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ABKHAZ PRESIDENT SAYS CIS PEACEKEEPERS MUST NOT BE WITHDRAWN. The Russian peacekeepers deployed in the Abkhaz conflict zone since mid-1994 are a guarantee of the nonresumption of hostilities and create conditions for negotiations between Sukhum and Tbilisi on resolving the Abkhaz conflict, President Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 22 May. He said that although the peacekeepers are deployed under the CIS aegis, "it is Russia that plays the stabilizing role in the region, and therefore there is no need for the internationalization of the CIS peacekeeping force." Tbilisi would prefer a UN peacekeeping force, for which Ukraine has said it would be willing to provide troops. Ardzinba added that the Russian military base in Gudauta is essential to the peacekeeping mission and should be maintained. Russia is scheduled to withdraw the last of its forces from that base by 1 July, and Tbilisi has said it will allow the CIS peacekeepers to use that facility only if Moscow lifts the visa requirement currently in force for Georgian citizens wishing to enter the Russian Federation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2001). LF

END NOTE: KUCHMA NOMINATES CANDIDATE FOR UKRAINIAN PREMIER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ASPIRANT TO UKRAINIAN PREMIER POST PLEDGES TO CONTINUE REFORMS. Anatoliy Kinakh, who has been appointed by President Leonid Kuchma as a candidate to head the cabinet, told the "Ukrayinska pravda" website on 22 May that, if approved by the parliament, he will continue the previous cabinet's "market reforms and move to civil society." Kinakh added that this condition is "the border of compromise" in his upcoming talks with parliamentary groups. The Greens, Social Democratic Party (United), Ukraine's Regions, and Solidarity parliamentary groups have already declared their support for Kinakh. Kinakh's appointment seems to be dependent on the stance of the 112-strong Communist Party parliamentary caucus. Its leader, Petro Symonenko, said the Communists will support Kinakh if he agrees to implement their socioeconomic program. A parliamentary vote on Kinakh is expected next week (see also "End Note" below). JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION ACCUSES AUTHORITIES OF REMOVING MONUMENT TO DEAD JOURNALISTS. Yuriy Lutsenko, a leader of the "Ukraine Without Kuchma" opposition movement, has accused the authorities of removing the memorial plaque to dead Ukrainian journalists that was unveiled on 21 May without official permission by opposition groups in Kyiv (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2001), Interfax reported on 23 May. "I think that the only reason [for removing the plague] was the criminals' fear of seeing the list of their victims and, all the more so, their fear that this list could be seen by many thousands of people," Lutsenko noted. The city administration told the agency that it had not given any orders to remove the plaque. According to Lutsenko, the plaque was dismantled in the early morning of 23 May. JM


Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma nominated Anatoliy Kinakh, a parliamentarian who is the leader of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, as candidate for the job of prime minister on 22 May. The nomination has to be approved by a majority of the 450-strong parliament.

Kuchma has been seeking a candidate for the prime minister's job since Viktor Yushchenko resigned from the job on 26 April after losing a vote of no-confidence in parliament. The vote was the result of an alliance of Communists -- the largest party in the parliament -- and parties loyal to the Ukrainian oligarchs.

The Communists opposed Yushchenko's pro-Western and promarket reforms, while many of the oligarchs were angered by Yushchenko's attempts to curb their business activities.

Kinakh is not a very well known politician in Ukraine, although he served for a time as deputy prime minister in charge of the industry and fuel sector.

Analyst Volodymyr Polokhalo, the editor of "Political Thought" magazine, told RFE/RL that Kuchma's overriding consideration in making the nomination was to select someone as prime minister who would be obedient and able to prepare for next year's general elections in order to secure a parliamentary majority for the president.

"The president has to have almost absolute trust in a person who will, in the first place, obey all his orders, including informal agreements, and in the second place look after the interests of the oligarchs," Polokhalo said. "[The nomination is] in fact about creating the conditions for forging a parliament in 2002 which has a majority that will support the president and secure his political legacy and personal safety in the manner that was achieved in Russia for Boris Yeltsin."

Polokhalo said that Kinakh had worked closely with Kuchma in the past, most notably when he threw the support of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs behind Kuchma during the presidential elections in 1999. The analyst also said that although Kinakh had relations with the oligarchs, he was not closely associated with them or any other political grouping.

"Anatoliy Kinakh delivered [to] the president the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which contributed greatly to Kuchma's victory in the presidential elections," Polokhalo said. "This Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is extraordinarily influential in Ukraine. It unites the Red (Communist) directors and other industrial leaders who constitute a powerful economic and political force."

Polokhalo says that the 49-year-old Kinakh is a person who occasionally uses the language of reform but has not been able to break away from his past as part of the old Soviet nomenklatura. He says Kinakh retains many of the psychological traits and habits of that old Soviet elite.

Many politicians and analysts doubt whether Kinakh has enough backing to gain a majority in parliament during the vote expected next week to approve his nomination. Although the communists and oligarchs united to get rid of Yushchenko, they have shown little evidence that they are ready to vote for the same prime ministerial candidate. If parliament repeatedly rejects Kuchma's nomination, than the president can appoint Kinakh as acting prime minister.

Parliament speaker Ivan Plyushch said on 21 May that it will be difficult for any presidential nominee for prime minister to win parliamentary approval.

He said that Ukraine's parliamentarians were not prepared for the dismissal of Yushchenko: "Yushchenko has been sacked, and now they have realized that they are not ready to take logical steps in order to appoint a new prime minister and form a government."

Like analyst Polokhalo, Plyushch said the parliamentary elections scheduled for the spring of 2002 are far more important issue for political parties than the need to form a full-fledged government. He thinks Kuchma will have to settle for an acting prime minister.

Polokhalo said that the way the Communists vote on Kinakh's nomination will be crucial. Last week the Communists were adamant they would only vote for one of their own nominees.

"I'd put his chances at 50-50," Polokhalo said, "if Anatoliy Kinakh has managed to strike a deal with the Communists -- and today they are an active political player, being the largest grouping in parliament -- while there is a split between the right-wing and oligarch groupings and an absence of any agreement among the most powerful political elites. Therefore, the Communist Party can now play an important role in whether Kinakh will be acing prime minister or prime minister."

It still remains to see whether Kinakh will accept the less politically powerful role of acting prime minister if he fails to get a parliamentary majority next week.