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UFA DEMONSTRATORS DEMAND OUSTER OF BASHKIR PRESIDENT... About 3,000 people demonstrated in Ufa on 26 February outside the republican presidential-administration building, RIA-Novosti reported. Demonstrators carried orange banners in imitation of recent successful demonstrations in Ukraine, the news agency reported. After the six-hour protest, organizers announced that there will be another demonstration at the same site on 25 March. "We need at least 100,000 people here in order to get what we want," one speaker told the crowd. The demonstrators circulated a petition addressed to President Putin asking for the removal of Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov. RC
FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT LOSES PERKS. The Ukrainian cabinet on 26 February revoked Leonid Kuchma's state benefits as a former president, "Interfax" reported. A special, unpublished cabinet decree passed on 19 January had granted Kuchma the benefits. They included a monthly pension of 8,293 hryvnyas ($1,560), bodyguards, personal assistants, one adviser, lifetime use of a government dacha, two cars, four drivers, one cook and two maids and free medical services for himself and his wife and free travel within Ukraine. Interfax reported that as there is no law on benefits for former presidents, Kuchma would receive those given to former President Leonid Kravchuk. Upon leaving office in 1994, Kravchuk was given a monthly pension of 4,000 hryvnyas ($755), free medical care, six bodyguards, and a car. RK
UKRAINE'S DONBAS INDUSTRIAL UNION LOSES BID FOR POLISH STEEL MILL. The Donetsk-based Industrial Union of the Donbas (IUD) has lost a bid to buy the Polish steel mill Huta Czestochowa, Interfax reported on 26 February. The news agency quoted the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza," which reported that U.S. company Mittal Steel won the exclusive right to continue its bid for the giant steel mill, which is being privatized by the Polish government. The Polish newspaper quoted Ukrainian deputy Anatoliy Matvienko as saying that the decision on Huta Czestochowa may cause a storm in Ukraine, given that President Viktor Yushchenko has supported the Industrial Union of Donbas in this tender. RK