Monday April 7, 1997

POLAND TO ESTABLISH CEMETERIES FOR VICTIMS OF STALIN PURGES IN RUSSIA, UKRAINE. Andrzej Przewoznik, head of the Polish Council for the Protection of Memorial Sites, says Warsaw will establish three cemeteries in Russia and Ukraine over the next two years for Polish victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's purges. Przewoznik was quoted by Reuters on 5 April as saying Poland will start in September to set up cemeteries in Katyn and Miednoye, in Russia, and in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. Poland began to exhume remains of purge victims at those sites three years ago. Russian authorities granted permission for the cemeteries late last year.

UKRAINE LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON RUSSIAN MILITARY PLANES. Ukraine has agreed to lift restrictions on Russian military planes flying over its territory. The Russian Defense Ministry announced on 5 April that the decision followed a telephone conversation between Russian military chief of staff Gen. Viktor Samsonov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Alexander Zatynaiko. Ukraine temporarily restricted Russian military planes from its skies after what it described as a series of unannounced Russian flights into air space over the Black Sea under Ukraine's jurisdiction. Russia's air force denied the accusations. Russia says its aircraft were flying over "neutral waters." Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told a press conference in Kyiv on 5 April that actions taken by "individual officials," as in the case of the Russian planes, should not be allowed to damage relations between Ukraine and Russia.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON SLOW PACE OF REFORMS.... Kuchma says the country's reform process has stagnated and that both the government and the parliament are to blame. Speaking to journalists in Kyiv on 5 April, Kuchma argued that the government's and parliament's actions are an inadequate response to the "level of tension in society." He also noted that the parliament's productivity is low and that approval of important economic laws and land reform is being blocked. Kuchma confirmed a government reshuffle will be announced next week. He said there will also be a reduction in the number of state agencies and civil servants.

...AND ON SPEEDING UP TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Kuchma says he wants to meet with his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, in order to expedite the conclusion of the basic treaty between the two countries, RFE/RL's Romanian Service reported on 6 April, citing the independent Mediafax agency. The last round of treaty talks took place in Bucharest at the end of March. Since then, the talks appear to have stalled.

Tuesday April 8, 1997

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER EXPLAINS RESIGNATION. Viktor Pynzenyk, who was responsible for economic reforms, says he had to resign "because he could not see any chance of success." Pynzenyk was speaking at a press conference in Kyiv yesterday after Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko accepted his resignation. Pynzenyk submitted his resignation last week, after the parliament failed to approve the government's 1997 budget and new tax law. President Leonid Kuchma then ordered Lazarenko to make a final decision on whether to accept his resignation. Pynzenyk often criticized the government and parliament for dragging their feet on implementing urgently needed economic measures. Meanwhile, Kuchma has appointed Mikhail Zubets as agriculture minister. Zubets, 58, replaces Anatoly Khorishko, who was fired in January.

STOWAWAYS FOUND ON SLOVAK-UKRAINIAN BORDER. A spokesman for the Ukrainian State Border Protection Committee has told journalists that Ukrainian border guards yesterday detained 55 Chinese citizens who allegedly planned to cross into neighboring Slovakia on the back of a truck. The spokesman said the group was found hiding in a canvas- covered truck on a road outside the city of Uzhgorod, near the Slovak border. Four people were hospitalized with signs of carbon dioxide poisoning. The rest have been taken into custody by the border service.

SMIRNOV WANTS TRANSDNIESTER TO JOIN UKRAINE. Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's breakaway region, says he would have "no objection" to the Transdniester's joining Ukraine. "If Ukraine shifts its border to the Dniester [River], I will not intervene," Smirnov said in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Kievskiye Vedomosti last week. He emphasized that 250,000 of the Transdniester's inhabitants are Ukrainian, which, he said, "cannot be simply overlooked." In other news, Interfax reported that Smirnov flew to Moscow yesterday to try to persuade Russian Foreign Minister Primakov to include Tiraspol during his scheduled visit to Moldova on 10 April. The agenda provides for a meeting with Smirnov in Chisinau.

Wednesday April 9, 1997

NEW UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PREMIER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has appointed commercial bank chief Serhey Tihipko as a deputy prime minister, Reuters reported. Tihipko replaces Viktor Pynzenyk, who had been in charge of economic reforms until his resignation last week. Presidential spokesman Dmitro Markov said the decree appointing Tihipko does not outline his duties.

UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR UPDATE. State Nuclear Committee Deputy Chairman Vasyl Katko says Ukraine's nuclear power plants will be unable to afford annual repairs this summer because energy consumers are not paying their bills, RFE/RL reported. Katko estimates that Ukraine's five nuclear stations can undertake only 30% of the necessary repair work. Interfax quotes Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yuri Kostenko as describing the safety situation at the country's nuclear power plants as "unsatisfactory." He told the parliament yesterday that the safety of the concrete sarcophagus covering the fourth reactor at Chornobyl has deteriorated because of moisture buildup, insufficient monitoring, and inefficient contingency plans for a chain reaction. The ministry's nuclear control administration says the number six reactor at the Zaporozhye atomic power station was switched off yesterday because of a malfunction in the reactor unit, UNIAN reported.

Thursday April 10, 1997

FRANCHUK MAKES COMEBACK AS CRIMEAN PRIME MINISTER. Anatoly Franchuk has been installed as caretaker Crimean premier, after the peninsula's parliament voted to oust Arkady Demidenko as head of the government, Interfax reported yesterday. Parliamentary speaker Anatoly Gritsenko said the move had been discussed beforehand with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. Previous attempts to remove Demidenko had been declared invalid by Kuchma. According to the constitution, the Ukrainian head of state must approve cabinet changes in Crimea. Franchuk goes to Kyiv today and then to Moscow to seek assistance.

Friday April 11, 1997

UKRAINIAN BANK HEAD SUPPORTS NEW DEPUTY PREMIER. Ukrainian Central Bank director Viktor Yushchenko says he is giving his "full support" to new Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko, who is to oversee economic reforms. Yushchenko told reporters in Kyiv yesterday that he hopes Tigipko will play a positive role in his new post. Tigipko is the former head of Privatbank, one of the top five banks in Ukraine. He replaced Viktor Pynzenyk earlier this week.

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