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Yushchenko said he dismissed Petro Verbytskiy for not preventing and not being prepared to deal with the crisis. During a visit to the afflicted region this weekend, Yushchenko said situation reveals shortcomings on local and national levels.

"This is a professional miscalculation of the veterinary service and it must carry consequences," he said.

Meanwhile, head of the Russian Federal Veterinarian and Phytosanitary Control Service Sergei Dankvert announced that he has banned the import of poultry from Ukraine, including chicken, eggs, poultry, all types of poultry products, bird fodder and second-hand equipment for poultry farms.

The ban will be in effect until the situation stabilizes, Dankvert said.

"We have information about bird deaths in the Crimea and some other areas of the republic, so the limits will be applied to the entire country until the situation clears up," he said.

Officials from the Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed that more than 2,000 birds died as a result of an H5 strain of bird flu infection. All the birds were located in six villages in the Sovetskiy, Nizhnehirsky and Dzhankoysky regions in a total of six villages of the Crimean peninsula.

Yushchenko has declared a state of emergency in the area. All poultry in the area are being removed and the sale of poultry in the region has been prohibited.

Samples have been sent to the England and Italy for further tests to determine if the deaths were caused by the virulent H5N1 strain. Results are expected later this week.

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