©2005 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

LAVROV STRESSES GEORGIAN, UKRAINIAN SOVEREIGNTY. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told RTR on 21 February that neighboring Georgia and Ukraine are "absolutely sovereign, absolutely equal states in the new geopolitical architecture," which are "free to choose to participate in any [international] organization" they wish. "The main thing is that this process should be transparent, should strengthen existing good relations, and should not be aimed against any other country," Lavrov added. President Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia is not the only major force within the CIS and that political competition among the powers in that region is possible. VY

TURKMEN PRESIDENT TO MEET WITH RUSSIAN, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS. In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 19 February, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov confirmed that he will visit Moscow on 9 May to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany, Turkmen Television First Channel reported. The two presidents agreed to discuss bilateral and multilateral cooperation during Niyazov's visit. Newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko plans to visit Ashgabat in March, reported on 19 February. Yushchenko proposed the visit during a 19 February telephone conversation with the Turkmen leader to congratulate the latter on his birthday. DK

BELARUSIAN COURT CUTS PRISON SENTENCE FOR OPPOSITIONIST. The Minsk Oblast Court on 18 February confirmed a controversial lower court verdict that declared opposition politician Mikhail Marynich guilty of stealing office equipment from the Dzelavaya Initsyyatyva (Business Initiative) association, of which he was chairman (see "RFE/RL Belarus and Ukraine Report," 4 January 2005), Belarusian media reported. Simultaneously, the court reduced the prison sentence for Marynich from 5 to 3 1/2 years, citing his past services to the state and failing health as the reason. Marynich was minister of foreign economic relations (1994-98) and later served as ambassador to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. In mid-2001, Marynich resigned his ambassadorial post to challenge Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the presidential election in September that year. "There is no reason to be jubilant over the decision, " Belapan quoted Anatol Lyabedzka of the opposition United Civic Party as saying. "The point is that the Belarusian judicial system has put itself in an awkward situation by giving a shorter sentence to a Lukashenka acolyte [former presidential property manager Halina Zhuraukova] over a theft of $3.5 million, than to Mr. Marynich, who allegedly stole six computers." JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONFIRMS COURSE TOWARD NATO. President Viktor Yushchenko said at a session of the Ukraine-NATO Commission in Brussels on 22 February that the recent political changes in Ukraine open opportunities for taking Ukraine's relations with NATO to a "qualitatively new level," Interfax reported. Yushchenko stressed that the main task of the new Ukrainian government is to bring the country's political, socioeconomic, and defense systems to Euro-Atlantic standards. "We want every [Ukrainian] citizen to feel and see the advantages of these standards," Yushchenko said. "This is precisely the way we want Ukrainian society to reach a full understanding of Ukraine's European future, which is inseparably linked to the deepening of [the country's] relations with the alliance." JM

KYIV REMAINS WARY OF 'DEEPER' INTEGRATION WITH MOSCOW. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Kyiv on 21 February, calling for the development of a strategic partnership between the two countries, Ukrainian media reported. "We face the need to develop a strategic partnership under agreements reached between our presidents," Lavrov said in Kyiv, in an apparent reference to a 2003 accord on the Single Economic Space uniting Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. But the reaction of Kyiv, which is set to pursue more vigorous integration with Europe, was reportedly wary and lukewarm. "If we are talking about a free-trade zone [within the Single Economic Space], in principle this would not cause any problems in terms of our integration with the European Union or our membership in the World Trade Organization," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said. "If we are talking about a deeper level of integration [with Russia], there could be problems." President Yushchenko confirmed to Lavrov that Russia is Ukraine's "eternal strategic partner" but also added, "It is important that relations with the East do not block our path to Europe." JM

UKRAINE, EU SIGN THREE-YEAR ACTION PLAN. Ukraine and the EU signed a three-year Action Plan in Brussels on 21 February, Ukrainian and international media reported. The plan envisions EU support for Kyiv's bid to obtain market economy status in the coming months, to join the World Trade Organization, and to sign a free-trade agreement with the EU. The EU recently attached a 10-point addendum to the plan, calling for more cooperation in foreign and security policy as well as trade and visa regimes. "I'll tell you that one message that I'm getting to Brussels -- now you have a very responsible Ukrainian government, you have very responsible partners, and if we put our signatures on something, there is no way we're not going to deliver it," said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Oleh Rybachuk, who represented Ukraine at the signing ceremony. Both sides reportedly sidestepped mentioning any prospects for Ukraine's EU membership. JM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS PARTICIPATION IN TRANSDNIESTER TALKS. In an interview with RFE/RL on 19 February, Romanian President Traian Basescu reiterated his position that Romania must be part of the negotiations to resolve the Transdniester conflict. Speaking about his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Basescu said that he "expressed a point of view [on Transdniester], and I did not expect an answer from President Putin at once because this is an issue of analysis." Basescu said he felt that Putin did not oppose this position. The president also outlined his vision for Romania's future role in the Black Sea basin. "[The Black Sea basin] is the area where the three dimensions of crime -- narcotics, arms smuggling, and human trafficking [are concentrated]," Basescu said, calling on Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to focus on this area and perhaps establish a task force to monitor criminal activities on the Black Sea. "I would add that the Black Sea is of extraordinary importance in the perspective of the energy resources of the Caspian basin." UB

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT, SENATE CALL FOR FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN MOLDOVA. The U.S. State Department issued a statement on 17 February calling for a free and fair election campaign and general elections in Moldova. Recognizing that Moldova has had a good record of holding parliamentary elections since 1991, the State Department warned that "recent trends are disturbing." "Reports of biased coverage in the public media, harassment of the opposition by police, intimidation of independent civil society groups, and use of public resources for campaign purposes are cause for particular concern and could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election." The State Department noted that a free and fair election is about more than "just a smoothly and legally administered election day." The State Department supported a similar call issued by the European Union earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 February 2005). On 18 February, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Moldovan government to ensure free and fair elections, according to a statement by Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), who sponsored the bill together with Senators Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) and Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware). "Tired of oppressive regimes, the people of Georgia and Ukraine took to the streets to demand accountability and transparency in their elections. The people of Moldova ... share this dedication to democracy," McCain's statement said. "Unfortunately, it is not clear that the Moldovan authorities share this commitment." UB