Monthly Archives: April 2006

AUR#691 Mystery Ukrainian & RosUkrEnergo; Georgian Wine Trip To Ukraine; Stalling Is Dangerous; Poison & Power In Ukraine

========================================================
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       

 
Mystery Ukrainian Holds Major Stake In RosUkrEnergo
     The disclosure of Dmytro Firtash’s stake in RosUkrEnergo AG — made by
           bankers who hold his shares in the company — is unlikely to quiet a
       political storm over the company, which is being investigated by officials 
                                in Washington. (Articles 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5)

                        
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 691
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
WASHINGTON, D.C., SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 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.     KEY ROSUKRENERGO INVESTOR VOWS MORE OPENNESS
By Gregory L. White, David Crawford and Glenn R. Simpson
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 28, 2006
2MAJOR INVESTOR NAMED IN ROSUKRENERGO ENERGY FIRM
                 Mystery Ukrainian Holds Major Stake In Rosukrenergo
By Glenn R. Simpson in London, David Crawford in Brussels, and
Alan Cullison in Moscow, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Thursday, April 27, 2006; Page A6

3GAZPROM’S SECRETIVE UKRAINIAN PARTNER DMYRTO FIRTASH
             TELLS OF HIS LONG STRUGGLE TO BUILD A BUSINESS
By Stefan Wagstyl and Tom Warner in London
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 28 2006

4.     UKRAINIAN SHAREHOLDER FIRTASH HITS AT ‘INCORRECT’
        PORTRAYAL OF ROSUKRENERGO AS MERE INTERMEDIARY
By Tom Warner, Financial Times, London, UK, Fri, April 28 2006

5.      UKRAINIAN CO-OWNER DMYTRO FIRTASH CONSIDERS
    LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE LISTING FOR ROSUKRENERGO
By Stefan Wagstyl and Tom Warner, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 28 2006

6.        UKRAINIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER SAYS UKRAINE IS

                            AGAINST GAS INTERMEDIARIES
One Plus One TV, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1700 gmt 27 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Apr 27, 2006

7       UKRAINE WILL REMAIN EUROPE’S MOST IMPORTANT

                                     GAS TRANSIT ROUTE 
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
                         
8. TRIP TO UKRAINE TO OPEN FOREIGN MARKETS FOR GEORGIAN
             WINE COULD BE DEFENCE MINISTER’S “WATERLOO”
      Armoured vehicles sold to Georgia by Ukraine turned out to be useless
24 Saati, Tbilisi, Georgia, in Georgian 26 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Apr 27, 2006

9UKRAINE OPENS ITS DOOR FOR SMALL & MEDIUM ENTERPRISES
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Jolanda Brunetti-Goetz 
All Sole 24 Ore in Italian, Milano, Italy, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 9, in English
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

10. UKRAINE: JUSTICE FOR SOME & COLD SHOWER FOR OTHERS
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Iryna Chupryna, Ukrainian Voter
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 10,

Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 30, 2006

11.    ELECTIONS 2006 – UKRAINE SLIPS COMFORTABLY AND
                               SAFELY INTO DEMOCRACY
By Peter Borisow, President, Hollywood Trident Foundation

Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 14, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #691, Article 11
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

12.     VOTERS GIVE UKRAINE A VIGOROUS PUSH TOWARDS
                          EUROPEAN-STYLE DEMOCRACY
Communists now just a rump group facing a strong parliamentary coalition
OP-ED:
By Marco Levytsky, Freelance
Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Canada, Saturday, April 01, 2006

13.     PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO’S STALLING IS DANGEROUS
COMMENTARY: By Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Canada, Friday, April 7, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 13
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

14.                 UKRAINE’S YUSHCHENKO CONUNDRUM
PERSPECTIVE: By Geoffrey Berlin, The Globalist
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, April 12, 2006

15.                      POISON AND POWER IN UKRAINE
By Anne Applebaum, Op-Ed Columnist, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C. Wednesday, April 12, 2006; Page A17

16.                          REAL PROGRESS IN UKRAINE
      Letters in reply to Op-Ed article by Post Columnist Anne Applebaum

             by Ukraine Ambassador Oleh Shamshur and Tammy Lynch
LETTERS-TO-THE EDITOR:
The Washington Post,
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2006; Page A22

17.                            HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED?
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY: By Andrew Wilson
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr 19 2006

18. KARMAZYN SELECTED CHIEF OF VOA’S UKRAINIAN SERVICE
Voice of America (VOA), Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 20, 2006
========================================================
1
. KEY ROSUKRENERGO INVESTOR VOWS MORE OPENNESS

By Gregory L. White, David Crawford and Glenn R. Simpson
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 28, 2006

LONDON — The secretive shareholder in a trading company that handles the
multibillion-dollar natural-gas trade between Russia and Ukraine said he
concealed his identity to win the business with Russian gas monopoly OAO
Gazprom and to avoid political pressure in Ukraine.

In his first interview since revealing that he owns a 45% stake in
Rosukrenergo AG this week, Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash pledged

to make the company more open and said it is likely to seek an initial public
offering or other international financing in the future.
                                      OPAQUE OWNERSHIP
Rosukrenergo became a focus of international attention in January when it
emerged as an intermediary between Moscow and Kiev in a deal to resolve a
dispute over gas prices that had led to a brief reduction in Gazprom’s
exports to Europe.

Rosukrenergo’s opaque ownership — Gazprom owns 50%, but Mr. Firtash

had concealed his identity behind a trustee arrangement with Austria’s
Raiffeisen Bank AG — raised questions in the region and in Western capitals
about the possibility of corruption. It remains to be seen whether Mr.
Firtash’s emergence will allay the political concerns.

In response to a U.S. inquiry, company representatives met with the Justice
Department in Washington in February and disclosed Mr. Firtash’s ownership.

Mr. Firtash insisted Rosukrenergo has no political or other connections, and
said the remaining 5% stake is held by a business associate who isn’t
involved in the company’s operations.

Having worked for most of the 1990s trading gas between Turkmenistan and
Ukraine, Mr. Firtash said he approached Raiffeisen in 2004 with the idea of
creating Rosukrenergo to allow Gazprom to take a stake in the lucrative
business. Gazprom, whose cooperation is critical to the trade, had publicly
stated its desire to take a greater role in the business.

The Austrian bank provided a brand name as well as financial strength that
allowed Mr. Firtash to secure the deal with the giant Russian company.
Wolfgang Putschek, Raiffeisen’s chief representative on the deal, said the
bank introduced Mr. Firtash during negotiations with Gazprom as “our
technical expert” but didn’t disclose that he was a shareholder.

Gazprom thought it was dealing with Raiffeisen and was happy with the bank
as a partner, said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov. “For all its lack of
transparency at the time, it was pretty understandable for us,” he said,
noting that Rosukrenergo pledged to invest in upgrading pipelines to carry
gas from Central Asia across Russia to Ukraine.

Gazprom, Mr. Kuprianov said, received an audit report disclosing Mr.
Firtash’s true role only in the past 10 days or so, and top executives only
became aware of it in the past few days. Mr. Kuprianov said Gazprom

intends to continue working with Rosukrenergo.
                                    A MAJOR ISSUE
In Ukraine, where the January gas deal has become a major political issue,
Mr. Firtash said he didn’t want his identity to become fodder for the
debate.

Mr. Firtash acknowledged that a company he controlled once had as a
shareholder the wife of Simon Mogilevich, who is wanted by U.S. authorities
on racketeering charges. Mr. Firtash said he took over ownership of that
stake as soon as he learned of the connection to Mr. Mogilevich.

He noted the company, High Rock Holdings Ltd., wasn’t connected to
Rosukrenergo or its predecessor, Eural Trans Gas.

Ze’ev Gordon, a lawyer for Mr. Mogilevich, confirmed the two men have no
current business relationship but said he couldn’t immediately comment on
whether Mr. Mogilevich’s wife had ever been a shareholder in High Rock.

Under the compromise reached in January, Rosukrenergo sells gas from Central
Asia and Russia in Ukraine at below-market prices, but more than offsets
those losses, thanks to profit from exports of low-cost Central Asian gas to
Europe at world prices.

It plans to invest in expanding pipelines carrying Central Asian gas to
Russia, as well as in underground storage facilities for the fuel destined
for Europe.                              -30-
————————————————————————————————-
Write to Gregory L. White at greg.white@wsj.com, David Crawford at
david.crawford@wsj.com and Glenn R. Simpson at glenn.simpson@wsj.com

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. MAJOR INVESTOR NAMED IN ROSUKRENERGO ENERGY FIRM
                 Mystery Ukrainian Holds Major Stake In Rosukrenergo

By Glenn R. Simpson in London, David Crawford in Brussels, and
Alan Cullison in Moscow, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Thursday, April 27, 2006; Page A6

The secrecy surrounding ownership of an international energy company

causing a political stir from Ukraine to the U.S. was partially pierced with
the naming of a Ukrainian businessman as a major investor.

The disclosure of Dmytro Firtash’s stake in Rosukrenergo AG — made by
bankers who hold his shares in the company — is unlikely to quiet a
political storm over the company, which is being investigated by officials
in Washington.

Instead, how a little-known businessman came to own such a lucrative stake
is likely to raise further questions about the role of OAO Gazprom, the
Russian gas giant that owns the other half of Rosukrenergo. There are
increasing concerns in the U.S. and the European Union over energy security
and Gazprom’s ambitions.

The Wall Street Journal revealed last week that Rosukrenergo is under
investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s organized-crime division.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, President Viktor Yushchenko is struggling to put
together a coalition government, in part because of his support for the
January agreement that gave Rosukrenergo lucrative rights to sell Russian
and Central Asian gas to Ukraine. Opponents say the company’s opaque
structure invites corruption and that its founders may be close to Mr.
Yushchenko personally.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank AG, which has controlled a 50% share in
Rosukrenergo on behalf of Mr. Firtash and a business associate, yesterday
confirmed their identities for the first time. The statement denied
widespread media reports that Mr. Firtash and Ivan Fursin — who holds a
small stake in the company — might be connected to organized crime, saying
the corporate-investigations company Kroll Inc. had checked them out and
found no such connections. Neither man could be reached for comment. A
spokesman for Kroll also declined to comment.

A U.S. diplomat said, “People have been looking very carefully at who’s
behind Rosukrenergo…including the banks involved.” Austrian Economics
Minister Martin Bartenstein says he sees no need for an investigation of
Rosukrenergo or its owners in Austria.

Mr. Firtash has acknowledged his 45% stake in Rosukrenergo to business
associates and is expected to make public statements today about the matter,
according to lawyers and others involved in the controversy over
Rosukrenergo.

Mr. Yushchenko’s political rivals said they would continue to demand that
Ukraine scrap the gas deal with Rosukrenergo. A top adviser to former
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, fighting to reclaim her job, said
the naming of principals of Rosukrenergo is a step in the right direction
but that “it’s just the beginning, as far as we are concerned.”

“We just don’t know anything about the company so far,” said Grigory
Nemyria, an aide to Ms. Tymoshenko. “We need to stop at nothing short of
full disclosure.”

Mr. Yushchenko has defended the gas arrangement as the only way to get an
acceptable deal for Ukraine during its confrontation over the price of gas
supplied by Russia via Gazprom.

Mr. Yushchenko met Mr. Firtash once, in 2004, according to Mykhaylo
Doroshenko, a presidential adviser. During the Orange Revolution, a
grass-roots revolt that helped overturn allegedly fraudulent election
results, Mr. Yushchenko was worried that Mr. Firtash and other gas traders
would take advantage of the chaos to bypass the state gas company,

Naftogaz Ukraina, and sell direct to consumers, Mr. Doroshenko said.
—————————————————————————————
Write to Glenn R. Simpson at glenn.simpson@wsj.com, David Crawford at
david.crawford@wsj.com and Alan Cullison at alan.cullison@wsj.com
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3.    GAZPROM’S SECRETIVE UKRAINIAN PARTNER DMYRTO
FIRTASH TELLS OF HIS LONG STRUGGLE TO BUILD A BUSINESS

By Stefan Wagstyl and Tom Warner in London
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 28 2006

Dmytro Firtash, the secretive 40-year-old Ukrainian businessman who emerged
this week as a key player in the multi-billion dollar European gas market,
is nervous at the start of his first-ever media interview. He says: “I feel
I am losing my virginity.”

But there is nothing bashful about the way Mr Firtash explains his business
and defends himself against allegations – aired in the Ukrainian
parliament – that he had links with Semyon Mogilevich, an alleged Russian
crime lord, who figures on the FBI’s most wanted list. The claims were
investigated by Ukrainian law enforcement officials in a probe that was
later dropped.

“I have met Mogilevich a few times. But I have never been in any partnership
with him and have never done any business with him,” says Mr Firtash,
speaking in a sleek office in Knightsbridge, central London. Dressed in a
pale pin-stripe suit, Mr Firtash is surrounded by bankers, aides and
associates. But in two and a half hours, they barely say a word. It is his
story to tell, and he tells it well.

Mr Firtash has reluctantly gone public after it was disclosed this week that
he is the main partner of Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, in RosUkrEnergo,
a joint venture trading company, that earlier this year won a big contract
to supply gas from central Asia, principally Turkmenistan, to Ukraine and

other European states.

Gazprom owns 50 per cent of RosUkrEnergo. The other 50 per cent is
controlled by Centragas Holding, a company in which Mr Firtash has a 90
per cent stake.

It is all a far cry from Mr Firtash’s humble origins in Bohdanovka, a west
Ukrainian village near the city of Chernivtsy. His father was a driver and
his mother a clerk. Aged 17, he left home to study in a railway college. He
worked briefly as an apprentice train driver before serving two years in the
Soviet army.

When he returned from military service in 1986, he failed to secure the
necessary approvals to enter university and moved to Chernivtsy where he got
married and worked as a fireman. But with wages unpaid and the Soviet Union
crumbling, he decided to quit and strike out on his own. “The country was in
chaos, so I decided to act,” he says.

