BELARUSIAN CIVIC INITIATIVE TO PROMOTE CHALLENGER TO LUKASHENKA. A number of political and public activists have announced the setting up a civic committee "Election-2001," Belapan and Interfax reported on 9 October. The new organization includes Children of Chornobyl Charitable Fund head Henadz Hrushavy, Belarusian Helsinki Committee deputy head Hary Pahanyayla, as well as Supreme Soviet deputies Uladzimir Nistsyuk, Valery Shchukin, and Vasil Shlyndzikau. The committee's main goal is to propose and promote a democratic leader who could challenge President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in next year's presidential ballot. "Political parties today do not dare propose a new leader from among themselves. But time is passing, and it may be too late for us to promote a democratic candidate for the 2001 presidential elections," Shlyndzikau commented. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WORRIED ABOUT ECONOMIC CRIMINALITY. Leonid Kuchma on 9 October reviewed economic crime at a session of the Coordinating Committee for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, Interfax reported. Kuchma said the fuel and energy complex is "the most politicized and criminalized" economic sector in Ukraine. He cited several examples of shady operations involving supplies of electricity, coal , and oil but declined to name any offenders. Kuchma noted that such areas as metallurgy, agriculture, and social sphere are also plagued by financial crime, tax evasion, and corruption. He also criticized the government for failing to draft a bill on the legalization of shadow capital, in accordance with a decree he issued earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 April 2000). JM
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT REPORTS 1.3 PERCENT GROWTH IN AGRICULTURE. Deputy Prime Minister Mykhaylo Hladiy told Interfax on 9 October that agricultural production in January-September 2000 grew by 1.3 percent, compared with the same period last year. Agrarian Policy Minister Ivan Kyrylenko noted that in August and September, Ukraine registered growth in agricultural production for the first time since the country gained independence in 1991. Kyrylenko added that this year, Ukraine will gather 24.5 million tons of grain, as planned by the government. JM
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
PRICK PRICKO PRICKOVYCH FROM SCIENTIFIC STREET? The 5 October "Vremya MN" has shed more light on the circumstances leading to the disappearance of Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.
Gongadze, 31, is chief editor of the Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska Pravda" (http://www.pravda.com.ua). 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. Since "Ukrayinska Pravda" is known for publishing materials critical of the Ukrainian government, many journalists believe that Gongadze's disappearance was politically motivated.
The parliament on 21 September set up a 15-strong commission to look into Gongadze's disappearance. The commission is headed by Oleksandr Lavrynovych of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine. More than 40 journalists accredited to the parliament asked the lawmakers not to include on the commission those deputies who have been criticized by Gongadze in his newsletter. The authorities initially said they ruled out political motives in Gongadze's case but later admitted that they view a politically motivated kidnapping or murder as one of possible reasons for the journalist's disappearance. So far, there has been no significant progress in the investigation into Gongadze's case.
The Moscow-based "Vremya MN" suggested that Gongadze's disappearance might be related to an article by Maksym Strykha from Lviv, which was published by Gongadze in his Internet newsletter on 11 September, that is, five days before his disappearance. Strykha's article deals with the ways in which signatures were collected for the 16 April constitutional referendum in Ukraine. The following is a translation of that article:
Title: Citizen Shaft P. from Scientific Street in Lviv as an Initiator of the Constitutional Reform in Ukraine. Who Signed In Favor of the Referendum?
Author: Maksym Strykha, doctor of mathematical and physical sciences, writer, member of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Popular Party "Sobor."
Constitutional reform must be carried out because such is the will of the people. It is the people who initiated the 16 April referendum. It is the people who said in the referendum: Ukraine has to be [a] presidential [republic]!
Everyday we hear more or less that argument on all radio and television channels from the mouth of the very Guarantor [of the Constitution] and the Best Friend of Ukrainian Olympic Athletes, in the speeches of his loyal herdsmen and inciters from the parliamentary majority, and, finally, from the symbols of Ukraine's independent, incorruptible, and brilliant journalism--Messrs. Dolhanov and Lapikura.
Indeed, they cite the figure of 4 million signatures in support of the referendum, which was reported by the Central Electoral Commission. And even if everybody realizes that anonymous "initiative groups" were not able to work day and night at the signature-collecting speed of one signature per one signature collector per every 26 seconds, our "implementers" [of the referendum results] do not treat this calculation as evidence [of the falsification of referendumsupporting lists]. If [lawmaker and Democratic Union leader Oleksandr] Volkov gives an order, it will be possible to collect one signature even every 16 seconds. Or even every six seconds. It seems that everything is possible in this strange land of Ukraine.
But opposition party activists have not been allowed to look at those lists of signatures. It is clear why. Because the falsification was too obvious. "Initiative groups" did not even use the data bases [on residents] they had collected during previous campaigns. They simply wrote what they liked.
Exactly this was confirmed in testimony given by five activists from the Ukrainian Popular Party, the Ukrainian National Assembly-the Ukrainian Self-Defense, and the Ukrainian Party "Yednist," who managed to carry out a verification process in Lviv. The conclusion from that process is remarkable. None of the 140 signatures on the lists received from Lviv City Council Secretary V. Bilous proved to be authentic. The lists included either nonexistent addresses or the names of the people who did not reside at the given addresses.
