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UKRAINE EXPECTS EXPLANATIONS FROM RUSSIA OVER ILLICIT ARMS TRADE ALLEGATIONS. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ihor Dolhov said on 11 December that Kyiv does not view the recent allegations by Russian State Duma deputy Viktor Ilyukhin of Ukraine's illicit arms trade with Afghanistan's Taliban and Chechen fighters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 December 2001) as Russia's official stance. "We firmly repudiate accusations of this kind and anticipate explanations from official representatives of the Russian Federation in the near future," UNIAN quoted Dolhov as saying. Dolhov said that because Ilyukhin cited sources in Russia's Defense Ministry and secret services, "it is logical that the appropriate explanations should come from those departments." The same day, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin dismissed Ilyukhin's charges as "nonsense," New Channel television reported. JM
U.S. TRAINS UKRAINIAN ELECTION OFFICIALS. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual told UNIAN on 11 December that the U.S. has provided technical experts for Ukraine's Central Election Commission to train and teach members of local election commissions "to understand their role and functions better." Pascual said the experts will hold training sessions for some 25,000 members of election commissions, adding that representatives of all the major parties in the Ukrainian parliament have already been taking part in such sessions. Pascual noted that this U.S. assistance provides for cooperation with the OSCE, which will coordinate the activity of foreign observers in the 31 March parliamentary election, as well as with Ukrainian NGOs, including the Committee of Voters of Ukraine. JM
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS REGROUP AHEAD OF ELECTION. The Labor Ukraine deputy group has reorganized itself into a parliamentary caucus of the Labor Ukraine Party, thus completing the process of transformation of deputy groups into party caucuses in the Ukrainian parliament, Interfax and UNIAN reported on 11 December. In accordance with the new law on parliamentary elections, political parties possessing their own caucuses in the parliament are entitled to have representatives on election commissions. The current array of caucuses in the Ukrainian parliament is as follows: Communist Party (113 deputies), Labor Ukraine (39), Social Democratic Party (United) (33), Fatherland (25), Ukraine's Regions (24), Ukrainian Popular Rukh (22), Solidarity (21), Socialists and Peasants (17), Popular Democratic Party (16), Unity (16), Democratic Union (15), Greens (15), Yabluko (15), Popular Rukh of Ukraine (14), and Reforms-Congress (14). There are also 48 nonaligned deputies. JM