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UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL BRIEFS PARLIAMENT ON MISSING JOURNALIST CASE. Mykhaylo Potebenko on 10 January said there is a 99.6 percent chance that the headless and decaying corpse found near Kyiv in November may be former journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Potebenko was reporting to the parliament on the DNA tests performed on samples of genetic material taken from the corpse and Gongadze's mother. Simultaneously Potebenko cast doubt on the authenticity of the tape provided by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, which allegedly proves President Leonid Kuchma's complicity in Gongadze's disappearance. The prosecutor-general quoted experts as saying the tape was edited. Potebenko also noted that the poor sound quality makes it impossible to prove if the voices on the tape are those of Kuchma and his aides. The Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a libel case against Melnychenko. JM

UKRAINIANS RALLY IN SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT. Heavily attended marches and rallies took place in many Ukrainian cities on 10 January in support of President Leonid Kuchma. The demonstrators' primary demand was that the parliament implement the constitutional reform in line with last year's referendum giving Kuchma more powers. According to official data quoted by Interfax, 50,000 people participated in a proKuchma rally in Kharkiv, 30,000 in Luhansk, 10,000 in Lutsk, 6,000 in Simferopol, and 4,000 in Bila Tserkva. However, the "Eastern Economist Daily" called the pro-Kuchma demonstrations "suspicious," citing some media as saying that people were either forced to attend those demonstrations or received special privileges for doing so, such as an extra day off. President Kuchma commented that he asked the executive authorities in the regions "not to organize meetings and demonstrations in my support." The same day an anti-Kuchma picket in Kyiv gathered only 300 people. JM

LITHUANIA SIMPLIFIES VISA REGULATIONS FOR CIS, EU 'WHITE LIST' COUNTRIES. A joint order of the interior and foreign ministries simplified the regulations for obtaining visas for citizens of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Taiwan, BNS reported on 10 January. They will be able to get
visas (valid up to 30 days) for Lithuania without invitations if they show sufficient funds ($40 per day) to live there. Visas without invitations will also be granted to citizens of the following countries on the EU's "white list": Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Costa Rica, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, South Africa, El Salvador, Singapore, and Uruguay. The remaining 21 states on the EU's "white list" already enjoy visa-free travel to Lithuania. SG

GRANTS FOR WOMEN SCIENTISTS. The Women's International Science Collaboration (WISC) Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is a program intended to increase the participation of women in international research projects. This program provides grants to individual U.S. scientists who plan to establish new research partnerships with their colleagues from Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The grant, up to $4,000, will provide travel and living support for the U.S. woman scientist. Contact NSF's Eastern Europe Program staff who can advise regarding applications for NSF international supplements ( (Civil Society mailing list, 28 December)

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: PRESS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS IN 2000. The Paris-based media defense group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), issued its annual survey of worldwide media freedom on 3 January. It reported that in the year 2000, 26 journalists were killed while practicing their profession or for their opinions, 329 were arrested, 510 were attacked or threatened and 295 media were victims of censorship. On 4 January, 77 journalists were in jail (compared to 85 on 1 January 2000) for attempting to freely practice their profession. Close to one-third of the world's population is living in countries without any press freedom; the RSF refers to three particularly serious media violations in Ukraine, Russia and Turkmenistan. The most serious current case is that of Georgy Gongadze, an editor of an Internet publication critical of the Ukrainian government who has been missing for three months. The RSF reported that "shortly before his disappearance, in a letter to the state prosecutor, he denounced what he considered to be "premeditated intimidation to scare him or put a stop to his activities". On his site,, he published articles on corruption among senior officials. "A decapitated body found in November 2000 near Kiev could be that of Gongadze, but results of analyses have not been revealed," according to the RSF. French photographer Brice Fleutiaux was released on 12 June after nine months of detention in Chechnya; he stated that he had been "detained by different groups" and "had experienced very difficult times but had not been tortured." In Turkmenistan, in May 2000, the telecommunications minister withdrew the licenses of all private Internet access providers for alleged "violations of the law". The state can now screen sites and make certain sites inaccessible for Internet users in the country. It also controls all e-mail circulating in the country. (Reporters Without Borders, 3 January)

ROMA SAY PLANNED CENSUS DISCRIMINATORY. Romany activists in Slovakia sent an open letter to President Rudolf Schuster, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda and to the parliament, protesting against the fact there will be no Romanylanguage version of the questionnaire to be used in the population census planned for 26 May, CTK reported. The activists say the census is therefore "discriminatory" and that it will be impossible for members of the Roma minority to understand the questions. The cabinet on 20 December 2000 decided that the questionnaires will be printed in Slovak-Hungarian, Slovak-Ukrainian and Slovak-Russian versions. Government Commissioner for Romany Affairs Vincent Danihel said he believes the cabinet will reconsider its decision. "I think some mistake has been made, as a Slovak-Romany version was also originally considered," he said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January)


KUCHMA SEEKS FOREIGN HELP ON GONGADZE CASE. Arguing that "as president, I need the truth more than anyone else does," President Kuchma said on 30 December that he would welcome the arrival of foreign experts to probe the case of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Interfax-Ukraine said. Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders told Interfax on 29 December that its experts will arrive in Kyiv on 8 January to investigate Gongadze's disappearance. And DPA reported the same day that Ukrainian parliamentarian (Reforms and Order Party) Serhy Holovaty said that German forensic specialists have confirmed that a body believed to be Gongadze's is in fact that of the missing journalist. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January)

JOURNALIST'S DEATH SAID BECOMING 'POLITICAL CHERNOBYL.' Writing in Moscow's "Argumenty I fakty" on 3 January, Aleksandr Kondrashov said that the murder of Heorhy Gongadze is now known in Ukraine as "Kuchmagate" and that it is rapidly becoming a "political Chernobyl" for President Kuchma. And he added that this explosion is likely to extend to Russian political figures as well. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January)

MOSCOW PROTESTS UKRAINIANIZATION OF TV RADIO. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 3 January issued a press release saying that it is surprised by Ukrainian efforts to ban Russianlanguage programming on that country's television and radio channels, ITAR-TASS reported. It said that "the squeezing out of the Russian language from Ukrainian mass media is a policy underlying de-russification of all sides of Ukraine's social life." The ministry added that it creates the impression that "somebody in the Ukrainian political establishment does not like the improvement of RussianUkrainian relations, including in the humanitarian field which gained significant momentum during the recent visit of Leonid Kuchma to Russia." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January)