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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS LAST WTO-RELATED BILL... The Verkhovna Rada on December 13 passed a bill canceling the ban on exports of scrap metals and establishing duties on these exports within the six years following Ukraine's entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ukrainian media reported. The bill is reportedly the last piece of legislation needed by Ukraine to bring its laws in line with WTO standards before joining this organization. Ukraine still needs to sign a bilateral trade accord with Kyrgyzstan in order to qualify for WTO entry. JM
...AND APPROVES NEW EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MINISTER. The Verkhovna Rada on December 12 backed the appointment of Nestor Shufrych as emergency situations minister, Ukrainian media reported. Shufrych, a deputy in the Crimean autonomous legislature, was a lawmaker of the Social Democratic Party-united in the preceding Verkhovna Rada. He will replace Viktor Baloha, who was appointed as head of the Presidential Secretariat by President Viktor Yushchenko in September. JM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER INDIGNANT OVER PRESIDENTIAL VETO ON 2007 BUDGET. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said at a cabinet meeting on December 13 that he "practically" does not see any chance for a compromise with President Yushchenko regarding the latter's veto on the budget bill for 2007 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," December 12, 2006), the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. "It has been proposed that we should find on paper 10 billion hryvnyas ($2 billion), but we know very well, and our citizens know very well, that money does not fall from the sky and that we need to earn it," Yanukovych said. "They [the pro-presidential opposition] hope that we will be patiently listening to the fairy tales they tell people. I have warned that I am going to work and not to talk much. This is going to be our style. There should be no populism here." JM
MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN RAIL TRAFFIC VIA TRANSDNIESTER SET TO RESUME. Moldovan Transportation Minister Miron Gagauz said on December 12 that rail traffic with Russia via the Transdniester region will be resumed this week, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. According to a Russian-Moldovan agreement, passenger trains will start making trips between Moscow and Chisinau via Tiraspol and Bendery on December 15. Railroad traffic will also fully resume through a Moldovan-Ukrainian border checkpoint. The agreement will be in effect until December 31, 2007. Rail traffic began detouring around Transdniester in March when Moldova and Ukraine instituted -- with EU assistance -- new customs regulations on the Transdniester section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 6, 2006). BW