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BELARUS BANS EUROPEAN FOUNDATION ON ESPIONAGE CHARGES. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has banned the Warsaw-based European Foundation Dialogue, saying the organization serves as a cover for gathering intelligence and recruiting secret agents, Belarusian Television reported on 21 July. "This foundation was registered in Warsaw with an aim of promoting cooperation between scientific circles in Central and Eastern Europe," the channel's main "Panarama" newscast reported. "Its main work was conducted in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. However, it turned out that under the cover of exclusively scientific interests, the foundation was actually created for conducting intelligence activities on CIS territory." According to the report, Belarusian scientists were recruited as agents while visiting Poland to give lectures or meet with Polish colleagues. "For the Polish Embassy in our country, this is not the first surprise of this kind," the report added. "In its espionage activities the Polish intelligence service does not limit itself to creating various foundations but uses career officers working under diplomatic cover." JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HOPES FOR $1 BILLION IN JAPANESE INVESTMENT. President Viktor Yushchenko said in Tokyo on 21 July that he expects that his ongoing five-day visit to Japan could result in attracting more than $1 billion worth of Japanese investment in Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. In a joint statement with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Yushchenko pledged to improve the investment environment in Ukraine for Japanese businesses. For his part, Koizumi expressed support for Ukraine's "early accession" to the World Trade Organization. The statement also endorsed efforts to reform the UN into a more representative organization, including the expansion of the UN Security Council to provide a permanent seat for Japan and an additional nonpermanent seat for an Eastern European country, AP reported. JM
UKRAINIAN MINISTER CALLS FOR INCREASING LIVESTOCK. Agricultural Policy Minister Oleksandr Baranivskyy on 21 July called on regional governors to promote increasing the number of livestock in the country, with a view to addressing the current meat shortages, the Ukrayinska pravda website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported. "I beg you: Every single pig we have should not be killed [for meat] -- it should be mated," Baranivskyy said at a Cabinet of Ministers meeting. "Have you understood your task?" Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko asked the governors. JM
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
(RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Irena Chalupa of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service contributed to this report.)
YUSHCHENKO ORDERS LAW-ENFORCEMENT OVERHAUL. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has called for a shake-up of law-enforcement agencies in an attempt to crack down on corruption and organized crime. The president ordered the disbanding of the country's traffic police, known by the acronym DAI (State Vehicle Inspection). He also called for replacing regional police chiefs.
On 18 July, President Yushchenko ordered the traffic police to be abolished within 24 hours. The traffic police is a large unit that employs 23,000 people. It is also known for being notoriously corrupt.
During a meeting at the Interior Ministry, Yushchenko said DAI had fully discredited itself. "You have discredited yourself. That's why I have decided that there will be no DAI in this country. A draft of a decree will be ready in 24 hours. Guys, enough with making money on the roads. Enough with harassing drivers," Yushchenko said.
Yushchenko said that "the main objective of traffic police is to provide assistance" for drivers, but officers "come out to harass people." The president said his government's efforts at reforming the traffic police had proved unsuccessful.
DAI is very unpopular with drivers as they impose fines on the spot and often demand bribes. So there's little wonder that many people on Kyiv's streets support the president's move. "I support it [the decision] because they are doing nothing good but only take money and hide in the bushes as Yushchenko says," one passerby said.
Others say it will be difficult without traffic police but agree there is hardly another way out. "I do not have a definite opinion about it because it will be difficult without DAI. Drivers are not educated. On the other hand, DAI has compromised itself, so I support the move," another passerby said.
However, Larysa Denyssenko, who represents Transparency International in Ukraine, is skeptical about the move. She says DAI was probably one of the most corrupt institutions in the country and something had to be done. However, she doubts if radical measures will work.
"Liquidation of the institution does not always mean solving a problem. Yes, traffic police in many sociological polls figures as one of the most corrupt institutions in Ukraine. However, I don't think it is the most clever measure to root out corruption by rooting out the institution itself," Denyssenko says.
Denyssenko says DAI tried to introduce some order on the Ukrainian roads and streets. Ukraine is known not only for traffic police corruption, but also for a high rate of car accidents. Denyssenko says transferring traffic police work to the municipalities might work.
The authorities seem to have a similar plan. Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko says the DAI will be replaced with a "European-level" highway patrol service. "The majority [of police officers] will be transferred to unified patrol service. Like in all European countries, it will control street crossings and traffic on [local] roads. This patrol service will report to districts and municipalities. To control traffic outside the cities [on highways] another service with different responsibilities will be created," Lutsenko said.
The Ukrainian move is not unique. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili disbanded the Georgian traffic police, which employed 36,000 people, at the beginning of last year.
RFE/RL's Tbilisi bureau chief Tamar Chikovani says Georgian authorities have created a new unit named "Patrul" (Patrol). Some former traffic police officers have managed to win the competition and join the new force.
Chikovani says members of the new unit are paid better salaries and have good equipment. Many women serve in the unit. Chikovani says people are enthusiastic about the new police force and trust it very much. Recent polls show that the unit is now the country's most popular institution.
