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UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO ARMENIA. Visiting Yerevan on 18-19 October, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko discussed expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Bilateral trade turnover doubled during the first six months of this year to reach $14.6 million, according to Noyan Tapan. Zlenko also reaffirmed Kyiv's interest in participation in construction of the planned Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Zlenko's talks with his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian and with Armenian President Robert Kocharian focused on the Karabakh conflict. Zlenko, who visited Azerbaijan and Georgia before arriving in Armenia, told Oskanian that "despite bellicose statements," Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev is committed to seeking a peaceful solution of the conflict. Oskanian said Ukraine is ready to contribute to seeking such a solution and that Armenia will work with Kyiv in the coming months to that end. LF

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DENIES MISUSING WESTERN AID. The Belarusian opposition group Charter-97 has rejected the accusations of misuse of Western aid that were made public by political analyst Alyaksandr Fyaduta last month, Belapan reported on 21 October. "All that Fyaduta said to Interfax about the usurpation of grants and financial schemes is a lie from the first word to the last," Charter-97 coordinator Dzmitry Bandarenka told journalists. Fyaduta alleged that the opposition misused $24 million. "Fyaduta made a big mistake citing this sum. U.S. charitable funds provided a total of $22 million in assistance under the interstate agreement. Of this amount, $12 million was given in humanitarian aid, including to Chernobyl-affected areas, $6 million was spent on exchange programs, $3 million on support of the independent press in Belarus, and $1 million or a little more on Belarusian NGOs and initiatives," Bandarenka said. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS CRACKDOWN ON MONEY LAUNDERING. Leonid Kuchma decided on 20 October to set up a governmental monitoring committee to combat money laundering, Interfax reported, quoting State Tax Administration chief Mykola Azarov. Azarov said the new body will gather information about dubious financial transactions in Ukraine and elsewhere. According to Azarov, "colossal sums" of illegal capital in Ukraine affect the state budget and national security. "Thirty percent of the crude oil imported to Ukraine from Kazakhstan was supplied to us by such an exotic state as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Among the suppliers are virtually unknown structures. When we try to find them for purposes of taxation, we often fail," New Channel television quoted him as saying. JM

WHY DID UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER LIE ABOUT AIRLINER CRASH? Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk told journalists on 19 October during a special hot-line link that he never doubted that a Ukrainian missile downed a Russian airliner on 4 October, Interfax reported. "For me, from the very beginning there were no other versions, and there could not be. Otherwise, why would I have tendered my resignation [immediately after the crash]?" Kuzmuk said. Kuzmuk did not explain why five days after the airliner tragedy he assured the parliament that the missile downing theory was impossible since the missile fell into the sea two minutes before the plane disappeared from radar screens and the plane was far outside the missile's range. National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk said on 19 October that Kuzmuk's dismissal should be expected within days, but Kuchma's spokesman noted on 20 October that the president will fire Kuzmuk if a government commission finds the minister responsible for the crash. JM

UKRAINIAN NGOS WANT KUCHMA TO COMPENSATE FOR AIRLINER CRASH. Some 1,700 people representing 500 Ukrainian NGOs on 19 October held a congress in Kyiv, Interfax reported. The congress adopted a statement to compatriots and the world community with apologies for "Kuchma's cynical words" asserting that "one shouldn't make a tragedy out of the crash if there has been a mistake" (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 October 2001). The congress also requested apologies for the attempts of Ukrainian top military leaders to deceive the public about the real reason behind the airliner tragedy. According to the congress, compensation for the downed plane should be paid not from the state budget, but from "foreign deposits of Kuchma and his entourage." JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER ENDS MOLDOVAN VISIT. Anatoliy Kinakh and his Moldovan counterpart Vasile Tarlev signed protocols in Chisinau on 19 October attesting to the earlier ratification by their parliaments of a number of important agreements, including the demarcation of the border and the mutual recognition of property owned by each side on the other side's territory, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Contrary to Moldovan expectations, no agreement was signed on the joint custom checkpoints on Ukrainian territory and Kinakh said negotiations on this Moldovan request will continue. Tarlev described the visit as "historic" and pointed out that Moldovan-Ukrainian trade has grown by 47 percent over last year. An agreement on cultural collaboration was also signed on 19 October, after which Kinakh visited the village of his birth, which is in Moldova. MS