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BELARUS TO START REREGISTERING RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS. Alyaksandr Kalinau, a senior official with the government's Committee for Issues of Religions and Nationalities, told Belapan on 10 January that authorities will start reregistering religious organizations in Belarus in late January, in accordance with a new law on religions that came into effect in November (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 8 October 2002). Kalinau said the process is expected to last two years and is not aimed at dissolving any previously registered religious associations. The new law on religions requires that a religious community must have at last 20 members and a religious association must consist of at least 10 communities, including one that has practiced religion in the country for at least 20 years, in order to be granted legal recognition. The law has been widely criticized by domestic and foreign human rights groups who claim it is restrictive and gives preference to the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus. JM
UKRAINE FACES NEW U.S. ALLEGATIONS OF MILITARY SALES TO IRAQ. The London-based daily "The Times" on 10 January quoted an unnamed U.S. official saying Ukraine might have transferred a pontoon bridge to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions. The official added that other Ukrainian transfers to Iraq are a "continuing problem." U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the same day that he cannot confirm the new allegations but added that Washington will look into them. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko said on 10 January that Kyiv has exported pontoon bridges but never to Iraq. "If there are any pontoon bridges in Iraq, our government doesn't have any responsibility for it because Ukraine never sold such bridges directly to Iraq," an RFE/RL correspondent quoted Zlenko as saying. The U.S. administration reduced its aid and reviewed its policy toward Ukraine over allegations that Kyiv sold Kolchuga radar systems to Baghdad in contravention of UN sanctions. JM