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PATRIARCH'S VISIT TO BELARUS SEEN UNDERCUTTING PUTIN. According to an analysis in "Nezavisimaya gazeta-religii," No. 13, Patriarch Aleksii II's visit to Belarus on 23-27 June was intended to distract attention from Pope John Paul II's simultaneous visit to Ukraine. But in fact, the journal said, it provided support for Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka and undercut the policies of Russian President Putin. PG
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS, INTERNATIONAL GROUP URGE SOLUTION OF JOURNALIST'S MURDER. The parliamentary Committee for the Freedom of Expression and Information has appealed to the government to use all possible measures to find out who killed journalist Ihor Aleksandrov last week (see RFE/RL Newsline," 9 July 2001), Interfax reported on 11 July. The committee said the killing of Aleksandrov testifies to "the continued onslaught on the freedom of expression in Ukraine." The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also appealed to President Leonid Kuchma to organize a thorough investigation of Aleksandrov's slaying. The organization said the case causes concern, especially as there is no end in sight to the probe into the notorious murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS LAWMAKERS FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION. Leonid Kuchma on 11 July said some Ukrainian lawmakers and politicians intentionally discredit the country in the international arena, Interfax reported. "No one speaks more abominably about Ukraine than Ukrainian politicians," Kuchma noted. The president added that Ukrainian legislators are more concerned with their own well-being than lawmaking. According to Kuchma, parliamentary groups are paid "millions of dollars" for voting on some bills. "The deputy's pay is only pocket money. They get their basic pay in greenbacks," Kuchma said. JM
RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR WARNS KYIV OVER NEUTRAL STATUS. Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin told Moscow's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 11 July that Ukraine can play the role of a "regional leader," Interfax reported. Chernomyrdin noted, however, that Ukraine's "neutral status may essentially undermine [Kyiv's] strategic interests" and lead to a situation in which the role of such a leader is assumed by "other countries." Chernomyrdin said he does not understand "those Ukrainians who are lobbying for the policy of economic isolation of their country from Russia." And he added: "I doubt whether Ukraine will be able to find an alternative to the Russian market in Europe, Asia, or Latin America." JM