©2004 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

RYBKIN FLIES TO LONDON TO SEE BEREZOVSKII... Ksenia Ponomareva, campaign manager for presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin, whose whereabouts were recently unknown as he spent time in Ukraine, said in London on 12 February that "Rybkin currently believes he will not withdraw his candidacy," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 February. The previous day, Rybkin said he would take a week to think over whether or not to stay in the race (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2004). Ponomareva said she and Rybkin traveled to London to meet with Rybkin's financial sponsor, London-based former oligarch Boris Berezovskii. She also said that there were many questions that Rybkin could not answer during his interview with Ekho Moskvy on 11 February, but now he is ready. Rybkin was scheduled to give a press conference in London on 13 February. JAC

...AS COMPARISON IS MADE WITH SKURATOV. "Komsomolskaya pravda" on 12 February reported that, according to its sources in Kyiv law enforcement agencies, Rybkin went to Kyiv to meet with his blonde heartthrob, whom he met there three years ago. Anna Politkovskaya, writing in "Novaya gazeta," No. 10, had a different take on the Rybkin affair. She called the Rybkin incident "Skuratov-gate No. 2," in an allusion to former Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov, who fell from grace when a person closely resembling Skuratov was caught on video dallying naked with towel-clad prostitutes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 September 1999). According to Politkovskaya, the purpose in both incidents is the same: to discredit someone who "opened their mouth." JAC

RUSSIAN SUPPLIERS CONTINUE GAS WAR WITH BELARUS. The supply of Russian gas to Belarus was fully halted for several hours on 12 February after gas traders Itera and Transnafta said Belarus exhausted its contracted gas volume for February, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The same day, Belarusian national gas-pipeline operator Beltranshaz reportedly signed a contract for the supply of 360 million cubic meters of gas from Transnafta, which is expected to satisfy Belarus's demand for gas for five to six days. Russian state-controlled Gazprom halted gas supplies to Belarus this year in an attempt to extract a higher price for gas deliveries and favorable terms in a bid to buy a stake in Beltranshaz (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 13 and 27 January 2004). "Belarus continues to insist on a price that is below the market price, and even below cost. We cannot understand why Gazprom should operate at a loss," Belapan quoted Gazprom deputy head Aleksandr Ryazanov as saying the same day. JM

UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT SLAMS OPPOSITION, DEFENDS CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM. Speaking at a news conference following talks with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski in Warsaw on 12 February, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma accused the Our Ukraine opposition bloc of obstructing the Polish-Ukrainian commemoration of the so-called 1943-44 Volhynia massacres (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 2003), Inter Television reported. Kuchma also said Our Ukraine, which controls the Lviv City Council, prevented a visit by Kwasniewski to Lviv in 2002 to unveil a monument to Polish soldiers killed in combat with Ukrainian troops in 1918. Turning to the ongoing constitutional reform in Ukraine, Kuchma said its main objective is to install a political mechanism that could form parliamentary coalitions responsible for the activities of cabinets. Kuchma assured journalists that after the constitutional reform is implemented, the Ukrainian president will still have more powers than his Polish counterpart. JM

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CONDEMNS 'POLITICAL' DECISION TO DROP RFE/RL BROADCASTS. Ukrainian opposition leaders responded angrily to an 11 February decision by radio broadcaster Dovira to terminate the FM retransmission of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service programs on 17 February, charging that the move is intended to limit the influence of free media in Ukraine, Ukrainian news agencies reported. "It is undoubtedly a political decision of the Ukrainian authorities, made at the highest level," Interfax quoted Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko as saying. The Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc said in a statement that Dovira's decision is an "ill-disguised government order" and "another brutal attack on the freedom of speech," according to the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( "Persecutions against the free media, manipulation of the pro-government media by the presidential administration, the decision to end Radio Liberty broadcasts, and the court ruling to close [daily newspaper] 'Silski visti' are part of the government's efforts to 'cleanse' the media ahead of the presidential election," the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc added. Dovira Director Serhiy Kyrchihin explained the decision by saying that Radio Liberty programs clash with Dovira's pop-music format and put off younger listeners. JM

OUR UKRAINE REPORTEDLY TRAINING 100,000 MONITORS FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The Our Ukraine opposition bloc has no confidence in the Central Election Commission and is training 100,000 monitors for an independent vote count in the 2004 presidential election, Interfax reported on 12 February, quoting Our Ukraine lawmaker Oleh Rybachuk. Rybachuk said Our Ukraine is planning to have two monitors at each polling station. He added that Our Ukraine wants to set up a vote-reporting center where invited journalists, diplomats, and international observers will be able to watch election returns on a "real-time histogram." JM

POLISH, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS IRAQ, EU, AND OIL PIPELINE. Ukrainian President Kuchma made a short visit to Warsaw on 12 February, where he discussed mutual cooperation in the Polish-led multinational division in Iraq, the power-generating and customs systems after Poland's accession to the EU, and joint projects related to the extension of the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline with Polish President Kwasniewski, Polish and Ukrainian media reported. Kwasniewski said Poland and Ukraine will seek the creation of a "serious international consortium" with the participation of EU countries to complete the Odesa-Brody-Gdansk project for transporting Caspian oil to Europe. JM

OPPOSITION INVITES POLISH PREMIER TO RESIGN. The opposition Civic Platform has renewed its calls on Premier Leszek Miller to resign after a poll released on 12 February showed that the popularity of the Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union (SLD-UP) ruling coalition slumped to a new low, Polish media reported. The poll, published in "Rzeczpospolita," showed that the SLD-UP could count on support of 13 percent of voters. The support for the Civic Platform was 28 percent, for Self-Defense 17 percent, for the League of Polish Families and the Law and Justice party 13 percent each, and for the Peasant Party 6 percent. "A good scenario for Poland would be to have the cabinet make tough and bold decisions and then call early elections," Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk commented. Before calling early parliamentary elections, the Civic Platform wants the SLD-UP coalition to adopt a fiscal austerity plan proposed by Economy Minister Jerzy Hausner (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 27 January 2004). JM