AUR#677 Ukraine’s Future In The Balance; Economic Performance On Trial; U.S. Campaign Advisors; Yushchenko Interview

THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR
An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary
 
 
Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       
                        
THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 677
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
Washington, D.C., TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2006 
              ——–INDEX OF ARTICLES——–
         Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
Return to the Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article
1.                       UKRAINE’S FUTURE IN THE BALANCE
Jane’s Intelligence Digest, UK, Friday, March 10, 2006

2.             KIEV’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE ON TRIAL AS
                   KEY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS LOOM
Alex Nicholson, AP Worldstream, Moscow, Russia, Mon, Mar 20, 2006

3.    UKRAINE: HE WAS BORN SKVORTSOV, ON THE ELECTION
                                    ROLLS HE’S SHPAK
By Oksana Yablokova, Staff Writer, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

4.                   A FAIRER FIGHT IN UKRAINE CAMPAIGN
                      Candidates Look to West, Away from Russia,
                             as Guide In Parliamentary Election
THINKING GLOBAL: OP-ED
By Frederick Kempe
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Monday, March 20, 2006

5 UKRAINIAN REGIONAL MEDIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
                       HIGHLIGHTS FOR MARCH 13-17, 2006
Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 20 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, Mar 20, 2006

6 .      VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO: ‘THE BASIS FOR UNIFICATION IS
                     THE NATIONAL INTERESTS OF UKRAINE’"
INTERVIEW: With Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine
BY: Oleksandr Cherevko, Silski Visti, Kiev, in Ukrainian 17 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, Mar 18, 2006

7US AMB HERBST PRAISES UKRAINE’S DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS;
        URGES CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO HONEST ELECTIONS
Public Affairs Section, United States Embassy, Kyiv
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 20, 2006

 
   FOR THE OFFICE OF RECONSTRUCTION AND STABILIZATION
                           Currently U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Office of the Spokesman, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC, Monday, March 20, 2006

9   SEC RICE JOINS NATO TALKS ON UKRAINIAN MEMBERSHIP

By Mark John, Reuters, Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, March 21, 2006
10U.S. SAYS FRAUDULENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN BELARUS
Statement by Sean McCormack, Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Monday, March 20, 2006

11.      REVOLUTION IN UKRAINE MAY NOT BE TEMPLATE FOR

                                   AN UNRISING IN BELARUS 
Jim Heintz, AP Worldstream, Monday, March 20, 2006
 
12WINNIPEG’S WORLD-RENOWNED RUSALKA UKRAINIAN DANCE
        ENSEMBLE PREMIERING "THE LEGEND OF THE RUSALKA"
      Teaming with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for new original work
By Cheryl Binning, Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Friday, March 17, 2006
 
                               FORUM IN KYIV, MARCH 23-24
BIZPRO and American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 21, 2006
========================================================
1
                    UKRAINE’S FUTURE IN THE BALANCE

Jane’s Intelligence Digest, UK, Friday, March 10, 2006

Ahead of crucial parliamentary elections in Ukraine, JID’s regional
correspondent reviews the implications of a new electoral law and assesses
the extent to which the poll will determine the country’s future
orientation.

Following the elections scheduled to take place on 26 March, Ukraine will
have new parliament with a five year mandate. Significantly, the poll will
also make use of a fully proportional election system for the first time.

Despite the low election threshold of three per cent (the European standard
is five per cent), the new system is not expected to result in parliamentary
representation for many of the smaller parties.

Moreover, many electors are likely to consider this election as the second
round of the 2004 presidential poll. The contest will once again be a battle
for power between President Viktor Yushchenko and his pro-Moscow rival,
Viktor Yanukovych.

Although 45 parties and blocs have been registered by the Central Election
Commission, only six or seven of these are expected to win seats in
parliament. These can be divided into three principal political forces
representing the divisions following the 2004 election: Yanukovych’s Party
of Regions and two factions of the Orange Revolution – Our Ukraine and

Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc.

Of the remainder, between three and four of the smaller political groups
will be left wing or supporters of former president Leonid Kuchma.
                       DEMOCRATIC REFORM IN QUESTION
The forthcoming elections will also feature a range of constitutional
changes accepted by Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution. The most
important of these has transformed Ukraine from a presidential to a
parliamentary republic and are set to have positive, long-term effects on
Ukraine’s democracy.

This makes the chances of sustained democratic development in Ukraine more
likely than in Serbia, Georgia or Kyrgyzstan where similar revolutions took
place.

Following the elections, the coalition that is created will have a direct
impact upon the choice of Prime Minister and on the future government’s
direction. Two of the three principal political groups elected to parliament
will be needed to form a viable governing coalition. As president,
Yushchenko is expected to play a key role in influencing the final political
map of the next parliament, although this role is highly risky.

Since the Our Ukraine bloc is the President’s main political power base, it
is likely to hold the trump card in choosing which of the other two main
political groups will enter the anticipated coalition. Our Ukraine and the
rival bloc headed by former Prime Minister Tymoshenko have already agreed
that whichever of the two parties holds more seats will propose the new
premier.

This is vitally important as the powers of the Prime Minister have been
greatly enhanced by constitutional reforms. However, there is little
enthusiasm within Ukraine’s elites – and especially in the Yushchenko camp –
for these new powers to go to the more populist Tymoshenko. For this reason,
Our Ukraine’s strategy will focus on successfully denying the former Prime
Minister’s return to office.

The determination to thwart Tymoshenko is expected to result in a coalition
with Our Ukraine only if her bloc is the junior partner – and she is not
poised to become premier. If it tops the poll, Our Ukraine will be in a
position to retain the incumbent Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov. However,
should that strategy fail, Yushchenko will face the prospect of forming an
uneasy coalition with his 2004 election rival, Yanukovych.

The second scenario is that if Our Ukraine trails behind Tymoshenko’s bloc,
they will be forced into striking a coalition deal with Yanukovych’s Party
of Regions. If so, then there is likely to be a period of political
horse-trading before a candidate for the premier’s post can be agreed. The
most likely compromise would see Yekhanurov staying on as Prime Minister,
while Yanukovych appoints senior Party of Regions personnel to the two first
deputy premier posts.
                  REVERSING YUSHCHENKO’S DECLINE
The choice of coalition partner will have important strategic ramifications
for Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policies. A re-united Orange Revolution
coalition could reinvigorate Yushchenko’s presidency and reverse his opinion
poll ratings which have been declining during the past six months.

However, a coalition between Our Ukraine and Yanukovych’s bloc can be
expected to leave Yushchenko as a lame duck president, hopelessly
compromised by his political association with his arch-rival. Such a move
would leave him open to charges that he has ‘betrayed’ the Orange
Revolution.

There are also other high risks in adopting this strategy. Yanukovych’s
close allies include senior officials from the Kuchma era. Some of these are
alleged to have been implicated in election fraud back in 2004 and even of
involvement in Yushchenko’s poisoning.

Such a move can be expected to hit the President’s popularity further. After
Yushchenko signed a memorandum of understanding with the Party of Regions
back in September, his personal poll ratings – and that of Our Ukraine –
have plummeted.

One likely outcome is that Yushchenko’s support base in western and central
Ukraine could defect en masse to join Tymoshenko. Should this occur,
Yushchenko is unlikely to be re-elected for a second term in 2009.

Yushchenko’s manoeuvres in the aftermath of the parliamentary elections will
send a signal to both Russia and the West over the prospects for the future
of reform in Ukraine. Kiev is expected to pass the first test set by the
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the EU and

NATO by holding free and fair elections for the first time since 1994.

A second key test will rest on whether the parliamentary coalition and
resulting government will be committed to reform by consolidating the
democratic progress made since the Orange Revolution. While a re-united
Orange coalition would send a positive signal to the West, a political
alliance with Yanukovych would be regarded negatively as a potential victory
for the Kremlin.

Whether Ukraine will be invited to sign up for NATO’s Membership Action Plan
(MAP) at the forthcoming summit in Riga in October is expected to depend on
the outcome of this poll. If Yanukovych remains in opposition, Kiev is
likely to be included alongside Albania, Croatia and Macedonia in the third
wave of NATO enlargement which will be approved at its 2008 summit.

Ukraine would then join NATO in 2010. The process is more likely to go

ahead if Yushchenko is re-elected for a second presidential term in 2009.

On the other hand, an alliance with the pro-Moscow bloc risks sending the
signal to the West that the Orange Revolution is in retreat. Such a
coalition deal could result in NATO postponing its decision to invite
Ukraine into the MAP. Kiev would then merely continue with the yearly

Action Plans first instituted in 2003, thus missing out in the third round of
enlargement.

In the event that Yushchenko fails to be re-elected to the presidency in
2009, this postponement could well become indefinite. Ongoing political
interference by Moscow is highly likely since derailing Ukraine’s membership
of NATO will remain one of the Kremlin’s top priorities for the remainder of
this decade.                                       -30-
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[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2.         KIEV’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE ON TRIAL AS
                  KEY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS LOOM

Alex Nicholson, AP Worldstream, Moscow, Russia, Mon, Mar 20, 2006

MOSCOW – For the leaders of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, who inherited

a US$6 billion (A5 billion) budget hole and an impoverished population
impatient to see corruption eradicated, getting a handle on the economy was
never going to be simple.

And 15 months later, with parliamentary elections looming, Ukrainian voters
have shifted their focus from regime change to how the government has
handled the economy. Their votes March 26 will help determine whether the
changes need ed to modernize the economy and open it further to the West are
pushed through or founder amid political infighting. The popular mood isn’t
encouraging for proponents of reform.

Alexander Ivanov, a 43-year-old electrician, says salaries have failed to
keep pace with rising prices for daily items. "Workers now buy their sausage
for 30 hryvna (US$6, A5) and wages haven’t gone up," he said. "I don’t think
people in politics pay any attention to the ordinary people."

Still, investors are bullish. Construction cranes dot Kiev’s skyline and
BMWs speed down its elegant boulevards, while a mix of languages can be
heard in restaurants packed with foreign executives who are rushing to cut
deals in a huge market largely free of competition.

