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GEORGIAN CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF DISMISSED. Visiting Batumi on 25 August, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania told journalists that Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Major General Givi Iukuridze has been dismissed from his post because the country's leaders, including President Mikheil Saakashvili, are not particularly pleased with the work of the General Staff, Georgian media and ITAR-TASS reported. Zhvania said Iukuridze will be named defense attache to one of Georgia's embassies abroad. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted Zhvania as saying that Iukuridze will be sent to Moscow. Georgian Minister for Conflict Resolution Giorgi Khaindrava said Iukuridze was replaced because of the losses Georgia incurred during the recent fighting in South Ossetia, according to ITAR-TASS, while Interfax quoted Saakashvili as telling the government that "we are creating a new army that must meet NATO standards," and for that reason officers who trained in the United States are being named to head the General Staff. Iukuridze, who is 48 and a veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, graduated from Soviet military academies. His replacement as chief of the General Staff is his deputy, Vakhtang Kapanadze, who trained in Kyiv, Germany, and the United States. LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT OPENS CONTROVERSIAL DANUBE DELTA CANAL. President Leonid Kuchma on 26 August officially inaugurated navigation on the newly built Bystraya Canal in the Danube River Delta, Interfax reported. "I give the command to restore navigation in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta," Kuchma said. "In the future, the estuary of Europe's longest river may transform into a large European transport intersection," he added. Since its start in May, Ukraine's Bystraya Canal project has been subject to international criticism, primarily because of fears that it may damage the Danube Delta's unique ecosystem (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 2004). JM

KYIV MAYOR SAYS LEAFLETS ABOUT MOVING CAPITAL TO DONETSK ARE BOGUS. The press service of Kyiv Mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko said on 25 August the leaflets distributed by unknown individuals in the city the previous day and signaling an intention of "certain destructive forces" to move the Ukrainian capital from Kyiv to Donetsk are fakes, Interfax reported. "The leaflet, allegedly signed by the Kyiv mayor, informed Kyiv residents about plans of certain destructive forces to move the capital from Kyiv to Donetsk and [included] an assurance that this [move] will be prevented," the press service said. "The falsified leaflet was apparently intended to inflame antagonism between the presidential candidates representing the above-mentioned regions and sow discord between Kyiv and Donetsk." Kyiv Mayor Omelchenko is one of the 26 candidates for the 31 October presidential ballot. Another presidential candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was Donetsk Oblast governor from 1997-2002 and is widely seen as the most important promoter of Donetsk's regional interests at the central-government level. JM

UKRAINE ALLOCATES FUNDS FOR PRESIDENTIAL VOTE ABROAD. The Central Election Commission on 25 August approved 700,000 hryvnyas ($132,000) to finance the organization of the 31 October presidential ballot for Ukrainians abroad, Interfax reported. The commission is planning to open 118 polling stations abroad for an estimated 215,000 voters. JM

MOLDOVAN RAILWAY COMPANY TO STOP TRAFFIC TO CIS VIA TRANSDNIESTER... Miron Gagauz, director-general of the Moldovan National Railroad Company (CFM), sent a telegram on 25 August to his counterparts in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and in the Baltic countries, warning them that the CFM will stop railway traffic via Transdniester in September, if the situation created by the separatist authorities does not improve before then, Infotag reported. Gagauz said that under current circumstances, the CFM is unable to ensure traffic safety. He said that due to Transdniester's interference in traffic operations, the CFM has already been forced to cease traffic on the Rybnitsa-Slobodka and the Kuchurgan-Levada stretches linking Transdniester with Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 2004). Gagauz said that the Ukrainian authorities are "disregarding our ban, and with their direct connivance" traffic on these stretches is nonetheless operated by Transdniester. He said this might reflect "a decision at the top state level" in Ukraine. MS