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WILDFIRES BURNING IN CHORNOBYL-AFFECTED REGIONS OF BELARUS. A number of wildfires are burning in the Homel and Brest regions of Belarus that were worst affected by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster in neighboring Ukraine, resulting in higher radiation levels in the area, AP reported the same day, citing officials from Belarus's Emergency Situations Ministry. The ministry said that at least 30 peat fires and 11 forest fires are burning in the regions. Belarusian Emergency Situations Minister Valery Astapov said radiation levels have increased in the fire zones, though he did not reveal any specific figures. CB
POSSIBLE SOVIET-ERA MASS GRAVE DISCOVERED AT UKRAINIAN MONASTERY. Construction workers at a monastery in western Ukraine have uncovered about 130 skeletons that officials believe may have been victims of a post-World War II massacre of members of the Greek Catholic Church, Reuters reported on 16 July. The agency added that the remains, some of which are those of children, were found under the floor of a facility that once housed a Greek Catholic Church, which was banned by Joseph Stalin in 1946. "These people were buried so secretly that even the locals did not know they were in the monastery. It looks like entire families were killed here," Reuters quoted Evhen Yanushevych, deputy head of the Zhovka regional administration, as saying. "We presume they could have been killed by the NKVD [Soviet secret police], but we need to carry out more tests." AH
UNPAID UKRAINIAN COAL MINERS DEMONSTRATE IN KYIV. An estimated 650 marchers gathered in the capital on 16 July to protest months of unpaid wages for coal miners and other grievances, dpa reported. The miners gathered in front of the Energy Ministry, where police monitored the peaceful proceedings, and called for payment of back wages, higher wages, and increased state subsidies to the industry, the agency added. About two-thirds of the country's 209 mines are state-run, dpa reported. Repeated calls for closures and layoffs have been countered by fears of social fallout over the fates of the 600,000 people who work in the sector. AH