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BELARUSIAN POLICE SEIZE NEWSPAPERS AS KGB WARNS OF FOREIGN COUP PLOTS. Security police in Minsk on March 16 seized hundreds of thousands of copies of the opposition newspaper "Tovarishch" ("Comrade"), AP reported the next day citing the newspaper's Editor In Chief Sergei Vaznyak. "There is general hysteria in the country. The people are being prevented from making a conscious choice," said Vaznyak, who also is press secretary for Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate. Also on March 16, the head of the Belarusian KGB Chairman Stsyapan Sukharenka accused a Georgian lawmaker and employees of the Georgian embassies in neighboring Lithuania and Ukraine of plotting subversive action against Lukashenka, AP reported the same day. In a video shown at the news conference, a man Sukharenka claimed was involved in the plot said he had been at a camp in Georgia where terrorist training was provided by members of the former Soviet Army and four Arabs, and that two U.S. instructors once visited. U.S. Ambassador George Krol said it was "absurd and baseless." BW

EU REPORTEDLY TO WARN RUSSIA ON ENERGY... President Vladimir Putin told energy ministers of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries in Moscow on March 16 that he favors setting up universal business standards for energy companies operating in countries linked by the flow of energy supplies, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 14 and March 16, 2006). On March 17, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is expected to tell Putin that the EU wants Russia to ensure the reliability of energy supplies in the wake of the Ukrainian gas crisis, London's "The Independent" reported. Barroso reportedly will also ask Putin to ratify the Energy Charter that deals with issues like third-party pipeline access and transit obligations. Brussels is particularly interested in ending Gazprom's monopoly on the Russian pipeline system. Barroso is also expected to warn Putin that Russia risks losing Western investment and technological assistance if it does not observe the charter, which offers "security and predictability for both sides, paving the way for necessary long-term investments in new capacity," as Barroso wrote recently. Speaking on March 16, Russian Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said that $17 trillion must be invested in the energy sector before 2030 to ensure security of supply. PM