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Ukraine: Tymoshenko Says Government Silencing The Media

Kyiv, 21 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko said today that authorities are blocking the printing of newspapers that show support for her candidacy in the country's elections scheduled for March. Tymoshenko said printing houses in the capital Kyiv are refusing to print the "Vechyrni Vysti" and "Slovo Batkivshchyny" newspapers. The National Salvation Forum, a political alliance she heads, backs the two newspapers.

Tymoshenko is running in the election in opposition to President Leonid Kuchma. She oversaw the energy sector in Ukraine's cabinet under former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko until her ouster a year ago.

She said a Kyiv district court will start hearings tomorrow on her motion to halt a corruption investigation against her. She has said the charges are politically motivated.

In other news, Ukraine's Socialist party leader Oleksandr Moroz says that Mykola Melnychenko plans to run for parliament.

Melnychenko is the former presidential body guard who a year ago made public audiotapes he said incriminated President Leonid Kuchma. Melnychenko has been in asylum in the United States since soon after he publicized tapes he said recorded Kuchma ordering the death of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Gongadze's body was found in a wooded area near Kyiv. Kuchma denied involvement in the killing.

Moroz said that Melnychenko plans to return to Ukraine to run in the 31 March parliamentary election as a socialist candidate.

Election authorities have questioned Melnychenko's eligibility to run on the grounds that he has not been a Ukrainian resident for the last year.