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ROSTOV NUCLEAR PLANT GOES ON LINE. Officials on 23 February switched on a nuclear power plant at Rostov-on-Don more than 20 years after plans for such a plant were first drawn up, AP reported. Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko and Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov, said that Moscow will not allow such delays in the future, given Russia's need for electrical power. But Aleksandr =46ilipenko, the head of the Rostov Chornobyl Union, said that his group, which unites 20,000 people, opposes the opening of the plant. "This is the last thing the Rostov province needs," he said. PG
RUSSIA THWARTS DELIVERY OF SWISS MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO GEORGIA. Russia's customs agency has concluded its investigation into two trainloads of Swiss military equipment bound for Georgia and intercepted last fall, Interfax reported on 23 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 2000). Both trainloads, one of which was impounded in Ukraine and the other on the Russian-Azerbaijani border, have been sent back to Switzerland. The equipment, which was a gift from the Swiss authorities to the Georgian border and prison guard services, was designated as "diplomatic cargo," and included 50 off-road vehicles and 27 tons of military uniforms and medical equipment. LF
'POPULAR TRIBUNAL' PRONOUNCES GUILTY SENTENCE ON UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT... Some 7,000 people took part in an antipresidential march in downtown Kyiv on 25 February and in a subsequent mock trial of President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax reported. In the trial called a "Popular Tribunal," protesters dressed as judges told the crowd that they found Kuchma guilty of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze's disappearance, harassment of politicians and the media, corruption, and abuse of power. Later the crowd carried Kuchma's effigy in a cage to Ukraine's Supreme Court where some protesters tried to hang it from a gallows. This was the largest protest in the recent series of "Ukraine Without Kuchma" demonstrations in Kyiv. Considerably smaller anti-presidential demonstrations were held the same day in Lviv (600 people), Odesa (200 people), and Dnipropetrovsk (300 people). JM
=2E..WHILE FORMER BODYGUARD ACCUSES HIM OF GRABBING $1 BILLION. Mykola Melnychenko, who released secret recordings of conversations in the Ukrainian president's office, told the 26 February "New York Times" that Kuchma pocketed at least $1 billion for personal or political use. Melnychenko added that the full transcript of recordings made "since at least 1998" in Kuchma's office will establish that "there is no greater criminal in Ukraine than Kuchma." Prior to this disclosure, it was widely believed that Melnychenko bugged Kuchma only for an unspecified period in 2000. "My goal is to totally expose the level of corruption in Ukraine as an independent Don Quixote and ensure that thieves will never come to power again in Ukraine," Melnychenko told the newspaper. JM