He started trading, specialising in meat, butter and other foods, as well as
second-hand cars. By 1990, he earned $100,000 – a huge sum by Soviet
standards – and moved to Moscow in search of bigger fish to fry. But the
young Ukrainian found the competition tough. In 1993, he persuaded
associates to back him in a deal supplying meat on credit to Turkmenistan.

When the buyer, a state company, failed to pay he travelled to Turkmenistan
in pursuit of his $3m debt. The government had no cash, but the economy
minister offered to pay in natural gas, of which Turkmenistan has huge
reserves.

The minister introduced Mr Firtash to a Ukrainian gas trader called Igor
Bakai who was buying gas on behalf of energy-short Ukraine. “He said he
could buy as much gas as I wanted to sell,” says Mr Firtash.

The deal became the foundation of Mr Firtash’s fortune. He imported food
into Turkmenistan and bartered it for gas which was sold to Ukraine where he
was paid in cash with which he financed shipments of food and other goods.
“This developed very quickly,” says Mr Firtash, who spent much of the 1990s
living in Ashgabad.

It was not easy. He was caught up in furious gas supply battles in Ukraine
in which Mr Bakai fought for market share with rivals, including with Pavel
Lazarenko, the prime minister at the time, and Yulia Tymoshenko, a gas
trader linked to Mr Lazarenko who was later to become prime minister.

The 1990s ended with the emergence of Itera, a gas trader run by Igor
Makarov, who came to dominate gas supplies. Mr Firtash says he stuck
to his side of the business – supplying goods to Turkmenistan.

Mr Firtash says, in 2000, Mr Makarov proposed teaming up with Mr Firtash
to take over the entire goods-for-gas business. Mr Firtash agreed and worked
through a company called Highrock Holdings.

But the market was becoming unpredictable with the Turkmenistan government
demanding to be paid in cash as well as imported goods. Amid the tensions,
the partnership between Mr Firtash and Mr Makarov broke and Mr Firtash set
up on his own again, capitalising, he says, on his close ties with Ashgabad.

Meanwhile, following Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s election in 2000,
new managers were brought into Gazprom, who insisted on securing better
control of its operations, including the central Asian transit trade.
Gazprom squeezed out Itera.

But Mr Firtash survived the change by presenting himself as an experienced
trader, now with a new company called Eural Trans Gas that later hired as
its non-executive chairman Cedric Brown, a former chairman of British Gas.

By 2004, Gazprom wanted a more direct stake in the transit trade. With its
huge clout, it secured a new arrangement with Mr Firtash in the form of
RosUkrEnergo, which began operating in 2005 and expanded its role, amid
great controversy, with the signing of a new Russia-Ukraine gas deal in
January 2006.

Mr Firtash says he secured his fortune through his long-standing contacts in
Turkmenistan, his knowledge of the gas business and his sheer hard work. “I
work 24 hours a day. No days off. Nobody knows this business as I do.”

He insists he has worked largely on his own except in the partnership with
Mr Makarov and never had any business dealings with Mr Mogilevich. Mr
Firtash’s background was probed by Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank, which holds in
trust the RosUkrEnergo shares owned by Mr Firtash and a minor Ukrainian
partner, Ivan Fursin.

Wolfgang Putschek, a Raiffeisen executive, says: “There were three questions
our compliance department had to answer. First, did the client have any
links to criminal activities. Second, did the client have any links to known
criminals. The answer to both was a clear ‘no’.

“The third question was, did the client have any links to known criminals in
the past. In the course of answering that question, some issues came up. But
they were explained. That is they were cleared off.”

Mr Firtash is well aware that as he now prepares his company for the stock
market, outside scrutiny will become more intense. But he is ready for it.
“I have nothing to hide.”                              -30-
—————————————————————————————————
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/c22fd5b4-d653-11da-8b3a-0000779e2340.html
—————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

========================================================
4.  UKRAINIAN SHAREHOLDER FIRTASH HITS AT ‘INCORRECT’
    PORTRAYAL OF ROSUKRENERGO AS MERE INTERMEDIARY

By Tom Warner, Financial Times, London, UK, Fri, April 28 2006

RosUkrEnergo is not a parasitic middleman charging extortionate fees to
supply Russian and Turkmen gas to Ukraine and Europe, insists Dmytro
Firtash.

The Swiss-registered company is a “complement” to Gazprom, the Russian
natural gas company, that offers greater flexibility to solve the problems
of supplying Ukraine and the European Union with energy in the decades
ahead, writes Tom Warner in London.

RosUkrEnergo’s business is to buy gas mainly from central Asia and resell it
mainly in Ukraine, and some in the EU. Portrayals of RosUkrEnergo as a mere
“intermediary” between Gazprom and Ukraine’s state oil and gas company are
“completely incorrect”, Mr Firtash says.

But the central Asian gas business is “unique”, he admits. Gazprom controls
the only pipeline to Ukraine and Europe and thus demanded a share in the
business. In return, Gazprom gave RosUkrEnergo exclusive rights to transit
central Asian gas across Russia.

RosUkrEnergo started life in 2005 with a barter contract. Ukraine’s state
oil and gas company, Naftogaz, paid RosUkrEnergo to deliver 36bn cubic
metres (bcm) of gas from Turkmenistan by giving RosUkrEnergo 37.5 per cent
of the gas. RosUkrEnergo sold some gas back to Naftogaz and some in the EU.
RosUkrEnergo made $3bn (Euro2.4bn) in sales and $500m in profits in the
first nine months of 2005, according to Gazprom’s financial statements.

Gazprom had also supplied gas to Ukraine but stopped deliveries in January
during a price dispute. The result was shortages across Europe until
Naftogaz and Gazprom agreed to a settlement that expanded RosUkrEnergo’s
role.

Gazprom turned over its purchase contracts negotiated with central Asian
suppliers to RosUkrEnergo, which ended up with contracts to buy 56bcm a year
of gas from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at prices of $55 to $65
per thousand cubic meters (tcm).

A 50-50 joint venture of RosUkrEnergo and Naftogaz called Ukrgazenergo buys
the gas for $95/tcm at the Ukraine border and then sells to industrial
customers or traders at regulated rates, currently capped at a maximum of
$108.5/tcm.

The total value of the gas to be traded by RosUkrEnergo under its agreement
with Gazprom and Naftogaz, at current prices, comes to more than $50bn over
five years.

And while some politicians in Ukraine may be talking about annulling
RosUkrEnergo’s contracts, Mr Firtash says he is confident his company will
continue to expand.

Mr Firtash says the secrecy he maintained until this week was necessary so
that he could build up the company without negative attention. “Unfortunately

it’s still not fully acceptable for Ukrainians and Russians that a fellow citizen
should be rich,” he says.

He says he is ready for more transparency, but not just yet. Mr Firtash’s
banker from Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank interrupts the interview to remind him
that only Gazprom is allowed to divulge RosUkrEnergo’s financial figures.
—————————————————————————————————
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/d00cb3d2-d653-11da-8b3a-0000779e2340.html
—————————————————————————————————

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
    Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5.      UKRAINIAN CO-OWNER DMYTRO FIRTASH CONSIDERS
    LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE LISTING FOR ROSUKRENERGO

By Stefan Wagstyl and Tom Warner, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 28 2006

Three days ago very few people had heard of Dmytro Firtash. He never gave
interviews, he would not be publicly photographed and until this week he had
refused to acknowledge his co-ownership of RosUkrEnergo, the secretive
company that controls gas supplies from central Asia to Europe.

Yesterday, however, a day after reluctantly revealing himself, he was
already considering taking the company public with a listing on the London
Stock Exchange. RosUkrEnergo, the Swiss-registered group owned by
Russia’s Gazprom and two Ukrainian businessmen, gained prominence at
the start of this year when it emerged as a beneficiary of the deal that
resolved the bitter dispute that led to Russia turning off gas supplies to

Ukraine.

This week, Izvestia, the Gazprom-owned newspaper, identified the company’s
two Ukrainian owners as Mr Firtash and his junior partner Ivan Fursin.
Yesterday, in his first ever media interview, Mr Firtash told the Financial
Times the company was considering a London flotation to raise capital for
big investments in gas supply infrastructure.

The 40-year-old Mr Firtash said RosUkrEnergo would invest in transit and
storage facilities in co-operation with Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly,
which is bidding to expand its presence in overseas markets, including in
the European Union.

“We are considering an IPO because these are projects that even with
Gazprom we cannot finance ourselves. These are 15-20 year projects,” said
Mr Firtash.

His comments, coming soon after Gazprom executives publicly aired ambitious
plans for acquisitions and investments, highlight the growing determination
of Russian and Russian-linked companies to invest in the west, despite
western political opposition to their proposals.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president, yesterday stepped up the attacks on the
European Union over access to energy markets, accusing Europe of double
standards towards Moscow. Speaking in Tomsk, Siberia, after talks with
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, he said: “When (European) companies
come to us it’s called investment and globalisation but when we go there
it’s called expansion by Russian companies.”

However, Mr Putin was careful to praise close ties with Germany and to thank
Tony Blair, UK prime minister, for signalling he would not intervene to
block possible investments by Russian energy companies in Britain. Gazprom
has identified Centrica, the British gas company, as a possible acquisition
target.

Mr Firtash confirmed this week that he was Gazprom’s main partner in
RosUkrEnergo. He is the owner of a 90 per cent stake in Centragas Holding,
a company in a 50-50 joint venture with Gazprom in RosUkrEnergo. The
remaining 10 per cent of Centragas belongs to Mr Fursin, a Ukrainian banker.

Mr Firtash said his fortune was made from trading with the energy-rich state
of Turkmenistan, supplying food and other goods exchanged for gas and sold
to Ukraine. He denied allegations – aired in the Ukrainian parliament – that
he had links with Semyon Mogilevich, an alleged Russian crime lord who
figures on the FBI’s most wanted list.                        -30-
————————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/7fcde8b0-d652-11da-8b3a-0000779e2340.html
————————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================      
6.  UKRAINIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER SAYS UKRAINE IS
                         AGAINST GAS INTERMEDIARIES

One Plus One TV, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1700 gmt 27 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Apr 27, 2006

KIEV – Ukrainian Economics Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has blamed Russia

for delaying the signing of an intergovernmental deal to guarantee gas supplies
to Ukraine.

In his interview with a Ukrainian TV channel, Yatsenyuk said Ukraine is
against having a go-between in gas supplies, adding that any gas price
higher than 95 dollars per 1,000 cu.m. of gas would be unacceptable to
Ukraine.

Yatsenyuk said Ukraine is waiting for official confirmation of Russian media
reports that two Ukrainians are beneficiaries of a 50 per cent share in the
Rosukrenergo gas trader, which is the sole supplier of Russian and Central
Asian gas to Ukraine.

The following is an excerpt from Yatsenyuk’s interview he gave to the
Ukrainian One Plus One TV on 27 April; subheadings have been inserted
editorially:

[Presenter] Good evening. This is the Seven Minutes programme. We have
Economics Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in our studio. We will mostly talk
about the economy and primarily about gas. Good evening, Mr Yatsenyuk.
[Yatsenyuk] Good evening.

[Presenter] How do you think making public the structure of the Rosukrenergo
intermediary’s ownership will affect Ukrainian-Russian gas relations?

[Yatsenyuk] To be honest, this is a very specific question, especially for
the economics minister. But I think the news has long been covered with
dust. This is hardly information that has not been known. What effect will
this have?
I think that at issue is a certain project for divulging the information and
possibly considering the expediency of replacing a particular intermediary.
Our position is as follows.
It makes no difference to us who will sell gas. We are interested solely in
one issue. This is price. If talk is about a certain company that has broken
domestic or international law, it must be prosecuted by the appropriate
special services that are in charge of this in line with the law. So I want
to reiterate that we are not interested in companies, we are interested in
prices.

[Presenter] Isn’t the reputation of partner companies of interest to the
government?
[Yatsenyuk] It is not the government that is the partner of this company. I
would like to recall that the national joint-stock [oil and gas] company
Naftohaz Ukrayiny is the partner of this company, and you are aware of the
developments inside Naftohaz.

[Presenter] Which is state-owned?
[Yatsenyuk] Yes. I would like to say that if a company is accused or
suspected of money laundering, the management of this company should
definitely – excuse me – be put in jail. But this is not the government’s
job. This is the job of appropriate special services. The government’s job
is to ensure normal prices, gas prices included.

[Presenter] You have said that everyone has long been in the know about
Rosukrenergo’s owners. But in reality most Ukrainian government officials
kept saying that they were unaware of who specifically stood behind the
company share that belongs to Raiffeisen Bank. Why do you think Ukraine

has been unable to learn about this officially for so long, while it was so easy
for Russia’s [newspaper] Izvestiya to do so?

[Yatsenyuk] I would like to reiterate that Russia’s Izvestiya is a media
outlet. Media outlets are free to comment on any events and facts. It will
be official if a particular registration agency in charge of this confirms
this. So we can only discuss this at the level of a media report that needs
to be confirmed.

But even if this is confirmed, I reiterate that the key position that not a
single Ukrainian official or the authorities have anything to do with
Rosukrenergo’s ownership, which the Ukrainian president [Viktor Yushchenko]
emphasized, probably has its confirmation.
               SAYS UKRAINE IS AGAINST INTERMEDIARIES
But the second key aspect is the following. Rosukrenergo does not solve the
problem of reliable gas supplies to Ukraine. We should go back to the thesis
about which everyone has forgotten due to certain political events. We need
to sign a bilateral protocol with Russia, as required in the
intergovernmental agreement. This is a key issue at present.

The second key issue is that we are against any intermediaries. There can
only be direct relations between Naftohaz and [Russian gas monopoly]
Gazprom. But a key issue is the price in this case.

