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...NOT YET READY TO MAKE FIRM COMMITMENT TO EXPORT OIL VIA UKRAINE. Speaking on 14 February in Kyiv at a session of the Azerbaijan-Ukraine intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, Azerbaijan's Deputy Premier Abbas Abbasov said his country will not export oil via the Odesa-Brody pipeline this year, although he did not exclude doing so in future, Russian agencies reported. He invited Ukraine to participate in construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline, according to Turan on 15 February. U.S. officials have similarly proposed that Ukraine should join that project. LF

End Note: UKRAINE DEBATES THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

KUCHMA TO HEAD FOR A UNITED UKRAINE PARTY? Presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn, who leads the For a United Ukraine election bloc, told journalists on 14 February that President Leonid Kuchma has expressed his readiness to lead a planned For a United Ukraine Party, UNIAN reported. "Our agreement on the creation of the For a United Ukraine election bloc envisions two principal tasks -- the creation of a parliamentary caucus and the creation of a propresidential party on the basis of the bloc. The president is ready to head the party in the stage of its formation," Lytvyn said. JM

PRESIDENT SAYS SMUGGLING THREATENS UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC SECURITY. Addressing a government conference on the protection of the domestic market on 14 February, President Kuchma said smuggling is threatening the country's economic security, UNIAN reported. According to Kuchma, last year Ukraine's budget lost more than 2 billion hryvni ($376 million) in unpaid customs dues. Without specifying a time frame, Kuchma said illegal transit of alcohol across Ukraine has increased threefold. Kuchma also said Ukraine has become "a major link on the Balkan drug-trafficking route to Europe." The president added that Ukraine has seen a 300 percent increase in drug-related crimes in the past 10 years. JM

UKRAINE'S RUSSIAN BLOC CAMPAIGNS FOR ECONOMIC UNION WITH RUSSIA. Oleksandr Svystunov, the leader of the Russian Bloc, said in an election campaign spot on Ukrainian Television on 14 February that Ukraine needs an economic union with Russia to ensure "cheap energy resources" and markets for Ukrainian goods. "We have no other choice than going together and building industrial society in both Ukraine and Russia," Svystunov argued. He criticized Ukraine's "village mentality" in its view of relations with Russia, saying that the Ukrainian economy is based on Russian oil and gas. He also said that the 10 years of independence brought more trouble to Ukraine than 300 years of Russian rule. Svystunov was speaking to the camera from a rostrum against the bloc's emblem featuring a troika of galloping horses and slogans: Russian Bloc against poverty; Russian Bloc for the Russian language, unity and decent living. JM

UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS SHOWER PROMISES OF 'SOCIALIST REFORMS.' The Communist Party published its election manifesto in "Uryadovyy Kuryer" on 14 February, pledging to make workers "the masters of life" and to implement "socialist restore the economy" after winning the 31 March parliamentary ballot. The Communists promise to ensure comprehensive support for domestic producers; restore the "uninterrupted operation" of the fuel and energy sector; support agricultural producers with preferential credits; prevent the massive purchase of land by the nouveau riche and foreigners; guarantee equal legal conditions for the operation of enterprises and businesses with different forms of ownership; lower tax pressure and abolish value-added tax; stop "the criminal grabatization" [privatization]; and "get rid of the dictatorship and the services of the U.S. administration, the IMF, and other financial-political octopi." The Communists also promise to turn Ukraine into a "parliamentary-presidential" country. JM

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On 16-17 February Ukraine will hold a forum of Civic Organizations entitled "Society Before the Elections." The aims of the forum are to assist in the holding of free and fair parliamentary and local elections on 31 March through civic control over the election process, prevention of the use of "administrative resources," equal access to the media, and high voter turnout. Two-thirds of Ukrainians do not believe that the authorities will ensure a free and fair election and half do not believe Ukraine is a democracy. Three-quarters of election irregularities last month were undertaken by the pro-Kuchma For a United Ukraine (ZYU), the Voter's Committee of Ukraine reported.

The forum will also debate the role, function, and expansion of the activity of civic organizations and civil society within Ukraine. It will be attended by 300 civic groups from throughout Ukraine, foundations, political parties, and election blocs.

The number of civic groups in post-Soviet Ukraine has grown each year, with 1999-2000 recording the largest expansion. Young people and students participated in the "Ukraine without Kuchma" movement and the "For Truth" civic group that grew out of "Kuchmagate." Many of the young leaders of both of these groups were well-known activists from the 1990- 91 student movement, such as Oles Doniy, who is now a member of the radical anti-Kuchma Yulia Tymoshenko election bloc. In the last decade, civil society in Ukraine has become more professional and efficient in its activity, but civic groups remain fragmented.

