UKRAINE MARKS INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY WITH RELIGIOUS PROTEST... Some 3,000 people on 24 August gathered in front of the newly rebuilt Assumption Cathedral in Kyiv to protest its consecration by Metropolitan Volodymyr, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate, Interfax reported. The consecration, which was one of the events in the official celebrations of the ninth anniversary of Ukrainian independence, was attended by President Leonid Kuchma and other officials. Having taken up position outside the cathedral, which was cordoned off by police, the crowd chanted "Get the Moscow Church out of Ukraine!" Tensions have recently flared in Ukraine over the uneasy coexistence of the country's three Orthodox Churches (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 24 August 2000). JM

...WHILE PRESIDENT URGES RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE. "We will oppose any speculation about the Church [or any attempts to] foment enmity and intolerance on religious and other grounds," Kuchma pledged at the consecration ceremony. The president admitted that there are people in Ukraine who "whip up tensions even around such shrines." He said he does not doubt the good intentions of those who want Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches to unite but added that he disapproves of some proposals on how to achieve that end. According to Kuchma, Church matters should be settled by the Church alone, because the state's interference in those affairs "has already cost Ukraine dearly." JM

'KURSK' (NON)RESPONSE--MEDIA PRESSURE OR INDIFFERENCE TO LIFE? Noting that "Gorbachev took nine days to respond publicly to the Chornobyl disaster and still didn't tell the truth about it...Fourteen years later, Putin took four days to respond to the Kursk accident, but had difficulty lying due to intense media coverage. The shortening of the reporting period by five days and the more rapid involvement of the outside world is largely thanks to the Russian media," Catherine Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International League for Human Rights, concludes, however, "The Kursk non-response is not even so much about secrecy, or unwillingness to lose face in front of technologically superior foreigners. It is about indifference to human life...This comes from a bred-in belief that the ends justify the means and even violent means covered with the Big Lie. We used to call this Bolshevism." (Johnson's Russia List, 19 August)


ASSAULT ON JOURNALIST PROTESTED. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) "expressed outrage" to President Leonid Kuchma over the 14 August attack on Valentina Vasilchenko, a free-lance journalist from the city of Cherkassy. She was beaten up by two unknown men, apparently in retaliation for a series of articles in April on police brutality and corruption in the local independent Russian-language weekly "Antenna." In one article, Vasilchenko reported that local police had charged a resident with manslaughter in a killing they allegedly had committed themselves. CPJ called on Kuchma to investigate the attack "immediately and thoroughly." (CPJ Press Release, 22 August)

ONLINE PAPER REPORTEDLY HARASSED. Law enforcement officials have allegedly been harassing the editor and several staff members of "Ukrainska Pravda" (Ukrainian Truth), a popular independent Internet publication on Ukrainian politics, reports the 20 July "Kiev Post."

JOURNALISTS POLLED ON PROBLEMS. A recent poll of leading journalists conducted by the respected weekly "Zerkalo Nedeli" asked journalists what subjective factors hinder impartial coverage of news in Ukraine. Journalists listed shortage of information, fear, and faintheartedness as the top-three factors. (