Voronin, who has considerable powers as head of a presidential state, said that the plan is currently being drafted in consultation with international financial organizations. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased its forecast for Moldova's economic growth in 2007 on February 28, from 3 percent to 4.5-5 percent. During a visit to Chisinau, the IMF's chief negotiator for Moldova, Thomas Richardson, said the upgrade was because of Russia's decision to lift its bans on Moldovan wine and meat and because Chisinau managed to secure a better price from its chief supplier, Russia's Gazprom, than the IMF expected, Basa news agency reported. Richardson advocated adjusting monetary policy to bring inflation down from its current level of around 13 percent. AG