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FORMER BELARUSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER BECOMES SPORTS MINISTER. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has appointed Yury Sivakou minister of sports and tourism, Belapan reported on 23 January. Sivakou replaces Yauhen Vorsin, who held the post for 3 1/2 years. Sivakou, 56, served in a number of government posts connected with state security, including deputy interior minister and Internal Troops commander (1995-99), interior minister (February 1999-April 2000), and deputy chief of the presidential administration (November 2000-September 2001). Two Belarusian investigators who defected to the United States in 2001 alleged that Sivakou was involved in the kidnapping and killing of opposition figures Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, and Anatol Krasouski in 1999 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 June and 28 August 2001). It has become something of a tradition in Belarus to appoint law enforcement officials to leading positions in the sports sphere. Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumaw is currently in charge of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, KGB Chairman Leanid Yeryn heads the Belarusian Biathlon Federation, and Lew Pimenau, chief of the KGB archives, presides over the Belarusian Basketball Federation. JM

GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINIAN ENERGY PRODUCERS HALVED OVER DEBTS. Haz Ukrayiny, a component of the Naftohaz Ukrayiny oil and gas supplier, has decided to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine's power-generating and distributing companies to 16 million cubic meter per day as of 24 January, which means a 50 percent reduction of the current supplies, Interfax reported on 24 January. The company said the move was prompted by the fact that power producers now pay for just 5.6 percent of the gas they consume. Last year, the power-generating companies accumulated more than 77 million hryvnyas ($14.4 million) in debt to Haz Ukrayiny. Moreover, they have not yet paid for 1.3 billion cubic meters of gas delivered to them in 1999-2001. JM

UKRAINIAN MINISTER CONTENDS LAWS SUFFICIENT TO COMBAT DIRTY MONEY. Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych said on 23 January that Ukraine has met all the demands of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) regarding legal measures to combat money laundering, Interfax reported. On 28 November, the Verkhovna Rada passed an anti-money-laundering law; on 24 December, it amended the law following criticism from FATF; and on 16 January, lawmakers adopted amendments to the Criminal Code toughening penalties for money laundering. Some FATF member states recently introduced sanctions against Ukraine, citing the country's flawed anti-money-laundering legislation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 January 2003). JM


PROMINENT JOURNALIST FOUND DEAD... Well-known Ukrainian journalist Serhiy Naboka was found dead in a hotel room in Vinnytsya, in western Ukraine, on 18 January, UNIAN and Interfax reported. Naboka, 47, a veteran journalist for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, was in Vinnytsya with a group of journalists to prepare a series of reports on the living conditions of prisoners. Preliminary reports indicated that Naboka's death was caused by a blood clot. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January)

...AS PRESIDENT EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES... In a letter posted on the official website of the Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma expressed his condolences to Naboka's family, relatives, friends, and colleagues. "I was deeply saddened to hear of the sudden and premature death of Serhiy Naboka, well-known Ukrainian human rights defender and journalist. Serhiy Naboka was part of that special generation in Ukrainian journalism and publicism [sic], that you couldn't help respecting, whether you agreed with what he said or not. Serhiy Naboka never favored me in his materials. And this made everything Mr. Naboka said even more valuable: It came from his ardent heart; from his lips, which never remained indifferent; and from his skillful pen. He had the Lord's gift for journalism: He could see the most important and throw away secondary issues. The authorities who looked into Serhiy Naboka's mirror knew his images should be taken into consideration, because those were objective and impartial images," read Kuchma's letter, which also noted that Ukraine suffered an immense loss, because it lost a person who "hoped against hope," who fought for independent and democratic Ukraine at times when few people even thought about it. For the full text of the letter, see

NEW BOOK ON GONGADZE CASE. A new book by J.V. Koshiw titled "Beheaded: the Killing of a Journalist" investigates the possible involvement of Ukrainian President Kuchma in the killing of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. For more, see