CRIMEAN ORGANIZATIONS APPEAL TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S WIFE. Several public associations in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, grouped under the umbrella of the so-called Bastion Bloc, have released an open letter calling on Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's wife to use her influence so as not to allow the Sea Breeze- 97 exercise to be held in Crimea, Interfax reported on 4 August. The exercise is scheduled to be held off Crimea's cost at the end of August in the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It would involve Ukrainian, U.S. and other countries' naval ships. Sevastopol Bastion also has called on Lyudmila Kuchma "to take the rapprochement of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus under her patronage." The League of Crimean Women has sent a similar letter to Kuchma's wife.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS UZBEKISTANI COUNTERPART. Leonid Kuchma on 5 August met Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, who is vacationing in Crimea, UNIAN reported. The Presidential Press Service said that a "wide specter of issues in relations between the two countries was discussed" during the meeting. Both presidents said they are satisfied with relations between Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
TRANSDNIESTER DECLARES ITSELF "CUSTOMS CONTROL ZONE." A decree signed on 5 August by the leader of the breakaway Transdniester region, Igor Smirnov, stipulates that the region is setting up a separate "custom control zone" on all its territory. The decree says the measure "corresponds to custom legislation and similar practice in the CIS," BASA-press reported on 5 August. The Transdniestrian custom service is headed by Igor Smirnov's son, Vladimir Smirnov. In other news, in the wake of the "motorcade incident" during which Moldovan Defense Minster Valeriu Pasat was barred from entering the territory under the separatists' control (see RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1997), the Joint Control Commission which oversees the truce between Chisinau and Tiraspol has ordered the commandment of the three peace-keeping forces (OSCE, Russia and Ukraine) to work out within two weeks a mechanism aimed at removing obstacles for crossing the security zone dividing the two conflicting sides.