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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BANS SALE OF METALLURGICAL GIANT, AGAIN. The Verkhovna Rada on March 15 voted to include the Nikopol Ferroalloys Plant on a list of enterprises that cannot be privatized in 2006-2007, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Parliament endorsed a similar bill in February, but it was subsequently vetoed by President Viktor Yushchenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 10, 2006). In January, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2003 sale of a 25 percent stake in Nikopol for some $80 million to Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma, was illegal and returned it to the state. The government intended to sell a 50 percent stake plus one share in Nikopol at an open auction later this year. JM
NGO SAYS UP TO 10 PERCENT OF VOTER LISTS IN UKRAINE ARE INACCURATE. Ihor Popov of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, a nongovernmental organization monitoring election campaigns in the country, told journalists on March 14 that between 5 percent and 10 percent of voter lists prepared for the March 26 parliamentary elections are inaccurate, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Popov was commenting on the results of a monitoring mission that his organization carried out in early March. He added that irregularities in voter lists can be found in all regions of Ukraine. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, leader of the opposition Party of Regions, accused the authorities earlier this month of deliberately compiling lists of voters in southeastern Ukraine with mistakes in order to deprive many voters of the right to cast ballots (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 6 and 14, 2006). JM
UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS NOT ALLOWED INTO BELARUS. Belarusian border guards on March 15 denied entry to Belarus to two journalists of the Kyiv-based Channel 5, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Reporter Andriy Zhyhulin and camera operator Vitaliy Doroshchenko were turned back without any explanations from a Kyiv-Minsk train at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. Both reportedly had accreditations for working in Belarus during the presidential election campaign issued by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. JM
MOSCOW SAYS NEW MOLDOVAN CUSTOMS REGIME IN TRANSDNIESTER VIOLATES EXISTING AGREEMENTS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 14 that new customs rules imposed on the breakaway region of Transdniester violate earlier agreements and are exacerbating the region's humanitarian situation, AP reported the same day. "We aren't going to leave it unattended," Lavrov said. "We will demand the fulfillment of the existing agreements. We must collectively search for a solution," he continued. Lavrov said the new rules, which required all cargo to be cleared by Moldovan customs officers, violated earlier agreements that allowed Transdniester to freely conduct its economic activities. Ukraine and Moldova instituted the customs rules on March 3 in an effort to combat smuggling. Transdniester officials called the move an economic blockade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 6, 7, and 8, 2006). BW