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PAPER: KREMLIN ASKED ROCK STARS TO KEEP QUIET Deputy presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov earlier this month held a closed-door meeting with leading Russian rock musicians, during which he asked them not to participate in events that could provoke "an orange revolution" in Russia, "The Moscow Times" reported on 31 March. Some participants in the meeting, which took place at a Moscow hotel, told the daily that Surkov, the Kremlin's chief ideologue, did not conceal his concern that Russia could see a repetition of recent events in Ukraine, where rock musicians played an important role in rallying Ukrainian youth in support of the Orange Revolution. Surkov said the authorities would like to be able to count on the support of the musicians, but added that they should at least remain neutral in the event of an uprising, "The Moscow Times" reported. Prominent rock stars Boris Grebenshchikov, Sergei Shnurov, Vyacheslav Butusov, and Zemphira attended the meeting, according to the daily. Meanwhile, on 29 March, Surkov told a meeting of the Unified Russia Duma faction that he "is categorically opposed to the introduction of a parliamentary system in Russia, as it could lead to the disintegration of the country," newsru.com reported. VY
PUTIN TAPS ENGINEER TO REPLACE COMMUNIST GOVERNOR. Tula Oblast legislators voted on 30 March to confirm Vyacheslav Dudka as the new governor of that region, ITAR-TASS reported. The vote was 37 in favor, while one deputy did not participate in the vote. President Putin submitted Dudka's nomination on 25 March, according to uralpolit.ru. Dudka, 44, is a native of Tula who most recently served as the chief engineer of the state enterprise Construction Bureau for the Instrument-Making Industry. He participated in the cleanup after the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear-plant disaster. "Novye izvestiya" noted that Tula is only the second region where a sitting governor was not nominated by Putin for another term. Former Communist Governor Vasilii Starodubtsev was elected to a second term in 2001 with more than 70 percent of the vote (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 25 April 2001). JAC
COMMISSIONER PRAISES UKRAINE'S PROGRESS ON EU ACTION PLAN. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told Reuters in Kyiv on 30 March that she is pleased with Ukraine's efforts to implement the recently signed three-year Action Plan intended to bring the country closer to the EU (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 February 2005). "It's good to see that things have started to move. The government has promised a reform agenda and we are glad to see progress is starting to be made," Ferrero-Waldner said, singling out the struggle of President Viktor Yushchenko's administration against endemic post-Soviet corruption. Ferrero-Waldner and several other EU officials held talks in Kyiv the same day with Yushchenko, Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, and State Secretary Oleksandr Zinchenko. JM
LEADER OF UKRAINIAN SOCIALISTS SEES NO ADVANCE TOWARD DEMOCRACY. Socialist Party head Oleksandr Moroz said in Kyiv on 30 March that Ukraine cannot be regarded as a democratic country, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported. Moroz was speaking with Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of Germany, rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the investigation of the murder of Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. "There are declarations to move toward democracy in Ukraine, but actually no movement itself," Moroz said. "The assassination of Gongadze and the protest actions linked to it four years ago have led to the Orange Revolution. Today, after the victory of the revolution, its sources have been forgotten.... There is procrastination in [the investigation of] the Gongadze case in Ukraine, and PACE should monitor the case until it is passed to court." JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS U.S. CONGRESS ON 6 APRIL. President Yushchenko is to speak at a joint session of the U.S. Congress's two houses on 6 April, during his 3-7 April visit to the United States, Ukrainian media reported on 30 March, quoting State Secretary Zinchenko. "President Yushchenko's election is inspiring the spread of democracy throughout the world in spite of threats and intimidation. We welcome him to this cathedral of democracy and look forward to hearing from him," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert said in a joint statement quoted by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 31 March. JM