UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES FOREIGN MINISTER... Leonid Kuchma has relieved Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk of his duties "in connection with his transfer to another position," Interfax reported on 30 September. The agency quoted Kuchma as saying the following day that he will appoint Anatoliy Zlenko as new foreign minister. Zlenko, who is 62, was the first foreign minister of independent Ukraine. He was replaced in 1994 after Kuchma was elected president. Kuchma praised Tarasyuk's performance but noted that the situation in Ukraine has changed and the country needs a new foreign minister, "a calm person, a diplomat to the roots." Zlenko has been Ukraine's ambassador to France since 1997. JM

...SPARKS SPECULATION ABOUT MOTIVES BEHIND RESHUFFLE... Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz told Interfax that Tarasyuk was dismissed because of his "relatively" high degree of independence and his authority. According to Moroz, such people cannot remain long in power and should be replaced by "manageable" ones who are unable to aspire to "an independent role in the political establishment." Ukrainian Popular Rukh leader Yuriy Kostenko said Tarasyuk was ousted under pressure from Russia. Kostenko noted that Tarasyuk was seeking Ukraine's integration in "the European and Euroatlantic structures." Kostenko added that Russia perceived that policy as "extremely disadvantageous" to itself. JM

...AND ABOUT POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES. Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, director of the Kyiv-based Center of Political Research, said Ukraine's foreign policy is unlikely to change under a new foreign minister. "Ukraine has no choice, the policy will be pro-Western no matter who is minister. The only thing a new minister could change is establishing closer economic ties with Russia, but not political ties," AP quoted Pohrebynskyy as saying. Interfax quoted unidentified Ukrainian experts and analysts as saying Kyiv will hardly change its foreign policy in a radical way. They admitted at the same time that Ukraine's relations with Russian may improve under a new minister, because "they cannot be worse [than they are now]." According to Yuriy Kostenko, however, Ukraine's "multidirectional" foreign policy is likely to become "proRussian" under Tarasyuk's successor. JM

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