If we agree on 95 [dollars per 1,000 cu.m. of Russian and Central Asian gas
to be supplied by Rosukrenergo to Ukraine], then this is 95. If we don’t
agree, then any other price is unacceptable at today’s stage of the
development of the Ukrainian economy.

[Presenter] What are the prospects for signing an intergovernmental
agreement shortly?
BLAMES RUSSIA FOR DELAYING SIGNING OF A GAS PROTOCOL
[Yatsenyuk] Regrettably, the prospects are extremely vague. We should speak
openly about this, because we have been trying to do so for the past three
months. But the attempts have led to nothing. There is a draft
intergovernmental protocol, but the Russian side is delaying signing it,
because undertaking intergovernmental agreements is hardly a topic of big
interest for the side that supplies gas to us.

[Presenter] How do you assess the impact of the latest rise in gas prices on
the general state of the Ukrainian economy, at least in the first quarter of
this year?

[Yatsenyuk] The first quarter is not demonstrable, because the gas prices
rose at the end of the first quarter. So we will experience the main
inflation pressures and the main inflation shocks in the second and third
quarters. The positive aspect is that we have a certain inflation lag, with
the inflation rate for the first quarter being a mere 2.7 per cent.

Therefore, the increased gas price will objectively have an adverse impact
on both the macroeconomic development and on the dynamics of inflation for
particular goods. But we see no grounds to change the inflation projections.

We believe that the inflation rate will be sufficiently moderate as a result
of last month’s deflation and that we will end the year at the level of
between 11.4 and 11.6 per cent. [Passage omitted: Yatsenyuk lists food stuff
prices that may be the most affected.]                    – 30 –
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7.   UKRAINE WILL REMAIN EUROPE’S MOST IMPORTANT
                                       GAS TRANSIT ROUTE
 
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Tuesday, 25 April, 2006

The energy question in Ukraine remains at the top of the policy and research
agenda. As part of the ongoing series of energy-related activities at the
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) (in particular the conference
“The Ukrainian-Russian Gas Crisis and Its Aftermath: Economic, Political and
International Ramifications, February 5-6, 2006), on April 6 the Institute
hosted Dr. Christian von Hirschausen, Chair of Energy Economics at the
University of Dresden and Research Professor at the German Institute of
Economic Research (DIW), Berlin.

In his presentation on  “The Globalization of Natural Gas Markets:
Implications for Ukraine”, Prof. von Hirschhausen discussed the global gas
market in the context of which Ukraine’s gas crisis of early 2006 took
place, and in the context of which the new Ukrainian government will need to
frame its renewed negotiations with Russia, and, in particular, the
renegotiation of the January 4 gas trade agreements which, due to their
non-transparent nature, led to a wave of outrage in the Ukrainian public
opinion and contributed to the defeat of president Yuschenko’s Nasha

Ukraina in the March 26 Rada elections.

Von Hirshausen paid special attention to the new trends in the global gas
market  and their possible impact on Ukraine. The most significant new trend
is the growing use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) technology, which, by
transforming natural gas from a gasified to a concentrated liquid form,
makes possible its transcontinental transportation in tankers and thus the
supplying of far away markets without the expense and high investments
required by pipeline transportation, until now the only practical way of
transporting gas.

Although LNG technology has been around for a number of years, its use

so far had been limited by the high costs involved, which made its use
uneconomical compared with pipeline transportation. As gas prices have
risen dramatically in the last years, the relative costs of liquefaction and
transportation using LNG technology have decreased, ushering in a
revolution in gas markets.

If until now gas markets, due to the limitation to transportation  via
pipelines, remained overwhelmingly regional markets, the popularization of
LNG technology is leading to the development of a global gas market where
Russia, Norway, Trinindad, Venezuela, Nigeria, Algeria, Iran, Egypt and
other Middle Eastern gas suppliers must compete for markets as
geographically diverse as the Western Europe, the US, and Japan.

 This affects Russia as an exporter, as it will have the opportunity to
export gas well beyond its traditional markets (to the US for example), but
also in the sense that new suppliers will have access to its traditional
Western European markets. For Ukraine as a transit country, however, the
effect will be negligible.

This is so because the transport of Russian gas to Western European markets
via pipeline remains  the cheapest alternative. Because of Ukraine’s
well-developed gas pipeline network and the fact that its capacity can be
significantly expanded (from its current 130 billion cubic meters (bcm) per
year to 200 bcm) at a relatively low cost, Ukraine will remain by far the
most important transit country for Russian gas.

(In this sense, Dr. von Hirschhausen, a former member of the German
government’s Advisory Group in Ukraine, considers the recently announced
“Northern European Pipeline” bypassing Ukraine and Poland and linking Russia
and Northern Germany directly an uneconomical, environmentally dubious,
politically-motivated “pipe dream” “not necessary to assure West European
natural gas supply in the medium-term.”)

Thus, despite changes in global gas markets, Ukraine stands to benefit
greatly from its position as most important  transit state for Russian gas
exports.

Although Prof. von Hirschausen deferred judgment on the domestic political
implications of this situation to Political Scientists, the implications for
Ukraine’s political development are clear: if Ukraine pursues a sensible and
well thought-out energy transit policy, it stands to benefit greatly from
its position as premier gas transit state in Europe, and could use the
proceedings (estimated by von Hirschhausen at a possible $3 billion per year
should Ukraine use its full gas transit potential) to finance both general
economic reform and the reform of its own energy system to make it more
energy efficient (Ukraine’s levels of energy efficiency are  today one of
the lowest in the world).

This presupposes, however, that transit policy will be decided and
implemented in a professional, non-corrupt way, free from the corruption and
non-transparent deals that have plagued most of independent Ukraine’s gas
transit history, and evident in the January 2006 agreements as well.
———————————————————————————————–
FOOTNOTE: For more information  on the domestic aspects of  Ukraine’s

energy situation, streaming video footage of the entire  HURI February gas
crisis conference, and additional materials, please go to
http://www.huri.harvard.edu/newsannals/newsannals.gas_conf_2006.html.
To obtain DVD copies of the conference video, please call
HURI at 1-617-495-4053 or e-mail huri@harvard.edu
———————————————————————————————–
Dr. Margarita M. Balmaceda, Associate Professor
John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations
Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ 07079 USA
Associate, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University
1583 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
     NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. TRIP TO UKRAINE TO OPEN FOREIGN MARKETS FOR GEORGIAN
              WINE COULD BE DEFENCE MINISTER’S “WATERLOO”
       Armoured vehicles sold to Georgia by Ukraine turned out to be useless

24 Saati, Tbilisi, Georgia, in Georgian 26 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Apr 27, 2006

TBILISI – Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili is starting with
Ukraine on his new mission to open up foreign markets for the Georgian wine
that has incurred the wrath of Russia’s chief public health officer. This is
only the start of a long road.

The unprecedented decision [on Okruashvili’s new role] made by the Georgian
president in China has spawned many conundrums for the public. Some think
that Saakashvili no longer trusts the economic team and [Prime Minister]
Zurab Noghaideli and is preparing the defence minister for the prime
minister’s job.

Others believe that by giving the defence minister such an unusual task the
president is trying to weaken Okruashvili, whose approval rating once
overshadowed that of Saakashvili himself with the influence of controlled TV
channels.

Incidentally, by suggesting Ukraine as a kind of pilot project to
Okruashvili, the Georgian president, willingly or not, has created
legitimate grounds for such mutually exclusive discourse.

If we look at the first of these theories, Okruashvili, ideally, should not
return empty-handed from Ukraine where Georgian wine is protected from
political phobias. Georgia has become a sales market for Ukrainian arms
since Irakli Okruashvili became defence minister.

It has not been calculated precisely, but the tanks, infantry fighting
vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, firearms, and, finally, Kolchuga air
defence systems purchased from Ukraine have cost the Georgian budget
approximately 50m dollars. In exchange for that, hardly anyone would
reproach Okruashvili for exporting several million additional bottles of
Georgian wine to Ukraine.

On the other hand, however, things are not so simple if we consider the
other of the two theories. It is possible that Ukraine may become a kind

of Waterloo for Irakli Okruashvili’s rising image.

First and foremost, it is impossible for Ukraine not to recall that its
image as an arms exporter was damaged during Irakli Okruashvili’s tenure

as minister. The investigation into the purchase of inoperable armoured
vehicles in Ukraine, for which three Georgian high-ranking officers have
been imprisoned for a year now, has not yet ended in Georgia.

According to the preliminary investigation, the impartiality of which is
being questioned by many experts to this day, 38 out of 40 armoured vehicles
sold to Georgia by Ukraine’s largest exporter Ukrspetseksport turned out to
be useless. At the time, Ukraine was so shocked by this scandal that
Ukrainian political circles started talking openly about the pro-Russian
nature of the Georgian government.

Even if this were not so, no-one will be able to promise Okruashvili new
shelves for Georgian wine today while negotiations on forming a
parliamentary majority in Ukraine continue, especially given that Party of
Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych, who does not have the same warm and
friendly feelings for the Georgian president as “orange” leaders Viktor
Yushchenko and [former Prime Minister] Yuliya Tymoshenko, still has a

great chance of becoming prime minister.

Therefore, Ukraine is both an easily achievable objective and an
insurmountable obstacle for Irakli Okruashvili who has so far only been

used to conquering heights in his career.                   -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. UKRAINE OPENS ITS DOOR FOR SMALL & MEDIUM ENTERPRISES

COMMENTARY: By Jolanda Brunetti-Goetz 
Il Sole 24 Ore in Italian, Milano, Italy, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 9, in English
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

Eclipsed by the presence of its large Russian neighbour which for some time
has been exercising a stronger attraction on the West, the many resources
and opportunities of Ukraine – wide-open spaces and fertile land, mineral
deposits, a well-structured food and agro-industrial sector, an able
workforce and services ripe for development – have been underrated by
foreign investors.

Particularly important in this respect has been the absence of valid banking
and insurance services.
                         THE RACE FOR THE BANKS
However, recently the banking system has been reorganized and liberalized,
opening the way to diversification and thus offering better support for the
anticipated expansion of local firms and the entry of foreign businesses. It
is no coincidence that important European investors have been arriving in
this region of late.

Credit Agricole (with 240 million dollars), BNP Paribas, the Austrian
banking group Raiffeisen which has bought Bank Aval for over a billion
dollars, and the Italian Banca Intesa which has just gained 1.88% of the
fourth largest Ukrainian bank, Ukrsotsbank, for 1.161 billion dollars.

The arrival of large foreign banks represents a second ‘silent revolution’
as it signals the start of joint activity between West- and East-European
entities that is very promising for both. Indeed, the foreign banks too,
encouraged by limited economic growth in Western Europe, are seeking
more attractive markets ready for development.

In particular, this sector is less overshadowed by Russia, as the degree of
liberalisation achieved in Ukraine is greater than that in Russia. Hence,
this is a very attractive operation which unites various interests at a
particularly favourable time.

Economic prospects will derive from this for … + .. present in Ukraine,
for whom the expertise brought in by foreign banks will offer a broader
spectrum of services and better access to credit at lower cost. There will
also be new opportunities for agricultural credit, essential for the
development of Ukraine. Lastly, consumers will enjoy better terms and have
access to new financial instruments for private purchases.

The new borders of the European Union have transformed Ukraine into an
important neighbour. Interest in integration is being increasingly promoted
by an economy based on Community regulations favouring exchange and
direct investments.

In fact Ukraine recently obtained recognition as a ‘market economy’ by the
United States which, among other things, signed with Kiev an agreement on
accessing the goods and services market, thereby accelerating the entry of
the country into the WTO.

As for the European Union, the new ‘good neighbour’ policy envisages the
gradual construction of the four pillars of a single market: free movement
of capital, people, goods and services. But it goes further than that:
following enlargement in 2004, Europe assigned Ukraine a central role in the
development of cross-Europe corridors.

For Italy a further fact of interest is so-called Corridor V which provides
our country with an outlet under the Alps toward the East, freeing it of the
restrictions imposed by the Alpine passes.
                                         ITALY’S ROLE
The purchase of Ukrsotsbank by Banca Intesa offers Italy a huge network of
branches (527) in the area and significant products already up and running
such as credit cards and mortgage loans. Furthermore, Italy’s presence will
strengthen the feeble confidence of the Ukrainian consumer in credit
institutions.

For example, it is estimated today that only 15% of the population has a
bank account for receiving salaries. But, more importantly, Banca Intesa may
become an essential support for Italian SMEs which are looking with interest
at a market so near and promising. And it should not be forgotten that many
Ukrainians speak or study Italian: a workforce that is often qualified and,
especially, in sustainable conditions.

Thus the Sistema Italia is taking shape. It all started with the welcome
given to the children of Chernobyl. The speculator Shevchenko was one of
them.

This operation, which has been going on since 1986, brings into Italy about
7 thousand children for holidays with Italian families every year.
Innumerable adoptions have enabled Italian couples to offer Ukrainian
orphans a family life. In turn, the labour of so many Ukrainians in Italy
contributes to our prosperity.

This is the time to firm up relations between the two countries. The
political framework, essential for the stability sought by the markets, is
showing the way forward: the parliamentary elections of 26th March not only
confirm the democracy achieved by the system but also pro-European
orientation on all fronts – with the exception of a modest Communist party
which is already an anachronism.                    -30-

————————————————————————————————
Jolanda Brunetti-Goetz was the Italian ambassador in Kiev from 2000
to 2004.  Il Sole 24 Ore, http://www.ilsole24ore.com
————————————————————————————————
+ Translator’s note; One or more words missing here.

————————————————————————————————
FOOTNOTE:  AUR thanks Andrei Spivak and Thomas Eymond-Laritaz
for sending us to this article.  Mr. Eymond-Laritaz provided the English
translation for our readers. 
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10. JUSTICE FOR SOME AND COLD SHOWER FOR OTHERS

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Iryna Chupryna, Ukrainian Voter
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 10,
Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 30, 2006

This year, spring in Ukraine is cold and not sunny. On Monday, March

27, the day after the historic parliamentary election 2006, the rain didn’t
stop.

