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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION RETURNS TO PARLIAMENT TO PREPARE EARLY POLLS, BUT FALTERS AGAIN. The Verkhovna Rada on May 29 gathered for a session for the first time in nearly two months with the participation of lawmakers from the opposition Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, Ukrainian media reported. The return of the opposition followed the May 27 political deal between President Viktor Yushchenko, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz, which scheduled preterm elections for September 30 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 29, 2007). Lawmakers annulled their previous resolutions condemning President Yushchenko for his two April decrees dissolving the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed more than 50 bills adopted by legislators of the ruling coalition during the past two months, and passed a bill on reforming the Central Election Commission. The Verkhovna Rada was expected to conclude on May 30 passing legislation needed for the snap elections, but failed to gather opposition lawmakers for its morning sitting, reportedly because of the lack of agreement between the ruling coalition and the opposition on what legal changes need to be introduced. "Problems have emerged, but I do not want to focus attention on them, because we have agreed that we will find an answer to these questions today. We would like the answer to be positive. Otherwise, if we don't find it, it is going to be bad," Interfax-Ukraine quoted Yanukovych as saying at a government session on May 30, following his meeting with Yushchenko. JM

RUSSIA DISMISSES TALK OF KOSOVA DEAL... Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, on May 29 told the international media that "there has been no breakthrough" in discussions on the future of Kosova. He dismissed claims in a Croatian daily, "Jutarnji list," that Russia, the United States, and EU members of the UN Security Council are close to striking a deal that would pave the way for Kosova to gain independence. "These reports are not true," Churkin said, dubbing them "wild speculation" and adding that "things are exactly where they were yesterday or the day before yesterday." Citing unnamed sources "close to the Russian leadership," "Jutarnji list" claimed on May 28 that Russia would agree not to veto independence for Kosova if the Serbian province were allowed to join the UN only after two years, if Russian peacekeepers were stationed in Kosova, and if NATO deferred invitations to Georgia and Ukraine. AG