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NEW MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMAN MEETS WITH ARMENIAN OFFICIALS. Hugues Pernet, who was recently named French co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, met in Yerevan on 12 June with President Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, and the following day with Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Markarian, to discuss the current stage of the Karabakh peace process, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenian agencies reported. Pernet succeeds Philippe de Suremain, who has been named France's ambassador to Ukraine. LF

UZBEKISTAN QUITS GUUAM. Uzbekistan has left the GUUAM grouping that it joined three years ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 1999), Deputy Foreign Minister Sadyk Safaev said in Tashkent on 13 June, AP reported. Safaev said his ministry has informed the other members of that group -- Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova -- of its decision. He explained that the Uzbek leadership sees no progress in coping with the tasks that GUUAM's members set, and believes bilateral cooperation among them would be more effective. The group has discussed at length -- but not yet established -- a peacekeeping battalion and a free economic zone. Turan on 14 June quoted Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov as explaining that Tashkent's main complaint was the failure of GUUAM member states to remove legal obstacles to the transportation of goods between them. That failure made it cheaper for Uzbekistan to export and import goods via non-GUUAM member states. Komilov hinted that Uzbekistan might rejoin the alignment at some future date. LF

BELARUSIAN, UKRAINIAN PREMIERS FAIL TO AGREE ON DEBT CONTROVERSY. Contrary to expectations, Belarusian Premier Henadz Navitski and his Ukrainian counterpart, Anatoliy Kinakh, did not sign an accord on the controversial issue of Ukraine's debt to Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2002) during their meeting in Homel (southeastern Belarus) on 13 June, Belarusian and Ukrainian media reported. The politicians reportedly decided to meet later this week to finalize the settlement. JM

PROBE CLOSED INTO UKRAINIAN ARMS EXPORTER'S DEATH. An investigation into the death in an automobile accident of Valery Malev, the general director of the Ukrspetseksport company, has been closed due to a lack of evidence of any crime, UNIAN reported on 13 June. Malev died in a car crash in March, spawning rumors that his death was not accidental. Interior Ministry official Petro Kolyada said investigators found no evidence indicating the incident was "deliberate" or that Malev committed suicide while driving his car. Kolyada also said investigators determined that the car crash involving opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko in January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 January 2002) was caused by Tymoshenko's driver. JM

OUR UKRAINE LEADER REMAINS RESENTFUL OVER MEDVEDCHUK APPOINTMENT. Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko told journalists on 13 June that the recent appointment of Social Democratic Party-United leader Viktor Medvedchuk as head of the presidential administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2002) is a step toward strengthening "outsiders" from the parliamentary elections and "revising the results of these elections," UNIAN reported. Such actions on the part of the authorities "separate us from democracy and political agreement," Yushchenko added. Political scientist and Our Ukraine lawmaker Mykola Tomenko echoed Yushchenko, saying that Medvedchuk's appointment means a victory for the "party of war" in President Leonid Kuchma's entourage and spells a tougher course of the presidential administration against the opposition. JM

ROMANIA TO COMPENSATE OWNERS OF PROPERTIES IN SOVIET-OCCUPIED EAST. The government on 13 June approved a draft bill providing for compensation of real estate and agricultural land owners who lost their properties when Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and the Herta lands were incorporated into the Soviet Union after World War II, Romanian radio reported. To qualify for the compensation, the owners or their descendants must be Romanian citizens and residents within the country's current borders. Owners of land which is now in Moldova or Ukraine will receive plots in exchange for the lost property. MS