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ARE AUTHORITIES ANGLING TO EXPEL U.S. ORGANIZATION FROM MINSK? The Minsk offices of the Washington-based International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) has dismissed as lies recent allegations aired by Belarusian Television about the organization's activities, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 30 June. Belarusian Television's Channel 1 broadcast a program on 22 June in which the country's KGB alleged that IREX allocated at least $500,000 to Russian television networks for a mudslinging campaign against Belarus during the 2001 presidential election. The program, which was subsequently rebroadcast by two other state channels, also alleged that IREX earmarked $600,000 for deploying a network of transmitters in Poland, Lithuania, and possibly Ukraine to broadcast propaganda into Belarus. IREX, which is a nonprofit organization specializing in higher education, independent media, Internet development, and civil-society programs, has demanded explanations from the KGB and apologies from Belarusian Television. IREX activists did not exclude the possibility that authorities are preparing to reject an extension of IREX's registration in Belarus, which expires on 7 August. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July)


AUTHORITIES BAN ROMANIAN JOURNALIST. Victor Roncea, the head of the foreign policy department at the Romanian daily "ZIUA," has been banned from traveling to Ukraine for a period of five years, the International Press Institute said in an open letter of protest to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma released on 27 June. Roncea was to have visited the Black Sea countries as part of his involvement in the U.S. Mission to NATO. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has announced that Roncea is declared a "persona non grata." While Roncea has had little involvement with the Ukrainian authorities, it is believed that their actions stem from an incident in 2000 when the reporter was traveling on a train from Bucharest to Moscow to cover the Russian presidential elections. When he arrived at the Ukrainian border, Roncea, along with a Russian translator, was held for 17 hours and subsequently sent back to Romania. It is also believed that the Ukrainian government may have been angered by "ZIUA's" coverage of the murder of independent journalist, Heorhiy Gongadze. CAF

GUUAM SUMMIT IN YALTA STRESSES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. The heads of delegations of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova (GUUAM) stated in a communique adopted at the end of a two-day summit in Yalta on 4 July that the organization's primary task is economic development, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2003). GUUAM representatives considered the creation of free-trade zones and agreed that the fundamental tasks in developing transport within the group should be the establishment of better conditions for transport, improved infrastructure networks, simplified procedures, and ensuring stable conditions, among other things. AM