Ukraine to Investigate Diamonds-for-Arms

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's law enforcement agencies are set to begin an investigation into recent allegations by Amnesty International that the former government was involved in illicit weapons sales to the Congo and neighboring countries, the Associated Press reported.

Dmytro Svistkov, a spokesman for Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said "competent authorities are investigating the allegations" that Ukraine was involved. He said that Ukraine adheres to it international obligations regarding weapons sales.

A report released by Amnesty International on July 5 blames the recent violence in eastern Congo on weapons and ammunition shipped by international arms traffickers from United States, Israel, Great Britain, and Russia. Amnesty says in the report that it has evidence of arms-for-diamonds agreements between the Congolese government and companies in Israel, Czeck Republic, and Ukraine.

The report accuses a mining company in Congo of being involved last year in the purchase of heavy weapons from Ukraine and the Czeck Republic in exchange for diamonds. Ukraine's new president Vickto Yushchenko has pledged to investigate all illegal weapons sales.

Close to 4 million people were killed in Congo's civil war. Despite a peace agreement and a vast amount of natural resources, Congo has failed to see economic progress, said Amnesty International.

Source: Rapaport News