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OSCE TO MONITOR UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN 2002. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko on 8 November extended an official invitation to the OSCE to sent its monitors to Ukraine's parliamentary election on 31 March 2002, Ukrainian media reported. The invitation was passed to Gerard Stoudmann, the head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, who was visiting Kyiv. Stoudmann said the OSCE will send a long-term monitoring mission in early February, while several hundred observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe will arrive in Ukraine shortly before the election day. "I would like to emphasize that the general atmosphere, people's attitudes, and election legislation have changed greatly since my last visit to Ukraine. The election legislation has really become more perfect," Inter television quoted Stoudmann as saying. JM

FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER IN U.S. Former Premier Viktor Yushchenko met with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ukrainian media reported on 8 November. "[I presented] a political project and a political program which in our view could give an optimistic reply to [the question of] how a new dynamics of economic and political progress can be achieved in Ukraine," One Plus One television quoted Yushchenko as saying in Washington. According to UNIAN, Armitage said the U.S. government is willing to sent observers to the Ukrainian parliamentary election in March. Yushchenko also passed on letters from Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to the U.S. president and vice president. Kuchma said the previous day that in his letters he reaffirmed Ukraine's commitment to democracy and expressed the hope that the Jackson-Vannik amendment will be abolished to Ukraine's benefit (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 6 November 2001). JM

ONE MORE ELECTION BLOC EMERGES IN UKRAINE. The Popular Rukh of Ukraine for Unity on 8 November announced the creation of a new election bloc named Popular Movement (Rukh) of Ukraine, Interfax reported. The bloc will apparently add to the confusion among the electorate, since there are already two other Rukhs in Ukraine: the Popular Rukh of Ukraine led by Hennadiy Udovenko and the Ukrainian Popular Rukh headed by Yuriy Kostenko. "The parties of Udovenko and Kostenko are living out their last months," Bohdan Boyko, leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine for Unity, told journalists. Boyko's party was created in an unsuccessful bid to unite the once monolithic Rukh, which split into Udovenko's and Kostenko's factions following the death in a car accident of charismatic Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil in 1999. Udovenko and Kostenko, who joined the Our Ukraine election bloc of Yushchenko, have pledged to address the unification of their parties next year. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT URGES FOR EU, NATO EXPANSION OVER TERRORIST THREAT. On 8 November, Aleksander Kwasniewski told the international Europe-Forum 2001 meeting in Warsaw that the terrorist attacks against U.S. cities are additional arguments for enlarging the EU and NATO, PAP reported. Kwasniewski stressed that the expanding EU must offer an appropriate policy toward eastern countries, including Ukraine. JM


A key loan to Ukraine -- part of a $1.5 billion package linked to the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant -- has advanced closer to final approval. The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to vote next month to confirm the $215 million loan, which was tentatively approved a year ago on condition that Ukraine meet the four targets on nuclear safety and economic credibility. Jean Lemierre, the president of the EBRD, said in London on 7 November that Ukraine has met the four conditions attached to the loan to help complete reactors at the Khmelnitskyy-2 and Rivne-4 nuclear plants, known collectively as K2R4, and he formally recommended that the EBRD's board of directors vote to confirm that loan.

Approval by the EBRD board also would help unlock funds totaling $1.5 billion from other lenders for the upgrading and completion of reactors at K2R4, so that Ukraine can replace energy production lost by the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant last year.

The first condition for EBRD financing was met a year ago when authorities in Ukraine permanently shut down the last active nuclear reactor at Chornobyl -- the site, in 1986, of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.

Another important step was reached in September when the International Monetary Fund resumed disbursements under a loan program known as the "Extended Fund Facility."

EBRD spokesman Jeff Hiday told RFE/RL on 8 November that Lemierre's approval of Kyiv's progress on nuclear safety assurances is significant. "Another [important condition that Lemierre says has been met] is that a host of [nuclear] safety standards are put in place. And not only safety standards, but money to implement safety standards. And this is not only for these two reactors [at Khmelnitskyy and Rivne], but also for all 13 nuclear reactors that are operated in Ukraine," he said

The safety assurances required by the EBRD include the issuing of a report by international nuclear regulators confirming that Ukrainian nuclear regulators have the necessary independence and resources to assure that nuclear plants in the country meet Western safety standards. The EBRD also required commitments from the G-7 leading industrial nations and from the European Commission to provide technical assistance.

Finally, financial commitments for the K2R4 project were required from the European Union's nuclear agency Euroatom, along with several export credit agencies and Russia.

Hiday said prompt confirmation by the EBRD board next month could allow financing for the remainder of the $1.5 billion loan package to be completed by the end of this year. "I think [the EBRD loan and financing from others] is going to come together more or less simultaneously," Hiday said. "The G-7 also has to take a lead in arranging the financing. But it all needs to happen more or less at once. And, in fact, if we sign this deal next month in Kyiv, as we hope to, it would be not only us signing the deal but several of the other parties signing the deal at the same time. So we all have to move in concert."

