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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WORRIED ABOUT PROTRACTED COALITION TALKS. Presidential spokeswoman Iryna Herashchenko told journalists in Kyiv on May 17 that President Viktor Yushchenko is very concerned over the slow progress of coalition talks and the "wrangling" surrounding them, UNIAN reported. "[We see today that] politicians want to shift the burden of their own disagreements...to the president, they want the president to gather them and conduct talks for them, resolve their internal disagreements and distribute portfolios," Herashchenko added. Herashchenko was apparently referring to Our Ukraine's recent suggestion that Yushchenko be included in its coalition talks with the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc and the Socialist Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 17, 2006). Meanwhile, the Party of Regions led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych adopted a draft coalition accord on May 17 that it wants to propose to other parties that achieved parliamentary representation in the March 26 vote, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. The draft document reportedly proposes giving the post of prime minister in the future cabinet to Yanukovych. JM
ANOTHER UKRAINIAN REGION ADVANCES STATUS OF RUSSIAN LANGUAGE. The Donetsk Oblast Council on May 18 granted Russian the status of a regional language, UNIAN reported. According to the resolution, the Russian language can be used in the region, along with Ukrainian, as "a language of work, record keeping, documentation, and mutual relations among the population, state, and public bodies, enterprises, institutions, and organizations, as well as in education, science, and culture." Similar resolutions have been adopted by the Luhansk Oblast Council, the Sevastopol City Council, and the Kharkiv City Council. Last month, President Yushchenko asked the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office to look into the legality of such decisions. The status of a regional language is not defined in Ukrainian legislation. JM
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS RUSSIAN WINE BAN RETALIATION FOR NEW CUSTOMS RULES. Vladimir Voronin on May 17 described Russia's ban on Moldovan wine as retaliation for Chisinau's actions in dealing with the separatist Transdniester region, Interfax reported the same day. "Tensions over Transdniester have played an immediate role in the ban on the import of Moldovan wine to Russia," he said. Specifically, Voronin said the ban imposed in late March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 28, 2006) was a reaction to new customs regulations Moldova and Ukraine implemented on the Transdniestrian portion of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border in early March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 6, 7, and 8, 2006). Russia has described the new rules, which are supported by the European Union as an antismuggling measure, an "economic blockade," a charge Chisinau rejects. "There is no blockade. Tiraspol leaders themselves have isolated the region," Voronin said. BW