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...AS RUSSIAN CAPITALISTS HEAD POSTCOMMUNIST EUROPE... Russian tycoons dominate the list of the 50 richest people of Central and Eastern Europe, according to the Polish news weekly "Wprost," lenta.ru and newsru.com reported on 4 and 6 August. Thirty-one of the people on the list and all of the top eight are Russians. The list is headed by embattled oil giant Yukos head Khodorkovskii, whose net worth is estimated at $8.3 billion. "Wprost" also calculated that the total wealth of all 50 people on the list -- which includes six Ukrainians, five Romanians, four Poles, and two Czechs -- is $73 billion. That is twice the size of the Polish budget, lenta.ru reported. VY
MINISTER SAYS UKRAINE CAN SIMULTANEOUSLY INTEGRATE WITH CIS, EU. Ukrainian Minister of Economy and European Integration Valeriy Khoroshkovskyy said on 19 August that the draft accord on the creation of a common economic space comprising Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, which was approved in Astana on 15 August, does not contradict Ukraine's plans to integrate with the European Union, Interfax reported. "If we view the common economic space as a free-trade zone, it will not harm our rapprochement with the European community," Khoroshkovskyy said. He noted that the draft is of a "contradictory character," adding that it is impossible to say right now what the final document will be like. Meanwhile, European Commission spokesman Michael Mann told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 18 August that Kyiv's plan to sign an accord on a common economic space with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan casts doubt on the sincerity of Ukraine's desire to integrate further into the European Union. JM
LATVIAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES ESTABLISH PARTNERSHIP FOR COOPERATION ABROAD. Five Latvian construction companies -- Kalnozols Celtnieciba, Latvijas Energoceltnieks, RBS Skals, Re&Re, and Skonto Buve -- have established a joint venture called Latvijas buvnieku strategiska partneriba (Strategic Partnership of Latvia's Construction Companies) to improve their opportunities to win foreign contracts, LETA reported on 19 August. The companies had a total turnover of approximately 90 million lats ($158 million) last year. The new company's board chairman, Valds Birkavs, said the main focus of its future operations will be participation in the reconstruction of Iraq; in EU tenders after Latvia joins the EU in May 2004; and in construction projects in CIS countries, especially Russia and Ukraine. SG
POLISH CABINET ADOPTS GUIDELINES FOR NEW MEDIA LAW... The government on 19 August decided that a new media law will be enacted before the country joins the EU on 1 May 2004, Polish media reported. The latest version of the bill will deal exclusively with provisions needed to bring media regulations into line with EU standards. Controversial issues such as setting curbs on cross-media holdings will be decided later in a separate bill. "This is not a minimalist, but a pragmatic move," Culture Minister Waldemar Dabrowski told journalists. The previous version of the bill, which introduced bans on newspaper publishers buying television or radio stations, has been at the heart of Poland's corruption scandal known as Rywingate (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 14 January, 18 February, and 29 April 2003). JM
...AND DRAFT PROGRAM FOR ROMA. The government also adopted on 19 August a draft national program for Poland's Roma for the years 2004-13, PAP reported. The program, which is to focus mainly on education, will also cover health, unemployment, social welfare, and Romany culture. The program is expected to cost some 100 million zlotys ($25.7 million). PAP estimates that there are 25,000-50,000 Roma living in Poland. The 2002 census in Poland registered nearly 13,000 people who declared Romany ethnicity (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 25 June 2003). JM