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ONE AMERICANIST SAYS MOSCOW SHOULD WELCOME BUSH'S TOUGH LINE ON AID. Anatolii Utkin, the director of the Center for International Research at the USA and Canada Institute, said that Moscow should welcome President Bush's statement that he will withhold aid to Russia unless corruption is ended and reforms implemented, "Trud" reported on 18 January. That may not only increase pressure on Russia to improve but also end the imbalance in aid between Russia and Ukraine, given Kyiv's current problems, he said.
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
ANOTHER PARTY FACES SPLIT BECAUSE OF CITIZENS' PLATFORM? The recent creation of the Citizens' Platform (PO) has already provoked numerous defections from the centrist Freedom Union (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 January 2001) and now is threatening the unity of the Conservative Peasant Party (SKL), a major component of the ruling Solidarity Election Action (AWS) bloc. The PO's three leaders -- Andrzej Olechowski, Maciej Plazynski, and Donald Tusk -- repeatedly asked the SKL to quit the AWS and join their initiative, explaining their requests by the similarities between the political programs of the SKL and the PO. The last such attempt took place on 26 January, at a meeting of Olechowski with SKL Chairman Jan Maria Rokita, SKL Political Council head Aleksander Hall, and SKL Deputy Chairman Artur Balazs in the Sejm building late at night.
The next day the SKL Political Council voted by 61 to 53 with three abstentions to remain in the AWS. Balazs, who is agricultural minister in Jerzy Buzek's cabinet, said after the vote that he will comply with the SKL Political Council's decision but he resigned the post of SKL deputy chairman. Hall said he needs "several days for considering" what to do now. Both Balazs and Hall wanted the SKL to join the PO.
According to PAP, the debate before the vote was heated. Rokita argued that the PO's proposal of political cooperation with the SKL is unacceptable because it implied the SKL's "liquidation." Hall called for joining the PO, saying the Platform is "the only chance for the SKL, Poland, and the right-wing-oriented Poles." According to Hall, while remaining in the AWS, the SKL will face "the exhaustion of [its] political mission and ideological death" as well as an "electoral failure" this fall.
Meanwhile, Olechowski has announced that he will lead the PO's election committee to "encourage and mobilize people," noting that he personally will not run for the Sejm or the Senate. Olechowski added that following this fall's parliamentary elections, deputies and senators elected to the parliament on a Citizens' Platform ticket will organize a founding congress of a political party. "This party will be the Platform's political wing," he said.
"The West, of course, needs to influence [the situation] here in a certain manner. They are looking for people -- for agents of influence, as they were called before -- here. You know, they [the West] feed them, pay them money, and have decided to create a corps of 14-18,000 militants who will allegedly be observers, but tomorrow, as journalists say in the Chechen Republic, they will be sowing grain by day and wielding guns by night. Where are the guarantees that this will not happen? Those will be paid and trained people. We did not consent to this. I am just giving [you] an example of the OSCE's policy. What right do you have here to create some observation groups and other [things]? You have only one mandate -- to assist the authorities in improving legislation and to monitor the processes under way here. Do monitor, do monitor. [But] we are the masters [here]. You came here to help [us] work out legislation, following my decision and a request from former Foreign Minister [Ivan] Antanovich. As I already said, we have improved that legislation. Sufficiently. I declare for the third time, we will not touch the electoral legislation until the presidential elections. The Belarusian legislation is civilized, normal, everybody has confirmed this. All countries, all observers who were here said: it is civilized. ...A question arises: what is left of your [the OSCE mission's] mandate? We are monitoring. Well, do monitor, you have four people here, do monitor. But where has it been written down that you should interfere in our domestic policy and create here [ed. note: he does not finish his thought], pay money from the OSCE? Do you realize what an absurdity it is? We pay membership fees to the OSCE, they go into the budget of that OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group [in Minsk], and they [the group] finance our opposition here, they fight against Lukashenka for his own money. Is it not absurd? What, should I look at this calmly? No. Therefore, we took the budget of the OSCE group under control, we have the right to do this. Now they have allegedly given up [the idea of] that corps of observers and realized that it is not allowed. Moreover, I can hardly be reproached for taking a tough stance on the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group. You know following which events I took such a stance. [It was] after our home-grown [nationally] aware ones [ed. note: Lukashenka's routine abuse with regard to the opposition which pursues the goal of Belarus's full independence and national revival, in contrast to his stress on Belarus' Soviet past and integration with Russia; Lukashenka pronounces this abuse in Belarusian: svyadomyya] started to speak about a Yugoslav scenario and after a group of Western observers started to speak about a Kostunica scenario. What, should I look calmly at this, when they start to bomb our people from above with shells stuffed with allegedly depleted uranium? We have already got [our share] from Chornobyl. Therefore, I reacted in a tough way when all those trends began: yesterday Yugoslavia, tomorrow Belarus. No, there will be no Yugoslavia here. As long as I am president, this will not happen. This is not a bluff, this is not a bluff. I will not push you to the barricades, I will go ahead of you, I will defend my people. I am intended for this as the president, in the end. I am not for paying wages or regulating prices. There are the government and local power bodies for this purpose, even if I have to do this by myself. For this reason I am unpopular. [But] this is not the role of a president. I am duty-bound to defend the country and the people...."
