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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

MOSCOW SEEN TAKING UKRAINE 'AWAY FROM NATO.' In the 24 January "Kommersant-Daily," Kirill Razumovskii said that Russian-Ukrainian military cooperation is set to develop to such an extent that Ukraine, which has been tilting toward NATO, will now lean toward Moscow. PG

SOLZHENITSYN CALLS FOR HARD LINE ON CORRUPTION, UKRAINE. Writing in the 24 January "Argumenty I fakty," Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that critics of President Putin should remember the condition Russia was in when he took power. But at the same time, the noted writer criticized Putin for eliminating the ecology committee and the forest administration. He also said that the Russian president should take a tough line against corruption and against Ukraine because of its moves against the Russian language. PG

EBRD TO PROMOTE INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN UKRAINE. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 24 January signed a deal offering $9 million in guarantees for four large Ukrainian banks to help them handle international trade, Interfax reported. "It is very important to support Ukraine's international and intra-regional trade," EBRD First VicePresident Charles Frank commented. The banks are the Aval Post Pension Bank, the First Ukrainian International Bank, the Forum Commercial Bank, and the Nadra Commercial Bank. Frank announced that the EBRD is planning to open a new bank in Ukraine that will provide "micro-lending" for small businesses. Frank also discussed the construction of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine to compensate for the loss of electricity due to the Chornobyl closure. He said the EBRD may decide to finance the construction if the Paris Club agrees to restructure some of Ukraine's foreign debt. JM

RUSSIAN ENVOY NOTES IMPROVEMENT OF RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TIES. Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Ivan Aboimov said on 24 January the two countries have made progress in improving their relations, Interfax reported. "The main thing is that our countries have become aware of the need to break the negative dynamics [in mutual relations]," Aboimov said. According to Aboimov, the positive factors include a 20 percent increase in trade between the two countries, efforts to settle a dispute over Ukraine's natural gas debt to Russia, and eight meetings last year between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma. JM

ANTI-PRESIDENTIAL PROTESTS RESUME IN UKRAINE. Some 100 people held a picket in front of the Interior Ministry in Kyiv on 24 January, demanding that President Leonid Kuchma and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko resign, Interfax reported. The picketers accuse Kuchma and Kravchenko of involvement in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. One of the protest leaders told the agency that in more than 20 cities people have pitched tents, resuming the Ukraine Without Kuchma protest, which was suspended for the Christmas and New Year holiday break. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry denied the allegation voiced last week in the parliament that ministry official Eduard Fere masterminded the death in an automobile accident of Popular Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil in 1999. JM


MISSING JOURNALIST'S MOTHER COMPLAINS OF PRESSURE. Lesya Gongadze, mother of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, told the parliament the same day that she is being pressured "to agree immediately to the burial of the body" found near Kyiv last year and believed to be her son's. "But I am the mother and want to know whose corpse I am burying," she added. Lesya Gongadze called for an additional examination of the body in order to establish the cause of her son's death. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 January)

WHOSE BODY ARE GONGADZE'S WIFE AND MOTHER TO BURY? Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office has agreed to give the body of a man found near Kyiv in November last year to the wife and the mother of missing journalist Heorhiy Gongadze for burial, Interfax reported on 20 January. At the same time, the Prosecutor-General's Office refused to give Gongadze's mother and wife a certificate confirming his death, saying that it has not been officially established with absolute certainty that Gongadze was killed and that the body is his. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January)

KUCHMA'S FORMER BODYGUARD INTERVIEWED BY RFE/RL. On 29 December 2000 and 9 January 2001, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service broadcast live interviews with Mykola Melnychenko, a major in the reserve of the Ukrainian Security Service and a former presidential bodyguard, who provoked an enormous political scandal in Ukraine by publicizing tapes that allegedly prove President Leonid Kuchma's complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. On both occasions, Melnychenko contacted the Prague-based studio of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on his own and spoke by telephone in the live program called "Vechirnya Svoboda" (Evening Radio Liberty). ("RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 January 2001)

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFERS TO HELP EVALUATE 'MOROZ TAPES.' The Council of Europe on 17 January offered to arrange for an expert evaluation of the audio recordings that allegedly implicate President Kuchma in the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and are widely known as the "Moroz tapes." The council added that it will take such a step only following the Ukrainian parliament's official request for help in establishing the authenticity of the tapes. Interfax reported that the same day that the parliamentary commission headed by Oleksandr Lavrynovych decided to send the tapes as well as genetic samples of the body believed to be Gongadze's to the Council of Europe for independent tests. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January)