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CHAIRMAN IN OFFICE DISCUSSES OSCE'S FUTURE WITH RUSSIAN OFFICIALS. Dmitrij Rupel, Slovenia's foreign minister and chairman in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), met in Moscow on 1 February with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov. They discussed the criticisms of the OSCE Russia has raised repeatedly over the last year and how they should be addressed, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July, 16 September, 20 October, 16 November, and 6 December 2004 and 14 January 2005). Lavrov told journalists after meeting with Rupel that he believes "we are approaching a common understanding" on revising the scale of membership fees. Rupel had proposed on 14 January that the European Union should pay more in OSCE membership fees in future and Russia less, according to AFP on 19 January. Lavrov also said they discussed the optimum balance between the three main areas of the OSCE's work -- security issues, economic issues and humanitarian matters -- and also the degree of its involvement in election monitoring. Ivanov's press service issued a statement after his meeting with Rupel saying that Moscow continues to insist that the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) be adopted as the cornerstone of European security as soon as possible, Interfax reported. Only a handful of the 30 signatory states, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, have ratified the amended CFE treaty to date. LF
UKRAINIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE WANTS TOTALLY NEW GOVERNMENT. Yuliya Tymoshenko, whom President Viktor Yushchenko designated as acting prime minister last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 January 2005), told the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) on 1 February that she has already prepared a list of candidates for the posts of all cabinet ministers and regional governors for Yushchenko's approval. Tymoshenko revealed that the list does not include any of the ministers or governors from former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's government. Tymoshenko has been meeting with different parliamentary groups for the past few days for consultations ahead of the expected parliamentary vote on her approval as prime minister on 3 February. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CLAIMS TO HAVE PREPARED THREE-YEAR REFORM PLAN WITH EU. President Yushchenko has told journalists from "The Times" of London that he is going to implement a three-year reform plan that was coordinated with the European Union, Interfax reported on 2 February, citing the presidential press service. Yushchenko said he wants to launch talks with Brussels on Ukraine's EU membership as soon as the reform plan is implemented. "[It is very important] that the three-year action plan, worked out jointly by the EU and Ukraine, could lead to the inauguration of talks in 2007 on [Ukraine's EU] entry," Yushchenko reportedly told British journalists. JM
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS WANT EXPLANATIONS ABOUT KUCHMA'S RETIREMENT DETAILS. The Verkhovna Rada on 2 February voted to ask acting Prime Minister Tymoshenko about the circumstances surrounding the adoption of a cabinet resolution that gave former President Leonid Kuchma some special benefits after his departure from office, Interfax reported. Some Ukrainian media have reported that the cabinet led by Tymoshenko's predecessor, acting Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, decided to give Kuchma the right to continue drawing his presidential salary, use a state dacha and two cars, and have three assistants paid from the state budget for the rest of his life. The parliament also supported a query to Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun on whether he is going to investigate Kuchma's alleged involvement in the kidnapping and killing of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze in 2000. JM
...DENIES AGGRESSIVE INTENTIONS. The Moldovan government's official statement of 1 February also said that Moldova "has been and continues to be" faithful to the principles of "settling the conflict by political means alone." "We shall never be dragged into a military confrontation with our fellow citizens from Transdniester. Neither the [Moldovan] Army, nor police threaten or will in any way threaten the region's population," the communique said. The statement said the government wants to draw attention to the fact that these military conflict plans "coincide with the electoral process under way in Moldova, with the numerous visits paid to Moldova by delegations from the Council of Europe and Russia" and intensified contacts with Ukraine, Romania, and EU member states aimed at bringing about a resolution of the Transdniester conflict. It also said that the recent "radical transformations" in Ukraine and the intensified cooperation between Ukrainian and Moldovan customs officials are "creating panic" in Tiraspol, which is "grasping any means" to "maintain [its] dominance over the region's population," to influence the electoral process in Moldova, and to stop "Moldova's imminent integration [into the EU]." MS