At the same meeting with Interior Ministry officials on 18 July, President Yushchenko said that it is necessary to change all Ukrainian regional police chiefs in order to counteract corruption and enhance efficiency of law enforcement, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
"With a new personnel we will have hope that the work in regions will improve.... If we begin fighting corruption from the beginning, we should fully replace people representing the discredited part of the police," Yushchenko said, noting that oblast police directorates employ investigators who use torture and take bribes. (Valentinas Mite)
SHOTS RING OUT IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN SECURITY ZONE. Moldova has lodged an official protest with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), accusing Russian peacekeeping troops of unprofessional conduct during an incident this week. Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasile Sova said Russian soldiers guarding a bridge 40 kilometers east of Chisinau fired in the air after demanding that three civilians who had been taking photographs hand over their film.
The bridge over the Dniester River is near the unofficial boundary between Moldova and the breakaway region of Transdniester. The incident could impede a settlement of the Transdniester conflict, which was recently given a boost by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.
The shots were reportedly the first to be heard in the security zone since a short war fought by Transdniester and Moldova in 1992.
According to reports, a U.S. lawyer working in Moldova and two Moldovan lawyers stopped their car on a bridge across the Dniester River on the evening of 19 July, near a post of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
The American took some photos of roadside warning posters. A Russian officer demanded that she destroy the film, reportedly claiming that taking photographs near military posts in the security zone is forbidden. An ensuing brawl attracted some 50 local residents to the bridge, causing a traffic blockade. The Russian officer then fired two bursts from his submachine gun into the air.
Moldovan Minister for Reintegration Vasile Sova was at the site of the incident shortly after it took place. He told journalists that the Russian soldiers "acted totally unprofessionally" and had provoked a "serious incident." He said the shooting testifies to a more serious problem.
"Developments taking place recently in the security zone unambiguously show that the situation there is practically not controlled by the Joint Control Commission and the joint peacekeeping forces under its supervision," Sova said.
Transdniester declared independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990. The two sides fought a short war in 1992 that left some 1,500 people dead.
The Joint Control Commission (JCC) and Transdniester's 220-kilometer-long security zone were established in 1992, following an agreement between Chisinau and Tiraspol on a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The JCC currently includes delegations from Chisinau and Tiraspol -- as well as from Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE -- and supervises the practical implementation of that agreement.
Peace in the security zone has been maintained by Moldovan, Transdniestrian, and Russian forces. Russia has currently some 500 troops in Transdniester, which man two dozen checkpoints in the security zone and watch large stores of ammunition left there by Soviet troops.
Last month, Chisinau presented a list of proposals intended to stabilize the situation in the security zone. In particular, Chisinau suggested abolishing all customs and military checkpoints in the zone and removing other obstacles to the movement of goods and people between Moldova and the secessionist region.
Sova said the shooting incident makes the need for consultations to ameliorate the situation in the security zone even more urgent. However, holding such consultations may not be an easy task.
The problem is that Chisinau regards the authorities in Tiraspol as an illegitimate regime and is reluctant to conduct direct negotiations with them, preferring to talk about the Transdniester settlement with mediators from Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE.
Moldovan parliamentary deputy speaker Iurie Rosca suggested as much when he commented on the Transdniester conflict settlement for RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service earlier this month. "The Moldovan authorities do not want to negotiate with the criminals from Tiraspol because they represent the 'tools' of the Russian Federation in the region. Therefore, it's not rational for us to negotiate with the 'tools' but with the ones who 'handle' the tools -- meaning, with the administration of the Russian Federation," Rosca said. "The Republic of Moldova wants to discuss this with its partners from Moscow, even if this dialogue is a difficult one. To continue unfruitful discussions with Smirnov's separatists is also counterproductive and ridiculous for us. And I hope that that's something that will be understood more clearly also in other capitals of the world, not only in Moscow."
Such an attitude does not bode well for a plan for Transdniester proposed in April by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. His so-called seven-step plan includes the adoption of a law on autonomous status for Transdniester within the Republic of Moldova and the holding of democratic elections in Transdniester under international monitoring.
The Moldovan parliament endorsed the plan last month, but added one important condition -- that Russia withdraw its military contingent from Transdniester by 2006. Last week, support for the Yushchenko plan also came from Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov.
Chisinau even prepared a draft bill on Transdniester's autonomous status. But Chisinau drafted the bill without the participation of Transdniestrian representatives.
Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet speaker Grigori Marakuta told RFE/RL this week that the Transdniester settlement process cannot advance if Chisinau continues to avoid contacts with Tiraspol. "Things can be solved only when both sides are ready to talk. If Moldova negotiates only with Ukraine, and if Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin says that he will not negotiate with the leadership of the Transdniester Republic under any circumstances, there is no prospect [for a diplomatic solution]," Marakuta said.
Earlier this month, the Transdniestrian administration asked Moscow to increase its military contingent in the region to 2,400 soldiers, including a helicopter squadron. Tiraspol explained its request by pointing to Chisinau's alleged plans to prepare a "forcible solution" of the Transdniester conflict.
Thus, this week's shooting incident on the Dniester River could mark a turning point -- from a period of hope for a peaceful solution of the Transdniester conflict under the Yushchenko plan to a much bleaker future.
(RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service and Irena Chalupa of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service contributed to this report.)
"RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services.