The preliminary election results are not sunny either: Party of Regions
obtains above 30 percent, Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc – around 24, Our
Ukraine – 16 with the constant trend to decline.

The smaller “orange” projects (People’s bloc of Kostenko-Pliusch and the
Civic coalition of PORA and Reforms and Order party) didn’t overcome the
3-percent hurdle to enter parliament. In an ironic twist, votes for them
will most be redistributed to the winners, the Party of Regions and Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc, forces for whom these voters would never cast ballots.

On Monday morning the 5th TV Channel conducts the regular interactive

poll for politically active citizens. What are impressions on the exit-poll
results: despair, joy or surprise?  Most of the respondents chose “despair”.
                   PARTY OF REGIONS ENJOYS TRIUMPH
However, the team of the Party of Regions enjoys the triumph. They have
probably already started the improvement of our lives (as stated in the main
message of their political commercials). The defeated loser of the 2004
Presidential election Yanukovich now has the right to victoriously greet the
crowd as he does in the commercial.

His joy is no doubt shared by the falsifier of the Presidential election:
ex-Chairman of the Central Election Commission Sergey Kivalov, along with
ex-Persecutor Svyatoslav Piskun and billionaire Rinat Ahmetov. Those

“heroes of Ukraine” will shape the country’s future and influence the
legislative process for next 5 years.

Dear voters, do you believe those people will protect your interests and
national priorities of Ukraine (such as protection and furthering of
Ukrainian language and culture, advocating the strong position of Ukraine

on international scene, etc.)?

Unfortunately, Ukrainian society is not yet mature for genuine democracy.
Having obtained an opportunity to take part in Ukraine’s first truly
transparent and democratic elections, without intimidation and abuse of
“administrative resources,” the Ukrainians expressed black ingratitude to
the President, giving the pro-Presidential bloc only 15 percent of votes.
Ukrainians voted for populism and “improvement of life already today”.

But not only citizens and their vague civic stand are to be blamed for this
result. Above all, those patriotic political forces that simply failed in
their electoral campaign, and unpatriotic political forces that didn’t spare
themselves and millions of dollars for it, are guilty for this situation.
           MANY VOTERS WERE PLAINLY MISINFORMED
 Many voters were plainly misinformed. Apart from the limited audience of
Internet users, who occasionally and with effort could come across the
truth, the average citizen hardly knew about the skills of his favorites to
manipulate and play the hypocrite.

To give an example, virtually all the members of the faction of the Yulia
Tymoshenko Bloc in Parliament voted FOR the adoption of the law on

immunity for deputies of all levels (34 out of 41 for, 0 against). Yet, after a
couple of months, without feeling any remorse, Yulia hanged in the building
of Verkovna Rada the big banner “BYuT – against the immunity for deputies”.
Afterward some MPs lost their nerve, and the regular deputies’ fight
started.

The main political Pharisee of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko repeatedly
proclaimed on TV: “Our government is the most successful for the whole
history of Ukraine”. The successes of this “phenomenal” government expressed
themselves in the drop of GDP by 8,1 percent! (in January 2005 the growth of
GDP was 6,5 %, in August the growth rate was negative – 1,6 %, illustrates
the Committee of Statistics of Ukraine.
http://glavred.info/archive/2006/03/24/204900-5.html)

Moreover, intentions to carry out the reprivatization of around 3000
enterprises scared many potential domestic and foreign investors. Also the
“people’s government” of Tymoshenko presented a whole range of crises to
Ukraine: meat crisis  (April-May), currency crisis (April), petroleum
(April), gas, etc.
        UKRAINIAN VOTERS NOT AWARE OF SOME FACTS
Unfortunately, the voters of Ukraine, who took close to their hearts the
endless appeals to save the ideals of Maidan, in its majority was not aware
of the fact that exactly Turchynov (head of the electoral headquarters of
Tymoshenko, and SBU Director under her government) on the critical night of
November 21, 2004 called people to leave Maidan and go home. And only a
handful of the freezing Pora activists stayed on the Maidan.

They decided to stay until the morning. In the morning the first tents were
set up by Pora representatives and peoples deputies Stetskiv and Filenko.
They also erected the famous scene on Maidan, where the former party
functionary Tomenko acquired the title of a famous revolutionary. Where was
Turchynov at that time? Where was the “orange princess”?

Few people know that Roman Bezsmertniy virtually lived in the tent camp on
Khreshchatyk and held working meetings for the commandants of the camp each
night at 1 AM. He was responsible for a lot of necessary staff – from food
to toilets for protesters.

Meanwhile the “orange princess” called on groups of “hotheads” to storm the
governmental buildings, risking bloodshed and giving the Kuchma regime
rhetorical ammunition to potentially crack-down on “threats to public
 order,” as the then-President threatened to do.

In fact, we could have witnessed the Belarusian scenario, when the
opposition leader Kozulin contrary to the opinion of his allies led people
to special detention places, which resulted in numerous injuries among the
demonstrates after the violent crackdown by police.

Even fewer people know that from the end of December 2004 until the
inauguration of Yushchenko on January 23, 2005, the tent camp on
Khreshchatyk was no longer inhabited by genuine revolutionaries, but by
people backed by Tymoshenko to provide her with an outpost to fight
in case of being not appointed a Prime Minister.

She didn’t spare herself to organize chanting “Yulia!” during President
Yushchenko’s inauguration ceremony on Maidan, and indeed made the
President surrender to the “people’s voice”.
                    OUR UKRAINE CAMPAIGN FAILED
Regretfully, we have to admit that the pro-Presidential bloc Our Ukraine
totally failed in its conduct of the electoral campaign. A mere 15 percent
support for the pro-Presidential political force is above all the
humiliation for the President himself.

Our Ukraine didn’t hold meetings with voters and campaigning tours across
Ukraine, while Tymoshenko in her own words, twice traveled around the globe
during the electoral campaign period. She systematically co-opted from
Yushchenko’s disaffected and confused electorate, criticizing work of his
team and accusing the leadership of his party of corruption.

Our Ukraine responded with barely comprehensible justifications and without
substantive rebuttals to the charges. Huge orange billboards with the appeal
to who knows whom “Don’t betray the Maidan” provoked primarily indifference
of an allergic response among people.  Our Ukraine lacked charismatic
representatives who could compete for votes on the same level as the
eloquent and artistic Lady Y.

Our Ukraine failed to find a talented speaker who could comprehensively
transmit to voters the messages about the remarkable economic achievements
of the government of Yuri Yekhanurov. The prime-minister, who was really
saving the Ukrainian economy from disaster, as well as other Cabinet
members, were too busy to distract themselves for campaigning. No one
performed this mission in their stead.

Yekhanurov managed to get market economy status for Ukraine both from EU
and USA and pulled the economy out of catastrophic decline – but the voters
remembered only the haunting recitatives about  “dear friends of the
President”, who are stuck in the corruption and continue to rob Ukraine. But
those charges were substantiated with NO SINGLE evidence.

And messages about the trials lost by Oleksandr Zynchenko (former State
Secretary of Ukraine, who first brought the corruption charges against the
close allies of the President in September 2005) stayed unnoticed. But the
unjustified accusations raised by Brodsky, Zynchenko and Turchynov against
the allies of President lingered in the minds of Ukrainian voters.

There was nobody there to easily explain to the voters (either in the
political commercial or by grass-root work) that the sharp increase in
prices for almost all groceries in 2005 was caused by the fact that
government of Yanukovych had significantly raised pensions as a campaign
ploy before the Presidential election 2004, and the funds for this (several
billions of UAH) had been taken from the budget of the next year 2005.

The orange governments had to cope with this situation. If Yanukovych stayed
in power, the rise of prices would have been far more catastrophic. This
argument was only couple of times mentioned on TV by Viktor Pynzenyk, but
no efficient counter-reaction was developed to the populist commercials by
Party of Regions.
          TYMOSHENKO IS A POWER-HUNGRY PERSON
Yulia Tymoshenko is an endlessly power-hungry person that doesn’t care
about the national interests of Ukraine. And very soon our “protest”
electorate that has bought into the populist slogans and streams of the

unjustified blames will understand this.

Having showed bad performance as the prime-minister, the orange princess
excellently carried out her electoral campaign, drawing in all the arsenal
of possible means: several influential Internet-resources and printed media,
expensive showings at the most popular TV -channel Inter, chick color
posters, which underlined her beauty, and the most important, tireless
electoral tours across Ukraine.

Even her undisputable attractiveness and good actor talent contributed to
the success, and last but not least the sympathy for a female politician,
which is a rare phenomenon in the Ukrainian society.
GENUINE KUCHMISTS AND OLIGARCHS ON TYMOSHENKO LIST
Our Ukraine didn’t find anyone to tell the voters that the electoral list of
the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko is rich on genuine kuchmists and oligarchs. To
give an example  – Mr. Bohdan Hubsky (# 27), member of the notorious group
of 7 comprised of Surkis brothers, and the former Head of Presidential
Administration under Kuchma Viktor Medvedchuk, who participated in all the
projects of this “Kyiv clan”.

Another person on this list – Mr. Oleksand Abdullin (# 74), us a business
ally of Igor Bakay, who after orange revolution fled to Russia. In the
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Abdullin was a member of SDPU (o) faction,
which he left for BYuT only March 4, 2005.

On the list one can find also the Buriak brothers, bankers, whose financial
structure – Brokbusinessbank – belongs to the top ten of the biggest banks
of Ukraine, Konstiantyn Zhevago, also a well-known banker and member of
pro-Kuchma majority in the Parliament. This list can be continued.

Number 1 on the party list, the ardent fighter for justice Yulia continues
to hysterically call everywhere for “division of power and business.”  Dear
disappointed orange voters, who made up more than 20 percent – you were
simply cheated.

Therefore, people who think and analyze, viewed the exit-poll results with
despair.
         YUSHCHENKO COMMITTED A LOT OF MISTAKES
The President Yushchenko has also committed a lot of mistakes. [1] First and
foremost was the appointment of Svyatoslav Piskun as General Persecutor, who
sabotaged the investigation of all the cases of the crimes during the Kuchma
regime.

[2] It is also the President’s fault that Kushnariov (the manager of the
Yanukovich electoral campaign), who is accused in committing crimes, feels
himself a real winner and listens with disdain to a journalist’s question on
1+1 TV-channel: “And what are you now going to do with Mister Lutsenko
(Minister of internal affairs) for all his eccentricity last year?”

It’s painful to see the humiliation of Yuri Lutsenko, who is really one of
the most honest persons in the Ukrainian politics.

[3] The Presidential error was also to sign the Law on Immunity for Deputies
of Local Councils – this was skillfully used by Tymoshenko in her electoral
rhetoric. We can also recall his Memorandum with Yanukovych, inarticulate
press-conferences and speeches by Yushchenko.

But in any case, our genuinely patriotic, moral, honest, pro-European
President didn’t deserved the slap in the face by the Ukrainian people
during the parliamentary elections. Likewise a very efficient Prime Minister
Yekhanurov, number 1 on our Ukraine list.

Dear voters, do you still believe that Hubsky and Feldman won’t reach a
consensus? And that the regular division of property awaits Ukraine? Do

you really believe that you struggled for justice?

I only want the spring Sun to appear and people to see the things clearly.
“Don’t sleep, my dear motherland.”                  -30-
—————————————————————————————————
NOTE: Iryna Chupryna lives in Kyiv. She says she is a concerned and active
Ukrainian citizen and voter and is a staff member of the Secretariat of the
Freedom of Choice of Ukrainian NGOs” CONTACT: irynac@yahoo.com
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

11.   ELECTIONS 2006 – UKRAINE SLIPS COMFORTABLY AND
                              SAFELY INTO DEMOCRACY

By Peter Borisow, President, Hollywood Trident Foundation

Los Angeles, California, Friday, April 14, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #691, Article 11
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ukraine’s future, independence and identity were all in play in the
parliamentary elections this spring as chaos menaced the political
landscape.  There was a serious fracture in the Orange Coalition.  Scandal
engulfed the Presidency.  There were 46 different political parties vying
for a place in the eternal sunshine of the prosecution immune Verhovna
Rada. The Party of the Regions, packed with rich oligarchs and led by
Yanukovich (who lost to Yushchenko in 2004) was running first in the
polls.

Moscow and its friends had hired the best American advisors and image
makers that money could buy.  Washington was, once again, trying to sit
on both sides of the fence.  After the gas crisis this winter, there was
concern that the West might sacrifice Ukraine on Russia’s rich gas fired
altar.

Yes, they finally revoked Jackson-Vanik, but who would potentially benefit
from that more than Ukraine’s Russophilic oligarchs?  Washington announced
a new Ambassador to Ukraine the week before the elections.  Although it was
described as a “routine rotation”, even the really stupid ones know that
routine rotations aren’t done the week before a critical election.

Also of concern was the relatively low number of international election
observers this year, less than half of those in 2004.  That smaller number
of international observers was, however, compensated by the large number
of poll watchers from Ukraine’s many political parties.

Every party was entitled to have two representatives at the polls and many
took that literally.  With so many competing eyes watching, no one was going
to pull a fast one without being noticed.  Where there were any complaints,
everyone knew about them very quickly.

Complaints were mostly about mechanical issues – too few poll workers, not
enough voting booths, cramped facilities.  There were as many as five
different paper ballots, some over three feet long.  National, regional and
local elections were being held simultaneously.  Many older voters were
confused, some taking 10 minutes in the voting booth to fill out all the
forms.

Others wandered around polling stations looking for someone to help them.
People were filling out the ballots just about any place they could find a
flat surface.  The crowds waiting to get into the polling places were large,
sometimes in the hundreds.

Thank God Ukrainians are among the most patient people on earth.  Although
many grumbled, most waited patiently and voted.  And, once again, individual
Ukrainians proved they were equal to the challenge.  The atmosphere among
the poll watchers from competing parties was collegial.

