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PUTIN TAKES PART IN UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY... President Vladimir Putin on 23 August flew to Kyiv to take part in celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, Russian and Western agencies reported. He praised Ukraine's progress over the last decade and said much of it reflects Ukrainian-Russian ties. And he said that he hoped for expanded ties and more frequent summits in the future. He was accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, leading some commentators in Ukraine to conclude that he hopes to secure Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's agreement to the renewed production of strategic missiles at the rocket factory in Dnepropetrivsk that Kuchma led in Soviet times, the BBC reported. VY

...COMMENTS ON NATO ROLE IN MACEDONIA. While in Kyiv, President Putin met with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and took the occasion to say that he hopes the NATO operation in that country will "bring positive results," but that he has "major doubts" as to whether that will be possible, Interfax reported on 23 August. Meanwhile, officials in both Moscow and Kyiv denied reports in Western media that Russian and Ukrainian planes have carried large quantities of arms to Macedonia in recent days, ITAR-TASS reported (see also Part II). And Russian Airborne commanders said in Moscow that they have received no instructions to prepare for participation in the NATO operation in Macedonia, the Russian news service said. PG

PUTIN TELLS KASYANOV GOVERNMENT MUST KEEP ITS PROMISES IN SOCIAL SPHERE. At a meeting in Moscow before leaving for Kyiv, President Putin told Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that the government must do everything it can to keep its promises in the social sphere, especially to those such as soldiers who have recently lost some of their special privileges, Interfax reported on 23 August. Meanwhile, Labor Minister Aleksandr Pochinok the same day said that the government is launching a special program to help pensioners with special housing and educational opportunities, the Russian agency reported. The government also announced that it is providing more liberal benefits to those who live or have lived in the Far North and that the cabinet had set priorities in 14 federal programs. PG

RUSSIANS DISSATISFIED WITH UKRAINIAN TIES, KUCHMA. Polls conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation and reported by Interfax on 23 August show that 56 percent of Russians are unsatisfied with their country's ties with Ukraine, 11 percent more than those who registered dissatisfaction when asked the same question in 1999. Meanwhile, another poll conducted by the same foundation showed that only 9 percent of Russians now approve of the actions of Ukrainian President Kuchma, down from 22 percent in 1997. PG

PAVLOVSKII PROMOTES RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TIES ON THE INTERNET. Gleb Pavlovskii, who serves as President Putin's media adviser, has launched a new Internet site,, to promote Russian-Ukrainian relations, reported on 23 August. On its opening page, Pavlovskii said that his main goal is to inform Russians about developments in Ukraine, where he said, "Putin is even more popular than in Russia." He added that Putin wants both countries to be part of a "united Europe" but not become "copies of the West." He said his site will also seek to overcome obstacles to this among many Ukrainians: the notion of some in the Ukrainian elite that Russia remains a threat and that Ukraine can join Europe without Russia. VY

PRESIDENT SAYS UKRAINE'S INDEPENDENCE SET 'IRREVOCABLY.' "Independent Ukraine came into being ultimately and irrevocably," Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Kyiv on 23 August, at a gala meeting to mark the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. Kuchma said the nation's main achievement in the past 10 years is the peaceful way in which Ukraine's independence has been established. Kuchma also stressed his own role in Ukraine's transformations: "As the head of state, I have demonstrated to Ukrainian society and the entire world my dedication to the lawful, generally accepted democratic principles of resolving the problems [that surfaced during Ukraine's transformation]," Interfax quoted Kuchma as saying. The president said Ukraine's primary tasks for the next decade are to speed up and deepen the process of developing democracy and civic society as well as to integrate with Europe. JM

RUSSIAN, POLISH, MACEDONIAN PRESIDENTS ATTEND UKRAINE'S INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS. The presidents of Russia, Poland, and Macedonia -- Vladimir Putin, Aleksander Kwasniewski, and Boris Trajkovski, respectively -- arrived in Kyiv on 23 August to take part in official celebrations of Ukraine's independence anniversary. "The brotherhood between Russia and Ukraine is not a legend, it is a fact of history and therefore, our common future is the future of two European states that are closely connected with each other," ITAR-TASS quoted Putin as saying in Kyiv. Kwasniewski said Poland is Ukraine's advocate, and added that his country is involved in consolidating Ukraine's independence, PAP reported. President Kuchma and the three visitors attended the unveiling of the Independence Monument in Kyiv. JM

