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SUSPECT IN BELARUSIAN DISAPPEARANCES AWARDED BY RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. The Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHK) has expressed "deep disappointment" over the Russian Orthodox Church's recent decision to award the St. Grand Prince Vladimir Order to Dzmitry Paulichenka, commander of an Interior Troops brigade in Belarus, Belapan reported on 13 August. The church reportedly bestowed on Paulichenka the award in recognition of his contribution to the construction of a church on the territory of the brigade. Paulichenka was arrested in November 2000 on suspicion of being involved in the abduction and murder of opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 10 August 2004). "Paulichenka was [subsequently] released by order of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Viktar Sheyman, then-secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus, who are also suspected of being involved in the forced disappearances," the BHK said in a statement. "The authorities have neither confirmed nor denied incriminating reports concerning the forced disappearances. Given these circumstances, the BHK considers it to be against the public and Christian morality to grant a high award to one of those who are suspected of a heinous crime." JM

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS TOUR UKRAINIAN REGIONS. Major candidates in the 31 October presidential elections continue to visit Ukrainian regions to present their campaign platforms, Interfax reported on 16 August. Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko will travel to Crimea on 17-19 August; Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who is currently visiting Kherson, will return to Kyiv on 17 August and then visit Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, and Chernihiv; Socialist Party head Oleksandr Moroz will travel to Poltava, Vinnytsya, and Odesa later this week. Prime Minister and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych is currently with the Ukrainian Olympic team in the Athens, from where he will return to Kyiv on 17 August. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER VOWS TO STAY THE COURSE ON EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Prime Minister Yanukovych has told a European journalist in Athens that Ukraine's course for European integration remains invariable, UNIAN reported on 16 August, quoting the prime minister's press service. "We are in no way changing the course, but we are changing the tactic," Yanukovych said, stressing that Ukraine's has its own vision of the path toward a unified Europe. JM

UKRAINIAN PRIVATE TV CHANNEL OFF AIR IN UZHHOROD. The Kram cable-TV operator has stopped broadcasting Channel 5 in the residential district of Uzhhorod, home to 30,000 of the town's population of 120,000, UNIAN reported on 14 August. "We really have stopped broadcasting Channel 5 since some business issues were not resolved and we won't restart until they are completely resolved," Kram director Oleksandr Medvetskyy said, refusing to specify what those unresolved issues might be. Channel 5 is owned by Petro Poroshenko, a political ally of opposition Our Ukraine leader and presidential candidate Yushchenko. On 3 August, cable television operator Falstap stopped broadcasting Channel 5 in Dnipropetrovsk for technical reasons. On 6 August, more than 50,000 opposition supporters picketed the Dnipropetrovsk regional administration building protesting the disappearance of Channel 5 from the city's cable networks. Falstap on 7 August resumed broadcasting Channel 5. JM

UKRAINE TO ROTATE MILITARY CONTINGENT IN IRAQ. Ukrainian Defense Minister Yevhen Marchuk told journalists following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Crimea on 13 August that Ukraine will replace its 1,600-strong brigade in Iraq with a new one "from mid-September until mid-October," Ukrainian media reported. Marchuk thus effectively refuted media speculation that Ukraine may be planning to withdraw its military contingent from Iraq in the near future. "No one can give you a deadline [for eventual withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Iraq] yet," RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service quoted Marchuk as saying. "This is a subject of negotiations and it will largely depend on the development of the situation in Iraq. This will depend on how soon the Iraqi security forces will be able to take control of the situation in their country." Meanwhile, international news agencies reported that Ukrainian officer Yuriy Ivanov was killed and four soldiers were injured in Iraq on 15 August. JM

...AND KYIV SAYS WILL NOT SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO MOLDOVA. Vasyl Baziv, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, told journalists on 13 August that Ukraine will not send peacekeepers to the security zone dividing the opposing sides in Moldova unless the Joint Control Commission decides Kyiv should do so, ITAR-TASS reported. He was reacting to Transdniestrian "Foreign Minister" Valerii Liskay's statement of 10 August, according to which Ukraine should dispatch those troops in line with the accords reached at Odessa in March 1998 by Russian, Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Transdniestrian leaders (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 2004). MS

UKRAINE URGES RESUMPTION OF TRANSDNIESTER TALKS. After visiting Chisinau and Tiraspol on 13 August, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleksandr Motsyk said his country is concerned by the deterioration of the situation in Transdniester and urged all sides to resume negotiations in the five-party format, Infotag and ITAR-TASS reported. Motsyk met with Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova and with separatist leader Igor Smirnov. Smirnov told Motsyk that Tiraspol is opposed to any change in the five-party format and wants the Ukrainian and Russian governments to extend guarantees that will stop the "war of economic sanctions" launched by Chisinau. MS