"The government doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day affairs of ordinary
businessmen," said Alex Frishberg, a veteran Kiev-based lawyer, adding that
politicians were too busy with "constant infighting." "What you have in Kiev
is the purest form of capitalism," he said.

The economy has taken plenty of hits. Erratic policies under firebrand
former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the early months of the Orange
government _ compounded by a 30 percent decline in late 2004 in
international prices for steel, Ukraine’s key export _ squashed economic
growth from 12.1 percent in 2004 to just 2.6 percent in 2005.

President Viktor Yushchenko’s opponents have hammered a January gas deal
with Russia, which saw the price of gas imports nearly double to US$95 (A80)
per 1,000 cubic meters, as potentially lethal for Ukraine’s gas-intensive
and inefficient industries.

The agreement came after Moscow demanded Kiev pay nearly five times more

for its gas and temporarily halted supplies, also causing interruptions in
European deliveries. Observers called Moscow’s stance punishment for
Yushchenko’s pledges to bring Ukraine closer to Europe and out of Russia’s
orbit.

And corruption remains entrenched. If a clique of oligarchs wielded power
under former President Leonid Kuchma, analysts and businessmen say the
Orange Revolution has simply expanded the pool of tycoons with ties to
power.

On the other hand, foreign direct investment came in at a record US$7.9
billion (A6.6 billion) in 2005 _ nearly as much as had entered the country
since its independence in 1991. That jump came almost solely through the
reprivatization of the Kryvorizhstal steel plant, which Mittal Steel Co.,
bought last fall for a jaw-dropping US$4.8 billion (A4.02 billion).

The auction was a huge vote of business confidence for Yushchenko, who had
promised during his campaign to smash the nepotistic excesses of the old
regime. The plant, which accounts for 20 percent of Ukraine’s metals output,
had been sold to Kuchma’s billionaire son-in-law in 2004 for a fifth of what
Mittal paid.

Then came a series of acquisitions of Ukraine’s top banks. Within the last
six months, Austria’s Raiffaisen bought a controlling stake in Aval Bank for
over US$1 billion (A830 million), France’s BNP Paribas snapped up 51 percent
of Ukrsibbank for about US$500 million (A419 million) and Italy’s Banca
Intesa acquired more than 85 percent of Ukrsotsbank for just over US$1
billion.

Further support came from the European Union _ which Yushchenko has

pledged to join _ when it granted Ukraine market economy status, began talks
on easier visa rules and agreed to sign a free trade deal after Kiev joins the
World Trade Organization. Last week, Ukraine and the United States agreed
on a deal on Ukraine’s accession to the WTO.

That has gone a long way to calm the nerves of local and foreign investors
after the roller-coaster stewardship of Tymoshenko, who was fired and
replaced in September by Yuriy Yekhanurov, who is seen as more
business-friendly.

As part of an anti-corruption drive under Tymoshenko, foreign investors were
left smarting after the sudden termination of the tax havens provided by
free economic zones. Her bombshell pledge to review some 3,000 questionable
privatizations shook faith in property rights and contributed to a dramatic
drop in domestic investment, while her decision to cap gasoline prices ahead
of the spring sowing season prompted production cuts at Ukraine’s
Russian-controlled refineries _ sending prices soaring.

But there were successes. The anti-corruption campaign saw tax revenues rise
by about 70 percent _ plastering over the 32 billion hryvna (US$6.4 billion;
A5.3 billion) budget deficit opened by the populist spending policies of
former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych before the presidential election.

Still, many Ukrainians have been disillusioned with Yushchenko’s promises

of prosperity through closer ties to the EU, and analysts predict a strong
showing by Yanukovych’s pro-Moscow Party of the Regions bloc.

There are high expectations of a parliamentary majority formed between
Yushchenko and his rival Yanukovych, who is bankrolled by powerful business
magnate Rinat Akhmetov, a former Kryvorizhstal shareholder who today is
worth US$1.7 billion (A1.4 billion) according to Forbes magazine. Considered
the real force behind Yanukovych, Akhmetov is running for parliament and is
rumored to have his eye on the prime minister’s office.

While some analysts have said that union could pull Ukraine further back
into Russia’s orbit, others see Akhmetov as a realist whose metals
businesses stand to benefit from the removal of antidumping restrictions,
which WTO membership would eventually lead to.

Some suggest he would also be averse to Russian companies encroaching on his
business activities, which could be a consequence of Kiev’s membership in a
planned "common economic space" between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and
Kazakhstan.

Kamen Zahariev, country director for the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development [EBRD]  noted that Ukraine has had 11 prime ministers in the
past 15 years and said that above all, political stability would be key to
Ukraine’s economic progress.

"Really, our hope is for a clear result and for a majority to be formed that
would allow a government to stay in place for a year or 18 months," Zahariev
said.                                                -30-
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[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3.         UKRAINE: HE WAS BORN SKVORTSOV, ON THE
                            ELECTION ROLLS HE’S SHPAK

By Oksana Yablokova, Staff Writer, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

CHERNOVTSY, Ukraine — Thousands of Ukrainians with Russian last
names may not recognize their names on voters’ rolls when they try to
vote in parliamentary elections Sunday. Their names have been translated
into Ukrainian.

Central Elections Commission officials are urging regional officials to
recheck the rolls, and lawmakers have taken steps to allow voters to
challenge the spelling of their names in court. But opposition politicians
are warning that many voters in the country’s east and south could end up
disenfranchised.

Taras Chernovil, the deputy campaign chief of the pro-Moscow Party of the
Regions and a leading candidate, accused local election officials of
intentionally making mistakes while translating voters’ Russian names into
Ukrainian.

Chernovil, a current lawmaker and No. 4 candidate on the Party of the
Regions list, said mistakes had included changing Medvedev to Vedmidev and
Skvortsov to Shpak. Skvorets and shpak mean "starling" in their respective
languages.

The translations will make it impossible for people to vote because the
names in their passports will not correspond with the ones on voters’ rolls,
he said in a recent interview while campaigning in Chernovtsy, in western
Ukraine. He said local election officials were following orders from the
Central Elections Commission in Kiev.

Commission officials could not be reached for comment. But Tatyana Makridi,
a spokeswoman for the ruling bloc, Our Ukraine, said regional and local
administrations in the eastern and southern regions were responsible for the
voters’ rolls and any mistakes on them. "These are authorities who were
elected under the previous regime before the 2004 [presidential] election,"
Makridi said.

She refused to comment on why it was necessary to translate Russian voters’
names into Ukrainian, saying it was a question for the Central Elections
Commission.

Critics say the effort to translate the rolls into Ukrainian is part of a
so-called Ukrainization campaign aimed at strengthening national identity.
The drive took off in earnest after President Viktor Yushchenko’s
Western-leaning team came to power in 2004 during the Orange Revolution. It
has encountered fierce resistance in the eastern and southern regions, where
most people speak Russian.

As part of the drive, parliament last year passed legislation that ordered
television stations to run Russian-language shows and movies in Ukrainian.
Russian-language schools have been closed, prompting a wave of protests last
summer and fall in the Crimean Peninsula. Party of the Regions leader Viktor
Yanukovych addressed a pro-Russian language rally of about 10,000 supporters
in the Crimean city of Simferopol on Sunday.

Vasily Stoyakin, director of the Center for Political Marketing in Kiev,
said translations of voters’ rolls and the obligatory translation of Russian
programs on television shows that the Ukrainization campaign has gotten out
of hand. "This is a foolish campaign that can be characterized as one of
Yushchenko’s failures," Stoyakin said.

But Igor Popov, head of the Ukrainian Voters’ Committee, a nongovernmental
group, suggested that the translation mistakes on the rolls had nothing to
do with the campaign. "This is an issue of the elections being poorly
organized. These are not translations by people. The names were translated
by a computer program," Popov said, adding that blocks of names had also
fallen out of the rolls due to a failure by the computer program.

He estimated that 5 percent to 10 percent of all rolls were either
incomplete or contained mistakes. "I personally had to go verify and correct
my wife’s name three times," he said.

Election officials have acknowledged problems with the rolls but insisted
that they were working to correct them. Yaroslav Davydovich, head of the
Central Elections Commission, urged local officials earlier this month to
check the rolls without waiting for voters to complain. "It is their
responsibility," Davydovich said, Ukrainian news agencies reported.

Yushchenko has called on voters to check their names on voters’ rolls in
advance. Also this month, the parliament approved amendments to the
federal election law that will give voters the right to appeal mistakes made
in their names in court up to three hours before polling stations close on
election day.

Chernovil was skeptical that the legislation would help people vote on
Sunday. "In this situation, courts won’t be able to handle all the
complaints," he said. He also complained about entire apartment blocks
and streets being excluded from voters’ lists.

His Party of the Regions is expected to lead Sunday’s elections with at
least 27 percent of the vote, according to the latest poll released by
Razumkov Center, a polling agency. Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine is expected
to place second, with 17 percent, while a bloc led by former Prime Minister
Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to receive 13 percent.

However, it appears that the Party of the Regions will need need a coalition
ally to form a majority in the new parliament, which under a 2004
constitutional reform will receive unprecedented powers, including the right
to name the prime minister and most of the Cabinet.
———————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/03/21/002.html
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[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

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4.                 A FAIRER FIGHT IN UKRAINE CAMPAIGN
                        Candidates Look to West, Away from Russia,
                                as Guide In Parliamentary Election

THINKING GLOBAL: OP-ED By Frederick Kempe
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Monday, March 20, 2006

Those concerned by news reports that Ukraine’s democratic, pro-Western
trajectory is in trouble may want to study a wealth of contrary evidence —
including the opposition leader’s decision to replace his Russian election
advisers with a team assembled by U.S. Republican Party campaign virtuoso
Paul Manafort.

