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NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR ARRIVES IN BELARUS. George Krol, the new U.S. ambassador to Belarus, arrived in Minsk on 3 September, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Krol addressed journalists gathered at a Minsk airport with a short speech in Belarusian. "Although I lived and worked in Belarus before, I hope to learn more about your beautiful and hardworking country," he said. Krol, a career diplomat, served in Minsk from 1992-94. He also served in U.S. diplomatic missions in Poland, India, Ukraine, and Russia. In Minsk, Krol replaces Michael Kozak. Diplomatic relations between Minsk and Washington are tense. Minsk made Kozak wait four months in 2000 before receiving his credentials. The new Belarusian ambassador to the United States, Mikhail Khvastou, has now been waiting for more than three months in Washington to present his credentials. JM
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS CLAIM TO HAVE SOLVED JOURNALIST'S MURDER... Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun told Interfax in Bishkek on 3 September that his colleagues have concluded investigations into a number of high-profile criminal cases, including the 2000 murder of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and the secret tapes allegedly made in Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's office by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko. Piskun said prosecutors have placed three suspects in the Gongadze case on a search list, but declined to reveal their names. Piskun also said prosecutors have charged Melnychenko with forgery and revealing state secrets. He stressed that three tests performed have failed to authenticate the Melnychenko tapes. Therefore, he added, the Prosecutor-General's Office has ordered one more test -- a unique "phono-psycholinguistic" test -- that should answer the question of whether "the people whose voices were allegedly taped could say what is heard [on the Melnychenko tapes]." JM
...AND ACCUSE TYMOSHENKO OF GIVING LAZARENKO AN $87 MILLION BRIBE. Prosecutor Andriy Khochunskyy told journalists in Kyiv on 3 September that investigators have collected evidence that Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the eponymous opposition bloc, paid $86.88 million in bribes to former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, Interfax reported. According to Khochunskyy, the sums were transferred from Tymoshenko's account in a Cypriot bank to Lazarenko's accounts in Polish and Swiss banks during 1996. "She gave bribes to [Lazarenko] for the creation of favorable conditions for financial and economic operations of the Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine [YeESU] on the gas market and for assistance in making this company a monopoly," Khoshchunskyy said. Tymoshenko headed YeESU in 1996-97. JM