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UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ASSESSES ABKHAZ SITUATION. In a 13 January letter to the UN Security Council
(, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed concern that minimal progress toward resolving the Abkhaz conflict has been made over the past six months. Annan announced that he will convene a "brainstorming session" of the five "friends of the secretary-general" countries soon to consider how to break the deadlock. Annan also called for the resumption of meetings of the UN-sponsored Coordinating Council that promotes confidence-building measures and for the extension for a further six months of the mandate of the UN Observer Force. Russian and Georgian news-agency reports on 21 January quoted Annan at a press conference the previous day as describing the Abkhaz as obstructing the investigation into the shooting down over the Kodori Gorge in October 2001 of a UN-chartered, Ukrainian-owned helicopter. Nine people died in that crash (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"9 October 2001). Abkhaz Defense Minister Raul Khadjimba told journalists in Sukhum on 21 January that the Abkhaz authorities have never prevented UN or Ukrainian officials from inspecting the crash site, although they refused to allow a Georgian team to do so. LF

FBI TO OPEN OFFICE IN GEORGIA. Georgian National Security Minister Valeri Khaburzania told journalists in Tbilisi on 21 January a meeting between President Shevardnadze and a senior FBI official stationed in Turkey that the FBI will open an office in Georgia within the next two to three months, Caucasus Press reported. The FBI already has offices in Moscow and Kyiv. LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONTINUES TOUR OF MIDDLE EAST. President Leonid Kuchma met with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah in Al-Manamah, Bahrain, on 21 January to discuss bilateral cooperation in the economic and political spheres, UNIAN reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. "Issues of using Bahrain's experience in developing tourism infrastructure might be extremely useful for Ukraine," said Ihor Tymofeyev, Ukraine's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. Kuchma later departed from Bahrain for a three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates. JM

UKRAINE'S ANTIMONOPOLY BODY GIVES GO-AHEAD TO GAS CONSORTIUM WITH RUSSIA. The Antimonopoly Committee on 21 January granted Russia's Gazprom and Naftohaz Ukrayiny permission to pursue the establishment of the International Consortium on Management and Development of Ukraine's Gas Transport System during the pre-investment stage of the consortium's operations, Interfax reported. The consortium is being set up on a parity basis under last year's agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian governments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2002). The pre-investment stage of the consortium's operations must end by August. During this stage the consortium's participants will conduct a feasibility study and develop a plan for financing the project. The implementation of the investment stage will require further permission from the Antimonopoly Committee. JM

POLISH INVESTIGATION INTO 1941 POGROM TO BE DROPPED. Prosecutor Radoslaw Ignatiew of the National Remembrance Institute (IPN) told journalists on 21 January that the IPN will discontinue its investigation into the pogrom of Jews in Jedwabne in 1941 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 6 and 20 March, 3 April, 29 May, and 17 July 2001), PAP reported. Ignatiew explained that the investigation will be dropped because no perpetrators of the crime have been identified aside from those already held responsible in a post-World War II court trial. The IPN investigation, launched in August 2000, found that the pogrom was perpetrated by at least 40 ethnic Polish citizens of Jedwabne at the behest of Nazi troops. Meanwhile, some senators from the ruling Democratic Left Alliance have recently proposed that the investigative branch of the IPN be abolished and its investigations be passed on to prosecutors within the Prosecutor-General's Office. The IPN is currently conducting more than 1,200 investigations. JM