Perhaps because they had done it before, perhaps because they were just
more comfortable with the concept of free voting, this time the tension,
hostility and paranoia that was present in 2004 was simply not there.

When the polls closed at 10:00 PM, the massive task of counting all those
votes became a reality.  In Dnipropetrovsk, an area expected to be
problematic – Yulia country, hotly contested by Regions – a location with
two adjacent polling stations sharing the same building provided an
interesting contrast.

One was run by an older crowd of folks who could at one time have been
party apparatchiks while the other was run by a twenty-something crowd,
the next generation.  The younger group was better organized and more
efficient, but the older group was getting things right as well.  Ukrainians
had adapted successfully to the democratic voting process.

The trend emerged soon after the Central Electoral Commission began
tallying the votes.  Of the 46 parties that entered the election, no more
than five or six would qualify for the Rada.  The extreme players, on

both the right and the left, failed to meet the 3% threshold.

While it was sad to see old nationalist warriors like Hmara miss the boat
and Pora’s young veterans failed to qualify, there was palpable satisfaction
among virtually everyone that radicals like Vitrenko were left by the
wayside.

None of the old Kuchma crowd survived.  Even Lytvyn, who started the
campaign with over 10%, crashed and burned.  Despite all the pre-election
anxiety, good old Ukrainian grass roots wisdom found the common sense
center and solidified there.  By the end of the counting it was down to five
parties – Regions, the Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine, the Socialists and the
Communists.

The Ukrainian people had declared their independence from the politicians of
the past.  They rejected both Moscow’s and Washington’s plans for Ukraine’s
future.  They found their own political identity – Ukrainian, pro-democracy,
pro-European, free enterprise with a social conscience.

The Party of the Regions was the big loser.  Although the western press was
bizarrely headlining a Regions “victory”, the reality was the opposite.  The
Regions group dropped from 47% in 2004 to 35%.  Their only allies to
survive the election, the Communists, proved to be a dying dinosaur –
geriatrics sustained by fractured memories, IV fluids and Moscow funding.

Relentlessly retired by God onto the trash heap of history, the Communists
would not survive the next round of elections.  Without them Regions was
down to 32%.  All their money and slick advertising failed to make a silk
purse out of a sow’s ear.  In danger of becoming marginal players, Regions
will now have to change to stay relevant and avoid similar extinction.

Yulia was the biggest winner.  She did not win by simply re-playing the
fiery Joan of Arc who rallied the Maidan at its darkest hours.  Despite her
differences with some of the President’s men, she stood her ground, always
wrapping herself in both yellow/blue and orange, always professing her
loyalty to the nation and to the President.  The people loved it.

She got more votes than anyone had predicted, even making inroads in eastern
areas previously deemed solidly pro-Regions.  She held the center and
captured those disaffected with Our Ukraine.  She built a new, larger center
around herself.  Far from being just a pretty face who could give a good
speech, Yulia Tymoshenko proved she is one of the smartest politicians in
Europe.

The second winner, albeit so far unsung, was President Yushchenko.  To
appreciate his success, we need to put in perspective the Orange Revolution
and his role in it.  After the scandal of the second round in 2004, world
politicians started looking for a “win-win” solution, a compromise that
would be a “Victory of the Two Victors” (Yushchenko and Yanukovich) –
a division of influence in Ukraine between Moscow and the West.

It was the half million ordinary Ukrainians who stood in the Maidan and
refused to leave who turned the crisis into a real victory for Ukraine.
They made the Orange Revolution a success and they chose their heroes.

Yuschenko’s fate was sealed by the ham-fisted attempt to kill him.  He
became the inescapable face of the revolution – a face that suddenly
reflected all the evils that had persecuted Ukraine throughout its history
and tormented its present.

When he was inaugurated as the democratically elected President of Ukraine,
he didn’t just have to hit the ground running – he was expected to work
miracles, to instantly fix not just decades, but centuries of wrongs.

Yushchenko was stuck with the previous corrupt regime’s hostile legislature.
His inner circle of trusted friends had experience mostly in opposition and
revolution.  The transition to trustworthy allies capable of governing was
not only inevitable but also inevitably tumultuous.

Along the way, Moscow, still dreaming of regaining its rapidly atrophying
empire, did everything imaginable to destabilize Ukraine.  And, Ukraine’s
oligarchs and wannabe oligarchs, interested only in whatever would make
them rich or even richer, grabbed what they could for themselves while the
party lasted.

Despite all this and his constant and painful health issues, Yushchenko took
Ukraine through a democratic election process that can serve as a model for
any country in the world.  Ukraine is proceeding united into the future as a
democracy.

Three hundred fifty years of Russian colonialism, even a quarter century of
genocide that killed 18 million people, fully half of its 36 million
population, had not destroyed the Soul of Ukraine.  Little more than a year
after being given their first opportunity in three and a half centuries,
Ukrainians slipped comfortably and safely into democracy.

The third winner was Moroz.  Long maligned as a Trojan horse by his rivals,
the head of the Socialist Party proved to be a mature leader, neither taking
advantage of his leverage to gain personal wealth nor holding out for
impossible terms.

As Interior Minister, the Socialist’s Lutsenko became a symbol of the war
on corruption and one of the most popular members of Yushchenko’s
government. As soon as the vote was clear, Moroz was the first to stand
front and center, ready to do his bit for the democratic coalition.

The biggest winner, of course, was Ukraine itself.  Now, there is no doubt
there will be a free and independent Ukraine in our children’s future.  For
a while, at least, our sacrificed ancestors can rest in peace.  How fitting
that a new Ukraine, free, democratic and Ukrainian, has risen this spring,
right on the eve of Easter.                           -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

    If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12.   VOTERS GIVE UKRAINE A VIGOROUS PUSH TOWARDS
                         EUROPEAN-STYLE DEMOCRACY
Communists now just a rump group facing a strong parliamentary coalition

OP-ED: By Marco Levytsky, Freelance
Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Canada, Saturday, April 01, 2006

Last weekend’s parliamentary and local elections in Ukraine may well go down
as a watershed event in that country’s so-far brief history of independence.
While much attention has been focused on the party standings and the
personalities involved, there are several elements to these elections which
may be more significant in the long term because they reflect fundamental
changes in societal values.

FIRST, these were “the first genuinely free and fair parliamentary elections
in the country,” according to the International Election Observation Mission
which monitored them. They were preceded by the first campaign in which all
parties received fair coverage and the media was free from government
interference.

This, in itself, is a major accomplishment and shows the democratic
achievements of the Orange Revolution have taken firm root. Once in place,
they will be most difficult to dislodge.

SECOND, this election marks the almost total collapse of the once-powerful
Communist Party of Ukraine. This party, which was the strongest political
force in Ukraine during the ’90s and ran a strong second in the 2002
parliamentary election with 20 per cent of the popular vote, plummeted to
only 3.6 per cent in this election — just barely passing the minimum
three-per-cent barrier required for qualification.

Had the barrier not been lowered to three from four per cent in the recent
electoral reforms, the Communists would have been wiped off the political
map altogether. Nevertheless, considering their current standing and the
average age of their supporters, this election most likely marks their last
gasp in Ukrainian political life.

While the Party of Regions of former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, to
which the Communist vote moved en masse, has embraced many of their policies
and remains the chief representative of the old Communist hierarchy, or
nomenklatura, it at least pays lip service to democratic principles and has
rejected the totalitarian past. This is one step in the right direction.

The collapse of the Communists has been accompanied by the rise in support
for parties espousing democratic values. Whereas in 1998 only Rukh (with
nine percent of the vote) passed the four-per-cent barrier, the three Orange
coalition parties now have an absolute majority in parliament.

This has as much to do with the transformation of existing parties as it
does with a shifting electorate. The Socialist Party of Ukraine, which began
in 1992 as a refuge for the then disenfranchised Communists, and continued
as an erstwhile ally of the reconstituted CPU throughout the ’90s and the
early part of this millennium, have been gradually transforming themselves
into a European-style social democratic party.

They’re now among President Viktor Yushchenko’s most loyal allies, second
only to his own Our Ukraine. The firebrand revolutionary Yulia Tymoshenko
first entered parliament in 1998 as part of the Hromada faction, the
political wing of former prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko’s Dnipropetrovsk
clan. Following Lazarenko’s arrest for money laundering in the U.S., she
took over that power base and transformed it into what became her own
democratic movement.

Changes may even be on the horizon for the Party of Regions itself.
Billionaire Rynat Akhmetov is emerging as the fresh new face to replace the
corruption-tainted Yanukovych. Akhmetov, who was elected to parliament on
the POR list, also bankrolled the recent campaign, hiring a number of U.S.
consultants to help conduct its course.

Unlike the 55-year-old Yanukovych, the 40-year-old Akhmetov is more in tune
with the post-Soviet entrepreneurial class. A Russian-speaking ethnic Tatar,
Akhmetov has recently started taking Ukrainian lessons — a sign he may be
considering a more active political role. Akhmetov speaks of running a
government of “professionals” who would promote economic growth. He could
find a common language with Our Ukraine’s technocrats.

Finally, this election also marks the first time that one political
coalition has managed to get an absolute majority in parliament. Previous
parliaments were seriously fractured, which led to ever-shifting alliances
and continuous instability.

Though the nascent democracy faces many challenges, not the least will be
the ability of the Orange coalition members to overcome their personal and
ideological differences and move the country forward, the undercurrents that
fed this watershed will continue to move Ukraine in a definite direction —
further from Russia and Belarus, and closer to her EU neighbours.
————————————————————————————————-
Marco Levytsky is the Editor and Publisher of the Ukrainian News.

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
             Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13. PRESIDENT YUSHCHENKO’S STALLING IS DANGEROUS

COMMENTARY: By Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Canada, Friday, April 7, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #691, Article 13
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ukrainians should be proud of what they accomplished during the
parliamentary elections on March 26.  They choice reaffirmed their support
for the values of the Orange Revolution: a pro-West president, clean-up of
corruption and greater economic wealth through the re-privatization of
questionably acquired state property.  Around 42%, gave the parties
belonging to the Orange forces their vote-the go-ahead to form a government
to implement this platform.

However, President Victor Yushchenko does not appear to be listening.  After
nearly two weeks, there is little progress to form a government even though
Ukraine badly needs one.  There is little clarity why the Orange power
parties– Yulia Tymoshenko’s  Bloc with 129 seats in the Rada, Nasha
Ukrajina with 81, and the Socialist Party with 33-a total of 243– are not
being asked to get going.

At present, the President is calling for unity among the winners-it sounds
like he is including the pro-Russia Party of Regions with 186 seats.  Why?
The Orange forces don’t need this union to govern.  Moreover, in a democracy
monolithic unity is not a good idea: without a strong opposition to serve as
people’s watch-dog, there is temptation for the insiders to cut favourable
deals for themselves.

Given Ukraine’s record of government corruption, associated with the Party
of Regions in particular, such cronyism is highly undesirable.  Equally
important,  Russia’s ability to manipulate Ukraine’s government policy in
its own interest-opposition to NATO and concentration of the former USSR’s
nuclear power in its hands–  could make a coalition government, without a
strong opposition, dangerous to world peace.

Besides, thank-you very much, Ukraine has had nearly a century of the
ultimate in political unity:  communist dictatorship.  Ukrainians should be
every mindful of the dangers political unity carries.

By stalling, the President is undermining the will of the people and not
helping him own reputation.  Many blame him for splitting the Orange vote
during the elections by firing former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Despite this, and thanks to her party’s commanding win, the three Orange
parties obtained enough votes to form a government for the next four years.

For this she seeks, and rightfully deserves, the position of the Prime
Minster.  Asking her to put her political interests aside at this juncture,
is inappropriate and begs the question: where do the President’s interests
lie?

The President’s interests have not always been clear.  After the 2002 Rada
elections,  Mr. Yuschenko allowed more than 20 of his party members to
cross to President Kuchma’s side,  thereby loosing the rightfully won Nasha
Ukrajina majority.  Before that, there was his prominent absence from the
anti-Kuchma demonstrations aimed at ousting his corrupt pro-Russia
government.

He has made other questionable moves like firing former Prime Minster Yulia
Tymoshenko.  Some say he did it twice: last year, and at the bidding of
president Kuchma in the late 1990’s. Some of his statements in the recent
elections campaign were unhelpful by drawing attention to unfulfilled
promises of the Orange Revolution.

For instance, he spoke of punishing violators of the electoral process while
the key violator of the 2004 elections, Sergij Kivilov, head of the Central
Elections Commission was enjoying a sinecure as head of the justice
department in Odessa’s university.  Even more incredulously, he ran for a
seat in parliament on the Party of Regions ballot and now may be asked to
join the ruling coalition!

The President’s ineffective politics culminated in the gas fiasco with
Russia.  The situation to Ukraine could have been dire if the European
Union, fearful that its gas may be cut-off, had not cried foul.  But why did
the President of Ukraine not lead the charge and cry foul when his own
people were in danger of freezing?  Why the hush-hush RosUkrEnergo deal?
And why the on going lack of transparency on this matter?

To redeem himself,  President Yuschenko must stop stalling and call for the
formation of the government.  If he is the pro-West democratic Ukrainian
patriot of the Orange Revolution, he needs to ask Yulia Tymoshenko to form a
government now.  That was their vote.  A true democrat will honour the will
of the people.

However, if he is being lured into another sphere -one that, perhaps,
favours  Russia’s interests over Ukraine’s; is pro-oligarch rather than pro
the people; or however is bound from responding clearly and transparently to
the voters’ choice, he will vacillate.

He will do this by calling for unity dialogues, rationalizing the election
results, catching paralyses by analyses, and stall until some powerful hand
forces an option favorable to its self-interests, rather than those of
Ukraine.  This is the danger for Ukraine.

