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WHERE IS ORT CAMERAMAN DZMITRY ZAVADSKI? Some 300 Belarusian journalists signed a letter to Belarus's Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau and Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman requesting information about the whereabouts of ORT cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski. The letter was passed to the two officials on 7 July, the first anniversary of Zavadski's disappearance at the Minsk airport, Belapan reported. Last month, two former Belarusian investigators accused top state officials, including Sheyman, of organizing a "death squad" and killing political opponents of the regime (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001). The same day in Minsk, police arrested seven participants in pickets staged to mark the anniversary of Zavadski's disappearance. JM

UKRAINE, TAJIKISTAN SIGN A DOZEN COOPERATION ACCORDS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Tajik counterpart Imomali Rakhmonov on 6 July signed 12 documents on bilateral cooperation in economy, trade, and science, including a friendship treaty, Interfax reported. The presidents also decided to create a joint economic commission. Kuchma said Ukraine is ready to develop Tajikistan's rich natural deposits, while Rakhmonov noted that Tajikistan is interested in cooperation in the energy, agricultural, and aluminum industry sectors. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES ELECTION LAW, FOR THE THIRD TIME. Leonid Kuchma has vetoed a bill stipulating the election of 335 parliamentary deputies under the proportional party-list system and 115 in single-mandate constituencies, Interfax reported on 5 July. It was Kuchma's third veto of the parliament's attempts to amend the current election law, which calls for electing 225 deputies from party lists and 225 deputies in single-mandate constituencies. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APROVES AMNESTY FOR 35,000 CONVICTS. The parliament on 5 July passed an amnesty bill providing for the release of some 35,000 convicts from prison, Interfax reported. The bill, which applies mainly to women and those convicted of nonviolent crimes, was adopted ahead of the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's declaration of independence on 24 August. According to official data, there are some 227,000 prisoners in Ukraine. JM

NATO-SPONSORED NAVAL EXERCISE TAKES PLACE IN UKRAINE. Some 1,500 officers from 12 countries on 6 July started a NATO-sponsored exercise "Sea Breeze 2001" in the Black Sea port of Odesa, AP reported. The exercise will continue until 16 July and include three stages of computerized, sea and coastal training involving seven Ukrainian vessels, a U.S. Coast Guard ship and a Turkish landing ship, as well as military planes and helicopters. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, who visited Kyiv last week, said Ukraine and the alliance have made progress in bilateral relations. JM

UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST BEATEN TO DEATH. Ihor Aleksandrov, director of a television station in Slavyansk (Donetsk Oblast), died on 7 July after being beaten with baseball bats by unknown assailants four days earlier, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. In 1998, a local court sentenced Aleksandrov to two years in prison and banned him from working as a journalist for five years for violating laws on campaign coverage. Last year Aleksandrov was acquitted after a legal battle that included taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. JM

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WRITES TO ROMANIAN COUNTERPART... Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, in a letter addressed to his Romanian counterpart Mircea Geoana, on 6 July said he is ready to come to Bucharest this week to discuss differences between the two countries over the Status Law approved by the parliament last month, MTI reported. Unidentified diplomatic sources said the visit could take place on 13 July. In his letter, Martonyi said "declarations" made during the last weeks -- presumably by EU leaders -- had demonstrated that the law is in line with accords between Hungary and the EU and with the international treaties on the protection of national minorities. On 5 July, Foreign Ministry spokesman Horvath said the letter that Geoana had addressed to Martonyi showed that Romania is abandoning the road of confrontation for a "constructive approach." Horvath also said that consultations on the law are under way with Slovakia (see above), Ukraine, and Croatia. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic told Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ivan Baba in Belgrade on 5 July that the Yugoslav position towards the law is "not negative." MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER: VORONIN MAY BECOME BOTH PREMIER AND PRESIDENT. In an interview with the Ukrainian daily "Deni" on 6 July, Parliamentary Speaker Evgenia Ostapciuc said it "cannot be ruled out" that President Voronin will decide to take over the premiership in addition to his current presidential functions, Infotag and Flux reported. In the longer term, she said, Voronin might decide to renounce the presidential position altogether. The possibility of unifying the two positions in one person "figures high now" on the agenda of the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM), she said. Ostapciuc also said that many PCM members want the Lenin monuments in Chisinau to be restored, and that this "is absolutely normal," because the monuments "are not only political, but also part of our history." MS