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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW PRIME MINISTER ON SECOND TRY. The Verkhovna Rada on 22 September approved Yuriy Yekhanurov as Ukraine's prime minister, Ukrainian media reported. Yekhanurov was backed by 289 deputies out of 339 registered for the session. Two days earlier Yekhanurov was three votes short of getting the job (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September 2005). This time Yekhanurov's candidacy was supported by 50 votes from former Premier Viktor Yanukovych's Region of Ukraine parliamentary caucus, which did not vote on 20 September. "The forces represented in parliament are ready today to assume responsibility for forming a government, ready to bear responsibility for creating an efficient, responsible government and to share that responsibility with the president," Yanukovych was quoted as saying on 21 September, following a meeting of parliamentary group leaders with President Viktor Yushchenko. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PROMISES TO 'RENEW' SECRETARIAT, SECURITY, AND DEFENSE COUNCIL... Addressing the Verkhovna Rada session on 22 September, President Yushchenko announced that he has signed several decrees in line with agreements reached at his meeting with the heads of parliamentary groups the previous day, Channel 5 reported. In particular, Yushchenko reduced the staff of the presidential secretariat by abolishing the posts of state secretary, deputy state secretaries, and first presidential aide. Yushchenko also curtailed some powers of the head of the National Security and Defense Council, shifting them to the presidential secretariat. Yushchenko pledged that the staffs of the presidential secretariat and the National Security and Defense Council will be "renewed." The current political crisis in Ukraine was caused, among other reasons, by corruption allegations against former National Security and Defense Council head Petro Poroshenko and suspended first presidential aide Oleksandr Tretyakov. JM
...AND TO HOLD FAIR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN 2006. President Yushchenko also told the Verkhovna Rada on 22 September that he will be personally responsible for holding democratic and honest parliamentary elections in 2006, Ukrainian media reported. Yushchenko pledged that the authorities will not use the "administrative resource" or state funds in the election campaign. JM
EU TO MONITOR MOLDOVAN-UKRAINIAN BORDER AS OF DECEMBER. The European Union has agreed to send monitors as of December to help secure the Moldovan-Ukrainian border along its 400-kilometer Transdniestrian stretch, thus responding to a request voiced by Chisinau and Kyiv in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June and 20 July 2005), Infotag and BASA reported on 21 September. The cost of the operation is reportedly estimated at $3 million euros ($3.7 million) for the first six months. The mission may be extended by another year. The Moscow-backed Transdniester region is widely seen as a haven for smugglers and arms dealers. JM
UKRAINE, MOLDOVA WANT INTERNATIONAL BODY TO ORGANIZE ELECTIONS IN TRANSDNIESTER. Ukrainian President Yushchenko met with his Moldovan counterpart, Vladimir Voronin, in Kyiv on 21 September, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "We have signed a letter to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) asking [it] to create an international commission to organize elections in Transdniester," Voronin said at a news conference after the meeting. Voronin added that the date of the elections should be set by the OSCE after the organization attests that "the Transdniester region is ready for the elections." Yushchenko said representatives of Moldova, Transdniester, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE are to meet in Odesa on 26 September to discuss the Transdniester conflict settlement. "One of the goals of this [meeting] is to expand the format [of negotiations] and include the EU and the U.S. in the dialogue," Yushchenko noted. Meanwhile, the Transdniester authorities are preparing legislative elections in the breakaway region for 11 December. JM