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ARMENIAN PRESIDENT AGAIN CRITICIZES TAX AUTHORITIES. Addressing a cabinet session on January 10, Robert Kocharian delivered yet another warning to tax and customs officials to intensify their efforts to crack down on tax evasion, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Kocharian conceded that the work of those services improved over the past two-three years, but said they still do not demonstrate adequate energy in combating the shadow economy, and that tax revenues still do not exceed the equivalent of 16 percent of GDP, a far lower ratio than in Russia, Ukraine, and some Eastern European countries. He further warned both agencies not to involve themselves in politics in the run-up to the parliamentary elections due in May. Kocharian delivered similar warnings to the tax authorities in early 2005 and 2006, and in December last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 12, 2005 and January 12, 2006). LF
BELARUS LIFTS TRANSIT DUTY ON RUSSIAN OIL TRANSIT. Following a telephone conversation on January 10 between Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Belarusian government lifted its duties on Russian oil transiting Belarusian territory during an emergency meeting, paving the way for the agreement that resumed supplies, Belapan reported. Belarus imposed the duty on January 3 in order to compensate the country's losses due to the introduction by Russia of an export duty on oil supplied to Belarusian refineries. Alyaksey Kastsyuchenka, director of the Druzhba pipeline operator, said on January 10 that Belarus had restarted the flow of Russian crude oil destined for European customers, Belapan reported on January 11. Ukrainian and Polish pipeline operators confirmed that oil supplies had resumed. Belarus also acceded to Russia's demand that it pump westward 79,000 tons of crude oil that it had earlier siphoned off, prompting Russia to halt oil deliveries to the Druzhba pipeline. AM
UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS THREATEN YUSHCHENKO WITH IMPEACHMENT. The Communist Party caucus in the Verkhovna Rada said in a January 10 statement that the policies followed by President Viktor Yushchenko are grounds for initiating impeachment proceedings against him, Interfax reported the same day. The caucus accused Yushchenko of waging "an actual war" against parliament by vetoing a number of bills. "Serious attempts to disturb the social and political situation in Ukraine and to provoke early parliamentary elections are eroding what is left of the people's trust in the president's power and are raising the issue of impeaching the president," the statement reads. AM
MINISTER CALCULATES UKRAINE'S LOSSES INCURRED FROM ENERGY DISPUTE. Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said on January 10 that prior to the resolution of Belarus and Russia's oil dispute, Ukraine was losing $330,000 a day, Interfax reported. "We have lost around 50 percent of our export [of Russian oil] and the operation of the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline has stalled in addition," Boyko said. Belarusian ambassador to Ukraine Valyantsin Vyalichka suggested on January 10 that the closure of the Druzhba pipeline should not affect relations between Belarus and Ukraine, Belapan reported. "Ukraine did not consume the oil that is now shut off," Vyalichka was quoted as saying. AM