©2003 RFE/RL, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With the kind permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, InfoUkes Inc. has been given rights to electronically re-print these articles on our web site. Visit the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service page for more information. Also visit the RFE/RL home page for news stories on other Eastern European and FSU countries.

Return to Main RFE News Page
InfoUkes Home Page

ukraine-related news stories from RFE

U.S. MILITARY EXONERATES TANK CREW IN DEATH OF UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST IN IRAQ. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a news release on its website ( on 12 August that the U.S. tank that fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on 8 April -- resulting in the deaths of Ukrainian Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and Spanish Telecinco cameraman Jose Couso -- was deemed to have acted appropriately under the circumstances. Kyiv had officially requested that Washington probe circumstances surrounding Protsyuk's death (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 April 2003). The tank crew "properly fired upon a suspected enemy hunter/killer team in a proportionate and justifiably measured response," according to CENTCOM, which added, "The action was fully in accordance with the Rules of Engagement." The crew reportedly discovered only after it fired a single, 120-millimeter tank round at the building that the structure was the Palestine Hotel. CENTCOM expressed regret over the deaths of the journalists. "The journalists' death at the Palestine Hotel was a tragedy and the United States has the deepest sympathies for the families of those who were killed," CENTCOM said. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 2003)


LAWMAKER REQUESTS PROTECTION FOR WITNESSES IN GONGADZE CASE. Hryhoriy Omelchenko, head of an ad hoc parliamentary commission to investigate the 2000 murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, has asked the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) to guarantee the safety of individuals who come forward with information about the case, Interfax reported, quoting the Ukrainian media watchdog Mass Information Institute (IMI). Omelchenko specifically asked that the SBU provide protection to SBU officers who reportedly helped former police officer Ihor Honcharov collect material on the Gongadze murder. Honcharov, who is regarded as a key suspect in the Gongadze case, died in police custody on 1 August. Honcharov reportedly managed to give the IMI a 17-page handwritten letter in which he claims to possess information about Gongadze's killers, including audio recordings and a confession that he said he wanted to reveal to investigators in the presence of independent witnesses. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 2003)

UKRAINIAN MINISTER BLAMES INCREASES IN FOOD PRICES ON MARKET LIBERALIZATION. Agricultural Minister Serhiy Ryzhuk said on Ukrainian Television on 17 August that Ukraine will import 2 million-2.5 million tons of grain this year because of an anticipated poor harvest. Ryzhuk predicted that Ukrainian farms will harvest some 20 million-25 million tons of grain this year, compared with 39 million tons in 2002. According to Ryzhuk, the unexpected hikes in food prices in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 and 30 June 2003) can be blamed not only on bad weather and persistent rumors of the poor harvest in 2003, but also on excessive liberalization of the domestic grain market. "One of the reasons is that our liberalization of the grain market in particular was too fast during the transition period," Ryzhuk said. "[We] were somewhat euphoric, believing that the problem of grain was solved once and for all, [trusting in] market economy, private owners and so on. But, as it has turned out, the state has to play a rather active role even in these conditions. More that this, there has to be rigid regulation." JM

THREE UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS ATTACKED IN DONETSK. Three Ukrainian journalists were beaten and robbed by unidentified assailants in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine over three consecutive days on 13-15 August, Hromadske Radio reported. Vasyl Vasyutyn, Serhiy Kuzin, and Eduard Malynovskyy were attacked on 15 August, 14 August, and 13 August, respectively. Vasyutyn and Kuzin have been hospitalized. Oleksandr Mishchenko, editor in chief of the Donetsk-based magazine "Zolotyy Skif" that employs Vasyutyn, told Hromadske Radio that the attacks were connected with their professional activities. Police reportedly think otherwise, claiming that the assaults were ordinary robberies. JM

POLISH PRESIDENT NOTES CHANGING ROLE OF MILITARY. In his address marking Polish Army Day on 15 August, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said the role of the Polish armed forces is changing, PAP reported. Kwasniewski stressed that the Polish military is not merely the safeguard of the country's sovereignty but also an important component of European and global security. "The world sees Poland as a solid partner and reliable ally," Kwasniewski said. "We play a significant role in the process of the enlargement of the security and democracy zone in Central and Eastern Europe. We have the best relations with the United States in our entire history. We are actively participating in the antiterrorist coalition." Polish Army Day celebrations in Warsaw were attended by Ukrainian Defense Minister Yevhen Marchuk. The Polish and Ukrainian defense ministers are reportedly to visit Polish and Ukrainian troops deployed in the Polish-led stabilization sector in Iraq on 2-3 September. JM

IGC REPORT AGAINST OSCE PLAN ON MOLDOVA'S FEDERALIZATION. A recently issued report authored by German political scientist Claus Neukirch criticizes the OSCE's plan for Moldova's federalization, RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service reported on 15 August. The report was issued by the prestigious International Crisis Group (ICG), which includes several former presidents, premiers, and other prominent politicians. It says the 2003-04 deadline included in the OSCE plan for resolving the Transdniester conflict is dangerously hasty. According to Neukirch, the international situation after the expected 2007 EU expansion might promote a more stable settlement. The ICG report also says the mediation framework set up at the OSCE Kyiv meeting in late 2002 is essentially the same as that established by the 1997 plan developed by Russia's foreign minister at the time, Yevgenii Primakov, and serves Russian interests without providing for any Western participation in resolving the conflict. The report deems "unacceptable" any division of powers between Moldova and the Smirnov regime. It says finding a solution to the conflict involves a process that must be accompanied in parallel by Transdniester's democratization. MS