KUCHMA INDICTS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OVER CHORNOBYL. On the 12th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma accused the international community of failing to meet promises of aid needed to close down the plant, AFP reported on 26 April. Kuchma reproached the G-7 for delaying the payment of $3.1 billion through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The West objects to that payment because Ukraine wants to use international funds to complete the construction of two new nuclear reactors in order to compensate for the loss of power from the Chornobyl plant. Ukraine has recently asked Russian banks for credits to achieve this goal. "We have reached agreement with Russia on completing the projects, otherwise we would have to wait another 10 years for the EBRD to fulfill its pledges," AFP quoted Kuchma as saying. JM

CHORNOBYL ANNIVERSARY RALLY PROTESTS LUKASHENKA'S REGIME... Some 7,000 people marched in downtown Minsk on 25 April to mark the 12th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. The marchers, led by opposition politicians, shouted slogans against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime and demanded freedom for imprisoned opposition activists. They also demanded that Lukashenka be dismissed for "malicious disregard of the deadly danger of the Chornobyl catastrophe, economic collapse, and deliberate devastation of the national culture," Belapan reported. The police detained some 30 protesters, including 17 members of the Russian Anti-Fascist Youth Movement who came from Moscow to take part in the rally, ITAR-TASS reported. The next day. the police released all the Russian detainees and deported them on a night train to Moscow. JM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT EXPLAINS CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIR... President Emil Constantinescu said after a 25 April meeting of the Supreme National Defense Council that the recent "cigarette-smuggling affair" resulted from a "trap" set up by those "responsible for the struggle against corruption." Earlier this month, a Ukrainian-chartered Bulgarian air plane unloaded a large transport of smuggled cigarettes at Bucharest's military airport. Constantinescu said the trap was a result of "long investigations" by the Romanian Intelligence Service. He added that the Prosecutor-General's Office is now investigating several high-ranking officers, including a colonel of the Special Protection Guard. On 26 April, he commander of the military airport was detained for five days. MS