YUSHCHENKO OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CABINET PROSPECTS. Premier Viktor Yushchenko said on 26 January that this year the government is going to raise pensions every three months and wages in the budget sphere every month, Interfax reported. Yushchenko noted that this goal can be achieved if Ukraine preserves "the harmony and productivity that has [so far] existed in the triangle president-parliament-government." According to Yushchenko, the problem of wage arrears will be resolved within the current year at all Ukrainian enterprises, irrespective of their form of ownership.
Yushchenko said he is interested in the creation of a coalition government in Ukraine but added that the current parliament has no coalition that could form such a cabinet. Yushchenko was commenting on lawmaker Serhiy Tyhypko's proposal that the parliament initiate Yushchenko's ouster if the latter fails to form a coalition cabinet. "We have a [parliamentary] coalition formed on the basis of various ideas that are not necessarily political," Yushchenko noted. According to Yushchenko, it is "theoretically impossible" to propose a coalition cabinet on the basis of the 11 parliamentary caucuses and groups that currently constitute the so-called "parliamentary majority."
Yushchenko said his cabinet is a "quasi-coalition," since some of its members are affiliated to some political parties or parliamentary groups. In particular, he noted that Deputy Premier Mykola Zhulynskyy is deputy head of the Liberal Party, Agrarian Policy Minister Ivan Kyrylenko belongs to the Agrarian Party, Education Minister Vasyl Kremen is from the Social Democratic Party (United), Environmental Minister Ivan Zayets belongs to the Ukrainian Popular Rukh, and Health Minister Vitaliy Moskalenko is from the Popular Democratic Party. (Interfax added that, according to its data, Deputy Premier Mykhaylo Hladiy is one of the leaders of the Agrarian Party.)
Yushchenko commented that following Oleh Dybyna's appointment as a new deputy premier to replace Yuliya Tymoshenko (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 January 2001), the cabinet will conduct an "even tougher" policy of exacting payments from energy and fuel consumers than before. He also pledged that the government will pay "more attention" to the privatization of regional energysupplying companies (oblenergos).
"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.
...WHILE OPPOSITION FIGURE SLIGHTS THEM. Former Premier Mikhail Chyhir told Belapan the same day that Lukashenka will soon back down on his anti-OSCE rhetoric. Chyhir added that such situations have happened "more than once." According to Chyhir, Lukashenka makes his "extravagant statements" because of a feeling of political impasse and his uncertainty whether he will win this year's presidential ballot. Commenting on Lukashenka's claim that the president controls the OSCE mission's budget, Chyhir said "this is not far from saying that Belarus will control the Pentagon's budget." Simultaneously, Chyhir admitted that Lukashenka's recent anti-OSCE charges are the most "scandalous" pronouncement in the entire history of this organization (see also "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 30 January 2001). JM
OFFICIAL: UKRAINIAN CABINET'S SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON FUEL, ENERGY SECTOR REFORM. "Fundamental reforms in the fuel and energy sector is a question of the survival of the government and the premier," the 30 January "Eastern Economist Daily" quoted Volodymyr Lanovyy as saying. According to Lanovyy, who is the presidential representative in Viktor Yuschenko's cabinet, Ukraine is threatened with an energy consumption crisis. In his opinion, the government has nearly lost its political initiative in conducting reforms in the country. Lanovyy added that the situation was far more favorable in the beginning of 2000, when Yushchenko was installed as Ukraine's "first" reformist premier. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TELLS PREMIER TO PAY OFF COAL MINERS. Leonid Kuchma has instructed Premier Yushchenko to resolve the problem of wage arrears and payment for coal deliveries in the coal mining sector within one month, Interfax reported on 29 January. The presidential service told the agency that as of 26 January, the government paid only for 13.2 percent of supplied coal and 52.5 percent of the wages owed to the sector. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT NOT IN FULL CONTROL? Political scientist Volodymyr Polokhalo has said President Kuchma controls only "30 to 40 percent of the situation" in the country, the 30 January "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. Polokhalo added that his conclusion is evident from Kuchma's long-standing desire to dismiss Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko and the way in which this ouster was eventually accomplished. JM
'UKRAINE WITHOUT KUCHMA' PROTEST IN KYIV FENCED IN. The Socialist Party renewed its Ukraine Without Kuchma protest action on Independence Square in Kyiv by pitching five tents there on 29 January. Interfax reported the next day that the city authorities fenced in the tents as well as a part of the square at night, saying the move was caused by the beginning of construction works to erect a monument to Ukraine's independence. JM