Two laws were adopted "on Civic Associations" in 1992, which underwent changes in 1993, 1997, and 1998, and a law "on Charity and Charitable Organizations" in 1997. By 2000 the Kyiv-based Innovation and Documentation Center (IDC) recorded 28,000 civic groups in Ukraine, of which 23,065 were civic organizations and the remainder charitable foundations.

During 1991-96, Democratic Initiatives found that public faith in civic organizations had declined from 30 to 13 percent. Only 7.8 percent of Ukrainians were members of the 28,000 civic groups, compared to 4.6 percent who were members of the country's 130 political parties, according to a 1999 IDC poll. Two-thirds of Ukrainians have never participated in civic activities, primarily due to a lack of time, distrust or lack of information about them, that poll established.

A major problem facing civic groups is financial. Only a third of civic groups actually collect membership dues, another third have no funds, and the remainder survive on less than $2,000 a year. The major source of financing remains Western, particularly U.S. foundations. Social Democratic Party of Ukraine-United (SDPU-O) leader Viktor Medvedchuk recently complained that as a result, American influence over Ukraine's civil society is "unrivalled."

Volodymyr Lytvyn's article "Civil Society: Myths and Realities" in the mass pro-Kuchma "Fakty i Komentarii" newspaper on 19 January provided the backdrop to the February forum. Lytvyn is head of the presidential administration and the ZYU election bloc. Lytvyn's article plagiarized an article by Thomas Carothers entitled "Civil Society" that appeared in the Winter 1999-2000 issue of "Foreign Policy," a journal published by the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The intellectual reputation of Lytvyn, a professor of history and member of the National Academy of Sciences, was severely damaged by this revelation of plagiarism. Hryhorii Nemirya, chairman of the Board of the Renaissance (Soros) Foundation, said, "Except for microscopic fragments, it's essentially the same article."

Lytvyn was forced to admit that he had "re-written" Carothers' article, but refused to apologize or accept responsibility for his act of academic dishonesty. Subsequently, other Ukrainian academics and scholars have come forward to list a history of plagiarism by Lytvyn stretching back to 1990. A refusal to respect intellectual property by such a high-ranking official and the unwillingness to deal with CD music and computer piracy, a factor that led to U.S. sanctions being imposed on Ukraine last month, is symptomatic of a deeper psychological problem facing post-Soviet Ukraine.

The issue of plagiarism was made worse, Carothers believes, by the manner in which Lytvyn's article was used to undermine civil society, the very opposite of what Carothers had intended. Lytvyn's (and Kuchma's) fear of civil society is influenced by the growth of civic activism and public awareness since "Kuchmagate" and during the current election campaign. The authorities feel threatened by the growth of civic activism in support of democratization and against corruption at a time when between 50 and 57 percent of Ukrainians believe that political and economic reforms respectively are moving too slowly, according to a December 2001 International Foundations for Electoral Systems poll.

Anatoliy Grytsenko, president of the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Studies, gave the sharpest rebuttal to Lytvyn. Reading between the lines, Grytsenko understands Lytvyn's views as saying defense of citizens' rights lies not within the realm of civil society but through a "strong state and president." "The authorities would like citizens to remain silent, to not react to provocations against civil society, to not destabilize the situation or create a threat to national security," Grytsenko concluded.

Lytvyn's views on civil society represent the ideology of ZYU, the election bloc that is the official face of the "party of power" which a presidential decree on January 28 openly ordered state officials to back. Its views on civil society, business, and politics are influenced by the Soviet legacy which has evolved in the post-Soviet era into supporting a corporatist model for the state that plays a guiding and controlling role within society. The state sees civic activism and the mobilization of citizens as a threat to its capture and perceived ownership, of the state. Citizens are only meant to display activism during elections, as in a delegative democracy, when they need to be guided as to whom to vote for.

The ruling ideology of Ukraine's post-Soviet elites and the ZYU has therefore been "zlahoda" (concord), civic stability and social peace. "Stability" is therefore the "fundamental idea" upon which ZYU is campaigning. To them, civil society and citizens are not something to negotiate with, respect, or admit responsibility for one's actions to. State policies have therefore served to dampen the growth of civil society and reduce feelings of efficacy, something the forum of civic groups starting tomorrow is striving to change.