But Hiday said the EBRD board's vote is not expected to be a long, drawn-out process. "[The board simply has] to give a confirmation that these four conditions have been met. But they don't have to go through the entire project again [as they did last year]," he said. "It's purely to agree that these technical conditions have been met."

Hiday said any loan agreement signed in Kyiv would contain a series of additional conditions that would have to be met before money is actually disbursed. "There are a lot of other conditions that relate to the money being disbursed. There are about 30 in total," Hiday said. "They range from adoption of a privatization plan for [Ukrainian] energy distribution companies to the establishment of a decommissioning fund for the eventual decommissioning of other [nuclear power] plants. Also, they have to do with electricity sector reform, to get tariffs raised and more cash collected for electricity bills."

The G-7 countries and the European Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with Kyiv in 1995 on the closure of Chornobyl. The EBRD was asked at that time to play a role in possible financing for the completion of K2R4.

The EBRD also administers three international funds for the decommissioning of Soviet-designed nuclear reactors in Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.

RSF: 39 'PREDATORS OF PRESS FREEDOM'... On 6 November, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) updated its May 2001 list of predators of press freedom, by adding eight names for a new total of 39. Many are responsible for these press violations: presidents, ministers, public prosecutors, heads of state, revolutionary guides or army leaders. They have jailed, kidnapped, tortured, and sometimes killed journalists. The RSF list includes Mullah Mohammad Omar (Afghanistan), Alyaksandr Lukashenka (Belarus), the kidnapping mafia (Chechnya), Ali Khamenei (Iran), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Kirsan Iliumjinov (Kalmykia Republic, Russian Federation), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan), Leonid Kuchma (Ukraine), and Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan). Since May, some predators have intensified repression: in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, after banning the Internet, has ordered the arrest of five foreign journalists since 11 September; and in Russia, President Putin took control of the national media. (Reporters Without Borders Press Release, 6 November)


MINISTER: HONORED JOURNALISTS 'DIED OF ALCOHOLISM.' During a 5 October interview, Internal Affairs Minister Yuri Smyrnov claimed that "80 percent" of the 18 dead journalists whose names will be carved on a memorial plaque in Kyiv "died naturally of alcoholism." Since he claimed he did not want to offend their relatives, Smyrnov refused to name the journalists. He did specify, however, that this "observation" did not apply to the two celebrated cases -- those of Heorhiy Gongadze or Ihor Aleksandrov -- of journalists who died violent deaths. ("European Media Institute Ukraine Newsletter," September)

POLICE (OFFER TO) ARM JOURNALISTS. In early October, the head of the Internal Affairs Kharkiv directorate, Serhiy Husarov, said that although he could not station guards at the entrance to every journalist's house, "he was ready to provide [journalists] with pistols and rubber bullets" -- although there is no need for such measures. Husarov did say he had received top-level official instructions to "communicate more closely with journalists." Meanwhile, in Cherkasy, police provided 22 journalists with gas pistols and tear gas for their own protection. ("European Media Institute Ukraine Newsletter," September)

INFORMATION PROTECTION PLAN. Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh said in Lviv on 26 October that the Ukrainian government is developing a national information security plan and that next year's budget would include funds to "successfully protect and promote national interests in this sphere." Meanwhile, the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council expressed dissatisfaction with state information policy, particularly in regard to the print and electronic media's "negative impact on Ukrainian civil society and its national identity." It also expressed concern at the lack of regulation over the Internet. ("European Media Institute Ukraine Newsletter," September)

EU COMPLETES CHORNOBYL INFORMATION PROJECT. Officials of the EU TACIS program on 5 November said they have completed a $1.2 million project aimed at informing the public in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia about the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, AP reported. The TACIS project included a collection of scientific information about the catastrophe's aftermath, which was then distributed with the inclusion of new statistics and recommendations on how to survive in affected areas. The information is published in books, booklets, videotapes, and compact discs distributed to government institutions, lawmakers, and various regional organizations. "We cannot clean food products from radiation with CDs, but we can learn from them that 90 percent of all products in Ukraine are clean and that people don't need to do something special about them," one of the program's participants said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November)

COMMUNISTS WANT U.S. AMBASSADOR OUT. The Communist Party of Ukraine has called on the Foreign Ministry to declare U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual persona non grata for interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs, Ukrainian media reported on 30 October. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said Pascual has grossly interfered in the country's affairs by sending a letter to the Ukrainian parliament and urging the "so-called parliamentary majority" to adopt laws on curbing copyright violations. According to Symonenko, some legislative provisions designed to crack down on Ukraine's market in pirated video, audio, and computer software were inspired or even dictated by U.S. experts. The U.S. previously indicated that it could impose sanctions over Kyiv's inability to curb the piracy of intellectual property. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October)