KUCHMA SUPPLIES SIGNATURES IN SUPPORT OF HIS RE-ELECTION BID. The electoral staff of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 14 June submitted voter registration forms with nearly 2 million signatures supporting Kuchma's reelection bid in the 31 October presidential elections. Each of the 18 candidates registered by the Central Electoral Commission must collect at least 1 million signatures by 13 July in order to be allowed to run. Meanwhile, former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, who is seeking political asylum in the U.S., has announced that he has dropped out of the presidential race. Lazarenko accused the government of a harassment campaign against his supporters in Ukraine and urged them to support any of the contenders who oppose Kuchma. JM

UKRAINE'S OIL, GAS EXTRACTION DOWN, COAL MINING UP. Ukraine's oil and gas production decreased by 3.8 percent and 0.7 percent respectively in January-May 1999, compared to the same period last year. The Naftohaz state company reported that Ukraine extracted 1.5 million tons of oil and 7.3 billion cubic meters of gas in the first five months of 1999. The coal production in the same period totaled 33.5 million tons, increasing by 1.9 percent compared to last year. The increase is attributed to the fact that the government has managed to increase the level of cash payments for the mined coal. According to First Deputy Premier Volodymyr Kuratchenko, 65 percent of the bill for the coal mined last month was paid in cash. JM

...AS IS UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER. Borys Tarasyuk, accompanied by a trade delegation, was also in Lithuania on 14 June. Tarasyuk met with President Adamkus to discuss wide-ranging bilateral and international issues, with the focus on economic issues. In response to Lithuanian concerns that Ukraine's across-the-board import tariffs violate a free trade agreement, Tarasyuk said: "These are not import tariffs, just an extra, small levy on imported goods," according to ELTA. Tarasyuk will also attend the CBSS meeting, as Ukraine holds observer status. MH


RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 1, No. 4, 15 June 1999

A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Staff of "RFE/RL Newsline"


KUCHMA'S RIVALS COUNT ON REGIONAL MEDIA. Four presidential hopefuls--Oleksandr Tkachenko, Oleksandr Moroz, Petro Symonenko, and Yeven Marchuk--participated in a nationwide conference of regional and local media heads in Kyiv on 31 May. The 5 June "Region" reported that in addition to spewing out anti-government and anti-Kuchma rhetoric, all the hopefuls were seeking to curry favor with regional media in order to enlist their support in the presidential campaign.

In particular, Socialist Party leader Moroz told the conference: "You have not been bribed, unlike media in the capital. ...How long do we have to watch all those "Mornings" and "Breakfasts" [on nationwide channels]? They are so bad that they make one's heart bleed. But in Kryvyy Rih, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, and other cities, I have watched other programs which were made in a really skilled way. We ourselves are to be blamed for living in an atmosphere of information terror. We have come to the point where objective information about Ukraine can be obtained only through foreign media. ...If one wants to tell the truth, one has to address Radio Liberty, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, or the BBC. ...A junta is in power [in Ukraine]. ...Ukraine's salvation is in deposing the incumbent president. Let us unite and break the information blockade."

Ukraine's regional media leaders adopted a statement protesting political pressure exerted on regional media by state control and monitoring bodies. "We are doing everything to ensure that the presidential elections are honest and fair. We will give the floor to all candidates who are capable, under the legislation in force, of paying for services provided by broadcasting companies," the statement added.

"In my opinion, [presidential candidate Nataliya Vitrenko] is a strong rival of the incumbent president. It is expected on Bankova Street [where President Leonid Kuchma's office is located] that Vitrenko will attract votes of the left-wing electorate. That's a mistake. Vitrenko's electorate consists of marginal and declasse people, not of voters gravitating toward the Communists or the Socialists. Lukashenka in Belarus has a similar electorate. Vitrenko's nomination [as a presidential candidate] is very dangerous for all political forces in Ukraine." -- Artur Bilous from the Reforms-Center parliamentary group in the 10 June "Segodnya."

"No matter what people say, Marx and Lenin today are topical and right as never before; their conclusions find confirmation in the present-day capitalization of Ukraine according to a 19th century model." -- Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko in the 10 June "Komunist."

"RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.