RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 2, No. 33, 12 September 2000

A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team

OPPOSITIONIST DOES NOT WANT BOYCOTT IN CONSTITUENCIES WITH DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. Mikalay Statkevich, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (Popular Assembly), has appealed to the opposition parties that are boycotting the 15 October legislative ballot not to disseminate election boycott propaganda in those constituencies where democratic candidates choose to run for seats in the Chamber of Representatives, Belapan reported on 11 September. Statkevich and a dozen of his party colleagues are seeking deputy mandates on an independent ticket, while their party has officially declared that it is not participating in the elections. "How can we talk about the opposition's joint tactics in the 2001 presidential elections [if the democratic opposition is poised to campaign against democratic candidates]?" Statkevich asked. Indeed, it may be even more difficult to answer that question as the state-run propaganda machine steps up its coverage of the split within the democratic opposition over the legislative elections (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 29 August 2000).


WILL POLISH MILITARY CEMETERY BE OPENED IN LVIV? The Lviv City Council on 4 September passed a resolution whereby the Polish military cemetery, which is part of the Lychakivskyy Cemetery in Lviv, will be opened "no later than 1 October," Interfax reported. According to the resolution, the inscription on the central tablet of the Polish cemetery is to read: To unknown Polish soldiers who died for Poland in 1918-1920.

The 4 September session of the Lviv City Council was attended by Ukrainian Deputy Premier Mykola Zhulynskyy, Deputy Foreign Minister Petro Sardachuk, Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Dmytro Pavlychko, other government officials, and several parliamentary deputies. Zhulynskyy read the Ukrainian premier's appeal to the councilors "to adopt a wellconsidered resolution insofar as the problem touches upon the strategic partnership of Ukraine and Poland," the agency reported. At the same time, a picket staged by the Ukrainian Republican Party and the Ukrainian National AssemblyUkrainian National Self-Defense demanded that the councilors make a decision on the Polish cemetery without "waiving national principles."

The issue of the Polish military cemetery in Lviv--which is known in Poland as the Cemetery of Lwow Eaglets--has been a sticking point in Polish-Ukrainian relations for several years. The cemetery contains the graves of mainly young Polish cadets who died in 1918 during fighting with Ukrainian units. The Poles fought for Lwow to be included into the then re-emerging Poland, while the Ukrainians fought for Lviv to be included in an independent Ukraine. The Polish side eventually won, and the fallen cadets were commemorated in pre-war Poland as "the defenders of Lwow."

After 1945, the Polish military cemetery at the Lychakivskyy Cemetery in Lviv was neglected. Only in the 1990s, following the breakup of the USSR, did it become possible for Poland and Ukraine to tackle the issue of renovating and preserving monuments and other vestiges of their common heritage. In tackling that issue, however, Polish and Ukrainian national interests more often than not clashed with one another.

The case of the Polish military cemetery in Lviv appears to be one of those political issues in Polish-Ukrainian relations that causes tensions between the two sides: what Warsaw sees as "the defense of Polish Lwow" in 1918, Kyiv interprets as "the assault on Ukrainian Lviv." The official opening of the cemetery was rescheduled several times. A year ago, a diplomatic embarrassment occurred when Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, poised to open the renovated cemetery in the presence of many journalists and officials from both countries, had to give up their intention at the very last moment after the Polish delegation had discovered that the inscription on the cemetery's main plaque was different from what Warsaw had expected.

Deputy Premier Mykola Zhulynskyy commented that the Lviv City Council made a "compromise" and "well-considered" decision on the Polish military cemetery. This opinion, however, is not shared by the Polish side. Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Pawel Dobrowolski said on 5 September that his ministry will "intervene" unless the Lviv authorities adhere to last month's intergovernmental agreement on the cemetery.

According to Polish media, Andrzej Przewoznik, secretary-general of Poland's Council for the Protection of the Memory of Struggle and Martyrdom, and Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Petro Sardachuk signed a protocol in August whereby they agreed to restore the Polish military cemetery in Lviv to its pre-war state. The agreement stipulates, in particular, that the inscription on the cemetery should read: To unknown Polish soldiers who died for an independent Poland in 1918-1920. (The Lviv councilors left out the word "independent" in their 4 September resolution on the cemetery.) The protocol also provides for restoring the gravestones of French and U.S. airmen who fought on the Polish side in the campaign leading to the establishment of pre-war Poland's eastern borders. According to Polish media, this clause, too, was ignored by the Lviv councilors in their resolution.

"For the [Polish] Foreign Ministry, the position of the Lviv City Council is not binding, only the agreement concluded with the Ukrainian authorities," Dobrowolski said, adding that the 4 September resolution "does not reflect the state of Polish-Ukrainian talks at government level."

"You will ruin the trust of people in the state. [Of those] people who have nothing except light." -- Ukrainian Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko to managers of energy suppliers on the consequences of electricity cutoffs to individual consumers who have failed to pay their debts. Quoted by Interfax on 8 September.

"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.

UZBEKISTAN, UKRAINE SEEK TO EXPAND ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko held talks in Tashkent on 11 September with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, Interfax reported. Karimov expressed approval of plans to expand bilateral economic cooperation that were discussed at the fourth session of the Uzbek-Ukrainian cooperation commission on 12 September. Those proposals included closer cooperation within the parameters of the Eurasian transport corridor and increasing deliveries of Uzbek natural gas to Ukraine. Karimov also approved a proposal that the two countries should offset each other's mutual debts. LF

UKRAINIAN RADIO REFUSES TO CARRY LIVE BROADCASTS FROM PARLIAMENT. The National Radio Company leadership has said the parliament's resolution on media coverage of this fall's legislative session is a "direct infringement on the company's creative process," Interfax reported on 12 September. The parliament on 5 September passed a resolution, proposed by leftist caucuses, obliging national radio to carry live broadcasts of parliamentary debates. According to the radio leadership, such broadcasts would take up too much air time and disrupt the company's programming schedule, including programs made under contract and advertisements. The company assured the lawmakers that it is seeking ways other than live broadcasts to inform citizens about the parliamentary session. JM

COMMUNISTS PROTEST NAT0-SPONSORED EXERCISES IN CRIMEA. Crimea's Communists have launched a protest against the NATO-sponsored exercises "Cossack Steppe-2000," which are currently taking place on the peninsula, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on 12 September. Troops from the U.K., Poland, and Ukraine are practicing peacekeeping operations in ethnic conflict areas. Since 11 September, Crimea's Communists have been staging pickets and rallies in Feodosiya to demand that NATO's "occupational troops" be removed from the peninsula. JM

UKRAINE'S SECURITY SERVICE CLAIMS TO HAVE FOILED ATTEMPT ON PUTIN'S LIFE. Leonid Derkach, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), told Interfax on 12 September that his service foiled an attempt to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin at the CIS summit in Yalta last month. Derkach noted that the SBU was tipped off about the planned assassination by "several special services" from outside the CIS. He added that the SBU passed on the information to Russia and detained several people in Crimea, who were subsequently expelled from Ukraine. Derkach had said earlier that four Chechens and several persons from the Middle East were detained in connection with the foiled plot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2000). Meanwhile, Russia's Federal Protection Service spokesman Sergei Devyatov told Interfax that it was Russian special services that informed their Ukrainian colleagues about the Yalta assassination plot against Putin. JM