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KYIV SAYS IT WILL HALT ARMS SALES TO MACEDONIA. Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh said in the Crimean resort of Foros on 31 July that his country will stop selling arms to Macedonia, dpa reported, citing Ukrainian news agencies. Kinakh made the statement after meeting with Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy and security chief. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Yuriy Serheyev said at a Kyiv press conference that the decision to suspend weapons sales to Macedonia is a sovereign decision made by the Ukrainian government and is not due to EU pressure. A request for a halt in arms transfers to the Balkan country was made by U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during her 24-25 July visit to Kyiv and again by Solana as he began his fiveday visit to Ukraine on 30 July. Ukraine has sold 10 helicopters and four Su-25 attack planes to Macedonia this year. PB
UKRAINE DEMANDS EXPLANATION OF LUZHKOV'S CLAIM ON CRIMEA. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry asked on 31 July for an explanation from Moscow on a statement by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov that the Crimea is not a part of Ukraine, dpa reported. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Serhiy Borodnikov said in Kyiv that "Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been good up to this point," but he added that "we would prefer that the Russian side explain such behavior." Luzhkov told reporters in the Crimea during a visit last week that "I believe that the Crimea is Russian land. It has always been Russian and never belonged to Ukraine." Crimea was part of the RSFSR from the early 1920s until 1957, when Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev handed it over to the Ukrainian SSR. Luzhkov has made several previous statements in the past, many of which were dismissed by the Kremlin as a statement from a private citizen. Ukraine closed its airspace last autumn to Russian military aircraft flying to the Crimean base of Sevastopol, the home port of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. PB
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
NOTE TO READERS: The next issue of "RFE/RL's Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" will appear on 14 August 2001.
REVENGE FOR TOMATO HIT. The story of jobless Syarhey Laptseu -- who hit President Lukashenka with a tomato on 3 July, was sentenced to seven days in jail by a Minsk court and amnestied by Lukashenka in what seemed to be an unusual act of benevolence on the part of Belarus's dictatorial ruler (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 10 July 2001) -- had a very sad continuation. The Minskbased independent "Nasha svaboda" reported that Laptseu, while collecting signatures in support of presidential hopeful Alyaksandr Yarashuk in Minsk on 17 July, was harshly beaten by a group of young thugs who introduced themselves as being "from law-enforcement bodies" (This is a Russian cliche dating back to the Soviet-era: "iz organov"). While beating Laptseu, they repeated several times: "We will wean you off lifting your hand against the president." Laptseu, having suffered serious injuries, spent a night in hospital. "Nasha svaboda" concluded: "Now it's clear how much Lukashenka's clemency is worth: He has had his revenge, anyway. Most likely, Laptseu now thinks it would have been better for him to serve his term in jail."
CONDOLEEZZA RICE LISTS U.S. CONCERNS ABOUT UKRAINE. U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice held talks with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and other top officials in Kyiv on 25 July, during which she delivered a strongly worded warning to Ukraine, saying its integration into Europe depends on democratic reforms, transparent probes into the recent killings of journalists, and fair elections, international news agencies reported. Rice was the first major policymaker from the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to visit Kyiv, therefore her voice was given particular attention in Kyiv. At a news conference following her talks with Ukrainian officials, Rice touched upon a wide range of the Bush administration's concerns about Ukraine.
Rice said it is important for Ukraine to push economic and political reforms simultaneously. Rice praised progress on economic reforms in Ukraine and said that she heard assurances during talks with Kuchma and others that Kiev is firmly on the democratic path. "The leadership of the country realizes that the world is watching over developments in Ukraine," she said.
Rice confirmed that she discussed the killings of journalists Heorhiy Gongadze and Ihor Aleksandrov with Ukrainian leaders, adding that she demanded a full investigation into those murders.
Regarding next year's parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Rice said: "The world will be watching the elections in 2002, and not just on the day of the election but throughout the campaign to be sure that all voices have the opportunity to be heard." Answering a journalist's question as to whether she believes that the Ukrainian government will match its promises with deeds, Rice said: "We are not so easily fooled. The United States knows a free election when it sees one. It knows a free campaign when it sees one."
Rice also said that Ukraine promised to stop supplying weapons to Macedonia. (In recent months, Macedonia has purchased eight Ukrainian Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters along with four Su-25 aircraft, nearly doubling its air force, and there has been talk of the Ukrainian construction of a technical support base to repair the aircraft.) "I have been able to further consult on issues of security, including missile defense and arms to Macedonia, and I have received assurances from the Ukrainian government that those will cease, because we really do believe that there is only a political solution," AP quoted Rice as saying.
"Russian pop artists are recruited for fat fees to form propaganda teams in order to support the beggarly and fearful Lukashenka regime in the upcoming sham elections. Their sham character is not doubted by anybody, but everybody is putting a brave face on this shitty game. The 'Slavic Bazaar' festival has been irrevocably transformed from an interethnic forum into a heavy baton of the father Lukashenka, into a moral and ideological prop to the pariah regime. It should be stressed that the empty Belarusian treasury allocated no less than $1 million for this event. Is it not shameful to participate in it?" -- "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 27 July, commenting on last week's "Slavic Bazaar" music festival in Belarus, which was attended by Lukashenka, Putin, and Kuchma.
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.