NATO HAILS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENT UKRAINE. NATO on 24 August congratulated Ukraine on the 10th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union and urged Kyiv to stay on the path of economic and political reforms, Reuters reported. "Since 1991, NATO and Ukraine have made great strides in developing a special relationship in a Europe that has overcome the dividing lines of the past," the Atlantic alliance said in a statement. "NATO will continue to support independent, democratic, and market-oriented Ukraine and encourages Ukraine to take the reform process forward, including in the critical field of defense reform," the statement said. JM

PUTIN TO VISIT POLAND IN MID-JANUARY. Russian President Putin declared at his 23 August meeting in Kyiv with his Polish counterpart Kwasniewski that he will pay an official visit to Warsaw in mid-January 2002, Russian and Polish media reported. "Relations between our countries have achieved a new level of quality," Putin said after the talks, adding that the Russian-Polish trade turnover reached $5.5 billion last year. Sergei Prikhodko, deputy head of the Russian president's administration, commented after the meeting that Russia and Poland intend to increase cooperation in connection with the exporting of Russian gas to the EU. The two presidents also touched upon the future role of Russia's Kaliningrad exclave and agreed that further discussions will take place in four-way talks that will include Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and the EU. JM

PUTIN BACKS MACEDONIAN HARD-LINERS. Continuing Russia's policy of supporting hard-liners among the Orthodox Slavs of the Balkans in order to gain influence there (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 March and 31 July 2001), Russian President Vladimir Putin told Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski in Kyiv on 24 August that the UCK are "terrorists, not rebels," dpa reported. He criticized NATO's mission as ill-conceived, said that the UCK will not surrender most of their weapons, and blamed the region's problems on poverty and crime. He added that "We should understand that we are confronted in Europe by fundamentalism, we are confronted by people with aggressive aspirations," RFE/RL reported. Trajkovski told newsmen that he agrees with Putin and wants NATO to take tougher measures to disarm the UCK. He added that both men agree that Kosova is the source of the problem. Western media have reported recently that Moscow and Kyiv are sending massive arms shipments to Skopje (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 August 2001). Russia and Ukraine deny this. Russia has little to offer the region except weapons and natural gas, for which it drives a hard bargain. PM


PROSECUTOR-GENERAL SAYS KILLING OF JOURNALIST ALEKSANDROV NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. Mykhaylo Potebenko on 16 August said there was no high-level political motivation behind last month's killing of Ihor Aleksandrov, the director of a regional television company in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, AP reported. Potebenko added that the attack on Aleksandrov was apparently prompted by local dissatisfaction with his journalistic activities. Potebenko visited Slavyansk with Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov and Security Service Deputy Chief Yuriy Vandin after President Leonid Kuchma criticized the investigation of the Aleksandrov case as inefficient and ordered top law-enforcement officials to take over the probe. "We are sure there will be a positive result [in the investigation], but I cannot say it will be tomorrow," the agency quoted Potebenko as saying. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August)

SEVASTOPOL JOURNALIST DETAINED. A joint press statement on 8 August by the Sevastopol MVD and the Security Service of Ukraine (the former KGB) claimed that law-enforcement agencies on 28 July had prevented mass violence against ethnic minorities by skinheads through mass arrests, according to various Ukrainian media sources. An 8 August report by the UNIAN news agency quotes the official press statement: "According to information from competent agencies, members of this gang on Russian Navy Day intended to beat people of nonSlavic nationality [and] to do this, members of the 'Skinhead' organization were to come [to Sevastopol] from Yalta, St. Petersburg and Kharkov." Leaflets calling for violence against ethnic minorities and containing fascist symbols were also confiscated from the young extremists. Among the detained alleged skinheads was Yevgeny Rybkin, a reporter for the paper "Melitopolskie Vedomosti." Police claim that he has long-standing contacts with skinheads and was wearing a black shirt with the word "Skin" on it, but Rybkin counters that the shirt has nothing to do with skinheads and claims that police beat him. (Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry press release, 18 August)