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LABOR UKRAINE PARTY BACKS PRIME MINISTER'S PRESIDENTIAL BID. A congress of the Labor Ukraine Party in Kyiv on 16 July unanimously adopted a resolution supporting Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych as a candidate in the 31 October presidential election, UNIAN reported. Party leader Serhiy Tihipko, who is also head of Yanukovych's election staff, said that the prime minister is a "good specialist" who is "rigorous, but just, and is loved by everyone." Tihipko called on party colleagues "to work for Yanukovych as they would work for Tihipko or any other Labor Ukraine Party candidate." AM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER TO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTION DEBATES ON TV. Yanukovych will take part in open television debates as a candidate in the presidential election, UNIAN reported on 16 July, quoting his election staff head Tihipko. According to Tihipko, Yanukovych is prepared to discuss election issues with all other presidential candidates, including Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko. AM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION DENIES EU SUMMIT WAS FAILURE. Vasyl Baziv, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, criticized on 16 July an article in the Moscow-based newspaper "Izvestiya" suggesting that the Ukraine-EU summit in The Hague on 8 July proved to be a failure of the "European vector" in Ukrainian foreign policy, UNIAN reported. Baziv described the article as "incompetent" and added that the summit was "the most successful meeting ever" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2004). Baziv also said European and Euro-Atlantic integration remains "Ukraine's strategic political course" regardless of the result of the forthcoming presidential election. AM
NEW UKRAINIAN PARTY FIELDS PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL. A congress of 68 delegates from Ukraine's regions set up a new party, People's Power, in Kyiv on 17 July, UNIAN reported. The party wants to increase living standards and the minimum monthly wage to 1,000 hryvnyas (nearly $190). The head of the new party, Volodymyr Nechyporuk, has applied for registration as a candidate in the 31 October presidential election. AM
ROMANIAN, MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTRIES CASTIGATE TIRASPOL OVER ANNOUNCED SCHOOL CLOSURES. The Romanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 16 July criticizing a recent decision by Tiraspol authorities to shut down Transdniestrian schools that teach in the Moldovan (Romanian) language using the Latin script, saying the move represents "a brutal encroachment on human rights" and an "illegal and inhumane act," Mediafax reported. The situation, said the ministry, necessitates speedy negotiations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of an accord to guarantee the status of schools teaching Romanian in the Latin script. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry called on the three international mediators in the Transdniester dispute (Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE) to exercise their influence in Tiraspol to force the separatists to "respect basic human rights and freedoms and previous accords on the functioning of Moldovan schools" in the region, Flux reported. Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova called the first such closure "an act of savagery," according to Infotag (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 July 2004). MS