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FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN UZBEKISTAN DOWN. Foreign investment in Uzbekistan dropped 22 percent in 2002, Interfax reported on 3 April, quoting Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Agency for Foreign Economic Relations Elyor Ganiev. According to Ganiev, foreign investment in Uzbekistan totaled $833 million in 2001, but only $650 million in 2002. Of the 3,000 firms in Uzbekistan that are utilizing foreign investment, 20 percent are wholly foreign-owned. Most are engaged in manufacturing. Ganiev cited the United States, Great Britain, Germany, South Korea, China, Turkey, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan as Uzbekistan's leading sources of foreign investment. Ganiev said Uzbekistan hopes to receive $860.4 million in foreign investment in 2003. BB
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DEFINES, BANS 'CENSORSHIP'... The Verkhovna Rada on 3 April voted 252 to one to approve a law defining and banning state censorship in the Ukrainian media, Interfax reported. The law defines censorship as any demand by state or local officials that a journalist or an editor in chief, founder, co-founder, publisher, or distributor of a media organization submit information for approval before publication (except when such a demand is made by the author or other owner of copyright or associated rights to it). The definition also deems as censorship any ban (aside from court bans) or hampering in any way of the publishing or distribution of information by bodies of state power, local government, or their officials. The law also prohibits the creation of any bodies of state power, institutions, or posts to control media information. According to the law, no one may be sued for expressing "statements of evaluation," which are defined as statements containing no factual data: criticism, evaluation of actions, and texts involving hyperbole, allegory, or satire. JM
...FORMS SPECIAL COMMISSION TO LOOK INTO GRAIN MARKET... The Verkhovna Rada on 3 April set up an ad hoc commission to examine the situation on Ukraine's grain market, UNIAN reported. The commission will be co-chaired by Mykhaylo Melnychuk (Socialist Party) and Vasyl Havrylyuk (People's Power). The Prosecutor-General's Office, following an order from President Leonid Kuchma, is investigating the situation on the grain market -- in particular, a shortage of grain in some regions and a rise in bread prices. In late March, former Deputy Prime Minister for agricultural reform Leonid Kozachenko was arrested on charges of abuse of office and tax evasion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 April 2003). JM
...AND APPOINTS NEW STATE PROPERTY FUND HEAD. Also on 3 April, 260 Ukrainian lawmakers voted to approve Mykhaylo Chechetov as the new head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, UNIAN reported. In an earlier vote, 238 lawmakers endorsed a motion to dismiss Oleksandr Bondar from that post. Bondar tendered his resignation on 1 March, reportedly under criticism from some cabinet members. First Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on 1 March that the privatization process supervised by the Property Fund under Bondar "has failed to become an instrument for speeding up the economy and meeting fiscal objectives." JM
UKRAINE, HUNGARY SIGN MILITARY ACCORD. Ukrainian Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko and his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Juhasz signed an agreement on cooperation between their ministries in Kyiv on 3 April, Interfax reported. Juhasz told journalists that representatives discussed the modernization of military equipment, including work by Ukraine on Mi-24 helicopters that are currently in service in the Hungarian armed forces. Juhasz added that Hungary intends to facilitate Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration, particularly within the format of the Visegrad Four (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic). JM