©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

Brzezinski: I think the recent meeting of the GUUAM -- that is to say, Georgian Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan -- was very clear on that. Moldova is entitled to respect for its territorial and political integrity. And Russia doesn't have a right to maintain a Mafia-controlled enclave within Moldova.

FSB HEAD SAYS FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES WORKING TO TOPPLE CIS GOVERNMENTS... Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev told the State Duma on 12 May that his service has information that unspecified foreign intelligence services are more actively trying non-traditional methods for achieving their goals and working through international nongovernmental organizations to overthrow governments in CIS countries, RIA-Novosti and NTV reported. He said that there is evidence that these services are working with "orange functionaries" in Ukraine "to instruct Belarusian oppositionists." Patrushev added that the issue was discussed during a meeting of CIS intelligence-service directors last month. RC/JAC

Everyone who witnessed the lavish Red Square parade commemorating the victory over Nazism in World War II this week could not fail to be impressed.

U.S. President George W. Bush was among the more than 50 world leaders who attended. And he was moved by the event, as he told journalists on today: "Sitting in Red Square honoring the veterans of World War II was an amazing event. I remember as a kid watching the missiles parade through Red Square, and here I sat as the president of the United States in Red Square paying homage to people who died to defeat Nazism. And I was sitting beside a friend [Putin]."

For Sergei Markov, director of the Moscow-based Political Studies Institute, the commemorations reflected past glory -- as well as Russia's ability to present itself as a modern, powerful nation worthy of admiration and respect.

"I watched the parade from Ukraine," Markov said. "And I talked to people about it and for the absolute majority, there was an enormous feeling of respect at that moment for what Russia and Putin had done. Practically everyone was very impressed at how everything came off. And I think it's a reflection of the success of Russia and of Russian state power."

But not everyone agrees. Some commentators noted the "Soviet-style" tone of the events, with a French news anchor telling viewers "all that was missing from Red Square was Stalin himself."

For some, this week's events in Moscow elicited renewed pride in Russia's history and its current place in the world. But for others, it resuscitated bitter memories that might have been better left unstirred.

Controversy over Russia's interpretation of Soviet history, including the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, clouded some of the celebrations and spilled over into some of the diplomatic meetings, including the EU-Russia summit.

Andrew Kuchins, of the Carnegie Center in Moscow, called the end result of this week "very mixed" for Russia. He agrees with the assessment that the world came to pay tribute to the Soviet sacrifice and contribution to victory in World War II -- especially Russia's role. But the Kremlin's apparent drift toward Soviet nostalgia left many foreign leaders feeling uncomfortable.

"Frankly, I think [Putin] set himself up for that, with some of the comments that he made, particularly in his state-of-the nation address on 25 April in which he referred to the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe for Russia -- a comment that raised a lot of the controversy around the history of the conclusion of World War II," Kuchins said.

Much of the Western world recognizes the injustice felt by the Baltics states and Eastern European countries over their postwar history under Soviet domination. Those countries are now members of NATO and the European Union. Kuchins says Putin's failure to acknowledge their grievances and his derogatory remarks addressed to the Baltics cost Russia diplomatic points.

"Sometimes Mr. Putin gets rather emotional when he speaks -- not too often, usually he's fairly controlled -- but in his press conference after the EU summit, he did get rather colorful in referring to the Baltic states and the 'idiotic' pretensions for reviewing territorial borders," Kuchins said. "That left a very, very sour note, I think, on the EU-Russian summit and with the Balts themselves."

Despite Bush's words of respect for Putin, the U.S. president's itinerary -- in which he sandwiched his visit to Moscow between trips to Latvia and Georgia -- illustrates the United States' diplomatic balancing act between Russia and countries that are seeking to loosen their ties with the Kremlin.

And Kuchins says this week's celebrations in Moscow did nothing to change that. "The [U.S.] administration is now making very clear to the Russians that further erosion of democratic institutions in the Russian Federation is going to be a problematic issue for the bilateral relationship," he said. "How you manage that and pursue the common interests is the trick that the administration is trying to achieve. Also, the administration has made it much clearer to the Russians that the states on its periphery -- those that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, that the Russians liked to call the 'near abroad,' especially in the 1990s -- those states are sovereign. And that has to absolutely be respected by the Russian Federation."

For some, this week's events in Moscow elicited renewed pride in Russia's history and its current place in the world. But for others, it resuscitated bitter memories that might have been better left unstirred.

In recent years, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has tried to build good relations with Moscow, all the while anchoring his country in the EU and the NATO alliance. But this week, he acknowledged that ties with Russia have suffered. Many Poles saw Russia's failure to apologize for the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, as well as the Kremlin's move to honor former Polish communist leader Wojciech Jaruzelski during the 9 May celebrations, as offensive.

