Belarus Denies Sending Kolchuga Antiaircraft Systems to Ukraine

Speaking at a press conference in Minsk, Colonel Leonid Zakharenko, the head of the press service of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus, said that reports as to Kolchuga antiaircraft systems having been sent from Belarus to Ukraine were totally false. Commenting on the reports to this effect originating from Ukrainian opposition, Mr. Zakharenko called them 'propaganda stunts'.

Colonel Zakharenko assured that every piece of military machinery in Belarus was accounted for and any planned movements of such machinery were restricted to the territory of the Republic of Belarus. The spokesmen of the State Border Service Committee and State Customs Committee of Belarus also denied these reports.

In the meantime, speaking on Friday at a press conference in Kiev, Julia Timoshenko, one of the leaders of Ukrainian opposition maintained that three Kolchuga antiaircraft complexes had been transferred from Belarus to Ukraine during the previous night. This was allegedly done in order to show the machinery to US State Department's inspectors as proof that none of Ukraine's Kolchugas allegedly sold to Iraq were missing. Mrs. Timoshenko said Ukrainian opposition had sufficient proof of that President Kuchma knew about and closely monitored the movement of the machinery from Belarus to Ukraine.