With Mr. Manafort’s help, Former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and his
Party of Regions have executed a remarkable comeback after their apparent
presidential victory was nullified a little more than a year ago amid
election fraud — and suspicion of complicity in his opponent’s poisoning.
Mr. Yanukovych has traveled the country in a Western-style campaign to win
votes in Sunday’s parliamentary elections rather than rig them.

The man who brought Mr. Manafort to the Ukrainian field was the country’s
richest person, Rinat Akhmetov, who hired the American early last year to
advise him on preparing his company, SCM Holdings, for a Western stock
listing. Mr. Akhmetov, a Russian-speaking Tatar from eastern Ukraine, is
fighting against his own image of ill-gotten wealth as he runs for a
Parliament seat on his party’s Republican-like platform of pro-business
growth policies and patriotism aimed at creating "the best country in
Europe."

None of this makes Ukraine a stable, liberal democracy. But it is part of a
mosaic of evidence that contradicts a widely held perception that 2004’s
Orange Revolution has failed and dark, anti-democratic, pro-Russian forces
are again rising. What is true is that Ukraine’s revolutionary leaders have
been unimpressive in power, fighting among themselves while the economy
has declined.

Yet, Ukraine’s nascent democratic system has strengthened. Saints don’t
become sinners overnight, yet Mr. Yanukovych’s shift shows even retrograde
politicians need to play by a new set of rules. Mr. Yanukovych has
complained to allies that former President Leonid Kuchma and his Russian
allies dictated his prior campaign and that this time he wanted to "hire the
best the West had to offer" in remaking his party and his own image.

Mr. Manafort, who has done campaign work from President Ford to the current
President Bush, among others, qualifies as top talent; so does Rick Ahearn,
a former lead Reagan advance man who has been a central figure on the
Yanukovych team.

At the same time, Ukraine’s democratic revolution has spawned other positive
change, from a blossoming of independent interest groups to a lively if
sometimes irresponsible media. Major political actors are generally playing
by democratic rules.

Even Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian businessmen, who once thought it
might be better to divide the country, now tend to see their economic
interests are best protected by national unity, eventual European Union
membership and independence from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to cut off natural-gas supplies
to Ukraine earlier this year only accelerated this evolution in thinking.

"Ukraine has turned the corner in terms of statehood and national identity,"
says Alexander Motyl, a Ukraine expert at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
"The question of whether it will continue to exist as a state has been put
to rest."

Polls ahead of Sunday’s elections indicate none of the three main parties
will be able to form a government without coalition negotiations. Mr.
Yanukovych, at some 30%, scores consistently better than his two primary
rivals. Our Ukraine Party, led by Orange Revolution leader and current
President Viktor Yushchenko, has fallen to 15%-20%.

His former ally, Yulia Tymoshenko, whom he fired as prime minister in
September, has similar backing. The question is whether Mr. Yushchenko puts
aside his animosity toward Ms. Tymoshenko and revives the Orange coalition
or joins Mr. Yanukovych and argues that Ukraine is better served by bringing
together parties representing its eastern and western regions.

In the end, however, the electoral outcome will be of less importance than
whether Ukrainians and international observers view it as a fair fight. The
vote has the chance to be Ukraine’s first clean parliamentary election with
open competition after 70 years of Soviet rule and another 14 years of
corrupt, autocratic rule.

"You have a system of democratic rules and practices beginning to
consolidate," Mr. Motyl says. "There is a pro-business, pro-market,
pro-Western-integration majority now in all the major political parties.
There is no unchecked power left in Ukraine. It almost doesn’t matter who
wins."

The three personalities fighting for votes naturally feel otherwise, and
their personalities have made the election fight as operatic as it is
historic.

The tragic hero is Mr. Yushchenko, a central banker whose face was
disfigured by a would-be killer’s poison. He bravely led the Orange
Revolution to victory thereafter but has seen his popularity decline amid
charges of indecision, mismanagement and failure to prosecute past political
crimes. He will continue as president until 2009 and will keep the right to
name his defense and foreign ministers, but constitutional changes dictate
that he share power with whichever prime minister is chosen by the
parliament elected Sunday.

His foil is Ms. Tymoshenko, the erstwhile ally he fired in September. Called
the "Gas Queen" for the riches she earned as a player in Ukraine’s energy
trade, she has made herself the darling of nationalists with her outspoken
populism and striking appearance, with blonde peasant-style braids.

Mr. Yanukovych is a hard-scrabble, two-time convict who was orphaned as
a teenager and who has been ridiculed by some in the media for misspelling
words — including "professor" — in a document said to confirm a bogus
university degree. Yet he is betting his approach is smartest, creating a
party with a sustainable platform and ideology that will allow him to
outlast even a reunified Orange coalition beset by personal and ideological
differences.

Don’t be surprised if any outcome Sunday isn’t long-lasting. Ukraine may
suffer a period of shifting and unstable coalition governments for some
time, which might not be good for effective governance but doesn’t need to
be bad for democracy.

"What looks like chaos is democracy in action," Mr. Motyl says. "Ukraine
has changed more deeply than most people understand."
————————————————————————————————-
The Thinking Global column runs every Tuesday on WSJ.com. Is democracy
safe in Ukraine? Do American campaign advisers help or hurt? Write to
Frederick Kempe at Thinkingglobal@wsj.com with your thoughts.
————————————————————————————————-
                                  ABOUT FRED KEMPE
Frederick Kempe, an assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal,
has spent his career tracking global political, economic and business
issues. Until recently, he was the editor and associate publisher of the
Wall Street Journal Europe. As a correspondent he covered stories including
the rise of Solidarity in Poland, the unification of Germany and the
collapse of the Soviet Union, and he reported on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq
and Lebanon.

He is the author of three books: "Father/Land, a Personal Search for the New
Germany," "Siberian Odyssey, a Voyage into the Russian Soul" and

"Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Sordid Affair With Noriega." He is a
graduate of University of Utah and Columbia University. Write to Frederick
Kempe at thinkingglobal@wsj.com.
————————————————————————————————–
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5.  UKRAINIAN REGIONAL MEDIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION
                      HIGHLIGHTS FOR MARCH 13-17, 2006

Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 20 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Monday, Mar 20, 2006

This week some outlets of the regional media focused on possible problems on
election day itself. Two outlets discussed comments by the previous prime
minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko, and in one interview she mentioned her merger
plans.

Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn attacked the track record of the
authorities and the usual battle between Our Ukraine and the Party of
Regions continued.

However, many outlets reflected the views of politicians and others who are
now looking forward to life after the election and the shape of the new
cabinet. One outlet even mentioned the mayoral election in the eastern
industrial city of Kharkiv.

This week saw the regional media praise various candidates. One such
recipient of praise was the People’s Bloc led by Volodymyr Lytvyn.

The private Kharkiv-based daily Vecherniy Kharkov, founded by the Rehion
television and radio company wrote in its issue of 16 March that "for
Volodymyr Lytvyn’s team how the country lives after the election is
important, as is whether we have responsible and honest authorities, … we
want to unite all the citizens of Ukraine who want their country to flourish
and to have peace and goodness".

However, Lytvyn was critical of the authorities. On 11 March the private
regional paper Luganskaya Pravda reported on his visit to Luhansk.

It quoted him saying: "Today, the prime minister is saying that inflation
will not be more than 10 per cent this year. I do not understand this, as it
is over three per cent for the first two months of the year. The cabinet
does not want to carry out thorough analysis of what is taking place in the
country. The lives of ordinary Ukrainians have not improved… People do not
have any trust in what tomorrow will bring."

The media also looked ahead to election day itself and predicted that there
could well be problems. In fact, one theme, that of problems with the
accuracy and completeness of the electoral roll, could be a national one. It
is a recurring theme of the 2004 presidential election.

The Donetsk paper Salon Dona i Basa, connected to Donetsk magnate Rinat
Akhmetov, said as much on 17 March. It quoted an official as saying that
"problems with the electoral roll are identical in Donetsk, western Ukraine,
Crimea and in the capital.

However, speculation over this issue is being stirred up intentionally in
Donetsk Region… as the region is home to 10 per cent of the Ukrainian
electorate and everyone is fighting for them in any way they can".

The Chernihiv-based pro-authorities newspaper Desnynanska Pravda continued
the theme. In its issue of 16 March it said that "there will be problems on
election day. The ballot paper is 78 centimetres long. The voter will need
to know in advance who he intends to vote for and the appropriate number.
The more so as local council elections are also taking place on this day. In
Chernihiv a voter will receive five different ballot papers."

The opposition Ne Tak bloc continued to express its anti-NATO views this
week. Speaking in the Dnipropetrovsk-based paper Litsa, which is an
opposition paper critical of the authorities, MP Leonid Kravchuk said that
NATO membership would be harmful.

In its issue of 15 March, the paper quoted him as saying that "we are
neither here nor there. European Union officials don’t want Ukraine, and
joining NATO would result in the bankruptcy of weapons companies and

mass unemployment".
                             ORANGE VERSUS BLUE
The fight between the orange and blue camps, Our Ukraine and the Party of
Regions, continued this week. On 13 March the popular Cherkasy daily
Vechirni Cherkasy wrote very critically of the Party of Regions and warned
people what to expect if it comes to power: "The Party of Region’s
parliamentary election list contains tens of ‘criminals’. Their leader has
two criminal convictions.

Their adverts promise ‘an improvement in life right today’ but the forced
advance payment of taxes, blatant election bribes in the form of higher
pensions, the privatization of the Kryvorizhstal steel plant for a pittance
and calls to send troops against protesters on Maydan, are still fresh in
the mind.

Today, they say that they will save Ukraine, but continue to divide it into
‘various types’, enflaming ethnic hatred and setting brother against
brother. Today, they attack Our Ukraine campaign tents, tomorrow they will
‘attack’ free journalists and get involved in racketeering."

The battle between the two is also taking place at the level of promises.
The Zaporizhzhya-based TV channel Aleks, which is funded by the head of
Motor Sich, Vyacheslav Bohuslayev, who is running for the Party of Regions,
quoted a Party of Regions MP, Yaroslav Sukhyy, outlining its first steps if
it gets into power.

On 13 March it showed him saying that "we shall adopt a strategy on the
country’s economic development, return professional people to power and
review the unrealistic state budget. These first steps by the Party of
Regions in the new parliament will enable us to lead the country out of
crisis."

The private Luhansk weekly Molodogvardeets reported on the economic strategy
of Our Ukraine. In its edition of 15 March it quoted parts of its strategy:
"Information technology will become the driving force of progress. We will
assist in developing innovation. We shall develop our own energy and will
introduce alternative sources of energy… We will ensure respect towards
business people. We will simplify procedures for registration, reporting and
inspections."

This week the Party of Regions accused the authorities of wanting to rig the
election. The Zhytomyr-based regional community and business weekly Ekho
quoted Party of Regions MP Vitaliy Khomutynnyk reported on a forum of the
Party of Regions in Zhytomyr.

In its issue of 16-22 March he said that "we are, without doubt, the leaders
of the race, and that is why disruption ofd the election or the annulment of
the result in those constituencies where the Party of Regions will
definitely win will be a convenient scenario for the orange forces".
                BATTLE FOR INDUSTRIAL HEARTLAND
A new theme this week is the importance being placed on the Donbass region,
the industrial heartland of the country, which consists of the Donetsk and
Dnipropetrovsk regions. The popular Donetsk paper Donbass, which is
independent, quoted one of the party’s senior figures, Mykola Azarov, as
saying that the region should have a role in the formation of the future
cabinet.

In its issue of 14 March it said: "Azarov believes that there is a need to
do everything possible to make sure that the results of the election ensure
that Donbass gets the right to form the cabinet and a hand in bringing basic
order to the country, to reviewing the state budget, which clearly has a
hidden deficit, and to calling officials to account for their actions. And
our party’s economic development strategy is, like the economic policy, able
to become the basis for all those who, together with the Party of Regions,
would like to create a parliamentary coalition".

The theme was echoed by Our Ukraine in Donetsk. The popular, politically
unaffiliated newspaper Donechchyna reported on the recent presentation of a
programme by Our Ukraine’s regional organization which focuses on its
development.

On 17 March it wrote: "’We have not issued slogans, but real things that we
shall do so that Donetsk Region becomes democratic and starts to flourish,
so it is strong and people live well’, one of its authors, V. Kypen, wrote.
He also reminded that a great deal has to be done as the region, according
to indictors, is last in terms of human development."
                                       KHARKIV RACE
Some of the media focused on the scale of the election process on 26 March,
on which local and mayoral elections will also be held. This theme was taken
up by the private Kharkiv-based daily Vecherniy Kharkov, founded by the
Rehion television and radio company.

 In its issue of 16 March it said that "a total of 29 parties and 14
political blocs are testing their strength on the political arena in Kharkiv
Region. A total of 1,415 candidates are running for the 150 deputy posts in
the regional council". The same issue also praised current Kharkiv mayor
Volodymyr Shumilkin, the Our Ukraine candidate in the mayoral election.

It wrote about positive changes, saying that "today, thanks to the work of
professionals in Shumilkin’s team, planned road surface repairs are being
carried out. The rejuvenated Lenin Prospect is the pride of Kharkiv. The
main highways are fully lit, as are the entrances to residential flats".
                  YULIYA TYMOSHENKO ATTACKS MP,

      SAYS UNLIKELY TO UNITE WITH BLUE OR ORANGE
This week saw former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko attack the current
prime minister, Yuriy Yekhanurov. The Zhytomyr weekly 20 khvylyn, founded by
the Vinnytsya television and radio company Somyy kontynent and partly funded
by USAID, quoted her saying this in its issue of 15 March: "Yekhanurov was
the eye of the previous president, Leonid Kuchma, and I would even say that
he was his two eyes and ears in the Yushchenko cabinet. He was 100-per-cent
Kuchma’s man, who made big efforts to ruin Yushchenko’s political career. It
seems to me that Yekhanurov never severed his ties with the Kuchma family".

The Kirovohrad based weekly Politikan, which is connected to a local senior
member of the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, printed an interview with her in its
issue of 17 March. Asked about whether her bloc would unite with the party
of Regions, she replied that "there would simply be no sense to do this. I
believe that this political force will try, through various means, to
introduce inequality into business".

Asked about whether she would work with Our Ukraine, she said that she would
not work with several senior figures. Her reply was that "I am not prepared
to work with Roman Bezsmertnyy, Petro Poroshenko, Mykola Martynenko, Davyd
Zhvaniya, Yevhen Chervonenko and Oleksandr Tretyakov. Why? Because these
people destroyed the respect of the new authorities. I am ready to unite
with those MPs who did not discredit the people’s trust in the orange team."
                               LIFE AFTER THE ELECTION
The media focused this week on life after the election and what may happen.
Opposition politician Stepan Havrysh of the Ne Tak bloc predicted that
President Viktor Yushchenko would become a peripheral figure in Ukrainian
politics.

The Donetsk-based paper Vechernyy Donetsk, connected to Donetsk magnate
Rinat Akhmetov, quoted him saying in its issue of 14 March that "that the
orange forces have no chance of forming a majority in the new parliament.

The polls show this regardless of who owns the polling organization. This
means that the president will not be a key figure in the new parliament and
there will be no grounds for him to say that he is at the center of the
political situation".

The 14 March issue of the Zaporizka Sich paper, which is published by the
Zaporizhzhya city council, quoted Hryhoriy Omelchenko, an MP of the Yuliya
Tymoshenko Bloc, is confident that the orange camp will be in power after
the election.

It quoted him as saying that "the Party of Regions will, without doubt, get
into parliament. However, there will be no revenge. The parliamentary
coalition will be formed by the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine and the
Socialist Party."

Views differ on the future though. Yuriy Kostenko, the head of the
propresidential Ukrainian People’s Party, believes there will be a stalemate
which will restrict Viktor Yushchenko.

Kostenko visited Zhytomyr last week and the private Zhytomyr-based weekly
Subota quoted him in its issue of 15 March as saying that "there will be a
propresidential coalition formally, but it will not be able to implement the
president’s programme with which he stood at the 2004 election, neither in
terms of creating the new face of the Ukrainian authorities nor on the
European choice".

Parliamentary speaker Volodoymyr Lytvyn also has his concerns. The Zhytomyr
based regional community and business weekly Ekho quoted him in its issue of
16-22 March saying that "I am concerned only by the fact that after the
election Ukraine will be split into two camps and without understanding,
and, therefore, without a future."

Uncertainty was also echoed by the words of Oleksandr Moroz, the head of the
Socialist Party of Ukraine. The Chernihiv-based weekly Hart, which supports
the party, quoted him in its issue of 16 March as saying that "today we
cannot talk about a specific person for the post of next prime minister, or
say that the election for prime minister is taking place. Only a utopian or
adventurer could make such statements".
 

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================      
6.  "VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO: ‘THE BASIS FOR UNIFICATION
               IS THE NATIONAL INTERESTS OF UKRAINE’"

INTERVIEW: With Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine
BY: Oleksandr Cherevko, Silski Visti, Kiev, in Ukrainian 17 Mar 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, Mar 18, 2006

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has told a Ukrainian daily that any
talks that his Our Ukraine bloc holds on the future coalition in parliament
will not involve distribution of ministerial portfolios. Yushchenko defended
his previously signed memorandum with the opposition Party of Regions and
said that he must consider the opinion of influential political forces.

He did, however, criticize opposition leaders for what he called speculating
on the language issue and attempting to split the country. Yushchenko said
that Ukraine’s membership in the WTO will bring definite economic benefits
and open new markets to Ukrainian products. Yushchenko said that solving the
Gongadze murder case was still a matter of honour to him and added that the
investigation is making progress.

The following is an excerpt from Yushchenko’s interview with Oleksandr
Cherevko, published in the Silski Visti newspaper on 17 March under the
title "Viktor Yushchenko: `The basis for unification is the national
interests of Ukraine’", subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Viktor Yushchenko has had an invitation to visit Silski Visti from the
moment of his victory in the presidential election in December 2004.
Long-time readers of our newspaper probably remember his special and
insightful interviews as the head of the National Bank, the prime minister,
the head of the Our Ukraine bloc, the leader of an opposition faction in
parliament and presidential candidate.

Mr Yushchenko has always respected the ideas of rural population and valued
their trust. In order to win this trust, he explained complex financial
formulas and laws using simple language. Difficult things became clear, and
the reader had a chance to look at the mystery of statecraft. In addition,
after 2002 the number of those [media] willing to talk to Yushchenko and
bring his real position to the people was rather low.

Then there was Maydan [Orange Revolution], the awakening of the nation, the
victory in the presidential election, which gave hope to Ukraine and the
world. Later many events occurred, which dampened those hopes. We are not
going to list well-known things, but many people are once again beginning to
feel mistrust and fear that this hard-fought chance may be lost again\
[ellipsis as published]

Therefore, we wanted to ask many question directly to the president,
face-to-face. Neither we nor Mr Yushchenko tried to avoid any tough
questions. We began with politics and went on to everything else related to
that.
                                          SHORTCOMINGS
[Cherevko] Mr Yushchenko, a few days ago you said that you do not watch
political advertising on TV. But probably you will not deny that the format
of the confrontation is almost unchanged since the presidential election.
Sometimes we have a feeling that it is not March 2006 but December 2004. Why
is it so?

[Yushchenko] In my opinion there are two main reasons, if we follow your
question exactly. The first reason is that for 14 years Ukraine had been
lead towards shadow, criminal policy. The policy which did not contain the
national interests. Many big decisions political, economic and social
resulted in not just a model but a whole system of teams working to
implement this policy.

The result of that policy was logical: the objective assessment of that
administration as criminal and malfeasant one. Ukraine almost lost the
freedom of speech, switched to the domination of shadow economy (54 per cent
of the GDP was produced in the shadow).

Ukraine became a country where the judiciary and the law-enforcement bodies
could not protect human rights. I am not even talking about other details.
But that policy had its key players, placed from the village councils all
the way to the highest offices.

In December 2004 the people elected a new, democratic president. But, let’s
be honest, look at the system of local governments. It remained the same as
four years ago. Meaning, the system which, in terms of specific players,
clearly fitted in specific offices for the purpose of serving that model.
Speaking about the Supreme Council [parliament], you probably remember the
role that the former Bankova [presidential administration] played in forming
the structure of the current parliament.

I am not going to reproach specific individuals in the current parliamentary
corps, but you understand that the current make-up does not reflect the real
feelings of the nation. It happened so that today that a majority controls
the formation of the state budget and the powerful and organized
representative axis. It was not created in the past 12 months.

In this system, as one deputy noted, nobody sells out one of their own. Just
in the past six months, the prosecutors sent about 400 requests for
permission to institute criminal proceedings against members of local
councils, but only about one-tenth of those have been granted. We cannot
disregard the existence of this collective code. I sent a request to the
Constitutional Court concerning the MPs’ immunity from prosecution, but this
parliament blocked the oath-taking ceremony of the judges.

Or another issue. Bribery was not created by the Orange Revolution. It was
inherited from the previous authorities. The revolution simply allowed to
talk about this evil. History does not know any examples of a country, even
with an authoritarian system of power, where this problem could be resolved
fully within a year. There is enough work for many years.

We have replaced several thousand officials, hoping that a new person who
comes in will steal less because of different morals. To some extent, it
worked, even though not always. Then we made an attempt to strip officials
of their excessive regulatory powers. We submitted five bills to parliament,
two of which were passed, resulting in the need for a review of several
thousand of legal documents and by-laws. Here we are still to put a full
stop.

In short, we inherited a country not only with a flawed concept of domestic
and foreign policy but also with many mutations which have nothing to do
with the values of freedom of speech and democracy. This problem is much
deeper than an average reader can imagine.

Another explanation reproaches for the fact of the state of relations in the
orange camp. When we had Maydan, and we are talking about dozens of
political forces, the people were united by fairly clear aims and goals. For
example, preventing falsification. At that time, we did not discuss the
vision for the development of specific sectors of the economy.

The same way, outside the brackets, there were discussions of how certain
people were professionally and morally fit to serve in certain positions.
With time, in many cases, private and self-serving interests, not foreseen
at that time, became stronger than the interests of the state.

And when I witnessed some actions which had nothing to do with national
interests (meaning exclusively selfish, power-seeking and inappropriate
intentions in relation to the interests of the nation), this brought
disappointment to millions of people. At the same time, it devalued the
status of the orange team.

But the restoration of the team was successful, and nothing irreparable
happened. We had to respond to this challenge honestly, and not engage in
opportunism and populism. Because populism can work for only a few days, and
then one has to pay for it.

That is why the monthly crises and constant fighting with someone resulted
in serious isolation of Ukraine and the loss of the momentum. Very specific
but miscalculated actions resulted in business and public disillusionment.
The people who were supposed to be responsible for team spirit and teamwork
began to play their own games and gather at night for secret meetings. It is
these two positions that led to the current state of affairs.
                             COALITION IN NEW PARLIAMENT
[Cherevko] Nonetheless, it does not look like the situation will change
significantly with the new parliament’s make-up. There will be no single
winner of the election, and recent allies became mortal enemies. There will
be need for unity again.

Actually, as if following the wishes of the voters, the former orange team
attempted to unite even before the election. Nothing came out of that
though, because the participants allegedly could not divide the portfolios.

[Yushchenko] First of all, I want to say that we have had no talks on
portfolios. I gave a clear directive to the Our Ukraine People’s Union:
political talks on consolidation of the orange forces before the election
cannot centre around any portfolios, including the post of prime minister.
Because if we don’t have specific goals, we cannot decide who will take
posts in which territories or ministries.

There is a number of previously taken key decisions, after which we can talk
about the Cabinet of Ministers. I give you my word that no-one from Our
Ukraine has held any talks on the division of portfolios. This issue can be
resolved only after the election.

Then a big role will be played by the percentages of the vote gained. When
some force has the right to put forward an initiative, then we can begin
real dialogue.

Previously good relations within the team were ruined by the selfish desires
of one or two people concerning official posts. I will not enter the same
river twice. That is why during the negations we talked about defining five
or six key principles, which can unite the team in the pre-election
disposition.

For example, concerning the principles of domestic economic policy, foreign
policy and other high-profile issues. This would give us an opportunity to
say clearly that these lads and girls are carrying out this specific task.
This would be the best signal to the nation. But now this issue has been
postponed until after the election.

[Cherevko] There have been many theories about the possible coalition of the
Our Ukraine People’s Union and the Party of Regions in the new parliament.
Are you considering this possibility and on what conditions? How strong will
this "union" be, taking into account that some of the people on the possible
partner’s election list have lost a billion dollars or 500m dollars in the
year that the new team has been in power?

Finally, you have already attempted to unite the East and West by signing
the infamous memorandum on cooperation. No understanding was reached. You
became the target of accusations of being weak.

[Yushchenko] Clearly, a new format of the orange team would look ideal. And
I hope that we can have this coalition after the election. On the other
hand, I, as president of Ukraine and not some part of it, have to take into
account all the influential political forces.

It is another matter that the leadership of the Party of Regions is
dominated by principles that are unacceptable and not understandable to me.
These principles I will never share.

Moreover, with its current position, this force presents a serious threat to
Ukraine. Even though what I just said does not in any way concern ordinary
supporters of this party. I am convinced that they are just as worried as
the people in Halychyna [in western Ukraine] or in my native Sumy Region.

It is another matter that there are zombie-like propaganda themes, which
distract from this main thing. They are consciously building a policy of
splitting the country, while any union is possible on the principles of
consolidation of the state and the nation.

Let us go back to the beginning of last year. Then we also had a heated
debate on whether or not we should bring the Socialists into the government
team, as they have a different ideology from other allies. I fully supported
this cooperation. Today we have similar debates concerning the party of
Volodymyr Lytvyn. I am convinced that we need to bring him into this union.

In this situation, we can learn from the experience of our neighbours. After
the break-up of the Soviet Union the Baltic states also had multi-polar
parliaments. But, after several years of conflict, the sides sat down to
talk, defined the main priorities of development, what is called national
interests, and what every party should definitely stand for in those
countries.

For us, there is no solution other than to talk and define our interests.
That is why I definitely would like the Party of Regions and other parties
to take the position of statecraft during the votes in parliament, at least
on key issues.

As for the memorandum, I am ready to confirm all the points stated there
right now. But today we see the process of substitution of notions. For
example, voters are being urged to vote in a referendum on the Single
Economic Space [economic union of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan],
of which we are already a member.

However, the constitution forbids us to join any supranational bodies and
partially hand over our own powers to them. Even Kuchma signed those
agreements with reservations.

Or the anti-thesis of Ukraine and the EU. Why is that? Today our trade with
Europe is double what we have with Russia. Why should we lose this economic
interest? Concerning NATO, not a single country joined or will join NATO
without a referendum. Today an issue is raised which is not really on the
agenda.

NATO is a distant perspective, linked to the analysis of our own defence
capabilities, the real combat readiness of the army and defence spending. We
will have an open discussion on that, taking into account the provisions of
the Tashkent treaty, the neutral status and the NATO membership. When the
people have all the information, then they can make an educated choice.

What is happening today? There is speculation on imaginary problems language
or foreign policy priorities which are not really on the agenda. They are
just using the imaginary and secondary issues to hide their intellectual
nakedness and lack of new ideas on the unification and development of the
state.

This actually concerns the declared memorandum on the principle of honest
election. Following this provision would in fact prevent speculation on
imaginary issues and rocking society with artificial problems.

[Cherevko] One of the candidates for parliament today said the following:
after the election the president will not be able to influence anything in
this country. The country will be ruled by a coalition of any format, which
will not take into account the existence of the president’s programme. Do
you accept this role and agree to any coalition?

[Yushchenko] The president is elected by the people and he remains the
guarantor of the constitution and the head of state. As for the election, it
is obvious that no-one will muster 51 per cent of the vote. Clearly, we will
have a coalition. The president will take the most active part in forming
this coalition. This is my duty to the country and my responsibility for its
future.

This is not a dominating issue but a formula of political harmony, which
lies in the search for real national interests. If a coalition cannot be
formed because of ambitions, then maybe it would be better for the country
to simply drift for some time. This will probably be a lesser evil than
haphazard policy.

[Cherevko] How would you assess the performance of Socialist ministers in
the cabinet? There are some completely opposite views. Some consider their
work to be effective while others blame all the failures on them.

For example, [Agricultural Minister Oleksandr] Baranivskyy finally buried
the agriculture, [Interior Minister Yuriy] Lutsenko is a provocateur and a
populist, [Education Minister Stanislav] Nikolayenko is ruining the science,
while [State Property Fund chief Valentyna] Semenyuk is totally not where
she belongs.

[Yushchenko] Simply speaking, we have questions to everyone, and everyone
has made his own mistakes. But every person who you have just listed has
brought improvement to his area of work. The interior minister is not the
type of person who needs to be pushed to do something. On the contrary,
sometimes we even have to stop his initiative.

The same is true about the agriculture minister. It is this sector where we
see the biggest gain of the GDP. I am happy with the work of [Prime Minister
Yuriy] Yekhanurov’s cabinet. This cabinet did not create crises but stopped
negative trends in the economy. [Passage omitted: Yushchenko praises
achievements in education and agriculture]
                               WTO TO BENEFIT ECONOMY
[Cherevko] We have recently been recognized as a country with market
economy, and a few days ago the discriminative Jackson-Vanik amendment was
cancelled. In fact, new markets have opened for us, but at the same time we
see that at this point we don’t have much to offer except for steel and some
raw materials.

At the same time, having joined the WTO we will fully open our own market.
For many reasons, including because the new owners of companies invested
little into modernization, we will not be able to compete, and not only in
agriculture. Can this blow be even harder that the rising price of gas?

[Yushchenko] There are certain basics that can be proven even without
comment. Widening of markets is always a good thing. Because the more narrow
the market, the more risks we have. There are many models proposed by
experts, beginning with GDP growth and export-import duties which show that
the WTO entry will give us 1.9-2.5 per cent of economic growth. Speaking
about the economics of certain industries, we can recall some of the
concerns that our neighbours had when entering the WTO.

Ask someone in Poland today, what has he lost? To be completely open, he
gets 10 times more in subsidies. If we introduce the same principles, our
agriculture will become competitive in just a few years. There are still
some discussions on this. But even in Lithuania, which has only 18
administrative districts, the volume of agricultural subsidies is higher
than in Ukraine.

It is worth mentioning that we gain access to markets which were previously
closed. Here is just a small example. Today we already have the world price
on grain. There is a shortage of this product on the international market.
So there is no problem with selling grain or barley for 120 dollars
anywhere. As long as we have something to sell.

We also have new opportunities in the sugar market. Even though the sugar
beet is usually more labour-intensive than cane, we have a unique chance to
fully revitalize this industry. We are not talking just about the sugar but
also about alternative fuels. The new price creates new motivation.

In addition, not a single Ukrainian producer will face the risk of
anti-dumping investigations. Before there were claims against anyone, taking
into account the costs of our labour, electricity or coal. Today we have
this immunity. So, let’s not talk about a slowdown. Trade will increase by
at least 2bn dollars.

The radical change of trade rules will only benefit Ukraine. It is also
worth noting that the current policy of barriers is not easing but
tightening by a few points. Some details may not be taken into account. But
this is a matter of special attention from the state to those sectors.
                                      GONGADZE CASE
[Cherevko] What can you say about prospects for the court case on the murder
of [journalist] Heorhiy Gongadze? Can you share something we don’t know?
Will we ever learn the name of the person who ordered the killing?

[Yushchenko] I am convinced that we will definitely learn that. But let us
start from the beginning. One year ago the Gongadze case consisted of
basically blank pages. Lots of effort, especially on the part of the
prosecutors, was made to bury this case forever. I still consider it a
matter of honour for me to name those who ordered and carried out the
killing.

On the one hand, this murder is high-profile, on the other hand, whoever did
that (and it was the authorities who did it) very carefully covered their
tracks. Much has been done by now. Unfortunately, some people have already
passed away. This is all part of covering the tracks.

When we received information that we, with certain guarantees to some
individuals, can obtain new testimonies, which have not been part of the
case and may reverse it 180 degrees, we pumped out ponds in the middle of
winter to find two things and we found them! We melted the frozen ground and
found the place where Heorhiy was initially buried.

There were some international steps to return testimonies and witnesses. At
some moments we lost not because we took the wrong path, but because we
spend too much effort on publicity by the Security Service of Ukraine. One
thing was delayed, which could add some dynamics to the investigation.

[Cherevko] You mean the escape of [former police general Oleksiy] Pukach?

[Yushchenko] That too. True, we had a good chance of having one of the key
witnesses detained. Unfortunately, today I have no-one to point at, except
for the Ukrainian side, who fell short here. After that, the work of the
Interior Ministry was especially effective, we obtained some testimony which
can lead us to the suspects who carried out this murder. Now we know how
everything happened. Their case has been sent to court.

I think we are talking about those who actually carried it out, but we can
say for sure only after the court makes its decision. But this is the
smaller part of this case, because the nation will always ask who gave the
order? Without a doubt, this was a high-ranking official. And this question
is much more important.

Today we are bothering some influential people who are able to resist the
investigation, to be dishonest and to cover their tracks. But all of this is
not making me a pessimist.  [Passage omitted: Yushchenko praises his family
and urges support or Ukrainian culture]
                                     LANGUAGE ISSUE
The same goes for the language problem, which does not exist. The state and
the government are pursuing a policy which gives opportunities for Tatars,
Jews or Azeris not to forget their native language here, not to forget the
fairly-tales that their parents told them in their childhood, their songs
and traditions. But our language is our identity.

The presidents of other countries often ask me whether there are schools in
Ukraine which teach in this or that language. For the most part, I give a
positive answer. At the same time, against the background of all the talk on
the discrimination of the Russian language in our country, we cannot obtain
a permission to open a Ukrainian-language group let alone a Ukrainian school
in Moscow.

I am not even talking about Tyumen and the Far East. That is why the very
definition of the language issue in its current version is meant to create
only a new line of conflict and division of the nation. [Passage omitted:
closing pleasantries]
 

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========================================================
7. US AMB HERBST PRAISES UKRAINE’S DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS;
       URGES CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO HONEST ELECTIONS

Public Affairs Section, United States Embassy, Kyiv
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 20, 2006

KIEV – United States Ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst today told
students at the Wisconsin International University in Ukraine that the
Parliamentary election campaign, thus far, had been the most free in Ukraine’s
short history since independence.

He noted the campaign to date had been conducted in an environment of lively
political debate that had been covered by a largely unfettered media.
Nevertheless, he called on the Ukrainian authorities to address reported
problems with the voter lists and urged all Ukrainians to be vigilant
regarding their democratic rights.

The United States, Ambassador Herbst stated, will work with whomever the
Ukrainian people choose in a free and fair election.  A full text of his
prepared remarks appears below.

The University invited the Ambassador to speak on the topic of "Democracy
and Free Elections" and afterwards presented him with an honorary degree.

Remarks by John E. Herbst
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
Wisconsin International University In Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine,  March 20, 2006

Thank you Rector Romanovsky for your gracious invitation for me to be here
today to speak on the topic of "Democracy and Free Elections."

I especially enjoy speaking with students in Ukraine because yours is a
generation that has grown up since Independence.  Your views of the world
and of the possibilities the future holds for you are fundamentally
different from those of your parents, who were raised and educated under the
former Soviet Union.

You will have much more control over your own destiny than earlier
generations.  With this new freedom, however, you will need to take on
greater responsibility – not only for your own actions, but also for the
actions of your government and leaders.

In the nearly three years that I have had the honor to represent the United
States in Ukraine, I have witnessed a profound change in the level of
freedom here.  From the beginning I realized Ukraine had a well-developed
civil society that is perhaps stronger than in any other former Soviet
republic.

Well before the events of last year, Ukrainians throughout the country were
actively engaged in efforts to strengthen democratic values and
institutions.  They advocated for their basic human rights and when
necessary stood up and demonstrated in defense of freedom of speech,
religious tolerance, rule of law, and honest government free of corruption.

Statements of public protest on Maidan Nezalezhnosti are not new to Ukraine.
Yet something extraordinary happened in November and December of 2004.
Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the Maidan to demand that the
result of the election reflect the will of the Ukrainian people.

Recall for a moment what had been happening at the time.  The authorities
controlled nearly every major national television station and limited the
access to TV of opposition candidates.  They gave the world a shameful new
word – temnyky – directions from the authorities to journalists on what
should be covered and what should be suppressed.

News organizations and journalists who ignored these directives were subject
to pressure from unwarranted tax and health code inspections, suspension of
licenses, libel suits, seizure of assets, destruction of property, threats,
physical assault and, in some cases, death.

In addition to a controlled and hostile media environment, opposition
candidates faced challenges such as cancelled meeting halls, power outages
during campaign rallies, roadblocks, cancelled flights, ransacked offices
and even poisoning.

The first two rounds of voting in October and November 2004 were marred by
ballot stuffing and ballot stealing by elections officials.  Police
disappeared from polling stations minutes before gangs of thugs showed up to
disrupt the counting.  Groups of voters traveled from polling place to
polling place, voting numerous times.  Plant workers and students were
threatened if they did not vote a certain way.

It is no wonder that the Ukrainian people were so outraged that they poured
into the streets – not only in Kiev – but also in many cities in Ukraine to
protest the theft of their vote.  What is extraordinary is that they stayed
for 17 days in the bitter cold until the Supreme Court acknowledged the
widespread fraud and ordered that the runoff vote be repeated, effectively
asserting the rule of law over power.  This round was finally conducted in a
largely free and fair manner according to international standards.

These events changed the underlying dynamic between Ukrainian citizens and
their government, creating the possibility for rule of law to put down roots
in Ukraine, a pre-requisite for sustainable political and economic reform.
It is a tribute to all sides – including then-President Kuchma – that
ultimately these events remained peaceful.

I know there are some people inside and outside Ukraine who now wonder if it
was all in vain, but in my opinion, they are the people who do not
understand the value of what happened in Ukraine in November/December of
2004.

The Orange Revolution – as it is now known around the world – was not so
much a victory for a certain political party or coalition, as it was a
victory for the Ukrainian people, who took back control of their country.
Viktor Yushchenko was elected President, but it was the people of Ukraine
and the country’s democratic institutions that gained power.

Indeed, the fruits of last year’s democratic struggle can be seen most
dramatically this week, as Ukraine prepares itself for parliamentary and
local elections.  Fifteen months to the day after the free and fair third
round of the 2004 presidential elections, Ukrainian voters will again go to
the polls.

This election campaign is being conducted in a much more open and
transparent way than the last one was.  If you turn on almost any Ukrainian
television channel you will see candidates and campaign advertisements from
across the political spectrum.

Opposition candidates have been able to organize and campaign without
harassment.  There is a vibrant political dialogue going on in the country
about what direction Ukraine should take, and the news media is largely free
to report all positions.  Temnyky and pressure on journalists — at least
from the national government – has ceased.

Even former Kuchma chief of staff Medvedchuk, a figure often linked with
repressive measures against the media in the past, has publicly admitted the
media is much more free today than when he worked at Bankova.

That is not to say that all media is independent in Ukraine.  Journalists
and advocates of media freedom here say self-censorship or political
posturing ordered by media owners still pose an obstacle to free speech.
For you, as consumers of news and responsible citizens of a democratic
Ukraine, it is important to seek out a range of information sources and take
media ownership and political affiliation into account as you evaluate the
source’s quality and objectivity.

Unfortunately media ownership in Ukraine, especially of the broadcast media,
is still shrouded in mystery.  This is a shame because the broadcast
spectrum is among a nation’s most precious resources, and it should be used
for the public good, not for private or political gain.

And I would not be truthful if I said all problems in the election process
had been eliminated.  There are still problems associated with the formation
of some election commissions.  Voter lists, while improved, remain
problematic.  The Central Election Commission reports it has removed from
voter lists the names of 800,000 people who have died.

It is suspected but not confirmed that many of these dead souls miraculously
managed to vote from the grave in 2004.  Removing the dead from the voter
rolls is a tremendous step forward, but until a national voter registry is
created, inaccuracies in voter lists will continue to threaten to
disenfranchise voters.

For instance, there are credible reports that whole buildings or city blocks
of voters do not appear on the lists for Donetsk and Zhytomyr.  And there
are credible reports about the problem created by the transliteration of
voter names from Russian to Ukrainian.  It is essential that the authorities
do everything possible to address these and all other problems with the
voter lists.   It is likewise essential that all voting precincts be
adequately staffed with commissioners.

There have also been reports of improper use of administrative resources by
local officials in some parts of the country.  The reports I have heard do
not indicate widespread or systematic abuse as we saw in 2004, and
complaints emanate from a broad range of political parties.  That said,
citizens, the media and civil society organizations need to continue to be
vigilant and must act to expose undemocratic practices.

Free and fair elections and a transparent process for forming a new
government that represents the will of the people are critical to
solidifying Ukraine’s democratic credentials in the world.  Honest elections
will not only strengthen Ukraine but also have a positive impact on Ukraine’s
neighborhood.

Free and fair elections are essential if Ukraine wants to further integrate
into the Euro-Atlantic community.   But honest elections are also in Ukraine’s
interest even if the Ukrainian people choose to pursue a different strategic
path.

As we did during the 2004 elections, the United States is providing
non-partisan assistance in support of a democratic process.  As part of our
overall assistance to Ukraine, the U.S. is providing approximately $13.3
million to support free and fair elections.

This is part of a broader United States government democracy assistance
effort in Ukraine that is working to promote independent media, local
government reform, rule of law, civil society development, and open and
transparent political processes.

As in 2004, we advocate for no preferred candidate, party, bloc or outcome.
The U.S. government will work with whomever the Ukrainian people choose

in a free and transparent, democratic process.

Our election assistance programs are aimed at increasing civic participation
in the electoral process by working with media and non-governmental
organizations to publicize election issues to ensure people have adequate
information to make an informed choice on election day.

We are working with elections officials to improve election administration.
We are providing non-partisan training for all political parties and
candidates who have chosen to participate on message development and
constituent outreach.

Again this year we are supporting the work of domestic and international
election monitors, who will be scattered around Ukraine to observe the
balloting and vote tabulation process.  At this point, we can say that the
election campaign has been the freest and fairest in independent Ukraine’s
young history, but we also want to help insure that this is an honest
election.

Ukrainian voters must bear and have borne the bulk of the responsibility for
holding free and fair elections.  We are particularly interested in getting
more young voters engaged and involved in the political process in Ukraine.
In the United States, university students are very active in political
campaigns.  Their enthusiasm and vitality are valuable assets to any party,
and they often volunteer to work long hours without pay.

As an outside observer and with the election so close it would be
inappropriate for me to discuss polling numbers or speculate on who might
win.  Let me just say that one sign of the strength of Ukrainian democracy
is the fact that no one can predict with accuracy who will prevail in the
elections or who will become the next Prime Minister.  This decision still
rests with the people of Ukraine — where it rightly belongs.

Let me contrast this with some polling data from September of 2004.  A
Razumkov Center poll published that month reported that a majority of those
polled said they expected that fraud would determine the election’s winner.
According to the poll, the belief that falsification would occur was
prevalent in every part of the country.

People feared their vote would not matter.  There is no such widespread fear
this time around.   Despite this expectation, people should be vigilant.
Honest elections are too precious to be taken for granted.

I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks that you will have to take on
greater responsibility in exchange for this freedom.  On March 26 you will
vote for delegates to the Verkhovna Rada, who under new constitutional
provisions will chose a prime minister empowered with more authority than
any predecessor.

You must take destiny into your own hands by carefully choosing whom you
want to lead your country during the coming years.  As responsible citizens
and voters, it is incumbent on you to ensure that your name is on the voter
list at your polling station.  It is incumbent on you to research relevant
issues and learn the positions of the various parties on those issues.

You must look beyond the party leaders to see who else is on the party lists
and assess their qualifications and reasons for running.  These people will
be making important choices over the next five years that will directly
affect you, so your choice on election day must be well informed.  For our
part, we will be happy to work with whatever government you elect.

Ukraine has taken a huge step forward in its democratic development since
the events of last year, but democracy is not a one-time event.  Democracy
is a continuing process that must be protected and nurtured to keep it
strong.  That is the task your generation has inherited.

Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
————————————————————————————————–
http://kiev.usembassy.gov/infocentral_eng.html
Public Affairs Section, United States Embassy Kyiv
4 Hlybochytska St.. Kyiv  04050  Ukraine
(380 44) 490-4026, 490-4090; Fax (380 44) 490-4050
http://kiev.usembassy.gov/; info@usembassy.kiev.ua
————————————————————————————————–

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8 . AMB  JOHN E. HERBST NAMES TO NEW POST – COORDINATOR
    FOR THE OFFICE OF RECONSTRUCTION AND STABILIZATION
                             Currently U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

Office of the Spokesman, U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC, Monday, March 20, 2006

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appointed
Ambassador John E. Herbst as Coordinator for the Office of
Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Mr. Herbst, currently U.S.
Ambassador to Ukraine, will take up his new position in late spring.

The Coordinator supports the Secretary by leading U.S. planning efforts
forcountries and regions of concern, and coordinating the deployment of
U.S. civilian resources to respond to conflict. In concert with other State
Department bureaus and agencies, the Coordinator builds strong civil-
military partnerships, and promotes coordination with international and non-
governmental colleagues on reconstruction and stabilization activities and
prevention strategies.

Mr. Herbst is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and holds the
rank of Minister-Counselor. Prior to his appointment to Ukraine, he served
as Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2000-2003. Mr. Herbst previously worked
as the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem; Principal Deputy to the Ambassador
at Large for the Newly Independent States; the Director of the Office of
Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs; and as the Director of
Regional Affairs in the Near East Bureau of the State Department.

Mr. Herbst’s awards in government include the Presidential Distinguished
Service Award and the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award. He
received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown
University’s School of Foreign Service, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Master of
Law and Diplomacy, with Distinction, from the Fletcher School. He also
attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International
Studies Bologna Center. Mr. Herbst is married to Nadezda Christoff Herbst.
The couple has five children.                        -30-
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See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/ for all press statements.
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9. SEC RICE JOINS NATO TALKS ON UKRAINIAN MEMBERSHIP

By Mark John, Reuters, Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

VILNIUS  – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other NATO
foreign ministers hold the alliance’s first major meeting on former Soviet
soil on Thursday, planning to offer Ukraine fast-track membership talks.

But NATO officials said the ministers would stop short of setting a target
entry date at their talks in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius for fear of
annoying Russia.

"NATO is an important forum for transatlantic dialogue on political issues,
it is the premier forum," Rice told reporters on Wednesday, after visiting
Moscow where she criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin for having too
much personal power.

But Russia will take part in the Vilnius talks and NATO officials said they
saw Moscow as a partner. The meeting in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic
which joined NATO last year, underlines how the world has changed since the
Cold War ended.

NATO has made it no secret that the victory of pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko
in Ukraine’s rerun presidential elections last December after a rigged first
poll had boosted the membership chances of Kiev, which also wants to join
the European Union

"The government in Ukraine has made its aspirations clear and is in a better
position to fulfil its aspirations for reform," NATO spokesman James
Appathurai told a news briefing, contrasting Yushchenko with his pro-Moscow
predecessor.
                                  "ENHANCED DIALOGUE"
Appathurai said 26-nation NATO would offer Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys
Tarasyuk a "form of enhanced dialogue, together with a package of practical
and political elements". The ministers would also offer Ukraine help to
revamp its national army and pursue Western democratic reforms.

A senior U.S. State Department official travelling with Rice said the NATO
proposals were an "effort to move a little step further" in response to
Ukraine’s membership goal.

To boost Ukraine’s entry chances, Washington wanted Kiev to do more to

fight corruption, exert more civilian control over its army and restructure its
"top heavy" forces to reduce the number of generals, said the official, who
requested anonymity

There have been calls, notably in the United States, for Ukraine to be given
NATO membership within five years. But alliance diplomats fear a rush
towards entry would not only raise tensions with Russia but alienate many
Ukrainians in the former Soviet republic’s pro-Moscow east.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to sign an accord at the
Vilnius talks codifying NATO troops’ transit rights through Russia. This is
widely seen as a step to make it easier for NATO and Russia to conduct joint
exercises.

"Russia might feel it has reasons to be nervous about NATO. But NATO’s
message is that it wants to regard Russia as a partner," said one NATO
diplomat, who requested anonymity.

On Wednesday, Rice renewed charges Russia had some distance to go in
developing its democracy and that Washington was closely watching the fraud
and tax evasion trial of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky. A court is to
give a verdict on April 27.The case is widely seen as having been
orchestrated by the Kremlin to punish Khodorkovsky for his political
ambitions.

Washington’s support for popular revolutions that have brought pro-Western
governments to power in Ukraine and another former Soviet republic, Georgia,
have alarmed Russia.

Rice also turned her attention to Belarus on Wednesday, saying "it was time
for change" in the former Soviet republic in an effort to stoke opposition
against what she called President Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship. She
plans to meet Belarussian opposition academics and lawmakers in neighbouring
Lithuania on Thursday.
 

