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Anti-NATO protest in Feodosiya on May 30 (RFE/RL)
May 30, 2006 - Ukraine's pro-Russian Party of the Regions has protested the unloading of a NATO cargo ship at a port on Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.
The party, the biggest vote winner in Ukraine's March parliamentary elections, said the arrival of the "USS Advantage" at the port of Feodosiya on May 27 violated the constitution. It demanded that officials who allowed it be punished.
At least one other small pro-Russian party also protested the ship's arrival. Demonstrators picketed the entrance to the port.
The vehicles and supplies unloaded by the "USS Advantage" had been intended for use in joint training exercises between NATO and Ukraine next month.
Government officials said the protests were groundless and a provocation.
"This is technical aid to Ukraine under an agreement between the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department. They agreed to bring [construction materials] to Ukraine at their own expense, build facilities here, and leave them at our shooting ranges for decades," Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko said. "Any attempt to politicize [this visit] is cheap politics."
("Ukrayinska pravda," Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN)