U.S., POLISH ASSISTANCE FOR UKRAINIAN REFORMS. On 19 July in Warsaw, the Polish-American-Ukrainian Cooperation Initiative (PAUCI) approved four projects worth $150,000 to support small and medium-sized business and the restructuring of local government in Ukraine, PAP and AP reported. These are the first projects under the scheme, which was set up in 1998 to make use of Poland's free-market experience and $10 million in U.S. grants in the transformation of the Ukrainian economy. JM

TWO WORKERS EXPOSED TO RADIATION AT CHORNOBYL. Two workers were exposed to radiation at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant as they carried out safety checks at the plant's only operational reactor on 17 July. The workers were using a gamma-ray emitting device to check for radiation leaks when part of the device fell out of its protective container, according to official reports. One worker was exposed to a radiation dose of 9.8 rem (roentgen equivalent in man) and the other to a dose of 8.3 rem. Under Ukrainian safety norms, a dose of 5 rem a year is considered the upper safety limit. A Chornobyl plant spokesman told AP that the radiation doses received by the workers were "meager." JM

TRANSDNIESTER LEADER ON KYIV SUMMIT. Speaking on Tiraspol television on returning from the Kyiv summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 19 July 1999), separatist leader Igor Smirnov said the negotiations were "constructive" and that the documents submitted by his delegation were "highly appreciated" by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and "particularly by [Russian Prime Minister] Sergei Stepashin." Smirnov said that according to Stepashin, the agreed declaration on a single MoldovanTransdniestrian state "may successfully serve as a model for solving relations between the Russian Federation and Chechnya," RFE RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Smirnov also said that Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi "did not share Stepashin's optimism," pointing out that the Moldovan Constitution defines the country as a "unitary state." MS


RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 1, No. 8, 20 July 1999

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

Future EU Frontier Town Still Uncivilized. According to the 10 July "Gazeta Bankowa," Przemysl--a town in southeastern Poland, near the border with Ukraine--has lost the development prospects that it enjoyed in the mid-1990s owing to EU financial assistance and a trade boom with the postSoviet countries.

In January 1998, Przemysl inaugurated a modern customs control terminal built under the EU's PHARE program at a cost of almost 2 million ecu ($2.04 million). The terminal is provided with state-of-the-art customs control equipment, computers, faxes, elegant furniture, and modern toilets. However, there are also drawbacks. The entrance door is too narrow for most visitors from Ukraine, who are not tourists with backpacks or businessmen with suitcases but shuttle traders with huge bags that cannot pass through the door. There is no air conditioning in the building; as a result, temperatures inside the building reach some 60 degrees Centigrade in the summer, meaning that neither customs officers nor their electronic equipment can function and that the terminal is open only sporadically, with customs checks taking place, as before, on trains traveling from Medyka (a border station) to Przemysl. Nor is there a waiting room at the terminal; thus visitors from Ukraine have to wait for customs checks in the open air. Finally, most of the terminal's modern toilets are permanently closed (according to "Gazeta Bankowa," to prevent visitors from plundering and soiling them).

However, the days of peak traffic on the PolishUkrainian border traffic are over. In 1995, 10,000 foreigners visited Przemysl every day, while today they number only 800.

Marian Majka, deputy mayor of Przemysl, told "Gazeta Bankowa" that Przemysl residents failed to take advantage of the border trade boom in the mid-1990s. According to Majka, most of the money earned was sunk into "the gray [economic] zone or spent on building fabulous villas on the town's outskirts." As for the town authorities, they have failed to organize "civilized business" in Przemysl or to maintain the town's main bazaars. The main barriers to developing Przemysl today are corruption, criminality, and the lack of major business opportunities.

Polish Television reported on 14 July that the State Labor Inspectorate has closed the customs terminal in Przemysl for the whole summer because of the lack of air conditioning. Installing this convenience in the building would cost some 120,000 zlotys ($30,000).


Conflict Surrounding Alumina Plant In Mykolayiv. On 24 June, the government dismissed Vitaliy Meshyn, director of the state-owned Mykolayiv Alumina Plant and appointed Mykola Naboka to replace him. That move provoked unrest among the plant's 7,000-strong work force. The parliament also protested Meshyn's dismissal, arguing that it is illegal, and asked the government to revoke it. Since Meshyn did not obey the order and remained in the plant, on 7 July police used force to remove him from his office. The government appointed First Deputy Industry Minister Serhiy Hryshchenko to oversee the facility and ease the transition for the new director.

The government said Meshyn was fired because of the company's worsening performance and growing debts. In addition, Meshyn was interrogated by the State Security Service on suspicion of selling alumina--the main component for making aluminum--to a network of intermediaries who resold it at higher prices and did not return those revenues to the plant. Meshyn responded that the government had to fire him in order to sell the plant to a foreign company.

The Mykolayiv Alumina Plant is believed to be one of the country's most lucrative companies slated for privatization. A report in the 15 July "Kievskie vedomosti" suggests that the replacement of the Mykolayiv plant's director is connected with the government's privatization plans and may have grave economic and even political consequences for Ukraine.

According to the Kyiv-based national daily, the new director, Mykola Naboka, maintains close ties with the British intermediary company Trans World Group (TWG), which controlled a number of key metallurgical plants in Kazakhstan in the mid-1990s. This year, the Kazakh Supreme Court declared the TWG's activities in Kazakhstan to be illegal and detrimental to state economic interests. The Kazakh authorities estimated the losses inflicted by the TWG on the state treasury at $400 million. According to Kazakh experts cited by "Kievskie vedomosti," the TWG registered a great deal of its profits in Kazakhstan as losses and transferred those revenues to its own accounts through offshore firms. The TWG also paid Kazakhstan only 50 percent or so of what it obtained on the world market for the goods produced at its Kazakh plants Moreover, in order to increase the TWG's profits, banks controlled by the TWG granted the Kazakh plants credits.

"Kievskie vedomosti" suggests that Naboka--who was involved in the TWG's schemes of getting money out of Kazakhstan--intends to stop supplies of Mykolayiv alumina to Sayanskii Aluminum Plant (Russia) and an aluminum plant in Tajikistan and to begin supplying Russian aluminum plants controlled by TWG, in particular, the Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant. The newspaper concludes that the Mykolayiv plant may follow the tortuous path of the TWG's Kazakh metallurgical plants and become fully controlled by TWG. Such an outcome, according to the newspaper, would inflict considerable losses on the Ukrainian economy and harm Ukraine's cooperation with its CIS partners, particularly Russia and Tajikistan.

"A top [Ukrainian] statesmen has recently said that conducting a dialogue with the parliament is like talking to the deaf. He has forgotten to add: And to the mute. There is no legal name for the gag placed over the parliament's mouth. This is a typical gangsters' method. Any democratic counterarguments are useless here, because [those using] a crowbar may be opposed only by [those using] a bigger crowbar. Today an ouster of the Cabinet of Ministers may be such a crowbar." -- Oleksander Moroz, leader of the Socialist Party and a presidential candidate, at the parliament session on 6 July, referring to the government's decision to halt radio and television relays from parliamentary sessions during the presidential election campaign.

"Only a Lazy Man Could Fail To Collect 1 Million Signatures" -- Headline in the 16 July "Kievskie vedomosti."

"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.