That force might be Victor Yanukovych of the Party of Regions.  However,
having lost nearly half of the support he had during the presidential
elections of 2004, neither Russia nor the oligarchs see him as a winner.
More than likely, it will be the Party’s real money and power man, Renat
Akhmetov.

Considered one of the richest men in the world by Forbes magazine, on
questionably acquired state properties in Ukraine, the lofty position as
Prime Minister of the second largest country in Europe, will be good for
Akhmetov.

He aspires to be an international entrepreneur with a seat on international
stack exchanges, including London’s. This requires not only money, which he
has, but respectability and gentrification, both of which come with a prime
minister’s title.  But is this good for Ukraine?

The people did not think so.  They did not choose this.  Against all odds,
they rallied around Yulia Tymoshenko.  They elected her at the expense of
the Party of Regions and the likes of Mr. Akhmetov.

The President can respond to the will of the people or to other interests.
His reputation in history and the future of Ukraine lie in his choice.
————————————————————————————————
NOTE: Oksana Bashuk Hepburn is the President of U*CAN, a consulting
firm in Canada, a former OSCE elections observer in Ukraine, and a
commentator. Contact: oksanabh@comcast.net
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14.             UKRAINE’S YUSHCHENKO CONUNDRUM

PERSPECTIVE: By Geoffrey Berlin, The Globalist
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, April 12, 2006

President Viktor Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine party have suffered a
stinging blow just one year after Ukraine’s Orange revolution. As Geoffrey
Berlin argues, a broken compact of integrity has created a lack of
confidence in Yushchenko’s government – and he now faces the difficult task
of creating a coalition from a position of weakness.

It is rare to see such a flameout as Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko
and his Our Ukraine party have suffered in the year from Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution to the country’s March 2006 parliamentary elections.

The Ukrainian people catapulted Viktor Yanukovitch and his Party of Regions
back to the forefront of politics with a first place finish with 32% of the
vote, after coming up on the losing side of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.

They dealt another blow to Yushchenko by giving the former “Orange” prime
minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party 22% of the vote, well ahead of
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party with 14%.
                                    VIBRANT DEMOCRACY
Democracy is indeed vibrant and coherent in Ukraine. Those who supported
Yanukovitch in the presidential election confirmed that Yushchenko’s
performance as president has not led them to rethink their original choice.

Likewise, a majority of the “Orange” voters have chosen to sanction the
president by backing Tymoshenko.

Despite a flourishing of civil society during the last year, with a newfound
openness for the Ukrainian press and media, why have Yushchenko and his
coalition partners not been able to expand their base? And why did
Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party lose so much ground to Tymoshenko’s
Fatherland party in these elections?
             A HEIGHTENED SENSE OF DISILLUSIONMENT
Were expectations unrealistic after the Orange Revolution, with people
expecting “too much, too fast”? Did Ukraine’s economic slowdown trump
Yushchenko, with GDP growth declining from 12.1% in 2004, when
Yanukovitch was prime minister, to 2.6% in 2005, when the Orange coalition
came to power?

Speaking directly with Ukrainians, one finds a different reason: There is a
heightened sense of disillusionment, particularly among those who supported
the Orange coalition parties. Taking a taxi in Zhitomir, about 80 miles west
of Kiev, a few months before the elections, I asked the driver what he
thought about the political situation.

“I had never concerned myself much with politics,” he said. “But I went to
Kiev and spent three days and nights out on Maidan in the bitter cold for
the Orange Revolution, and now I’m fed up with these Orange politicians.”

I hear the same message from the person who sweeps the tennis courts in
Kiev, from secretaries in offices and the managers in those same offices,
even from civil servants in the government.

What are the people of Ukraine so fed up about?
                                COMPACT OF INTEGRITY
The Orange Revolution was first and foremost a compact of integrity with
the people. When Yushchenko dismissed the Tymoshenko government in
September, he acknowledged that the government’s compact was not being
fulfilled, stating that “at some point my colleagues simply lost the team
spirit and faith.. I am convinced that it was not for this that millions of
people stood in squares.”

Yushchenko was right, but his own compact with the people was already
fragile. A few months earlier, he had stepped forward to defend his justice
minister, who had been exposed for misrepresenting his education
credentials. “If the justice minister is not held accountable for speaking
the truth,” was the common refrain in Kiev, “then who in government will
be?”

In July, Yushchenko lashed out at a journalist for questioning why his
19-year-old son was driving a high-end BMW and flaunting a platinum cell
phone.

He later apologized, but his reactions with the justice minister and his son
led people to question his personal commitment to end corruption and embrace
a greater transparency in government.
                                UNSOLVED POLITICAL CRIMES
In the meantime, investigations into high-profile political crimes, for
which Yushchenko had promised answers and justice, remain unsolved, such
as the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, Yushchenko’s own poisoning
during the presidential election campaign and the electoral fraud that
precipitated the Orange Revolution.

Moreover, when Yushchenko dismissed the Tymoshenko government in
September, he created the impression that he was diverting attention from
allegations of corruption that the state secretary in the presidential
secretariat, Oleksandr Zinchenko, had leveled against people in Yushchenko’s
inner circle.
                                      ORANGE DISSOLUTION
Yushchenko then signed a political pact with Yanukovitch to secure the
support of the Party of Regions for his nominee for prime minister, Yuriy
Yekhanurov.

One point of the pact called for “the impermissibility of political
repressions against the opposition,” effectively offering amnesty to
perpetrators of voter fraud in the presidential election.

This pact marked the effective dissolution of the Orange coalition, just
nine months after coming to power, and Yanukovitch’s return to the forefront
of Ukraine’s political stage.

The Ukrainian people’s confidence in Yushchenko eroded further in January,
when his team signed a gas deal with Russia in which a holding company,
Rosukrenergo, was named to supply all of Ukraine’s gas imports.
                                   ANONYMOUS HOLDINGS
Gazprom officials claim that they own 50% of Rosukrenergo and that the other
50% stake is held anonymously by Ukrainians. Yushchenko claimed ignorance
when asked who was behind this stake: “I don’t know,” he said, “they may be
Ukrainians, but I really don’t know who these people are.”

Does the president really not know which Ukrainians are allegedly behind a
company with so pivotal a role for Ukraine’s energy security?
                                       COALITION CHOICES
Now that the people have spoken, it is Yushchenko’s turn to choose. With no
party holding an outright majority of seats, a coalition must be formed
between at least two of the three leading parties to form a government.

Weakened by this electoral setback, Yushchenko nonetheless holds the cards
to choose between an “Orange” majority with Euro-Atlantic ambitions or a
majority with a pro-Russian tilt that covers Yanukovitch’s electoral base
and is more appeasing toward Ukraine’s leading business interests.
                                       ORANGE HOPES
For a reconstituted Orange coalition to succeed with a thin majority of 54%
of seats in parliament, Yushchenko and his party would have to respect the
voice of the “Orange” voters and cede control by making the necessary
concessions for Tymoshenko to establish a cohesive team.

Such a coalition would have to overcome past tensions from Tymoshenko’s
stint as prime minister, when she led a campaign of retribution toward
Ukraine’s leading business interests. Yushchenko sought to heal such rifts
after her dismissal with the appointment of the Yekhanurov government.

Yanukovitch’s first place victory and the internal pressures at play could
point toward a Yanukovitch-Yushchenko alliance, with at least 59% of seats.

This would require overcoming the divergent priorities of integration with
the West or expanding ties to Russia and the East, as Yanuovitch espoused
during his election campaign.

This would also cede control back to the very person who just over a year
ago was imploring then-president Leonid Kuchma to quash the Orange
Revolution protests in Kiev to affirm the results of a fraudulent vote that
would have given him the presidency.
Wishful thinking

Is it wishful thinking to consider that Yanukovitch and his Party of Regions
have turned over a new leaf, embracing greater transparency and integrity in
government?

On April 4, Ukraine’s parliament voted to lift the immunity of prosecution
for local council deputies, an important step toward cleaning up local
government. The measure received the least support among Yanukovitch’s
Party of Regions, with only one deputy supporting it.

A third alternative to form a government would be a grand coalition of the
three leading parties, with an absolute majority of at least 88% of seats.
This would be the worst possible outcome: Ukraine needs above all a strong
opposition.

A grand coalition would be a tenuous alliance and a recipe for corruption,
where these parties could collude by divvying the economic spoils of power
among the business interests that back them.
                                      STRONG OPPOSITION
The question of who will lead the opposition is just as critical as who will
lead the government. Tymoshenko established her credentials in opposition in
the lead up to the Orange Revolution and since the dismissal of her
government.

Yanukovitch has also demonstrated his capacity for leadership in opposition,
which would only be strengthened by his recent electoral success – although
his democratic credentials remain tainted from the presidential election.

However Yushchenko chooses, he must respect the voice of the Ukrainian
people at the urns and then govern to restore his compact with them.  -30-
————————————————————————————————
Geoffrey Berlin is Managing Director for Ukraine of GlobalNet Financial
Solutions, LLC., an investment banking firm based in Washington D.C.,

where he is leading the development of projects in the energy, industrial
and financial sectors.

He is also the founder of the Hertz Rent A Car franchise in Ukraine, which
he launched in March 1998. From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Berlin was the Chief
Executive Officer of First Tuesday Ltd., a global business forum company

in the areas of technology and entrepreneurship. From 1988 to 1992, Mr.
Berlin worked with Corporate Values Associates, a French-based
management-consulting firm.

Mr. Berlin has served as the Vice President of the European Business
Association in Kiev, which brings together over 200 European businesses

that operate in Ukraine. He is also the Founder and chairman of Democrats
Abroad Ukraine. Mr. Berlin received an MBA degree from the Wharton
School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1988, and an AB degree with
honors from Dartmouth College in 1984. (gberlin@globalnetpartners.com)
————————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=5246
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15.                          POISON AND POWER IN UKRAINE

By Anne Applebaum, Op-Ed Columnist, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C. Wednesday, April 12, 2006; Page A17

KIEV, Ukraine — Tell someone in the Ukrainian capital that you have an
appointment with President Viktor Yushchenko, and you will quickly be
showered with advice, suggestions and requests. “Please, tell him to ask the
Americans to fund Radio Liberty,” one woman begged. Another gave me a
book she had published, asking me to pass it on.

A Ukrainian journalist said not to bother asking Yushchenko whether he had
yet found out who had attempted to poison him with dioxin during the bitter
2004 presidential election campaign: Surely he knew the criminal’s identity
perfectly well. Instead, he said, it would be more interesting to find out
why, exactly, the president had withheld this important information from the
public.

Particularly given the atmosphere of semi-hysteria that surrounds the
president — the extra-high security, the canceled and rescheduled
appointments, the multiple telephone calls from multiple aides — this sort
of talk made me feel as if I were about to encounter a remote, all-powerful
figure, the sort of politician who can make things happen with the snap of a
finger. And at some level, this is indeed what Ukrainians expect their
president to be.

Consciously or otherwise, they assume that their democratically elected
leader has the same omnipotence that their communist leaders once had, the
same bureaucratic resources, even the same access to secret information. He
can get the Americans to fund Radio Liberty, help a publishing house survive
and manipulate information about infamous crimes, all at once.

But, of course, he does not have the same powers and resources, as
Yushchenko himself makes clear. I met him in his office, a vast room whose
pretentious, palatial design has been hidden beneath the president’s equally
vast collection of Ukrainian folk art.

One of the first things he told me was that the criminal investigation into
his poisoning had stalled. When he first came to office, the Ukrainian chief
prosecutor — still loyal to the previous, post-communist regime — had
dawdled, prevaricated and let the top witness in the case depart for Russia.

The president, whose face is still mottled by side effects of the poison,
said that Ukrainian authorities had asked the Russians to hand the witness
over for questioning. And? He shrugged. “You see how it is,” he said.

In any country, poor relations with a larger neighbor could damage a
president’s political career. But for Yushchenko they pose a particularly
difficult problem. Far from omnipotent, he is surrounded by corrupt
officials, many of whom are easily won over by a Kremlin awash in oil money,
most of whom are still loyal to the previous, pro-Russian, post-communist
regime.

As president in a parliamentary system, his powers are limited in any case,
but in Ukraine, where secret information his police officers intercept is
more likely to be sent to Moscow than given to him, they are almost
nonexistent.

This might be true even if the Russian government were deeply committed to
keeping Yushchenko in power: But Russian authorities have never tried very
hard to hide their disapproval of Yushchenko, who was declared winner of
the election only after mass demonstrations — the Orange Revolution — of a
kind the Russians themselves fear.

Yushchenko speaks carefully about this problem, calling the Russian decision
to switch off Ukraine’s gas in January a “development that didn’t help our
relations” and describing his personal relations with Russian President
Vladimir Putin as “very good.”

He also tried to be positive about Russia and Ukraine’s attempts to resolve
their long-standing disputes: over borders, over Russian naval bases on
Ukrainian territory, even over historical issues such as the Ukrainian
famine of the 1930s, which Ukrainians remember as an attempted genocide
and Russians don’t officially recognize at all. Commissions had been set up,
Yushchenko said, and committees had been established. But not much, he
conceded, has been resolved.

Some of this explains, at least in part, the poor performance of
Yushchenko’s political party in Ukraine’s recent parliamentary elections
(which, incidentally, he calls “the most successful in Ukrainian history,”
because they were the first to be conducted without “allegations of tricks
by the authorities”).

True, many around Yushchenko agree that his party ran a strangely inept
campaign. The breakup of the “Orange Coalition,” the group of politicians
who put him in power in 2004, didn’t help either. Yushchenko himself told me
that many Ukrainians saw the coalition as a “political ideal” and have been
disillusioned by the economic and political disagreements that have haunted
the diverse group since they united to bring him to power.

Nevertheless, the unusually large gap between his supporters’ extremely high
expectations and his own extremely limited authority are an important source
of the growing disappointment with his presidency, too.