What is more, the imagination of "initiative groups" knew no boundaries. Below I quote the protocol of the verification process that was signed by Lviv party activists and confirmed by a statement of the leaders of regional branches of the Ukrainian Republican Party, the Ukrainian Party "Yednist," the Ukrainian Popular Party "Sobor," the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, the UKRP, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the SDS, the Democratic Party of Ukraine, the UNA-UNSO, the Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party, and the KhNS. I quote dotting some letters in the names because of [their foulness] (in the protocol they are quoted in full). [Ed. note: those letters are restored in square brackets in the current text and approximate translations of the names are given, also in square brackets, at the end of each entry]. Thus:
list No. 7 includes such entries: position 6: Kh[u]y Kh[u]ylo Kh[u]yovych, Naukova 15/8,
passport number KA307930 (signature)--[Prick Pricko Prickovych, Scientific Street 15/8]
position 14: P[y]zden Kh[u]yyov Mikh[u]yovych, Naukova 15/17, passport number KA319085 (signature)--[Cunty Prickov Myprickovych, Scientific Street 15/17]
position 19; Bolt Kh[u]ylo (patronymic illegible), Naukova 15/24. passport number KA209032 (signature)--[Shaft Pricko, Scientific Street 15/24.]
I will note at once: the authenticity of all those names was confirmed on behalf of the Central Electoral Commission by the democratic Lviv authorities headed by Ukrainian poet V[asyl] Kuybida, who was born into a family of political exiles to the faraway Komi ASSR. One can only guess what names were put on referendum lists in the south and the east, where local authorities are not headed by such devoted and reliable Ukrainian patriots.
A statement by the Lviv regional branches of the nine political parties said: "We demand that Ukraine's ProsecutorGeneral' s Office instigate criminal proceedings against the initiative group from the city of Lviv that falsified 100 percent of data on referendum lists and impudently denigrated our national, civic, and human dignity. With its falsified referendum lists, [that group] inflicted moral damage on and denigrated not only Lviv residents but also all Ukrainians, the Central Electoral Commission, and the president of Ukraine, Mr. Kuchma, who believed that [the referendum] was really a popular initiative and did not suspect that it was an initiative of those three individuals from the Democratic Union who signed in positions 6, 14, and 19 on referendum list No. 7, which is kept by the Lviv City Council deputy head, Mr. Bilous."
The protocol of the examination was drawn up on 16 June. However, one has so far not heard about any actions of the Prosecutor-General's Office in defense of the "national, civic, and human dignity" of Ukrainians (apparently, they are devoting quite a lot of time and effort to the [arrested] husband of Mrs. Yuliya Tymoshenko). Instead, 251 lawmakers on 12 July voted together to support the initiative of those three individuals from the Democratic Union. Among them [were] 39 deputies from both Rukhs and the Reform and Order Party headed by Hennadiy Udovenko, Yuriy Kostenko, and Viktor Pynzenyk [respectively].
This vote convinces [us] that the Prosecutor-General's Office may be right [in not reacting to the above-mentioned demand]. It is inexpedient and impossible to defend what does not exist.
In the meantime, according to political analysts, there is a campaign under way in the Supreme Council in order to recruit 50 more supporters of the constitutional initiative of Mr. P. Shaft from Scientific Street in Lviv. This time, recruitment is being conducted among the left wing, in order not to offend the right wing.
"Vremya MN" recalled that under Ukrainian legislation, the lists containing signatures in support of a referendum may be destroyed six months after the referendum takes place. This means that in the case of the 16 April constitutional referendum the lists with signatures may be destroyed as soon as next week. The Moscow daily also noted that Oleksandr Volkov--the man blamed in the Strykha-Gongadze publication for falsifying the referendum signature lists--did not allow Gongadze to attend his press conference after the publication appeared on the Internet. Two days later, when Gongadze disappeared, Volkov pledged to do everything possible to find the journalist.
"Why is Ukraine rated as third among the world's most corrupt countries? Who and what organizations are undermining the food security of the country? Why did the Security Service of Ukraine fail to disclose the National Bank's machinations that have undermined Ukraine's international authority? Who and which organizations are stealing Russian gas? Where are the 200 nuclear warheads that should have been transferred to Russia? Who stole 400 million [ed. note: currency not specified] in compensation for the supply of nuclear fuel in exchange for nuclear warheads?" -- Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko in the parliament on 3 October. Quoted by Interfax.
"One has the impression that it is not the Security Service of Ukraine but Swiss prosecutors who care most for Ukraine's national security and international authority." -- Petro Symonenko in the parliament on 3 October. Symonenko was proposing that lawmakers send official thanks to the Swiss prosecutors who traced former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko's money-laundering operations. Quoted by Interfax.
"When President Leonid Kuchma comes on a trip to Ashgabat, it means that winter is nearing." -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov at a press conference on 4 October, after he and Kuchma signed a deal on Turkmen gas supplies to Ukraine. Quoted by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.
"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.