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UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL FIRED. President Viktor Yushchenko on 14 October signed a decree dismissing Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, Interfax-Ukraine reported, quoting Presidential Secretariat head Oleh Rybachuk. "I can say that we have probably saved Piskun from himself, from opening a criminal case against himself. He has been very excited in recent days, opening so many cases. I think this is a normal, well-timed decision by the president [to fire Piskun] so he doesn't open a case against himself, investigate it in one day and put himself in jail," Rybachuk said. Piskun told journalists earlier this week that if Yushchenko fires him, he will fight in court to keep his job (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 2005). JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO PAY OFF TURKMEN GAS DEBT. President Yushchenko assured his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niyazov, in a letter quoted by the Turkmen press on 13 October, that Kyiv will meet all its commitments regarding its payment for Turkmen gas supplies, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "This issue is under my personal control," Yushchenko wrote. It was reported earlier this year in the Russian press that Ukraine had accumulated up to $600 million in commodity debt for Turkmen gas (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 29 June 2005). Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said on 13 October that Ukraine's commodity debt for Turkmen gas supplies now stands somewhere between $450 million and $470 million. Meanwhile, earlier the same day Turkmen Television showed a meeting of Niyazov with a Ukrainian governmental delegation, at which he blasted Ukraine for not paying its gas debt to Turkmenistan, Reuters reported. "You only give empty promises," Niyazov said. "We are glad to see you here, but when will you implement your obligations?" Niyazov also said both states' planned 25-year gas contract has been put off indefinitely. JM

FORMER UKRAINIAN GOVERNOR ARRESTED IN U.S.. Former Sumy Oblast Governor Volodymyr Shcherban has been arrested in Tampa, Florida, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported on 13 October. Ukrainian prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for Shcherban earlier this year, charging him with extortion and abuse of office. JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS DEMAND INCREASE IN STATE FUNDING. Some 30,000 coal miners staged a rally in Donetsk on 13 October, demanding that the government increase financing for the coal industry and pay September wages at all mines, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. A state budget draft for 2006 envisages some $800 million for the coal industry, a figure seen as too low by miners. JM

CENTRAL EUROPEAN SUMMIT OPENS IN CROATIAN CAPITAL. A two-day summit of Central European leaders opened in Zagreb on 14 October, with EU integration and relations with non-EU neighboring states topping the agenda, Croatian and international media reported. The gathering is the 12th in a series and brings together the heads of state of Albania, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. Croatian President Stipe Mesic welcomed his guests by saying that there is "no alternative" to European integration" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 September 2005). PM

NEW 'MOSKOVSKIE NOVOSTI' OWNER SAYS PAPER WILL BE PRO-GOVERNMENT. Israeli-Russian businessman Arkadii Gaidamak told "Kommersant" on 13 October that he will transform "Moskovskie novosti" from a liberal paper into a pro-government outlet. "As the leaders of public opinion, newspapers should not direct [their energies] against the establishment," Gaidamak said. "Political bodies in Russia are headed by people for whom the electorate voted in free and democratic elections. I consider it wrong to incite the public against them." Gaidamak bought the newspaper in July from Ukrainian media magnate Vadim Rabinovich (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 12 July 2005). VY