When I emerged from my interview with him, my acquaintances in Kiev again
peppered me with questions. What had he said? Why hadn’t he convicted
anyone of electoral fraud? Why were his reforms taking so long?

They suspected a conspiracy, assumed there must be a secret explanation for
the slow pace of political and economic change. But the truth seems much
more straightforward to me. There is Yushchenko, alone in his big office.

There is Ukraine, a country of 50 million people. And in between the two are
thousands of people — civil servants, politicians, journalists, business
people — who have deep financial and personal interests in maintaining the
corrupt status quo.

For Ukraine, the Orange Revolution was the easy part, compared with what
lies ahead.                                        -30-
————————————————————————————————–
Contact Anne Applebaum, applebaumanne@yahoo.com
————————————————————————————————–
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/11/AR2006041101114.html

——————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16.                         REAL PROGRESS IN UKRAINE
     Letters in reply to Op-Ed article by Post Columnist Anne Applebaum
            by Ukraine Ambassador Oleh Shamshur and Tammy Lynch

LETTERS-TO-THE EDITOR, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 25, 2006; Page A22

Post-Orange Revolution Ukraine, with its vibrant democracy, thriving civil
society, bustling cultural life and maturing market economy, is far from
Anne Applebaum’s picture of a stagnating country mired in disillusionment
[“Poison and Power in Ukraine,” op-ed, April 12].

The most recent Ukrainian elections, which Ms. Applebaum mentioned only in
passing, were an event of historic significance — transparent, democratic
and fair, with equal opportunity for all to participate.

True, the past year has brought sometimes painful lessons in democracy and
economic reform. No one, however, should disregard Ukraine’s achievements
in ensuring freedom of expression, dismantling shadowy economic schemes,
combating corruption, and pursuing a realistic and coherent foreign policy.
The role of President Viktor Yushchenko in all these areas has been
instrumental.

Ukraine still has a significant “to do” list, but it is continuing its
movement along the path of reform to an anchorage among the community

of democratic nations. That was the real verdict of the voters on March 26.
The post-Soviet stage of Ukraine’s development is over.

OLEH SHAMSHUR, Ambassador
Embassy of Ukraine, Washington
·
Anne Applebaum suggested that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko
has been unable to push through reforms because his powers are “almost
nonexistent.” That is unsupported by the facts.

Throughout 2005 Mr. Yushchenko had more authority than most presidents in
the world based on his office’s significant powers of decree and personnel
oversight.

While Ms. Applebaum suggested that the investigation into his poisoning
stalled because a prosecutor loyal to the former regime remained in place,
the president had the power to dismiss the prosecutor on the first day of
his term. He also had the opportunity to dismiss the corrupt officials who
she said now surround him.

Ms. Applebaum implied that little was accomplished in 2005 in Ukraine.
Important reforms did occur, just not the radical reforms promised during
the revolution. The question, then, is not whether Mr. Yushchenko possessed
the power to push through these reforms, but why he did not — or could
not — do so.

TAMMY LYNCH, Kiev, Ukraine

————————————————————————————————–
The writer is a senior fellow at Boston University’s Institute for the Study
of Conflict, Ideology and Policy. (tammymlynch@hotmail.com)
————————————————————————————————–
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/24/AR2006042401475.html
——————————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17.                             HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED?

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY: By Andrew Wilson
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Apr 19 2006

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution was above all a revolt against fakery and fraud.
By 2004, local vocabulary had filled up with terms like ‘political
technology’ and ‘administrative resources’, as though these were perfectly
acceptable technical aspects of post-Soviet politics.

Over the last 16 months, I have always felt that Ukrainian voters would
initially have forgiven a lot economically, if the first two Orange
governments had done more to cleanse the system of such practices. Instead,
they put economics before politics, hoping to buy votes in the run-up to
2006, and in a crude overture to voters in the south and east.

And of course the economy suffered. But how much has changed politically?
The first obvious difference for the 2006 elections is that we heard much
less about (normally Russian) ‘political technologists’ this time around.
They were still employed on lucrative contracts, but were not strutting
around Kyiv like an occupying army, or constantly pronouncing from on high,
as masters of the universe. Indeed, the Ukrainian market has opened up to
the outside world and become more of a normal PR market.

The Party of Regions, which gained the most votes in the March 26 election,
employed Americans. President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine worked with
Russians like Stanislav Belkovsky, according to rumor at least, without of
course accepting a Russian agenda.

The second obvious difference is that fake parties were much less successful
this time around. Ukrainian voters have wised up to ‘big board parties’,
whose million-dollar budgets made minimal impacts. Many of the supposedly
omnipotent oligarchs miscalculated badly this time. Tycoon Viktor Pinchuk
failed with Viche.

Tycoon Oleksandr Yaroslavsky failed with outgoing parliamentary speaker
Volodymyr Lytvyn. The Industrial Union of Donbass failed with Eko+25%.

(The anti-Western) Ne tak! was too negative, or perhaps just too confusing.
Nobody wanted to vote for a double negative, ‘No to No to (former
President Leonid) Kuchma’.

Ironically, there was a ‘third force’ electorate out there – 21 percent
voted for smaller parties that failed to cross the 3 percent barrier – but
no single project tapped its potential. Lytvyn’s party was the biggest
failure in this respect. Its campaign was too long. Its inclusive ‘My’ (We)
appeal, neutral green colors and pitch to rural voters was just a bit too
rich for a party of urban multi-millionaires.

Its attempt to portray itself as the civilized party between the warring
extremes was just a bit too absurd for a party that in reality functions
like the Oakland Raiders in the NFL or Blackburn Rovers in the English
soccer league – the teams where all the bad guys eventually end up.

Nor was the negative impact of fake parties as important as in the past.
Collectively, they took over a fifth of the vote away from the winners, but
neither side suffered disproportionately; unlike in 2002, when ‘fly’ parties
took most of their bites out of the then opposition, or in 1998, when they
mainly swarmed around the left.

That said, if Natalia Vitrenko’s ‘Popular Opposition’ bloc were to succeed
in its appeal against the results, then the parliamentary arithmetic would
suddenly look a lot different. The Orange parties currently have a majority
because their three parties took three over-representations from the
‘proportional representation’ system, whereas this effect was much smaller
for the one-and-a-half parties on the other side (Regions, the Communists).
In other words, only a few more votes for Lytvyn (2.43%), Vitrenko (2.93%)
or Viche (1.74%) may have swung the election.

The result is a strange imbalance in the new Rada. On the one hand, Akhmetov
is the only major oligarch with a (sub) faction of his own – Regions. On the
other hand, every faction now has its ‘sponsors’. Our Ukraine has its ‘dear
friends’, but former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc has the likes of
Vasyl Khmelnytsky, who was previously notorious for helping Kuchma set up
fake opposition parties to compete with the real opposition; and Bohdan
Hubsky, one of the Kyiv business elite’s not-so-magnificent-seven. The
Socialists have Andriy Derkach and ‘metallurgists’ like Volodymyr Boiko.

Are the oligarchs, large and small, now so ubiquitous that they will shape
the new system, or will the new system dictate to them? Significantly,
Voloymyr Boiko failed to deliver his home-town vassal vote in Mariupol.
Pinchuk and Yaroslavsky have sought to clean up their images after their
recent deals with Banca Intesa and BNP Paribas (to which the two tycoons
recently sold their Ukrainian banks). Akhmetov’s recent attempts to fold his
old businesses into more transparent daughter companies like MetInvest and
Embrol Ukraine may mean him taking the same route.

The prevalence of business sponsors on all the party lists, however, meant
that even the Orange parties fought the elections with a certain virtual
veneer. Tymoshenko’s ads promoted the message that social ‘justice’ was
provided by her own ‘heart’ when she was prime minister, and sought to
identify her conscience with the nation’s own. Her outfits carefully matched
the campaign’s colors.

However, the ‘virtual’ part of Tymoshenko’s campaign was well-tuned to her
‘real’ message. ‘Justice’ was what Orange voters wanted. Tymoshenko’s
campaign has also set her up well for the next phase. If Our Ukraine does a
deal with Regions, her eponymous party may well eclipse it completely. If
Our Ukraine does a deal with her, all eyes will be on whether she can
deliver ‘justice’ in government.

Our Ukraine’s campaign has already been forgotten. It wasn’t particularly
‘virtual’. It was just bad. The ‘Don’t betray the Maidan!’ slogan prompted
the obvious thought that this was precisely what the Yushchenko team had
already done. And at a time when voters were desperate to revitalize the
Orange Revolution, it was far too backward-looking.

Other aspects of the old political system are alive and well. The political
technologists may have taken a back seat, so that there were fewer ‘active
measures’ in 2006, but it will take years to disentangle the web of
corruption that feeds ‘information wars’ and the Ukrainian addiction to
kompromat.

There was plenty of shocking negative campaigning, such as the flyers
depicting Tymoshenko as menopausal. There were so many PR ‘hits’, like

he Pukach ‘disclaimer’, that it is still difficult to distinguish virtual
scandals from real. Continuing information wars may also give virtual
parties a new lease on life as channels for black PR, as with the notorious
ads for Za soyuz.

Ultimately, the revolutions we remember are the ones that earn labels, the
ones that come to symbolize great changes of epoch, like the ‘springtime

of nations’ in 1848 or the Iranian ‘Islamic revolution’ in 1979. Future
historians will continue to write of the ‘Orange Revolution’, if 2004
acquires adjectives beyond mere color, i.e., if the changes in Ukraine come
to be seen as a turning point in the region, after which politics moved away
from the ‘technology’ of trickery and actually began to improve people’s
lives.

So far, however, apart from an arguable immediate impact in the Romanian
election of December 2004 and some inspiration of the half revolution-half
coup in Kyrgyzstan, the Orange contagion has failed to spread to other
states. It has inspired movements, but no actual repeat performances. So
far, negative lessons and the spread of counter-technology have been more
apparent.

The Belarusian election, for example, was won through an overdose of
‘administrative resources’, but equally important were new
counter-revolutionary ‘technologies’. The authorities prevented any
meaningful parallel count or exit poll that might have served to set off an
‘electoral revolution’. They also made it difficult for the opposition to
replicate the tactics of ‘strategic non-violence’ advocated by the likes of
Gene Sharp, by maintaining a united front and cutting off communication

with potential hinterlands of civic support.

They also used ‘political technology’ (Gleb Pavlovsky visited Minsk before
the vote). As in 2001, Siarhei Haidukevich was again used to fake the
politics of protest and split the opposition vote. But more serious
questions should be asked about the fourth candidate, Aliaksandr Kozulin,
long-rumored to be a Russian ‘project’.

Certainly, his rash call for direct action on the key day of demonstrations,
Saturday, March 25, provided the authorities with the excuse they needed to
crack down, and gave them the virtual ‘story’ they needed for the domestic
audience. It will be interesting to see how much Lukashenka now ‘owes’
Russia for its help.

So at least the contrast with Ukraine is now remarkable. Politics in Ukraine
is a long way from becoming totally clean, but it has already moved a long
way from the regional norm. We should not forget the progress that has been
made since 2004, but we should also not underestimate the strength of the
old system to fight back.                          -30-
————————————————————————————————
Andrew Wilson is the author of “Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the
Post-Soviet World”  and “Ukraine’s Orange Revolution,” both published by
Yale University Press.  Contact: Andrew Wilson awilson8795@hotmail.com
————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/oped/24301/
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
18. KARMAZYN SELECTED AS CHIEF OF VOA’S UKRAINIAN SERVICE

Voice of America (VOA), Washington, D.C., Thursday, April 20, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Veteran Voice of America journalist Adrian Karmazyn

has been appointed Chief of VOA’s Ukrainian Service. Karmazyn, 45, joined
VOA in 1988, as an international radio broadcaster in the Ukrainian Service.

He served in this capacity as a reporter, writer, producer, translator,
announcer, and also served as a correspondent in Kyiv, Ukraine. Since 1999,
Karmazyn has served as Program Manager of VOA’s Ukrainian Service. During
that period the Ukrainian Service significantly expanded its network of
reporters in Ukraine and its cooperation with FM affiliates.

In addition, Karmazyn oversaw the reorganization of Vikno v Ameryku (Window
on America), a weekly TV magazine program, the launch of the daily Chas-Time
television program and regular interactive satellite feeds with TV networks
in Ukraine.

Karmazyn is a native of Cleveland, Ohio.  He completed a B.A. in History at
Ohio State University and a M.A. in Russian and East European Studies at the
University of Michigan.                                 -30-
—————————————————————————————————–
VOA’s Ukrainian television and radio programs have a combined weekly
audience of 12.7 percent. For additional information, Mr. Karmazyn may be
contacted at: Adrian@VOANews.com. For programming information please visit
VOA’s Ukrainian Service web site at:
http://www.VOANews.com/Ukrainian.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia
international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the
Broadcasting Board of Governors.  VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of
news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an
estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people.  Programs are
produced in 44 languages, including English. For more information, please
contact the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959, or
publicaffairs@voa.gov

—————————————————————————————————-
FOOTNOTE:  The AUR sends our congratulations to Adrian Karmazyn
on his appointment Chief of VOA’s Ukrainian Service.   AUR EDITOR.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

    “WELCOME TO UKRAINE”- “NARODNE MYSTETSTVO”

              (Folk Art) and ContempoARTukraine MAGAZINES
For information on how to subscribe to the “Welcome to Ukraine” magazine
in English, Ukrainian Folk Art magazine “Narodne Mystetstvo” in Ukrainian, 
or ContempoARTukraine in English please send an e-mail to
ArtUkraine.com@starpower.net. Complete information can be found at

========================================================
             “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
                Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only
                                 
      If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
             Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.    
         You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
      SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
                “SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”
 
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.
 
