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RFE/RL MARKS 50 YEARS OF RADIO LIBERTY BROADCASTS. Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty commemorated the 50th anniversary of broadcasts to the then-Soviet Union with a series of events that culminated in a conference "On Liberty" in the Czech capital, Prague, on 6 June. The discussion focused on the relationship between liberty and human rights, sovereignty, religion and education, and the development of civil society, the media, and Internet. The conference, as well as an exhibition of publications by RFE/RL authors and a reception for current and former Radio Liberty staff, took place at RFE/RL's Broadcast Operations Center in Prague. Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda delivered the keynote address. Other speakers included former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, and longtime Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva. "Radio Liberation" (later Radio Liberty) broadcasts in Russian, Tajik, and Turkmen began in Munich on 1 March 1953, and were soon joined by broadcasts in many of the region's other native languages. Soviet authorities jammed those broadcasts until CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev ordered a halt to the jamming in November 1988. AH

UKRAINIAN PEACEKEEPERS TO BE DEPLOYED IN IRAQ BY MID-AUGUST. Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk told journalists on 7 June that the formation and training of a Ukrainian contingent of peacekeepers intended for the Polish-led stabilization force in Iraq will be completed by mid-July, Interfax reported. Marchuk added that the entire contingent will be in Iraq by mid-August. Last week, the Verkhovna Rada endorsed the deployment of up to 1,800 Ukrainian peacekeepers for Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003). Borys Andresyuk, deputy head of the parliamentary Committee for National Security and Defense, said last week that Ukrainian military personnel in Iraq will be paid $1,000-$1,500 per month. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS ENVIRONMENT MINISTER. President Leonid Kuchma dismissed Environment and Natural Resources Minister Vasyl Shevchuk on 7 June for "serious shortcomings" in his work, UNIAN reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. The president also issued an official reprimand to Deputy Premier Vitaliy Hayduk for alleged mismanagement of the state's natural resources. Moreover, Kuchma tasked law enforcement bodies, prosecutors, and tax inspectors with a thorough inspection of state companies dealing with the exploration and extraction of mineral resources in the country within the next six months. JM

LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS SWEDEN. Antanas Valionis traveled to Stockholm on 6 June to attend a meeting of the prime ministers of the Baltic states, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden in place of Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, who was on an official visit to Ukraine, ELTA reported. The main topic of the meeting was preparations for the EU summit to be held in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 20-21 June. The prime ministers also decided to send a letter to European Commission President Romano Prodi underscoring the need for joint action to ensure the environmental safety of shipping in the Baltic Sea. In talks with Swedish parliament Chairman Bjorn von Sydow, Valionis talked about bilateral cooperation and the work of the EU Convention on the Future of Europe. Von Sydow said that there should not be any difficulties in the parliament's ratification of the EU accession accords, which is scheduled for November. SG