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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES BILL OF TAX AMENDMENTS. President Leonid Kuchma on 1 March vetoed a bill of amendments to "nearly all tax laws," claiming that it is a "classical example of legal ignorance in tax legislation," Interfax reported. In particular, the bill, which was passed by the Verkhovna Rada on 5 February, provided for levying VAT taxes on the sale of medicines and medical equipment, periodicals and newspapers, books (except for those published in the Ukrainian language), and housing. "VAT is the only tax we have no progress on," Kuchma said at a government meeting during which he criticized the bill. "VAT has lost its budget-filling capacity." The bill was supported by the Cabinet of Ministers but opposed by the State Tax Administration. JM
OSCE TO MONITOR 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN UKRAINE. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary-General Jan Kubis told journalists in Kyiv on 2 March that the OSCE will conduct long-term monitoring of the upcoming presidential election campaign in Ukraine, Interfax reported. Kubis's comments came after his meeting with Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleh Shamshur. Kubis added that OSCE observers will be in Ukraine "many months" prior to the election date. JM
FORMER SLOVAK NATIONALIST PARTY CHAIRMAN SUSPECTED OF ARMS TRAFFICKING. Police on 1 March recommended that Vitazoslav Moric, a former chairman of the extremist Slovak National Party, and his former colleague Viliam Ciklamini be charged with illegally attempting to export to North Korea via Ukraine high-technology systems allegedly intended for use by military airports, CTK and TASR reported. The case dates back to 1998, when Moric was director general of the Slovak Armex company (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 2003). If charged, Moric and Ciklamini could each face three to eight years in prison. MS