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GEORGIA SENDS ENVOYS TO MOSCOW, KYIV TO DISCUSS ABKHAZIA... Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, who is Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's special envoy for Abkhazia, is in Moscow for talks with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin (who performs the same function for Russian President Vladimir Putin) on how economic concessions could expedite a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported on 12 February, quoting Abashidze's press service. Also on 12 February, Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze met in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to discuss bilateral relations and the Abkhaz question, Caucasus Press reported. Ukraine has repeatedly offered to provide peacekeepers to serve in Abkhazia as part of a UN force. Kuchma also offered during last month's informal CIS summit to try to mediate a solution of the Abkhaz conflict. LF
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES 1932-33 FAMINE. The Verkhovna Rada on 12 February held a hearing devoted to the catastrophic famine in Ukraine in 1932-33, which claimed millions of lives (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 12 and 25 June 2002), Ukrainian media reported. Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn called for compiling a list of all victims of the famine and erecting a monument to them in Kyiv. Parliamentary Human Rights Committee head Hennadiy Udovenko said the committee recommends that the Verkhovna Rada address the United Nations with a request to recognize the famine as a genocide perpetrated against the Ukrainian nation by the communist regime. Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk concurred, saying recognition of the famine as an act of genocide will be of "principal significance for the stabilization of socioeconomic relations in Ukraine." According to the artukraine.com website, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko addressed the legislature with the most "controversial" speech, in which he denied the artificial nature of the 1932-33 famine and blamed it on disastrous weather conditions and poor harvests in the two previous years. JM
UKRAINIAN BIRTHRATE UP FOR FIRST TIME IN 15 YEARS. The birthrate in Ukraine in 2002 grew year-on-year by 3 percent, Interfax reported on 12 February, quoting the Justice Ministry. The birthrate in Ukraine had fallen consistently since 1987. Nevertheless, there were nearly twice as many deaths as births in the country last year (754,915 versus 392,524). JM
POLAND WANTS UKRAINE TO APOLOGIZE FOR 1943 MASSACRE. Marek Siwiec, head of the National Security Bureau, said on 13 February that Poland expects Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to issue an official apology for crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists against Poles in 1943 in Volhynia in northwestern Ukraine, Polish Radio reported. Siwiec added that Poland will not pressure Ukraine for such an apology. He recalled that Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized to the Ukrainians for Operation Vistula, during which Ukrainians were forced by Polish communist authorities to resettle to Polish territories regained from Germany after War World II (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 April 2002). Siwiec noted that apologies with regard to those crimes should be treated separately. "For us an apology will be a very natural and honest thing to do. The initiative is to be taken by Ukraine, though." Siwiec said. According to Polish sources, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) brutally massacred 60,000-70,000 Polish civilians in Volhynia in 1943 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 8 May 2001). JM
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REVEALS DETAILS OF PROPOSED NEW CONSTITUTION... President Vladimir Voronin on 12 February presented to journalists in Chisinau details of his recent proposal to draft a new Moldovan constitution together with the separatist authorities in Tiraspol, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 February 2003). Voronin said the Moldovan parliament and the Transdniester Supreme Soviet should each appoint groups of constitutional experts to work on the new basic document. The two groups would then elect a chairman and jointly develop a draft constitution within six months after their appointment. The document would then be sent to international experts for examination while being debated in parallel "by society." This second stage would last three months at the most, after which a referendum to approve the new constitution would be called on both sides of the Dniester River. If the new constitution is approved, early elections would be held for both the country's president and for a new joint parliament. The entire process, Voronin said, should not take longer than 12-14 months. The Moldovan president said he is prepared to resign if his plan fails to help resolve the crisis, and he claimed the proposal is endorsed by the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the EU, according to Reuters. According to Flux, U.S. Ambassador to Moldova Pamela Hyde Smith called the initiative "promising" and said the United States will do its utmost to back it and thus advance the current negotiations. MS