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10.  U.S. SAYS FRAUDULENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN BELARUS

Statement by Sean McCormack, Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Monday, March 20, 2006

WASHINGTON – The United States cannot accept as legitimate the election
results announced yesterday by the Belarusian Central Election Commission
declaring Aleksandr Lukashenka the winner in a landslide.

As the OSCE preliminary report documents, the election "failed to meet OSCE
commitments for democratic elections," and was characterized by "a disregard
for the basic rights of freedom of assembly, association, and expression" as
well by a "climate of intimidation and insecurity" and "highly problematic"
vote count.

The United States congratulates the courageous Belarusian democrats who,
against appalling electoral conditions and at great risk, have moved their
country closer toward reclaiming its democratic rights.  We support their
call for a new election.  We will stand with the people of Belarus and back
their aspirations to take their rightful place among the world’s
democracies.

The United States is preparing to take serious, appropriate measures against
those officials responsible for election fraud and other human rights
abuses, and we will be coordinating these steps with the European Union.
We call on the regime in Belarus to release immediately those detained
during the campaign.

The international community will continue to scrutinize the actions of the
Belarusian authorities, and we caution them not to harm, threaten or detain
those exercising their political rights in the coming days and beyond.
 

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11.   REVOLUTION IN UKRAINE MAY NOT BE TEMPLATE FOR

                                  AN UPRISING IN BELARUS 

Jim Heintz, AP Worldstream, Monday, March 20, 2006

Speak Ukrainian to a Belarusian or vice versa and the comprehension’s nearly
100 percent. Whether Ukraine’s Orange Revolution will translate in Belarus
is harder to read. For all their historic and cultural similarities, the
neighbors are sharply different politically _ and the Belarusian opposition
protesters trying to force a rerun of a disputed presidential election face
obstacles their Ukrainian role models did not.

Both countries share a complex and bloody past. Before the 1991 collapse of
the Soviet Union, each existed as an independent country only briefly after
World War I. They had been fought over by various empires for centuries and
were pounded into misery in World War II.

Both have names that imply they were mere outposts of mighty Russia: Ukraine
means "at the edges" and Belarus is often understood as "White Russia."

It is in their relations with Moscow that Ukraine and Belarus show one of
their greatest differences. Ukraine, since the rise to power of Viktor
Yushchenko in the 2004 Orange Revolution, has tried to keep Russia at arm’s
length and sought the embrace of the West.

Belarus, under President Alexander Lukashenko, despises the West and courts
Russia obsequiously, establishing a loose union treaty and relying on its
gigantic neighbor for everything from moral support to cheap natural gas.

When Russia moved this winter to quadruple the price it charges Ukraine for
gas, it was simultaneously cutting a deal with Belarus to retain the old low
price. Moscow portrayed the concession as justified by Belarus’ having given
control of its pipeline system to Russia, but many Belarusians likely drew a
different conclusion: break with the Kremlin and you pay for it.

Amid international pressure on Russia, Ukraine eventually worked out a deal
that approximately doubles what it pays for gas. But even the smaller
increase is an enormous burden, and the political fallout of the murky deal
has left Yushchenko’s government effectively paralyzed for months _ another
embarrassment that could convince Belarusians that revolution is not in
their interest.

State media tell that to Belarusians incessantly. And unlike pre-revolution
Ukrainians, they have very limited alternatives for information.

The gathering of tens of thousands of protesters in Kiev was broadcast by
what was then the country’s only TV channel outside state control or
connections, and the transmissions were key in rallying others to the cause.
Belarus has no broadcast media outside state control and the few independent
newspapers sometimes have their print runs seized and are banned from sale
in kiosks.

Even word-of-mouth is dicey: Belarusian opposition members widely believe
their phones are tapped and their cell-phone text messages read by the KGB.

The Belarusians lack a lot that the Ukrainian protesters had in their favor.
One is a clear sense of unity. Although opposition candidates Alexander
Milinkevich and Alexander Kozulin made joint appearances over the past week,
the relationship looked very fragile as Kozulin claimed he had much more
support than Milinkevich and said "I don’t intend to ‘unify’ with any
democratic coalition … Who is Milinkevich, really?"

That’s a sharp contrast to Ukraine, where populist Yulia Tymoshenko
fervently backed the protests _ despite differences that later became
obvious when she was named prime minister and fired months later.

The Belarusians meanwhile lack key physical resources that the Ukrainian
opposition had. The protesters who gathered in a snowy square on Sunday
night had no tents, unlike the neat rows of shelter that quickly appeared in
Kiev, and speakers trying to rally the crowd had to do so through a handheld
bullhorn that was barely audible.

They don’t even yet have a strong emblem. Alexander Milinkevich, the
opposition presidential candidate whose role is analogous to Yushchenko’s in
Ukraine, is sporting a blue scarf in apparent tribute to the underground
youth group Zubr’s adoption of blue denim as a symbol, but it hasn’t taken
hold the way Yushchenko’s orange or the red blossoms of Georgia’s 2003

Rose Revolution did.

Nor do the Belarusians have domestic sources of financing such as the
business people bankrolling the Orange Revolution, and the state has managed
to effectively cut off any flow of aid from abroad.

Belarusians have one thing the Ukrainian protesters didn’t have much of _
experience in seeing their own blood spilled. Protests against the former
regime in Ukraine sometimes were broken up firmly by police, but were a far
cry from the truncheon-swinging melees that Belarusian police repeatedly
have unleashed on opposition rallies in previous years.

Whether that has hardened Belarusians enough to bring them into mass
gatherings despite the cost or whether it will keep their numbers low is
unclear. Police were surprisingly few and unobtrusive in Sunday’s protest,
but that could change in a flash.                       -30-
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12. WINNIPEG’S WORLD-RENOWNED RUSALKA UKRAINIAN DANCE
          ENSEMBLE PREMIERING "THE LEGEND OF THE RUSALKA"
        Teaming with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for new original work

By Cheryl Binning, Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Friday, March 17, 2006

WINNIPEG – Winnipeg’s world-renowned Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
is breaking new ground Sunday at the Centennial Concert Hall. In its most
ambitious project yet, the amateur dance troupe is teaming with the Winnipeg
Symphony Orchestra to premiere a new original work titled "The Legend of the
Rusalka."

"This is by far our biggest show ever," says Rusalka board member Mary-Anne
Lovallo. "We are always trying to expand our horizons as dancers and as
members of the arts community. By pairing the amateur and the professional
we are entering a new relationship and a new level of artistry."

The performance – a spectacle of singing, dance and symphonic music –
features the Rusalka troupe dancing to original music performed by the
orchestra. The show also features Winnipeg’s O. Koshetz Choir and Hoosli
Ukrainian Folk Ensemble.

More than 250 Winnipeg artists are involved in the production, including
dancers and singers, professional musicians, stage and costume designers.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet wardrobe department has created many of the
costumes for the show.

Ukrainian composer Volodymyr Gronsky created the original score for the
piece, which centres around the dance troupe’s namesake, the Rusalka. In
Ukrainian culture, Rusalka are mythical and mischievous water nymphs who
emerge from the water once a year and entice men to their demise by dancing
with them.

"This is a love story about desire," says Lovallo. "About a water nymph who
falls in love with a villager, about her desire to be with him and escape
her watery world. It really is a universal story that will appeal to all
ages, all cultural backgrounds."

The show is choreographed by Anna and Vasyl Kanevets and the WSO is
conducted by Theodore Kucha.

Rusalka is made up of 40 amateur dancers ranging in age from 16 to 32 who
rehearse in excess of 12 hours a week. "We have dentists and accountants,
teachers, doctors and business owners in the ensemble," says Lovallo. "They
are not paid, they do this entirely for the love of Ukrainian culture."

Over its 43-year history, Rusalka has performed all over North America,
Asia, Mexico, Europe and Australia, garnering international recognition for
its contribution to Ukrainian dance.

The ensemble plans to tour Legend of the Rusalka beginning this summer with
a trip to Scotland. As well, Lovallo says the troupe plans to open a
performing arts school for Ukrainian dance here in Winnipeg and develop a
larger troupe.

Legend of the Rusalka premieres Sun. March 19 at Centennial Concert Hall
with performances at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $44
(youth 12 and under receive $10 off regular admission price) and are
available by calling the WSO Box Office at 949-3999.         -30-
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LINK: http://winnipegfreepress.com/man/soundslides/rusalka/index.html

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========================================================
13. MADE IN UKRAINE: CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS INVESTMENT
                                 FORUM IN KYIV, MARCH 23-24
BIZPRO and American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Made in Ukraine: Construction Materials Investment Forum will showcase
the most promising investment projects in the construction materials
industry, including strategic partnerships with Ukrainian enterprises from
across the nation, as well as green- and brownfield opportunities offered by
regional authorities.

The Forum’s plenary sessions will provide domestic and foreign leaders of
business and the investment community, as well as government officials, with
an opportunity to discuss the investment climate and investor support
infrastructure at the national and regional level.

They will also get in-depth information on the construction materials sector
in Ukraine and its investment opportunities, practical aspects of investing
in Ukraine, and share investment experience in the construction materials
sector.

 
For more information about the event please visit www.madeinukrainefairs.com .
—————————————————————————————————
[ return to index] [The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]========================================================
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                "THE ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR"
         A Free, Not-For-Profit, Independent, Public Service Newsletter
                With major support from The Bleyzer Foundation
 
      Articles are Distributed For Information, Research, Education
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                                  Additional readers are welcome.
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The SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
and The Bleyzer Foundation offers a comprehensive collection of documents,
reports and presentations published by its business units and organizations.
 
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               "UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES"
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========================================================
                        PUBLISHER AND EDITOR – AUR
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Director, Government Affairs
Washington Office, SigmaBleyzer
Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
P.O. Box 2607, Washington, D.C. 20013, Tel: 202 437 4707
Mobile in Kyiv: 8 050 689 2874
mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com; www.SigmaBleyzer.com
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      Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. 
========================================================
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