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UKRAINIAN PROSECUTORS COMPLETE INVESTIGATION INTO GONGADZE MURDER. The Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement on 8 August that it has concluded its investigation into the slaying of Internet journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported. Three former police officers, Valeriy Kostenko, Mykola Protasov, and Oleksandr Popovych, are suspected of murdering Gongadze in 2000. JM
UKRAINE SCRAPS VISAS FOR CZECHS. Ukraine has cancelled visa formalities for Czech citizens who visit Ukraine for a maximum of 90 days, CTK reported on 8 August, quoting the Czech Foreign Ministry. Czechs, like all other EU citizens, were previously allowed to enter Ukraine without visas between 1 May and 30 September but had needed a visa in order to visit at any other time of the year. JM
BIRD FLU CONFIRMED IN FIVE REGIONS. Russian authorities have confirmed the presence of bird flu virus in five regions of the Russian Federation, although the extremely dangerous H5N1 strain, which can kill humans, has been confirmed only in Novosibirsk Oblast, Reuters reported on 5 August. After several days of conflicting reports about the cause of wildfowl deaths in Omsk Oblast, bird flu was conclusively identified there on 4 August, gazeta.ru reported the next day, citing the "Omskaya guberniya" news portal. Interfax reported on 5 August that both wild and domestic birds have died of flu virus in two Kurgan Oblast raions. Several days earlier, the virus was found in Altai Krai and Tyumen Oblast. Meanwhile, an unidentified representative of the Agriculture Ministry told Prime-TASS on 8 August that import bans on Russian poultry will have a negligible impact on the sector, because very little poultry processed in Russia and virtually none from Siberian regions is exported. According to Prime-TASS, European Union countries, along with Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Hong Kong, have banned poultry imports from Russia and Kazakhstan (see Kazakh story below). LB
TURKMENISTAN REPORTS RISING OIL, GAS PRODUCTION. According to figures provided by Turkmenistan's Oil and Gas Ministry, the country produced 37.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 5.7 million tons of oil in the first seven months of 2005, turkmenistan.ru reported on 8 August. The numbers indicate a 5.9 percent year-on-year increase in gas production and a 1.7 percent jump in oil production. For all of 2005, Turkmenistan has contracted to sell Ukraine 36 billion cubic meters of gas, Russia 5 billion, and Iran 7.5 billion. DK