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BELARUSIAN SUPREME COURT ORDERS CLOSURE OF INDEPENDENT POLLSTER. The Belarusian Supreme Court ordered on 15 April the closure of the Independent Institute for Socioeconomic and Political Research (NISEPI) for alleged repeated violations of laws, such as failing to provide its questionnaire forms to the authorities and using an office different from its legal address, Belapan and Interfax-Belarus reported. After the hearing, NISEPI Director Aleh Manayew told reporters in Minsk that the court's decision is "politically motivated" and is part of the authorities' preparations for the 2006 presidential elections. Last year, NISEPI cooperated with Gallup/Baltic Surveys on an exit poll that suggested authorities rigged the referendum to lift the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency and allow President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to remain in office (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 26 October, 5 November, and 29 December 2004). Institute directors said in a statement that as long as they are "at large," they will continue their mission to "contribute to the development of democracy, market economy, and civil society in Belarus by conducting sociological surveys." JAC

BELARUS SLAMS UN RESOLUTION... Following the adoption on 14 April of a resolution by the UN Human Rights Commission alleging human rights abuses by Belarusian officials, Syarhey Aleynik, Belarus's permanent representative to the UN, criticized the document as "another attempt to create a distorted picture of the country's situation in order to justify the intention of its co-sponsors to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state," Belapan and Interfax-Belarus reported. Aleynik said that the resolution has passed under "unprecedented pressure from the United States," which has no moral right to "act as a champion of human rights in the world." Twenty-three out of the 53 members of the Commission voted for the document, with more than half the members either opposing or abstaining. The Russian permanent representative at the UN's Geneva office, Leonid Skotnikov, told ITAR-TASS that he was surprised that Ukraine supported the resolution. JAC

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SACKS LOCAL INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko issued decrees on 16 April dismissing the leaders of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in seven oblasts, UNIAN and reported, citing the presidential press service. Those dismissed were Viktor Kozlov from Kherson Oblast, Volodymyr Sakhnyuk from Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Mykola Bobrov from Mykolayiv Oblast, Volodymyr Kolesnykov from Chernihiv Oblast, Mykola Vavrynchuk from Khmelnytskyy Oblast, Mykola Borovskyy from Zhytomyr Oblast, and Yuriy Paramonov from Poltava Oblast. At the same time, Yushchenko issued decrees appointing Anatoliy Nazarov as head of the SBU directorate in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and Oleksandr Petrulevych as head of the SBU directorate in Donetsk Oblast. JAC

UKRAINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER HAS MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT CHARITIES. Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko told Channel 5 on 17 April that he will put former state officials who fail to answer a summons to appear at his office on a wanted list. Lutsenko has summoned seven former regional governors as well as the former head of the Central Election Commission Serhiy Kivalov. Two days earlier, ICTV reported that the heads of six Ukrainian railroads together with their accountants were summoned to the Interior Ministry to answer questions about their role in last year's charity auctions. Lutsenko told Lviv-based "Vysokyy Zamok" on 14 April that "one of the most prominent industrialists of eastern Ukraine will soon be charged with vote rigging." JAC

FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL-ADMINISTRATION HEAD WARMS TO NEW LEADERSHIP. In an interview with "Komsomolskaya pravda v Ukraine" on 15 April, former presidential-administration head Viktor Medvedchuk said that his party, the United Social Democrats-united (SPDU-o) does not rule out forming an election bloc in 2006 parliamentary elections with Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. When asked if he was serious, Medvedchuk responded, "Believe me, Ms. Tymoshenko is the most enigmatic and unpredictable player in Ukrainian politics." Medvedchuk added, "We were always against [President] Viktor Yushchenko and his team not because we didn't like them as people. I don't have anything against the president and his comrades in arms. Were we not politicians, it is entirely possible that with some members of the team I could have had simply good personal relations." JAC

MOLDOVAN PROSECUTORS CHARGE RUSSIAN WOMEN WITH MONEY LAUNDERING. Two Russian citizens were formally charged with money laundering in Moldova, RIA-Novosti reported on 14 April. The two sisters, Olga and Helen Romashchenko, were ordered not to leave Moldova for 30 days. The women were detained in mid-February with a group of political consultants from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine who were working on the 6 March parliamentary elections campaign without proper documentation. The sisters, who were reportedly carrying $500,000, were detained on suspicion of money laundering, while the others were deported. They were released in mid-March pending formal charges (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11, 17, and 18 March 2005). BW