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U.S. VOICES CONCERN OVER ABUSE OF JOURNALISTS IN BELARUS. U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Stephan Minikes said on 29 June that the United States welcomes a court's decision to dismiss spurious tax penalties levied on the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 2004), but he added that Washington is concerned over the mistreatment of journalists in Belarus, Belapan reported. "We hope that the judicial decision will be followed by other steps that will help ease the climate of fear and repression that exists in Belarus today," Minikes said. Minikes condemned the expulsion of Ukrainian journalist Mikhail Padalyak (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 2003) and expressed concern about the treatment of RFE/RL contributor Yury Svirko. According to Belapan, security guards at the Belarusian legislature twice prevented Svirko on 22 June from entering the building and destroyed his recording equipment despite Svirko's press credentials. AM
UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL OPENS CASE INTO GONGADZE LEAKS. The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office opened a criminal case on 1 July into pretrial leaks of information from an inquiry into the slaying of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Unian reported. The Prosecutor-General's Office provided no details. A 22 June article in "The Independent" (by an RFE/RL contributor) linking Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to the slaying reportedly sparked the prosecutors' probe. AM
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKER REQUESTS PROTECTION FOR FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER. Heorhiy Omelchenko, head of an ad hoc parliamentary commission investigating the Gongadze killing, said on 1 July that former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko should be granted extraordinary