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ADZHAR OBDURACY JEOPARDIZES PLANNED NATO MANEUVERS. The leadership of Georgia's autonomous Republic of Adjaria has refused to host NATO maneuvers scheduled to take place in late June at the Gonio training ground near Batumi, "Segodnya" reported on 1 February. That facility is currently used by the Russian military base in Batumi. The Georgian government is assessing the possibility of holding the manuevers, in which some 4,000 servicemen from the U.S., Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan will participate, near the Black Sea port of Poti. LF
UKRAINE DISMANTLES LAST TU-160 STRATEGIC BOMBER. Ukraine's last Tu-160 strategic bomber was cut to pieces at the Pryluky air base near Kyiv on 2 February, Reuters and AP reported. The dismantling took place under a U.S.-Ukrainian Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, with the attendance of a U.S. military delegation. Ukraine in 1991 inherited the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal, including 130 SS-19 missiles, 46 SS-24 missiles, and 44 strategic bombers. Ukraine agreed to destroy its Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers by its ratification in 1994 of the START-1 nuclear disarmament treaty. Ukraine still has four Tu-95 bombers, but the Defense Ministry said it plans to destroy them all by May. JM
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S OFFICE SAYS VOICES AUTHENTIC, TAPE FALSIFIED? The Prosecutor-General's Office on 2 February passed to Interfax a rather enigmatic statement on the official investigation of the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and the audiotapes provided by Mykola Melnychenko, former bodyguard of President Leonid Kuchma. The office said all cases are being investigated professionally and objectively. According to the office, Melnychenko's tapes were "compiled from separate words and fragments, which is essentially a falsification." At the same time, the office said the tapes include Kuchma's authentic conversations with law enforcement officials on the country's crime situation, adding that some of those conversation were taped in secret. The Internet newsletter "Ukrayinskaya pravda" commented that this statement actually confirms the authenticity of Melnychenko's recordings. JM
OSCE PREPARES MEETING ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. William Hill, head of the OSCE permanent mission to Moldova, on 2 February told journalists in Chisinau that the mediators in the Transdniester conflict -- Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and Portugal -- had ended a meeting in Kyiv to prepare for a meeting in Bratislava at the end of the month with the sides involved in the conflict. Hill said the mediators discussed the Russian proposals for the conflict's resolution presented by the delegation headed by Yevgenii Primakov. He said those proposals will serve as "a basis for negotiations" in Bratislava, with the sides being able to "freely offer their own suggestions," Infotag reported. Hill said it is "regrettable" that no Russian armaments have been withdrawn from the Transdniester "for almost a year" but added he is sure that Moscow can still meet the 2003 deadline set by the 1999 Istanbul OSCE summit. MS