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BOGUS POSTERS, LEAFLETS CONTINUE TO TARGET OUR UKRAINE LEADER. UNIAN reported on 7 April that sham posters and leaflets apparently intended to discredit Our Ukraine head Viktor Yushchenko have appeared in Rivne, northwestern Ukraine, and the Vasylkiv Raion of Kyiv Oblast. The posters in Rivne depict Yushchenko with Kuchma at a rally and bear the inscription: "Look, father, the fascists are coming." The leaflets in Kyiv Oblast are in the form of Yushchenko's open letters to voters, in which he purportedly pledges to distribute land among private farmers after he becomes president. "The mass scale of similar actions and the audacity with which they are conducted, as well as the lack of any positive results in investigating [who was responsible for] them, testify to the fact that this is being done with the knowledge of the authorities," Our Ukraine lawmaker Serhiy Oleksiyuk commented. In mid-February, unidentified people and/or institutions disseminated in several Ukrainian regions a bogus letter "signed" by Yushchenko and touching on his relations with opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 25 February 2003). ("RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April)

IFJ PROTESTS MEDIA'S CLIMATE OF FEAR AND CORRUPTION... On 3 April, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a report ( on the media environment in Ukraine. The authors report that the Ukrainian government's "failure to initiate long-overdue reforms in the structure, funding, and regulation of media is to blame" for "corrupt practices." Political pressure is compounded by corrupt labor practices and appalling media working conditions. The authors, who had visited Ukraine 10 days before, met with journalists, media experts, and officials. The report says that if the Ukrainian government does not undertake "immediate steps to test high-level complicity in the Heorhiy Gongadze killing," the IFJ should prepare an independent international inquiry to examine the Ukrainian government's "flaws, mismanagement, and political interference." CC

...AND ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS. The authors of the IFJ report recommend steps to promote media unity in Ukraine, including a national conference before May 2004 to draft a media action plan for the country. They also urge support for a new independent trade union of journalists in Kyiv, which could challenge the slow democratic evolution of the National Union of Journalists. The report calls for the introduction of a national press card, efforts toward journalistic self-regulation, and cooperation with European journalists' unions to pressure the authorities to proceed with media reform. CC

HRW REPORT FOCUSES ON 'TEMNYKY' AND TV... Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 17 March issued a report documenting the government's use of secret instructional memos known as "temnyky" (themes of the week) to influence media reporting. Prepared by the presidential administration and sent to television managers and news editors, the temnyky delineate the coverage and presentation of news topics (see "RFE/RL Media Matters," 6 December 2002). HRW conducted research in October 2002 by interviewing television employees, government officials, and media analysts. HRW focused on the impact of temnyky on television news and interviewed 10 leading staffers from five national and one Kyiv station. HRW received temnyky from sources connected to top editors and managers at prominent stations. The report is available at CC

UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST, GEORGIAN OFFICIAL DIE IN CAR CRASH. Prominent Ukrainian journalist Oleksandr Kryvenko, the president of Public Radio, and Georgian Foreign Ministry official Gizo Grdzelidze, an OSCE project officer in Ukraine, died in an automobile accident in the early hours of 9 April, Interfax reported. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April)

GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS UKRAINE. Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze held a series of meetings during an official visit to Ukraine on 11 April, according to the Georgian Times. Tevzadze met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Shkidchenko, and with Ukrainian National Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk to review plans to expand bilateral military cooperation. RG

UKRAINIAN, TURKMEN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS GAS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov in the Turkmen port city of Turkmenbashi on 11 April to discuss the future of Turkmen gas sales to Ukraine, Interfax and reported on 12 and 13 April, respectively. Kuchma was concluding a tour of the Central Asian countries, while Niyazov was returning from a visit to Moscow during which he signed a 25-year contract with Russia on the delivery of Turkmen gas (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 11 April 2003). The terms of the Russian contract appeared to indicate that when the current gas-sales contract between Turkmenistan and Ukraine expires in 2006, it might be impossible to renew it unless pipeline capacity can be greatly increased. Ukraine is one of Turkmenistan's major gas customers and depends heavily on Turkmen supplies. According to an unnamed Turkmen government official quoted by Interfax, the talks between Kuchma and Niyazov were "fruitful, but difficult." One topic discussed was the construction of a new pipeline on the basis of the existing line, as envisaged in the present Ukraine-Turkmenistan gas contract. According to, Russia is also supposed to take part in the construction project. BB

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PREMIER SAYS U.S. BACKS KYIV'S WTO EFFORT. Ukrainian First Deputy Premier Mykola Azarov said in Washington on 13 April that "almost all" of the issues outstanding with the United States concerning Ukrainian accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been settled, Interfax reported on 14 April, quoting Azarov's press secretary, Vitaliy Lukyanenko. "No obstacles are left to grant[ing] Ukraine market-economy status. According to U.S. government figures, the way to the WTO is open for Ukraine," Azarov said after his meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Azarov added, however, that some U.S.-Ukrainian "issues" remain regarding Ukraine's WTO membership; their number "can be counted on the fingers of one hand," he said, but he failed to name them. Azarov also announced that Washington last week abolished its "financial countermeasures" in connection with a 2002 recommendation by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 11 February 2003). JM