MOSCOW WANTS TO USE GEOGRAPHY TO ADVANCE ITS POWER. The Russian government on 7 September adopted a document calling for the development of international transit corridors through Russian territory in order to enhance Russia's economic and political weight in the world. The eight-page document says that Russia will seek UN and international support for establishing two major interEurasian transit corridors--the first proceeding from Northern Europe through Russia, Central Asia, Iran, and ultimately to India; and the second from Western Europe through Russia to Korea and Japan. Such structures would give Moscow even more leverage over the former Soviet republics than it has now. Indeed, speaking at a transportation conference in St. Petersburg, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on 11 September pointedly noted that Russia is "losing $1.5 billion annually because of the defection of cargo flows" through the Baltics and Ukraine, according to Interfax.
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.
WILL YUSHCHENKO SURVIVE THE WINTER? There is no good news in Kyiv nowadays for Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko. Winter is looming in Ukraine, and Ukrainian commentators are expecting an acute shortage of energy and fuel. Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko has said there will be no problems heating Ukraine's apartment buildings this winter, but the government has ordered emergency purchases of coal in Poland and Russia, ignoring costlier domestic supplies from Ukrainian coal pits, which have not paid wages for months.
Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the IMF will resume its suspended $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine this year to help Yushchenko's cabinet finance its most urgent needs. IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer told journalists on 15 September that Ukraine has to do "a lot of work" before the fund will resume its loans. Julian Berengaut, head of an IMF mission currently visiting Kyiv, added that the loan program can begin again only if Ukraine draws up its 2001 budget, intensifies privatization efforts, and maintains a "healthy" banking system.
The government has recently paid all pension arrears, a $100- million installment of Ukraine's enormous debt to the IMF, and $56 million in interests on its Eurobonds--a remarkable achievement, in view of the fact that it has not been given any foreign credits over the last year. However, commentators point out that these payments were made not from budget revenues but from credits from the National Bank, meaning that the government's domestic debt has increased, even if the foreign one has been somewhat reduced.
Thus it is only a question of time before both President Leonid Kuchma and the parliament begin looking for those responsible for another Ukrainian winter of discontent. Kuchma's usual practice to dispel social dissatisfaction was to blame the country's problems on either the parliament or the government, or both at once. This time such a ruse may prove inapplicable. The parliament has a pro-presidential majority and, in both practice and theory, does what the executive wants it to do. As for Yushchenko's possible ouster as a scapegoat, such a move may complicate Kyiv's relations with the IMF, which has repeatedly indicated that it is in favor of Yushchenko's leading the Ukrainian government. It is rather unlikely that Kuchma would risk an open conflict with the institution that, apart from urging market reforms in Ukraine, has sustained the country's financial stability and liquidity throughout Kuchma's presidency.
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.
UKRAINIAN CABINET PROPOSES BALANCED 2001 BUDGET DRAFT. Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet submitted a draft of the 2001 budget to the parliament last week. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov told journalists on 18 September that the document calls for consolidated budget revenues and expenditures at 52.3 billion hryvni ($9.6 billion) each, Interfax reported. Mityukov said the document was drafted on the basis of forecasts that in 2001 Ukraine's GDP will increase by 4 percent, the average hryvnya exchange rate will be 6.3 hryvni to $1, and inflation will not exceed 19 percent. The draft is Ukraine's second balanced budget: the 2000 budget provides for revenues and spending at 42.3 billion hryvni each. JM
UKRAINIAN GOVERNORS TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ELECTRICITY PAYMENTS. Premier Viktor Yushchenko on 18 September said he will seek the dismissal of governors of those oblasts where cash payments for electricity supplies are low, Interfax reported. Yushchenko said the reason for such a punitive measure is the sharp decrease in cash payments for electricity this month. According to Yushchenko, some oblasts have paid in cash for no more than 50 percent of electricity supplies in September. "I am in no way going to assume responsibility for these problems," Yushchenko told a conference of regional leaders and managers of energy supplying companies. Ukraine's governors are appointed and dismissed by the president. JM
UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST DISAPPEARS. Hryhoriy Gongadze, the 31-year old editor of the Internet newsletter "Pravda Ukrayiny" (http://www.pravda. com.ua), has disappeared, Ukrainian media reported on 18 September. On the night of 16 September, Gongadze failed to arrive at his home in Kyiv, where his wife and two children were waiting for him. "Pravda Ukrayiny" is known for publishing materials critical of the Ukrainian government. "Gongadze is known [for] his tough opposition to the current regime of President Leonid Kuchma and his exposing publications on corruption among the high-ranking authorities," AP quoted Lawmaker Hryhoriy Omelchenko, known for his anticorruption activities, as saying. The parliament on 19 September demanded that the police seek to explain Gongadze's disappearance. Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said the president has expressed concern over his disappearance and ordered law enforcement bodies to pay special attention to the case. JM
OSCE MEETING ON TRANSDNIESTER CANCELED. Tiraspol has refused to accept Moldova's conditions for an OSCE meeting scheduled for 19 September to discuss the Transdniester conflict, Infotag reported the previous day. As a result, the meeting has been canceled. Initiated by OSCE rotating chairwoman Benita FerreroWaldner, the meeting had been organized with the participation of the Moldovan, Russian, and Ukrainian members of the state commission on solving the conflict. Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet chairman Grigori Marakutsa told Infotag that Tiraspol refuses to meet the Moldovan demand that its representative be a member of the Moldovan delegation. He also objects to Moldova's condition that the text of his speech be cleared by Chisinau before being delivered in Vienna. MS
Ukraine____________2_______3_______0_______5 Bulgaria___________2_______1_______1_______4 Romania___________2_______1_______1_______4 Slovakia___________0_______3_______1_______4 Czech Rep._________1_______0_______2_______3 Belarus____________0_______1_______2_______3 Hungary___________1_______1_______0_______2 Croatia____________1_______0_______0_______1 Lithuania__________1_______0_______0_______1 Yugoslavia_________0_______1_______0_______1 Estonia____________0_______0_______1_______1 Latvia_____________0_______0_______1_______1 Albania____________0_______0_______0_______0 Bosnia-Herzeg.______0_______0_______0_______0 Macedonia_________0_______0_______0_______0 Moldova___________0_______0_______0_______0 Poland_____________0_______0_______0_______0 Slovenia___________0_______0_______0_______0