RUSSIAN WARNING ABOUT 'REVOLUTION' COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO BELARUSIAN KGB... Viktor Vyahera, deputy chief of the Belarusian KGB, said on Belarusian Television on 12 May that his organization "confirms the information contained in the statement of the Russian Federal Security Service chief [Nikolai Patrushev] that foreign countries intend to allocate $5 million through nongovernmental organizations to finance a velvet revolution in the Republic of Belarus." Vyahera was referring to Patrushev's address to the Russian Duma earlier the same day, in which the security chief claimed that a recent conference of NGOs in Bratislava discussed plans for overthrowing the regime of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. According to Patrushev, one Western NGO earmarked $5 million to prepare such a revolt in Belarus. Patrushev added that there are also plans to involve Ukrainian "orange functionaries" in staging a revolution in Belarus. "Apart from [what Patrushev said], the KGB possesses other data that confirm the intention of foreign organizations, funds, and private individuals to spend significant sums to export the revolution," Vyahera noted. "These activities are under our control, and we have already thwarted concrete steps." JM

...BUT IS VIEWED SARCASTICALLY BY KYIV. Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatol Buteyko on 12 May sarcastically dismissed Patrushev's statement that alleged plotters of a government overthrow in Belarus plans to use Ukraine's Orange Revolution experience and participants for that purpose, Interfax reported. "I would advise people who are looking for 'orange sources' of revolutions and national liberation movements to look for these sources in the uprisings of Bohdan Khmelnytskyy [in Ukraine in the 17th century] or of Spartacus [in Rome in the 1st century BC]," Buteyko told reporters in Kyiv. CTK quoted representatives of several Bratislava-based NGOs working with Belarus who said that they know nothing about the revolutionary plans purportedly disclosed by Patrushev. "No NGO can run a revolution," said Lenka Surotchak, head of the Pontis Foundation. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES PLEBISCITES ON EU, NATO. President Viktor Yushchenko on 12 May took part in a two-hour television call-in program broadcast by four nationwide channels -- ICTV, New Channel, STB, and Channel 5. Yushchenko said during the program that any bid by Ukraine to join the European Union or NATO will be put to a referendum. "Friends, I guarantee to you that the formulation of a national policy on the European Union and NATO will be decided exclusively by referendum," the Ukrainian leader said. According to Yushchenko, Ukraine needs to deepen its relations simultaneously with both Russia and the EU. "Up until now, the guiding principle of Ukrainian policy has been one or the other," he said. "We have proposed another principle -- both one and the other. We need strategic relations with both Russia and the European Union." JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT DRAWS SHORTLIST OF PRIVATIZATION REVIEWS. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh, who heads a group charged with looking into objectionable past privatization deals, told journalists in Kyiv on 12 May that the government wants to review the privatizations of 29 companies, Interfax reported. Kinakh said the list is the group's final recommendation that will be submitted to the cabinet of ministers and subsequently made public. "Until the courts have made a ruling [on each of the cases], please don't draw any conclusions or make any forecasts," Kinakh added. JM

DONORS PROMISE MORE MONEY TO MAKE CHORNOBYL SAFE. Donor countries to the Chornobyl Shelter Fund, which is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), pledged at their meeting in London on 12 May to add some $200 million to the already promised $600 million for building an encasement over the Chornobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in April 1986, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported. "The largest contribution, of more than $185 million, was announced by the G-8/EU, with Russia for the first time contributing to the fund. The government of Ukraine pledged the equivalent of $22 million. Other members of the fund also increased their contributions," the EBRD press service said after the meeting. Managers of the Chornobyl Shelter Fund expect five or six more countries will soon come up with contributions to reach the $1 billion needed for completion of the encasement, which is due to replace the crumbling concrete and steel "sarcophagus" that was erected around the burning reactor shortly after the explosion. JM

UKRAINE, MOLDOVA AGREE ON SETTING JOINT BORDER CHECKPOINTS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko told journalists in Kyiv on 12 May that during a meeting earlier the same day with her Moldovan counterpart, Vasile Tarlev, both sides agreed on establishing joint checkpoints in order to counteract smuggling across the Ukrainian-Moldovan border, Interfax reported. "As regards commodities shipped from the Transdniester region, we also have discussed this problem and found several options for resolving it," Tymoshenko added. Tarlev reportedly urged the Ukrainian side to step up the ratification of a Ukrainian-Moldovan agreement on free trade. Tarlev also said Chisinau is interested in seeing the full version of Ukraine's draft plan for settling the Transdniester conflict, which Yushchenko announced at a GUUAM summit last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 April 2005). JM

MOLDOVA'S TRANSDNIESTER REGION AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN FIVE-PARTY TALKS... Moldova's separatist Transdniester region is ready to send a delegation to Vinnytsya in Ukraine for a 16-17 May meeting with representatives of the government in Chisinau as well as Ukrainian, Russian, and OSCE mediators, Infotag reported on 12 May. The initiative to organize a five-way meeting was proposed jointly by Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE last month. It is expected that the participants will discuss prospects for resuming the negotiation process between Chisinau and Tiraspol that was suspended in 2004. JM