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TAJIK GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO STRENGTHEN CROSS-BORDER TRADE. The Tajik government has adopted a resolution intended to boost trade with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 13 October, quoting the presidential press service. The resolution instructs raion and town officials in border areas to construct markets catering to cross-border trade. Relevant ministries and the Border Protection Committee are charged with simplifying border-crossing and customs procedures for citizens of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan who want to sell foodstuffs and consumer goods in Tajikistan. The previous day, Deutsche Welle reported that prices for bread and flour are rising in Tajikistan due to poor harvests in Ukraine and Moldova. Tajikistan usually obtains its grain from Kazakhstan, but this year Kazakhstan's grain has been sold throughout the CIS to make up for shortfalls in other grain-growing areas. BB
TWO UKRAINIAN SAILORS SENTENCED TO IRAQI PRISON FOR OIL SMUGGLING. An Iraqi court sentenced two Ukrainian sailors on 13 October to seven years in prison and ordered them to pay $2.4 million fines for trying to smuggle diesel fuel out of the country, Reuters reported. The "Navstar-1" tanker with 21 Ukrainian crewmembers was apprehended in the Persian Gulf in August by a British Navy ship whose crew believed it was smuggling diesel fuel out of Iraq (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2003). "We have sentenced the two suspects according to the incriminating evidence," Reuters quoted Iraqi Judge Nouredeen Ali as saying. "It is not about buying fuel, because the fuel was purchased outside Iraq's territorial borders [waters]. It is a political and media case," defense lawyer Kazem al-Saad said. JM
ALLEGED THIEVES IGNITE AMMUNITION DEPOT IN UKRAINE. A powerful blast destroyed 10 of 17 bunkers in an ammunition depot in Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, on 10 October, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Valeriy Boykov, acting chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told journalists that the blast was caused by a welding torch. According to Boykov, two warrant officers hired a welder to cut metal from buildings near the ammunition dump in order to sell it as scrap metal on the black market. The blast reportedly injured a 15-year-old girl and a serviceman. JM
UKRAINIAN BORDER GUARDS ON ALERT AS RUSSIAN DAM PROJECT APPROACHES COMPLETION. Ukrainian State Border Service head Mykola Lytvyn and National Security and Defense Council Deputy Secretary Petro Shatkivskyy have visited the Tuzla islet in Kerch Strait that links the Black and Azov seas to check the preparedness of border guards near a dike that is being constructed on Russia's Taman Peninsula (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 14 October 2003), Interfax reported on 13 October. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry recently warned Moscow that the construction of the dam might violate Ukraine's state border and territorial integrity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2003). "Ukrainian guards will not apply arms in detaining offenders of the state border in this sector. Yet it does not mean they will be just onlookers," the State Border Service said in a statement, adding that Ukrainian border guards will find other ways to discourage any possible Russian trespassers. Kyiv has reportedly sent a reinforced border-guard unit to the islet and set an antitank hedgehog facing the construction, which has come to within 1 kilometer of the islet. The Verkhovna Rada is set to hold a hearing on the possible border conflict with Russia. JM