SEMIRECHE COSSACKS CELEBRATE 130 YEARS. The Semireche Cossacks have celebrated their 130th anniversary, according to ITAR-TASS. On 26 July 1867, a detachment of Cossacks arrived at the foot of the Tien-Shan Mountains and constructed fortification of Vernyy, which was renamed Alma-Ata early in the Soviet era. Semireche Cossacks invited to their anniversary celebration members of the government, Almaty municipal officials, representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and ambassadors of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. ITARTASS on 26 July reported that Kazakh officials had not given their approval to the festivities. Many members of the indigenous ethnic groups of Central Asia regard the Cossacks as "instruments of colonization," according to the news agency.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REORGANIZES GOVERNMENT. Leonid Kuchma on 25 July replaced the ministers of economy, agriculture, energy, coal mining and industry, UNIAN reported. The ministers of defense, interior, and finance and the deputy prime minister in charge of economic reforms all retained their posts. Earlier this month, Kuchma appointed Valery Pustovoitenko as prime minister after accepting the resignation of Pavlo Lazarenko. Under the constitution, Kuchma is obliged to form a new cabinet following the appointment of a new prime minister. Among the new ministers are Viktor Suslov (economy) and Yuri Karasyk (agriculture).
CHORNOBYL REACTOR REPAIRS POSTPONED. Chornobyl nuclear power plant director Sergei Parashin told journalists on 25 July that repairs to the third reactor at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant have been postponed until 1 October.The third reactor is the only one at the facility still in operation. He said the plant has received only 25 percent of the equipment it needs. Meanwhile, work on the sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor and on the first and second reactors has received almost no financing since the beginning of this year. The first reactor was halted last year in accordance with a memorandum signed by Kiev and the G-7. Parashin said he hopes the halt of all power units will not result in the plant's closure. But he said the lack of control over the power plant may have "dreadful consequences."
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ESTONIA. Hennady Udovenko and his Estonian counterpart, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, signed a joint declaration in Tallinn on 25 July on boosting bilateral relations, BNS and ETA reported. Estonia and Ukraine pledged to step up cooperation between their governments and parliaments and to encourage trade between small and medium-sized companies . The declaration also states that each country has the right to choose its own method of ensuring security. The previous day, Udovenko met with President Lennart Meri at the presidential summer residence in Paslepa, northwestern Estonia. Udovenko told Meri that relations with Tallinn were a foreign-policy priority for Kyiv, noting that Estonian had been a "supporter" of Ukraine's independence.