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RUSSIA CRITICIZES U.S. GENERAL'S VISIT TO UKRAINE. Andrei Kokoshin, who is chairman of the State Duma's Committee for the CIS, said on March 14 that the recent visit to Ukraine by U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Henry Obering, who heads the Missile Defense Agency, "is a serious attempt to disturb the established system of strategic stability at regional and global levels," Interfax reported. Kokoshin added that the visit "is dangerous, given growing political and military uncertainties in political relations in the world." He believes that such moves "negatively influence opportunities to broaden cooperation" between Russia and the United States on several important security issues. Kokoshin stressed that Russia has an "extremely negative" view of the projected U.S. missile-defense system, which Obering came to discuss, especially "on the territories of former Soviet republics," as well as in Poland and the Czech Republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 12 and March 9, 12, and 14, 2007). Kokoshin said that he is "surprised, to put it mildly," that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko expressed support for the project during Obering's visit. Kokoshin added that Yushchenko's statement "runs counter to sentiments among the overwhelming majority of Ukrainian society." On March 15, Obering repeated in Berlin the long-standing U.S. position that missile defense is not directed against Russia but against Iran and other rogue states, news agencies reported. PM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES DECISION ON NOMINEE FOR FOREIGN MINISTER. The Verkhovna Rada on March 15 discussed the issue of appointing Volodymyr Ohryzko to the post of foreign minister but postponed its vote until March 20, Ukrainian media reported. The opposition parliamentary caucuses of the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and Our Ukraine, which are boycotting the ongoing parliamentary session (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 13, 2007), appeared for the debate on Ohryzko but left immediately after the decision on his nomination was put off. President Viktor Yushchenko resubmitted the candidacy of Ohryzko for foreign minister even though the Verkhovna Rada rejected him last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 22, 2007). JM
FORMER UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER RESPONDS TO DUAL-CITIZENSHIP ALLEGATION. Former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who currently organizes the People's Self-Defense civic movement, said in a television interview on March 14 that the recent allegation by Prosecutor-General Deputy Renat Kuzmin that he, Lutsenko, has both Israeli and Ukrainian citizenship is a lie, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and the "Ukrayinska pravda" (http://www.pravda.com.ua) website reported. "I know that in our country, to become a politician, you need to be called first a fascist, a rascal, a [Ukrainian ultranationalist Stepan] Bandera follower, a citizen of Israel, and an agent of Moscow," Lutsenko said. "There have been no changes in dirty [publicity] techniques of the authorities, the only difference is that earlier private provocateurs engaged in such behavior, now these functions have been taken by the Prosecutor-General's Office," Lutsenko added. Lutsenko also said on television that the public statement about his purported Israeli citizenship was made by an "official whose face has never been distorted by intellect." JM