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DUMA PLANNING MORE SCRUTINY OF NGO FINANCES. Duma leaders plan to adopt legislation to regulate the finances of NGOs, "Vremya novostei" reported on 29 June. Addressing the Russia-Belarus Union's recent Parliamentary Assembly in Homel, southeastern Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 June 2005), Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov alluded to the role of NGOs in Ukraine's Orange Revolution, adding that Russian lawmakers will address this issue. Sergei Popov, chairman of the Duma Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations, told "Vremya novostei" that there are no plans to further regulate the political ideas espoused by NGOs, because current Russian law adequately addresses the problem of "extremist" groups. Popov asserted, however, that rules requiring legal entities to present financial statements to tax-collecting agencies need to be clarified for the "noncommercial sector." Aleksei Makarkin, deputy general director of the Center for Political Technologies, told "Vremya novostei" that "if you ban organizations or persecute them in any way, problems with human rights defenders and the Council of Europe will certainly arise." In contrast, Makarkin argued, stricter financial oversight of NGOs would allow the authorities to close down an organization while telling critics in the West that the action was motivated purely by violations of accounting rules. LB
NGO URGES DEUTSCHE WELLE TO SPEAK BELARUSIAN. Aleh Trusau, chairman of the Frantsishak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society, urged Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle to launch a radio program about Belarus in Belarusian, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported on 29 June. Trusau's appeal follows the broadcaster's announcement of a plan to launch a 15-minute daily program, called the "Belarusian Chronicle," in Russian in October. "[Deutsche Welle broadcasts in Russian] would plunge Belarusian listeners deeper into the Russian information space and increase their isolation from Europe," Trusau said in a letter to Deutsche Welle. "There are a lot of Russian-language sections in international broadcasters -- Voice of America, BBC, Deutsche Welle -- that employ emigrants from Russia with an imperial view of life. For them Ukraine and Belarus are not full-fledged nations," Trusau told RFE/RL. JM
RUSSIA NOT TO CONTROL UKRAINE'S GAS PIPELINES. Naftohaz Ukrayiny head Oleksiy Ivchenko told journalists in Kyiv on 29 June that the International Consortium for the Control and Development of the Gas Transport System of Ukraine will not operate Ukraine's gas-transport system, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Ivchenko was commenting on his talks with Russia's Gazprom in Moscow the previous day. Ivchenko said the consortium will be reorganized to construct and subsequently operate a Bohorodchany-Uzhhorod pipeline, a part of the Novopskov-Uzhhorod gas pipeline. Russia and Ukraine set up the consortium in 2003 on a parity basis, with an eye to operating the entire gas-transport system in Ukraine. It was Gazprom that reportedly asked for the liquidation of the consortium, following Ukraine's refusal to buy 7.8 billion cubic meters of Russian gas stored in Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 2005). Ivchenko also said Ukraine will be able to pay fully in cash for Turkmen gas under a new contract signed last week (see "RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova Report," 29 June 2005). The new contract, according to Ivchenko, will allow Naftohaz Ukrayiny to save $754 million on Turkmen gas supplies in comparison with the old contract. JM
UKRAINIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL PESSIMISTIC ON IMMEDIATE NATO ENTRY PROSPECTS. National Security and Defense Council Secretary Petro Poroshenko said in an interview with Interfax on 29 June that Ukraine may hold a referendum on NATO membership in the future, as the current constitution does not allow the country to belong to any military alliance. Poroshenko admitted that at present no more than 35 percent of the population supports the idea of NATO membership. "Public-opinion polls indicate that if a referendum [on NATO membership] were held tomorrow, the majority of the population in Ukraine would not support it," he said. "As things stand in 2005, NATO membership is not on the agenda." Touching upon the well-publicized reprivatization of the Kryvorizhstal steel mill, Poroshenko said the government expects to obtain no less than $2.4 billion for the company at a repeat auction, that is, three times as much as paid by Ukrainian oligarchs Rynat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk in 2004. JM
UKRAINIAN INVESTIGATORS TO INVITE PUBLIC FIGURES FOR INTERROGATION THROUGH MEDIA. Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said in an interview with Interfax on 29 June that his ministry is doing the right thing in summoning former and current officials for questioning through the media. "Frankly speaking, I see no problems here," Lutsenko said. "At first people thought that calling for questioning was nearly tantamount to conviction. Today people have got used to this practice and know, for example, that the police have asked [former Interior Minister Mykola] Bilokin for interrogation. Where should we send a notice to him if he has 12 dachas in Ukraine as a minimum? Where should I send a notice to [former Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych, who now can be seen more often in Moscow than Kyiv, even though he has a multitude of houses in Donetsk and Transcarpathia? [Therefore] we invite him through the media." JM