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BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SUES STATE TV FOR SLANDER. The Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) on 18 May filed a suit against Belarusian Television and one of its journalists, Yury Prakopau, charging them with slander and disseminating false information, Belapan reported. Prakopau reportedly alleged in a program broadcast on 25 April, quoting BNF leader Vintsuk Vyachorka, that the BNF will stop providing government support to regions most affected by the Chornobyl disaster if it comes to power. The BNF wants Belarusian Television to refute Prakopau's allegation. The party also filed a similar suit against the head of the Malaryta District Executive Committee's press service, who alleged on Belarusian Television that the BNF collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. The BNF was founded in 1988. JM
EU LEADER AGAIN SAYS UKRAINE HAS NO MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTS. European Commission President Roman Prodi on 18 May reiterated his opinion that Ukraine has no prospects of joining the EU (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 2004), Interfax reported. Prodi was speaking at a joint news conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Brussels. "We cannot now continue with EU enlargement, but there is a prospect that Ukraine can share everything with us, apart from the participation in EU institutions," Prodi said. "I consider this to be a colossal step in the right direction." Yanukovych reportedly expressed the hope that the EU will at last decide on granting Ukraine market-economy status during its summit in The Hague in July. Prodi responded by saying the obstacles to Ukraine obtaining this status include "firstly, the [country's] pricing policy and, secondly, law on bankruptcy." JM
CRIMEAN TATARS MARK 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF DEPORTATION. More than 20,000 people took part in a march in Simferopol on 18 May to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the forced deportation of Tatars from Crimea to Central Asia, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. The deportation, ordered by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who accused Crimean Tatars of collaboration with the Nazis, began on 18 May 1944 and affected some 200,000 people. Crimean Tatars were officially rehabilitated by the Kremlin in 1967, but allowed to return to Crimea only in 1989. Some 250,000 Tatars have returned to Crimea since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Participants in the commemorative march demanded that the Tatar language be made an official one in Crimea and that Tatar returnees be given land plots for settlement. JM
UKRAINIAN WINNER OF EUROVISION CONTEST HONORED WITH 'PEOPLE'S ARTIST' TITLE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 18 May bestowed the title of a people's artist upon Ruslana Luzhychko, who won last week's Eurovision Song Contest 2004 in Istanbul (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2004), Interfax reported. "This is not an achievement of one performer, this is an achievement of the entire country," Kuchma told Ruslana at the award ceremony. Ruslana's victory means that Kyiv will host the 50th Eurovision Song Contest in May 2005. Meanwhile, Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko told journalists the same day that the Ukrainian capital currently has no appropriate concert hall with a seating capacity of 15,000-20,000 that could accommodate next year's Eurovision event. Omelchenko added that the largest available hall in Kyiv, in the Palace of Sports, can seat an audience of nearly 10,000, but its interior does not meet "European standards," RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. JM