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PUTIN CALLS FOR BANNING FOREIGN FUNDING OF POLITICAL ACTIVITIES ON RUSSIAN SOIL... At a meeting with members of the Council for Promoting the Development of Civil Society on 20 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for restricting foreign financing of "political activities" of Russian NGOs, Russian news agencies reported. "Not a single, self-respecting country will allow that, and neither will we," Putin said. "We believe who pays the piper calls the tune," he added. Putin added that the government is ready to establish grants for public organizations, but these should not be interpreted as an attempt by the state to bribe the groups. Politika Fund head Vyacheslav Nikonov told Interfax that Putin's remarks are likely connected to "events" in the former Soviet Union, noting that the revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan "were financed from abroad." He added that "the U.S. has already allocated $58 million for Russian democracy. No doubt, this money will be distributed through public organizations." JAC

WARSAW SAYS DIPLOMATIC ROW WITH BELARUS WILL AFFECT VISA POLICY. Poland does not rule out the possible expulsion of a Belarusian diplomat in connection with the expulsion earlier this month of Andrzej Buczak, director of the consular department of the Polish Embassy in Minsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 July 2005), PAP reported on 20 July, quoting Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Checko. Checko said Buczak's expulsion "cannot remain without influence on the efficiency of visa services and facilitations in traveling to Poland" for Belarusians. Checko also stressed that Minsk's decision is tantamount to the rejection of the Polish offer to solve the ongoing Warsaw-Minsk diplomatic dispute by a discussion. "Actions of the Belarusian authorities not only worsen the climate of bilateral relations but contain destructive elements," he added. A series of reciprocal diplomatic expulsions began in May, when Minsk ousted Polish diplomat Marek Bucko, accusing him of interfering with the activities of the Union of Poles in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 27 May and 22 June 2005). JM

WILL UKRAINIAN OLIGARCH BE ARRESTED FOR QUESTIONING? Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko told journalists in Kyiv on 20 July that billionaire businessman Rynat Akhmetov may be arrested if he refuses to come in for police questioning, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "He has the right to refuse to speak with us.... This is his constitutional right. But he is obliged to appear," Lutsenko said. Akhmetov failed to appear on 18 July for questioning as a witness in a case related to a shooting in Donetsk in 1988. JM

UKRAINIAN CHIEF SPYMASTER BOASTS OF COUNTERESPIONAGE SUCCESSES. Ukrainian Security Service chief Oleksandr Turchynov told journalists in Kyiv on 20 July that Ukraine's counterespionage service is one of the best in Europe, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Turchynov said that in the first half of this year alone the counterespionage service expelled eight secret agents working in Ukraine as diplomats, while 41 secret agents were not allowed to enter Ukraine and seven spies were expelled from the country. He added that in the same period 56 Ukrainian citizens were revealed to have contacts with foreign secret services. "The performance of the military counterespionage service was not bad either. The service prevented 22 terror attacks on Ukrainian peacekeeping contingents in various countries," Turchynov added. JM

FAKE BANKNOTES WITH PREMIER'S PICTURE CIRCULATE IN UKRAINE. Money counterfeiters have been distributing false 5,000-hryvnya (nearly $1,000) banknotes among pensioners in Donetsk Oblast, posing as employees of regional social-security departments, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( reported on 20 July, citing the Kharkiv branch of the Ukrainian National Bank. The false banknote bears the image of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko. The fraudsters claim to be distributing social allowances granted to pensioners by the government prior to this year's Victory Day. Since the allowances are significantly lower than 5,000 hryvnyas, the fraudsters reportedly make their profits by taking change from the duped pensioners, who are primarily village residents. Ukraine's banknote with the highest face value, 200 hryvnyas, bears the image of Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrayinka, whose appearance slightly resembles that of Tymoshenko. JM

RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER OPENS FIRE IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN SECURITY ZONE. A Russian officer in the security zone separating Transdniester from the rest of Moldova fired two salvos from his submachine gun in the air in an incident involving two Moldovans and a U.S. citizen on 19 July, Moldovan news agencies reported on 20 July, citing Moldovan Minister for Reintegration Vasile Sova. The incident reportedly took place on a bridge over the Dniester River, some 20 kilometers from Chisinau, when the three stopped their car to take photographs of roadside warning posters. "The hot verbal duel quickly developed into a conflict. Traffic on the bridge was blocked. Soon, about a hundred persons gathered at the place. In this situation, a Russian second lieutenant fired two bursts in the air," Infotag quoted Sova as telling journalists. "The incident in Vadul lui Voda shows that it is necessary to urgently take measures to stabilize the situation. Separatists are trying to hinder, via a number of measures, the process of implementation of the Ukrainian plan of settlement of the Transdniester conflict, but we will use all mechanisms available to stabilize the situation in the security zone," he added, according to Flux. JM