Monday April 21, 1997

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BLOCKS CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT MOVE Leonid Kuchma on 18 April vetoed the Crimean parliament's ouster earlier this month of Crimean Premier Arkadiy Demydenko (see RFE/RL Newsline, 10 April 1997), RFE/RL's Kyiv correspondent reported. Kuchma said the dismissal contravened the Ukrainian Constitution because the Ukrainian president had not been consulted. Meanwhile, several pro-Russian parties and organizations in Crimea have said they will support anti-NATO protests on the peninsula. Raisa Teliatnikova, chairwoman of the Russian Community organization in Sevastopol, was quoted by dpa on 18 April as saying the Ukrainian-NATO military maneuvers planned for August are an "unfriendly gesture" aimed at "scaring" pro- Russian Crimeans.

U.S. ECONOMIST URGES UKRAINE TO PASS REFORMS. Jeffrey Sachs says Ukraine must adopt a 1997 budget and an economic reform planwithin weeks or risk deepening its economic troubles and alienating foreign investors. Sachs, whose Harvard-based Institute for International Development advises the Ukrainian government, was speaking to journalists in Kyiv on 19 April. He said that more foreign firms appear to be leaving Ukraine's market than entering it, and he blamed that trend on current tax and regulation systems as well as widespread corruption. Ukraine's government and parliament have been deadlocked over budget and reform plans since last November. The IMF has conditioned a loan worth at least $2.5 billion on the passage of the budget.

UKRAINE, UZBEKISTAN FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON TATARS. Meeting in Kyiv on 18 April, Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Lazarenko, failed to reach an agreement on the return of Crimean Tatars deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin during World War II. Refat Chubarov, leader of the 250,000-strong Crimean Tatar community, told Reuters after the meeting that some "difficulties" remained on how to finance the Tatars' return. Uzbekistan wants only those who were actually deported to be given deportee status, while Crimean Tatars and Ukraine insist that all their relatives and descendants be included. Under Stalin, some 190,000 Crimean Tatars accused of collaborating with the Nazis were deported to Central Asia. While many have since returned to Ukraine, there is still a sizable Tatar population in Central Asia.

Tuesday April 22, 1997

UKRAINE TO UNILATERALLY DELIMIT BORDER WITH RUSSIA. Ukraine has begun unilaterally delimiting the Ukrainian-Russian border, Interfax reported yesterday. Leonid Osavolyuk, a member of the Ukranian State Committee for the Protection of the State Border, said that Moscow has rejected Ukraine's proposals for when border talks can begin. He argued Russia's consent is not needed to begin delimitation because the current border between Ukraine and Russia will be used.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Gennady Udovenko, that it is advisable for Ukraine to reach a special agreement with NATO as soon as possible, RFE/RL's Ukrainian service reported. The two politicians met in Bonn yesterday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz told Austrian politicians in Vienna yesterday that Ukraine would like to join the traditionally neutral states of Austria, Finland, and Switzerland in seeking to influence the evolving European geopolitical equation, Unian reported. He said the interests of neutral countries are being ignored as NATO prepares to expand eastward.

Wednesday April 23, 1997

UKRAINIAN, WESTERN EXPERTS AGREE ON CHORNOBYL MEASURES. Carol Kessler, head of the Western delegation to talks in Kyiv on the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, says Ukraine and Western countries have agreed on a plan to reduce the threat from the radioactive ruins of the facility. Kessler told journalists that yesterday's meeting was "very successful" and that agreement was reached on a plan to ensure the safety of the deteriorating concrete sarcophagus entombing the reactor and the removal of the remaining nuclear fuel inside. Kessler also said both Ukraine and the G-7 are "very positive" about fulfilling a 1995 agreement to close Chornobyl by 2000. Kyiv has threatened to keep Chornobyl open after then unless it receives international aid worth $1.2 billion to complete two new power stations.

UKRAINE DISTANCES ITSELF FROM CHISINAU-TIRASPOL MEMORANDUM. Ukrainian Ambassador to Chisinau Evhen Levitsky says his country welcomes the readiness of Chisinau and Tiraspol to sign the memorandum on ways to settle the conflict in Moldova but cannot agree with all its provisions. Levitsky told Infotag that Ukraine objects in particular to the memorandum's inclusion of a provision saying the CIS "has experience" in settling such conflicts. Ukraine believes that the OSCE, rather than CIS, can provide the best mechanisms for such tasks. Ukraine is a guarantor of the memorandum, which is to be signed in Moscow on 8 May. Levitsky said Kyiv considers the text of the memorandum "still open" because it has not been consulted on all the provisions.

MORE TALKS ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN BLACK SEA FLEET. Another round of Ukrainian-Russian negotiations over the division of the Black Sea Fleet opened in Moscow yesterday, RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau reported. The Ukrainian delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantyn Hryshenko and the Russian delegation by Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov. Hryshchenko told journalists yesterday there were no major breakthroughs at the outset of the talks. But Pastuhov confirmed Russian President Boris Yeltsin's statement last month that Russia will no longer make the signing of a friendship and cooperation treaty with Ukraine conditional on agreements on the Black Sea Fleet division and the status of Sevastopol.

Thursday April 24, 1997

UKRAINE SAYS IT HAS SPENT $14 BILLION ON CHORNOBYL CLEANUP. Ukrainian Deputy Emergencies Minister Volodymyr Potikha says Ukraine has spent $14 billion over the last five years to deal with the consequences of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Potikha told journalists yesterday that Ukraine's expenditures on Chornobyl are several times more than the West can offer in aid. Western governments have pledged $1.3 billion to help close the station by 2000. Potikha also said that over the past decade, Ukraine has spent 6% of each year's national budget to clean up and contain the damage from the disaster. Meanwhile, Olga Babilova, head of the Health Ministry's radiology department, told reporters yesterday in Kyiv that 772 children have developed thyroid cancer since the Chornobyl catastrophe. Forty cases were registered last year alone.

Friday April 25, 1997

UKRAINE, G-7 AGREE ON CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS PLAN . Ukraine and the Group of Seven major industrial nations have agreed on a plan to stabilize the sarcophagus encasing the reactor at Chornobyl that caused the world's worst nuclear accident 11 years ago. Ukrainian Environment Minister Yuri Kostenko and Carol Kessler, a representative of the G-7, said in Kyiv yesterday that the plan will run through the year 2005 and could cost up to $780 million. A new shell is be built around the cracked sarcophagus, while the corroded and broken parts of the present containment structure are to be removed.

RUSSIA'S BLACK SEA FLEET COMPLETES EXCERCISES . Russia's Black Sea fleet is concluding10-day exercises today with a major landing operation involving 5,000 men and 500 pieces of military hardware, Interfax reported. Ukrainian ships and aircraft are also taking part. Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have worsened because Russia wants to make the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol the base of its Black Sea Fleet.

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