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SECURITY OFFICIAL SAYS TERRORISTS TRYING TO OPEN BASES IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakh National Security Committee Chairman Nartai Dutbaev alleged on 17 August that terrorists are trying to establish a foothold in Kazakhstan, Kazinform reported. "Members of international terrorist organizations are trying to create training centers on Kazakh territory," he said. Dutbaev said that a 2004 investigation broke up an underground group with links to Al-Qaeda. Some members of the group, which had been trying to set up training bases in Kazakhstan, were implicated in terrorist attacks in Uzbekistan in 2004, Dutbaev added. Dutbaev's remarks came on the eve of the Antiterror-2005 exercises, which will begin on 18 August in Aqtau involving special-forces units from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, Khabar reported. DK
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a decree prohibiting organizations and individuals from receiving and using foreign technical assistance for purposes deemed "unconstitutional," Belapan reported on 17 August, citing the presidential press service. In particular, the decree restricts providing such assistance for seminars, conferences, and public discussions. The organizers of such events are required to apply for official permission to the Cabinet of Ministers' Commission on International Technical Cooperation and the Economy Ministry. The measure drew criticism from the opposition. "It would be more logical to ban elections altogether," United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka commented on the decree. "Nongovernmental organizations and political parties will not be able to train observers and volunteers with assistance of trainers from Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine." However, Mikalay Astreyka, a coordinator of an election-observation network, said the decree will not affect so much election monitoring as internationally sponsored conferences. "Our election-monitoring system is based on volunteers who are not paid for their work," Astreyka said. "But the decree provides authorities with legislative tools against harmless seminars and conferences. In fact, it gives the authorities a free hand to take any action against civic society." JM
FORMER UKRAINIAN REGIONAL GOVERNOR ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF ABUSE OF OFFICE. Yevhen Kushnyarov, former governor of Kharkiv Oblast, was arrested in the Prosecutor-General's Office in Kyiv on 16 August, where he was summoned to make himself familiar with materials pertaining to a criminal case on separatism, Ukrainian news agencies reported. The same day, Kushnyarov was transferred to a hospital in Kyiv for treatment for what his lawyer termed as a "grave physical condition." Kushnyarov was an active participant of a convention of councilors from eastern and southern Ukraine last November, where separatist tendencies were voiced by supporters of then-presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 2004). However, Kushnyarov was reportedly detained in connection with another criminal investigation involving abuse of office and infliction of heavy financial losses on the state. According to the New Democracy party, which is headed by Kushnyarov, his arrest is connected with the construction of two metro stations in Kharkiv during his administration of the region. JM
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH PROTESTS MOVING COUNTRY'S GREEK CATHOLIC HEADQUARTERS TO KYIV. Metropolitan Volodymyr, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, has called on Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI not to transfer the residence of the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church from Lviv to Kyiv, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August. The move, approved by the late Pope John Paul II, is scheduled to take place on 21 August. "[The move] has stirred up the Orthodox Church and secular communities in Ukraine, added confusion to the already troubled church life, and provoked interconfessional and political speculations," Volodymyr reportedly wrote in a letter to Benedict XVI. "We view the transfer of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church residence to Kyiv as a blatant challenge to the confessional self-awareness of Orthodox Ukrainians, which provokes social, political, and religious instability," the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said in a special statement. Earlier this month, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II also denounced the move as a hostile Vatican act against Orthodoxy. "These activities cannot be justified from a historical point of view, or from the point of view of church rules and canons," Aleksii was quoted as saying. "The Kyiv pulpit from the first years of its existence has been one of the capitals of the Russian Orthodox Church." JM