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UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES DECRY RECENT HIKES IN FOOD PRICES. The Agricultural Ministry believes that recent hikes in food prices, including bread and other grain products, are "absolutely groundless" in light of the state's sufficient grain resources, Interfax reported on 26 June, quoting ministry official Serhiy Melnyk. Melnyk said the rises are the result of a rush for flour, cereals, and pasta products observed in a number of Ukrainian regions. In particular, bread prices rose by 25 percent in Dnipropropetrovsk and by 30 percent in Crimea this week. Melnyk also said this year's grain harvest, because of unfavorable weather conditions, is expected to total 28.8 million-30.8 million tons, compared with 38.8 million tons in 2002. JM