DISPUTE OVER EXPORT OF KAZAKH OIL TO UKRAINE CONTINUES. The office of Kazakhstan's Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade, Vladimir Shkolnik, issued a statement on 12 December accusing Nurlan Balghymbaev, who is the president of the state oil company KazakhOil, of violating the law by refusing to make the company's transactions public, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Shkolnik also took issue with Balghymbaev's assertion in the parliament last week that the export of Kazakh crude for refining at Ukraine's Kherson oil refinery is legal. He again called for a halt to such exports. LF

CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on 6 December incorrectly quoted Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev as expressing his opposition to the export of Kazakh crude to Ukraine. The Ministry of Energy, Industry, and Trade had argued in a letter to Toqaev last month that such exports are not rational.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT EXAMINES INTERVIEW IMPLICATING KUCHMA... The packed parliament hall on 12 December repeatedly rang with shouts of indignation and applause as lawmakers were shown a 24-minute video tape featuring an interview with Major Mykola Melnychenko, a former officer in President Leonid Kuchma's bodyguard service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 2000). Melnychenko, who secretly taped Kuchma for an unspecified period, alleges that the president gave an order to Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko and presidential staff chief Vlodymyr Lytvyn to murder journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. The former bodyguard also maintains that the president instructed Security Service Leonid Derkach and other officials to eavesdrop on government and opposition politicians and to stifle independent media. "I gave an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, to the people of Ukraine. I did not break my oath. I did not swear allegiance to Kuchma to perform his criminal orders," Melnychenko said on the video tape. JM

...QUESTIONS SECURITY SERVICE CHIEF, INTERIOR MINISTER... Later the same day in the parliament, Security Service chief Leonid Derkach denied that his service bugged "the offices of high-ranking officials," as charged by Melnychenko on the video tape, Interfax reported. Urged by one lawmaker to step down because there is allegedly "blood on his hands," Derkach replied that "there is and will be no blood on my hands." Subsequently, Interior Minister Kravchenko told lawmakers that he "received no instructions from Kuchma regarding Gongadze." Kravchenko declined to answer the question whether his voice is recorded on "Moroz's tape," which allegedly proves his complicity in Gongadze's disappearance. Kravchenko did not respond to proposals from lawmakers to step down for the period of the investigation of the Gongadze case. JM

...ENDS SITTING IN TURMOIL. Even later the same day, following a heated debate, the parliament failed to pass a resolution recommending that the president fire Security Service chief Derkach and Customs Service head Yuriy Solovkov. The resolution was proposed in connection with the search at Kyiv airport of the three deputies who brought the video tape of Melnychenko's confession into the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 December 2000). The lawmakers blame Derkach and Solovkov for ordering the search and violating the deputies' immunity. After an abortive vote on the resolution, a group of lawmakers tried to storm the parliamentary Presidium, while speaker Ivan Plyushch announced the closure of the day's sitting. Some 100 lawmakers remained in the parliamentary chamber, making various proposals and attempting to collect signatures in support of Plyushch's ouster. JM


RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report Vol. 2, No. 46, 12 December 2000

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


UKRAINIANS DISTRUST THEIR COURSE AND HELMSMEN. Ukraine's Socis and Democratic Initiative Fund conducted a poll among 1,200 respondents in all Ukrainian regions in November to determine political preferences and attitudes of Ukrainian citizens, Interfax reported on 4 December.

According to the poll, only 14 percent of respondents believe that Ukraine is moving "in the right direction," while 69 percent are of the opposite opinion; 16 percent were unable to answer the question. In Crimea and eastern regions, more than 80 percent of respondents oppose the country's transformations, while the lowest number of opponents of the current changes is in the Rivne and Volyn oblasts (39 percent).

The poll found that 22 percent are supporters of communist ideology in Ukraine, confirming previous polls by other institutes. Eight percent of respondents said they support social-democratic ideas, 7 percent pledged support for socialism, and 6 percent said they are of a "nationaldemocratic" orientation. Thirty-four percent said they do not support any ideology.

The poll also revealed that Ukrainians are very distrustful of their public and political institutions as well as of top state leaders and politicians. The Church is "fully trusted" by 45 percent of respondents, while 16 percent has no trust whatsoever in that institution. The corresponding figures for the army are 33 percent and 20 percent; the media--24 percent and 18 percent; the parliament--6 percent and 53 percent; the government--11 percent and 48 percent; police--16 percent and 43 percent; local councils--11 percent and 50 percent; local state administrations--9 percent and 49 percent; courts--14 percent and 33 percent; and trade unions--12 percent and 33 percent.

Premier Viktor Yushchenko is fully trusted by 23 percent of respondents, while 31 percent said they had no trust whatsoever in him. The corresponding figures for President Leonid Kuchma are 14 percent and 49 percent; Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko--11 percent and 18 percent; parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch--7 percent and 42 percent; National Security and Defense Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk--6 percent and 39 percent; and presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn--3 percent and 20 percent.

Among party leaders, the most trusted are Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko (21 percent professing complete trust and 42 percent no trust whatsoever), Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz (9 percent and 43 percent), Progressive Socialist Party leader Natalya Vitrenko (8 percent and 55 percent), Popular Rukh of Ukraine leader Hennadiy Udovenko (7 percent and 46 percent), and "Fatherland" Party leader Yuliya Tymoshenko (6 percent and 52 percent).

The poll was conducted before Moroz publicized the tape allegedly showing Kuchma's, Kravchenko's and Lytvyn's involvement in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze.

"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.