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...WHILE PROSECUTOR-GENERAL'S AIDE SAYS IMPLICATION IS 'ELECTORAL PROVOCATION.' Alyaksey Taranau, an aide to Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman, told a RFE/RL Belarusian Service correspondent on 17 July that the documents publicized by Hancharyk are fabricated. "This is an electoral provocation intended to discredit Belarus's incumbent president," Taranau added. Last week, Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau denied having received the report mentioned by Hancharyk from Lapatsik. Hancharyk's revelations seem to confirm the allegations by two former Belarusian investigators, Dzmitry Petrushkevich and Aleh Sluchak, about the existence of a government-organized "death squad" in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June 2001). JM

FOUR UKRAINIAN PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTIES MOVE TO CREATE ELECTION BLOC. The leaders of the Agrarian Party, the Popular Democratic Party, the Party of Regions, and the Labor Ukraine Party -- Mykhaylo Hladiy, Valeriy Pustovoytenko, Mykola Azarov, and Serhiy Tyhypko respectively -- have signed a declaration to create a joint election bloc, Interfax reported on 17 July. Azarov told journalists that the declaration is the first step toward creating "a powerful democratic force of centrist orientation and a single political party in the future." Pustovoytenko said he does not rule out that the four-party bloc may be joined by the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh. JM

UKRAINE DENIES CONTINENTAL SHELF DRILLING VIOLATES TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Borodenkov on 17 July denied that Ukraine is violating the 1997 basic treaty with Romania by drilling for oil and gas in the vicinity of Serpents Island (Zmiyinyy ostrov) in the Black Sea, Interfax reported. Borodenkov was responding to a "verbal note" from Romania's Foreign Ministry saying that Kyiv has no right to drill in the area as long as both countries have not demarcated the continental shelf around the island (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 2001). Borodenkov said Ukraine is conducting the drilling under the "development of mineral resources" clause included in an additional accord to the treaty. JM

UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TO RUN UNMARKED? Ukrainian Ambassador at Large Oleksandr Kupchyshyn told journalists on 17 July that the border between Ukraine and Russia will be delimited but not demarcated, Interfax reported. "We will only perform the delimitation: the border will be only on the map," Kupchyshyn said, adding that "it has been deemed inexpedient to demarcate the Ukrainian-Russian border at the current historical stage." Kupchyshyn said Kyiv and Moscow have already agreed on 95 percent of the common land frontier. He noted that both sides differ on how to define the border in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. Both sides have agreed to consider these basins as their "internal" waters. "Russia interprets the notion of internal waters as the complete absence of a frontier, while we think that it is necessary to draw a state borderline [across them]," Kupchyshyn said. Deputy Foreign Minister Oleksandr Chalyy explained on 18 July that Ukraine has not abandoned altogether the idea of demarcating its border with Russia. JM

CRIMEAN LEGISLATORS DISMISS PREMIER OF AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC. The 100-seat legislature of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 18 July voted by 55 to one with four abstentions to oust Serhiy Kunitsyn, the premier of the Crimean cabinet, Interfax reported. The vote came after Crimean parliamentary speaker Leonid Hrach said Kunitsyn's dismissal has been coordinated with President Leonid Kuchma. Kunitsyn denied Hrach's statement, and the office of Kuchma's representative in Crimea said no approval was received from the president. Crimean lawmakers appointed Kunitsyn's deputy, Lentun Bezaziyev, to head the government. But Kunitsyn refused to leave, calling the vote a "political farce." AP quoted Kunitsyn as saying that "Bezaziyev will not act as premier, because the decision is illegal. I will stay until Ukraine's president tells me to go." JM

UKRAINE'S GDP GROWS 9.1 PERCENT IN JANUARY-JUNE. The State Statistics Committee reported on 17 July that the country's GDP increased by 9.1 percent in January-June 2001, compared with the same period last year. JM

MOLDOVAN MISSION HEAD, CERNOMAZ REVIEW IMPLEMENTATION OF OSCE SUMMIT DECISIONS. William Hill, the OSCE mission head to Moldova, on 17 July told Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Cernomaz in Chisinau that he is "satisfied" that the process of scrapping the Russian arsenal in the Transdniester is proceeding, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Cernomaz said that by going ahead with the process, "the Russian Federation proves it is respecting the obligations it assumed [at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul summit] and is clearly improving its image." He also said that last week's meeting in Kyiv with his counterparts from Russia and Ukraine showed that all three sides agree that the solution to the Transdniester conflict must be based on "full respect of Moldovan territorial integrity." Hill also met with Parliament Deputy Speaker Vadim Mishin. MS