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BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SCRUTINIZES LEGAL SYSTEM. A special commission on 25 September reported to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on the results of its examination of how judiciary and law enforcement bodies operate in the country, Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka took advantage of the opportunity to publicize his own efforts to enhance the rule of law. "While touring the country this past season, I [often met] with this bandit revelry of prosecutors, our police, and, partly, judges," Belarusian Television quoted the president as saying. "[My words] primarily refer to the KGB, police, and prosecutors. They are the chief poachers; they are people who just threaten our citizens." Prosecutor-General Viktar Sheyman told the president that prosecutors are currently conducting some 200 corruption investigations against officials at the raion level, as well as against business managers. Lukashenka asked him whether he, presidential administration head Ural Latypau, and State Monitoring Committee head Anatol Tozik take bribes. "I think they do not," Sheyman replied. Lukashenka also praised Belarus's system of controlling lawyers through the National Collegium of Lawyers. "Russia and Ukraine have lawyers who are sort of independent. We have no such lawyers. Do our justice system and citizens lose from such a situation?" Lukashenka asked. "No, they only win," was the reply from the head of the National Collegium of Lawyers, who was identified only as N. Andreychuk. JM
UKRAINE CONTINUES TO DENY ARMS DEAL WITH BAGHDAD... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma assured British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon in Kyiv on 26 September that Ukraine has never supplied any weapons to Iraq, UNIAN reported, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. Kuchma made his comment in connection with Washington's publicized suspicions that Ukraine might have sold a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq in contravention of UN sanctions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 September 2002). Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko told journalists on 25 September that Kuchma might have authorized selling a Kolchuga system to Iraq -- as suggested by Mykola Melnychenko's secret recording -- but insisted that the sale never took place, AP reported. Zlenko interrupted his visit to the Dominican Republic to meet UN officials in New York in order to rebut the U.S. allegations, Reuters reported on 26 September. Meanwhile, Yuriy Serheyev, the state secretary for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said on 25 September that the U.S. allegations give "a basis for all those who would like to besmirch Ukraine as a part of what is called the 'axis of evil' and who would describe Ukraine as a state supporting terrorists," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. JM
...AS PRESSURE MOUNTS FOR CLEAR EXPLANATION. The U.S. State Department on 25 September said it plans no talks with Ukraine on the alleged sale of a radar system to Iraq unless Ukrainian officials are prepared to discuss the issue honestly, AP reported. "We have strongly urged Ukrainian officials to be as transparent and as forthcoming as possible. Unfortunately, we do not believe that the government of Ukraine has been candid with us in the past on this issue," the department said in a written statement. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson called on Ukraine in Warsaw on 25 September to explain the allegations. Robertson added that relations between NATO and Kyiv have hit a "tricky moment," Reuters reported. "I can tell you that there is a very serious atmosphere on this subject, and some very serious questions still remain to be answered," Robertson noted. Ukrainian lawmaker Heorhiy Kryuchkov (Communist Party), the chairman of the parliamentary Commission for National Security and Defense, told UNIAN on 26 September that the U.S. allegations are "unfair and insulting" to Ukraine, adding that their primary intention is to give a boost to the ongoing anti-presidential protest in Ukraine. JM
OUR UKRAINE, OPPOSITION GROUPS BOYCOTT PARLIAMENTARY VOTING... The parliamentary caucuses of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and Our Ukraine on 26 September said they will boycott voting in the Verkhovna Rada as long as lawmakers fail to address the current political situation, UNIAN reported. A motion to place this issue on the agenda was supported only by 96 deputies out of 228 registered in the session hall. Our Ukraine did not take part in the vote, and Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz noted that Our Ukraine made a "tactical mistake" by not participating. He said the motion could not "objectively" be passed even with backing from Our Ukraine lawmakers, but added that Our Ukraine's participation would have shown that more than 200 deputies want a debate on the current political crisis. JM
...AND ASK WORLD COMMUNITY TO REFRAIN FROM SANCTIONS AGAINST UKRAINE. In a joint statement, the parliamentary caucuses of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and Our Ukraine have appealed to the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the governments of the United States and Canada not to impose economic sanctions on Ukraine and "to draw a clear dividing line between the people of Ukraine and criminal actions by [Ukrainian] officials," UNIAN reported on 26 September. The caucuses recalled that the previous parliament made several attempts to launch an investigation regarding Ukraine's alleged illegal arms deals, but was prevented from doing this by President Kuchma and "deputies who were dependent on" Kuchma. "We are ready, without waiting for more exposing steps on the part of international community, to carry out a full and comprehensive investigation and to apply all necessary procedures as regards the responsibility of specific officials for illegal arms trading in contravention of United Nations resolutions," the statement read. JM