©2001 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With the kind permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, InfoUkes Inc. has been given rights to electronically re-print these articles on our web site. Visit the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service page for more information. Also visit the RFE/RL home page for news stories on other Eastern European and FSU countries.

Return to Main RFE News Page
InfoUkes Home Page

ukraine-related news stories from RFE


'POPULAR TRIBUNAL' PRONOUNCES GUILTY SENTENCE ON PRESIDENT... Some 7,000 people took part in an antipresidential march in downtown Kyiv on 25 February and in a subsequent mock trial of President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax reported. In the trial called a "Popular Tribunal," protesters dressed as judges told the crowd that they found Kuchma guilty of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze's disappearance, harassment of politicians and the media, corruption, and abuse of power. Later the crowd carried Kuchma's effigy in a cage to Ukraine's Supreme Court where some protesters tried to hang it from a gallows. This was the largest protest in the recent series of "Ukraine Without Kuchma" demonstrations in Kyiv. Considerably smaller anti-presidential demonstrations were held the same day in Lviv (600 people), Odesa (200 people), and Dnipropetrovsk (300 people). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 February)

...WHILE FORMER BODYGUARD ACCUSES HIM OF TAKING $1 BILLION. Mykola Melnychenko, who released secret recordings of conversations in the Ukrainian president's office, told the 26 February "New York Times" that Kuchma pocketed at least $1 billion for personal or political use. Melnychenko added that the full transcript of recordings made "since at least 1998" in Kuchma's office will establish that "there is no greater criminal in Ukraine than Kuchma." Prior to this disclosure, it was widely believed that Melnychenko bugged Kuchma only for an unspecified period in 2000. "My goal is to totally expose the level of corruption in Ukraine as an independent Don Quixote and ensure that thieves will never come to power again in Ukraine," Melnychenko told the newspaper. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 26 February)

COMMUNISTS TO HOLD ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN MARCH. The Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) is going to hold a nationwide protest action from 12-17 March under the slogans "Down with the Regime of Kuchma and Yushchenko" and "All the Power to the Working People," Interfax reported on 26 February, quoting the KPU web site. The goal of the action is "to tell people the truth about what is going on in Ukraine, and to rouse them for an organized, conscious struggle for their human rights." The KPU declares its intention of correcting the "main mistake" of the "Ukraine Without Kuchma" rallies by expanding anti-regime protests to include wider social strata. KPU leader Petro Symonenko told the agency that the "ultrarightist nationalists," who actively participate in ongoing anti-Kuchma protests, "are destroying the idea of social justice and diverting the people from the understanding that [Ukraine's] economic reform has no prospects in essence." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February)

LUZHKOV CALLS FOR FEDERAL BODY FOR COMPATRIOT AFFAIRS. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 28 February called for the creation of a special institution to handle the affairs of Russian compatriots living abroad, Interfax-Moscow said. He suggested that the body should have the status of a state committee or federal agency. Luzhkov's proposal came at an international conference on "Moscow and Russian Compatriots -- From Support to Cooperation." Luzhkov said that in 1999 the federal budget allotted only 2.5 rubles ($0.08) for each of the 20 million ethnic Russians living in the former Soviet republics. And he came out against plans by the Russian Culture Ministry to provide support for a movie about Mazepa, a Ukrainian hero. Luzhkov also said that Russians living in former Soviet republics face special challenges because of declining support for the Russian language in these countries. In other comments on the same day, he said that his administration will continue to support the Black Sea Fleet of Russia. PG

UKRAINIAN SHIP SAILING UNDER GEORGIAN FLAG DETAINED WITH ILLEGAL ARMS CARGO. The Ukrainian-registered vessel "Anastasia," which sails under the Georgian flag, was detained by Spanish customs close to the Canary Islands on 27 February with an undeclared cargo of 640 tons of arms and ammunition, Caucasus Press reported on 28 February. According to Georgia's Transport and Communications Minister Merab Adeishvili, Georgia cannot be held responsible as the vessel does not belong to the Georgian merchant marine. LF

UKRAINIAN POLICE DISMANTLE TENT CITY, ARREST ANTI-KUCHMA PROTESTERS. Some 400 policemen on 1 March cordoned off the tent city erected by opponents of President Leonid Kuchma on Kyiv's central Khreshchatyk Street, dragged some 100 occupants out of the tents, and dismantled the camp, Reuters and AP reported. Opposition activists and witnesses said some 30 protesters were detained. "This is the beginning of Kuchma's solution to this problem [of anti-presidential protests] by force," AP quoted opposition lawmaker Yuriy Karmazin as saying. "It was an absolutely correct decision by the authorities to show that they are the authorities, and everyone should remember that for the future. Nobody is against the opposition sitting in tents. They have a specific site allocated to them, as all civilized nations do, and let them sit there as long as they like," Kuchma commented. JM

INTERNATIONAL GROUP'S STUDY OF MELNYCHENKO'S TAPES PROVES INCONCLUSIVE. The Vienna-based International Press Institute on 28 February said it cannot prove the authenticity of the tapes publicized by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko, which link Kuchma to the disappearance and murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze. Acting on a request from a Ukrainian parliamentary commission, the institute said it consulted a number of technical experts who stated that it was nearly impossible to determine whether the digitallyrecorded tapes had been manipulated. Simultaneously, the institute said it is hard to believe that the hundreds of hours of recordings have been doctored. "If the existing evidence had consisted only of the approximately 25 minutelong recordings related to the Gongadze case, one could possibly imagine some manipulations or doctoring by a 'potential aggressor,'" the institute said in a statement. An RFE/RL correspondent who recently met with Melnychenko wrote in the 28 February "Daily Telegraph" that Melnychenko has 1,000 hours of recordings. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER REJECTS 'ULTIMATUM' FROM DEPUTY PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER. Viktor Yushchenko on 28 February said that "the government will never participate in a dialogue of ultimatums with any political force," the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. Yushchenko was commenting on deputy parliamentary speaker Viktor Medvedchuk's statement that the cabinet may be dismissed unless a coalition government is created (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 February 2001). Yushchenko added that Medvedchuk's statement is "a prologue for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine" and "an attempt to change Ukraine's future," Interfax reported. "We are convinced that this is a purely clannish approach toward organizing Ukrainian politics," Yushchenko said on behalf of his cabinet, which discussed the domestic political situation at a closed-door session. JM