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UKRAINE PREMIER DEFENDS HIS GOVERNMENT'S RECORD...Viktor Yushchenko said in an address to parliament on 17 April that it is "a decisive time" for Ukraine and the country must stick with his government's broad reform plan or risk falling "into an abyss," Reuters reported. Yushchenko said his government's plan is a "pro-Ukrainian policy" and he is proud of that fact. Yushchenko added that "for the first time in Ukraine's modern history we see a real gross national product growth in practically every sector of the economy." Deputies supporting Yushchenko placed at the front of the chamber dozens of boxes filled with a reported 3.6 million signatures of Ukrainians who back Yushchenko's cabinet. After his address, Yushchenko went outside the building to speak at a rally for his government. He told a few thousand supporters assembled there that the only way out of the difficult economic situation in the country is "with a political and public dialogue." PB
GONGADZE'S WIFE HOLDS PRESIDENT RESPONSIBLE FOR JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE. Myroslava Gongadze said on 17 April that until investigators find the people responsible for the disappearance and presumed murder of her husband she will hold President Leonid Kuchma guilty, Reuters reported. Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw, Gongadze said: "If the people who have been accused -- the president and his entourage -- had wanted, then I think this investigation would have been more effective." Gongadze said prosecutors are still denying her access to information about the beheaded corpse that was found in November, which many believe to be her husband's. She said that she has not yet decided whether or not to accept political asylum in the U.S., and added that she strongly supports Premier Yushchenko. PB
POLAND TO BUY SPANISH TRANSPORT PLANES. Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski announced on 17 April that the government is negotiating with the Spanish company Casa to buy up to 10 of its C295 transport planes, AP reported. Komorowski said the planes would replace its Soviet-made Antonov-26 aircraft in order to meet NATO requirements, and that the contract will be signed in the next few months. The deal would be offset by Spanish purchases from Polish companies and Casa would participate in the privatization of the PZL Okecie aircraft factory. Two other offers, from Ukrainian and Italian-U.S. companies, were rejected. DW