All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
 
You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
               “UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
========================================================
   UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
========================================================
              ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
                              Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
                  Holodomor Commemorative Exhibition Collection
          “Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1.  THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
   Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Vera M. Andryczyk, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4.  ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX  77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM– Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
17. VADIM GORBACH, Consultant, Washington, D.C.
========================================================
 TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,
and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net.  If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected. 
========================================================
                        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
========================================================
      Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. 
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#690 RosUkrEnergo Investigated By U.S.; Gas Trade Secrecy Should Be Stripped; Gas Chief Accused Of Incompetence

=========================================================
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

UKRAINE’S GAS SUPPLIER ROSUKRENERGO
INVESTIGATED BY UNITED STATES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
RosUkrEnergo has been supported & defended by Yushchenko Govn’t
Yushchenko advised to probe deeper into RosUkrEnergo
UKRAINE MYSTERY SOLVED?
Two Ukrainians, Dmytro Firtash & Ivan Fursin, are finally identified
as owning stock but are they the only Ukrainian owners of RosUkrEnergo
when the billions in profits are distributed at the end of the day?
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 690
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C., THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 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. U.S. INVESTIGATES CRITICAL SUPPLIER OF RUSSIAN GAS
RosUkrEnergo AG supplies billions of dollars of gas to Ukraine
Europe’s Energy Security Is at Heart of Concerns; Opaque Ownership Queried
By Glenn R. Simpson and David Crawford
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

2. SECRECY OF RUSSIAN-TURKMEN-UKRAINE GAS TRADE TO
EUROPE SHOULD BE STRIPPED: NEW GLOBAL WITNESS REPORT
Global Witness, London, UK, Monday, April 24, 2006

3. GAS FUNNY BUSINESS IN THE TURKMEN-UKRAINE GAS TRADE
Six major recommendations from the new report
REPORT: by Global Witness, London, UK, Monday, April 24, 2006

4. GAS FIRM ROSUKRENERGO UNDER U.S. SCRUTINY
By Catherine Belton, Staff Writer, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 24, 2006. Issue 3399. Page 1.

5. UKRAINIAN POLITICAL DISAGREEMENTS RE-EMERGE OVER
NATURAL GAS DEAL STRUCK EARLIER THIS YEAR WITH RUSSIA
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

6. UKRAINE LEADER YUSHCHENKO ADVISED TO PROBE GAS DEAL
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 21 2006

7. “FAREWELL TO ROSUKRENERGO”
AUSTRIAN BANK MAY LEAVE RUSSIA-UKRAINE GAS CONSORTIUM

EXCERPT FROM REPORT: By Renate Graber, Der Standard Website,
Austrian newspaper, Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006

8. OWNERS OF UKRAINE’S GAS TRADER ROSUKRENERGO REVEALED
“What we still don’t understand is what these men bring to the table.”
Stephen Boykewich, Staff Writer, Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Thursday, April 27, 2006. Issue 3402. Page 1.
10. UKRAINE MYSTERY SOLVED: OWNERSHIP OF ROSUKRENERGO
Reuters, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 26, 2006
11. ROSUKRENERGO HITS AT CRITICS BY NAMING OWNERS
Names Dmytro Firtaxh & Ivan Fursin, two Ukrainian businessmen
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27 2006

12. DMYTRO FIRTASH, UKRAINIAN BILLIONAIRE NOBODY KNOWS
By Tom Warner in Kyiv, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27, 2006

Interfax-Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

14. UKRAINIAN OIL, GAS CO. CHIEF ACCUSED OF INCOMPETENCE
Oleksiy Ivchenko called “useless negotiator and cynical politician”
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
: By Alla Yeremenko
Zerkalo Nedeli, Kiev, in Russian Sat, 22 Apr 06; p 1, 3
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tue, Apr 25, 2006

15. IMPERIALIST GAS
Russia doesn’t want to “politicize” energy sales.

It just wants to use them to bully its neighbors.
LEAD EDITORIAL: The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 23, 2006; Page B06

16. IN RUSSIA, CORPORATE THUGS USE LEGAL GUISE
By Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.,
Thursday, April 20, 2006, Front Page Article
Three articles about Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company
A. ROSNEFT FLOTATION WOULD SPUR PUTIN ON
Planned public offering raises serious ethical and energy security issues
Through network of untransparent companies billions of dollars siphoned off
COMMENTARY: By George Soros
Financial Times, London, UK, Wed, April 26 2006
B. SAYING NO TO ROSNEFT
Planned stock market flotation of Rosneft, Russian state-owned oil group
EDITORIAL COMMENT:
Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27 2006
C. SOROS IS RIGHT TO BE SCARED OF RUSSIAN MONOPOLIES
VIEWPOINT: The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Thu, Apr 27, 2006
========================================================
1
. U.S. INVESTIGATES CRITICAL SUPPLIER OF RUSSIAN GAS
RosUkrEnergo AG supplies billions of dollars of gas to Ukraine
Europe’s Energy Security Is at Heart of Concerns; Opaque Ownership Queried

By Glenn R. Simpson and David Crawford
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

The Justice Department is investigating Rosukrenergo AG, the company that
supplies billions of dollars in Russian and Central Asian natural gas to
Ukraine, according to people in Europe and the U.S. with knowledge of the
inquiry.

Representatives of Swiss-registered Rosukrenergo and of Raiffeisen
Investment AG, a subsidiary of Vienna-based Raiffeisen Bank AG that holds
50% of Rosukrenergo’s shares for undisclosed owners, met recently with
investigators from the department’s organized-crime section at Justice
Department headquarters in Washington, these people said. They discussed
the company’s opaque ownership, though further details of what has drawn
the attention of U.S. officials remain unclear.

Spokesmen for Raiffeisen and Rosukrenergo declined to comment. Drew
Wade, a Justice Department spokesman in Washington, said he couldn’t
confirm or deny the existence of a criminal investigation.

Rosukrenergo, whose cloudy workings and ownership structure have been
attacked as a threat to Europe’s energy security and Ukraine’s political
stability, is now reconsidering plans for a public share offering that
would have required disclosure of the company’s true owners, people close
to the company said.

The other half of Rosukrenergo is owned by OAO Gazprom, the state-
controlled Russian gas titan. Officials from Gazprom, Russia and Ukraine
have denied they know the identities of the shareholders behind the
Raiffeisen stake.

The latest developments for the company — which has become a political
issue in Ukraine and has drawn concern from Western government officials —
are likely to heighten concerns among Western nations about the reliability
of Russian energy supplies amid high prices and growing tensions between
the West and the Kremlin.

The U.S. investigation is also likely to prove uncomfortable for Moscow
as it seeks to use its current Group of Eight presidency to champion energy
security, and could increase concerns in Western Europe over Gazprom’s
efforts to buy energy assets there.

On Wednesday, Gazprom warned European Union diplomats at a meeting in
Moscow against thwarting its efforts to expand into Western Europe, saying
in a statement that it could sell its gas supplies to China and North
America instead of to EU countries, which now get a quarter of their gas
from Russia. About 80% of that gas moves through Ukraine.

Doubts about Rosukrenergo’s ownership structure and affiliates prompted its
auditors to resign in November, according to a resignation letter from the
Vienna office of KPMG International that was obtained by Global Witness, a
London-based, left-leaning, privately funded nonprofit organization that
promotes the emerging world and investigates corruption, and that was
reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

In the letter, KPMG said Rosukrenergo may be part of a larger undisclosed
business group, presenting an unacceptable risk to KPMG’s reputation.
A KPMG spokesman said he was unable to comment.

Rosukrenergo is at the heart of a bitter political struggle in Ukraine,
where President Viktor Yushchenko has come under attack for giving the
company the central role in a deal with Gazprom to provide gas to Ukraine
in January. Mr. Yushchenko has defended the arrangement as the only way
to get an acceptable gas price for Ukraine, but opponents say it invites
corruption and opens Ukraine to influence by Gazprom and unidentified
businessmen.

In a lengthy forthcoming report, Global Witness provides new details about
the origins of Rosukrenergo, and assembles a 15-year history of arbitrage
by opaque middleman companies given the lucrative right to sell Central
Asian gas to Ukraine via Gazprom’s pipelines. people familiar with the
matter corroborated key details of its account.

The report says two other little-known companies with ties to Gazprom
received energy deals to convey gas to Ukraine, before Rosukrenergo. One of
the firms, Hungarian-registered Eural Trans Gas, has numerous ties to
Rosukrenergo, the group said. Among other things, Eural Trans Gas was
part-owned by an investment company where a British businessman named
Robert Shetler Jones served as a director. Mr. Jones was one of the primary
founders of Rosukrenergo. Spokesmen for Eural Trans Gas and Mr. Jones

had no comment.

Another Gazprom partner highlighted in the Global Witness report is Itera
Group, which played a similar role in selling gas to Ukraine. Itera is a
Russian company that has an affiliate in Florida. The company came under
investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2002, according to
an article at the time in Barron’s, which is published by Dow Jones & Co.,
publisher of the Journal.

The probe resulted in no charges, but the previous interest and the
affiliate’s presence in the U.S. could give the Justice Department jurisdiction

to inquire into Rosukrenergo affairs. An Itera spokesman in Florida didn’t
return a call for comment. -30-
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. SECRECY OF RUSSIAN-TURKMEN-UKRAINE GAS TRADE TO
EUROPE SHOULD BE STRIPPED: NEW GLOBAL WITNESS REPORT

Global Witness, London, UK, Monday, April 24, 2006

LONDON – A vital supply route for natural gas to the European Union is
dominated by mysterious business interests who have made huge profits while
keeping their identities mostly secret, according to a new report by Global
Witness.

‘It’s a Gas. Funny Business in the Turkmen-Ukraine Gas Trade’ charts a

trade linking the Central Asian dictatorship of Turkmenistan with Ukraine
and Western Europe.
The trade takes place against a backdrop of allegations about corruption
and organised crime in the former Soviet Union, and European fears about
access to safe and stable energy supplies.

‘It’s a Gas’ reveals detailed evidence showing that:

[1] Turkmenistan’s maniacal President Niyazov appears to keep his

country’s entire gas revenues offshore and out of the state budget, via
accounts at Germany’s Deutsche Bank;

[2] The gas trade has been dominated by mysterious intermediary

companies which appear from nowhere, turn tiny sums in capital into
billion-dollar deals and reveal little about their ultimate owners;

[3] Two top Ukrainian public officials held key positions at the latest
intermediary company, RosUkrEnergo AG, half of which is ultimately

owned by people who have refused to disclose their identities;

[4] A group of British businessmen who worked with RosUkrEnergo also

played key roles at its equally mysterious predecessor, Eural Trans Gas;

[5] Gazprom, the giant Russian gas firm which owns the other half of
RosUkrEnergo, has given away lucrative chunks of business in recent

years to mysterious third-party companies;

[6] Previously unpublished audits show a history of chronic mismanagement

at Ukraine’s state oil and gas company.

Global Witness campaigner Tom Mayne said: “Lack of transparency makes it
impossible for the people of Turkmenistan and Ukraine, or gas customers in
Western Europe, to know who really controls this trade and where the profits
go. In Turkmenistan, none of the gas money seems to even reach the national
budget.”

The report calls for Ukraine to make RosUkrEnergo reveal its beneficial
owners and carry out thorough audits of the country’s entire gas industry,
in the public interest.

The European Union, Ukraine and Russia should also work to promote
transparency in the gas trade in line with benchmarks like the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global initiative of energy
companies, government and citizen groups, and new IMF guidelines.

Mayne added: “The EU is forging a long-term strategy on how to source

and use energy. But this strategy won’t be credible unless it promotes
transparency and good governance in countries which supply Europe’s
energy, because instability in these countries could ultimately threaten
energy supplies.

The EU should also scrap plans to reward Turkmenistan’s dictator with a
trade deal, until he comes clean about his country’s gas revenues and shows
respect for the basic rights of his people.”

The new report can be downloaded from www.globalwitness.org. [NOTE:
This is a very important report. Be sure and read it. AUR EDITOR]
————————————————————————————————-
For more information contact Global Witness on +44 207 561 6361/6363/6364

or on cellphone +44 784 305 8756.

(1) Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural
resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in
all its countries of operation. Global Witness has been co-nominated for the
2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in uncovering how diamonds have

funded civil wars across Africa.

(2) Information on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which
brings together companies, governments and civil society around the world

to improve the disclosure and tracking of revenues is available at:
www.eitransparency.org . The IMF’s Guide to Resource Revenue Transparency
is available at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/grrt/eng/060705.htm .
—————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.globalwitness.org/press_releases/display2.php?id=349
—————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3. GAS FUNNY BUSINESS IN THE TURKMEN-UKRAINE GAS TRADE
Six major recommendations from the new report

REPORT: by Global Witness, London, UK, Mon, April 24, 2006

LONDON – This is the story of a trade that brings natural gas from the

Central Asian country of Turkmenistan through Russia and Ukraine to
the European Union (EU).

Far from being open to scrutiny by the citizens of these countries, this
trade has long been controlled by a handful of people and a series of
mysterious intermediary companies. Although the business is worth billions
of dollars a year, it is still unclear where much of this money goes.

The EU is increasingly reliant on gas supplies from the former Soviet Union.
The gas price dispute between Russia and Ukraine in the winter of 2005/6
sent shivers of anxiety across Europe that, in the depths of winter, the
continent might not get enough fuel to keep warm and power its industries.

Yet the dependence of EU countries on gas from Russia and Central Asia is
only likely to grow.

This report poses a difficult question for the EU and its neighbours: can
they meet their energy needs without funding corruption and undermining good
governance in the countries that supply or transport this energy? The time
has come for transparency in the natural gas trade, to the benefit of
citizens across the region.

REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS:

[I] — The governments of Russian Federation and Ukraine should:

[1] Require any companies employed in the transportation of Turkmen
gas to be transparent, independently audited entities that make public
the identities of all their shareholders and beneficiaries;

[2] Avoid the use of barter transactions in gas deals;

[3] Adopt best international practice in the publication, auditing and
citizen oversight of natural resource revenues, drawing on such models
as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Guide to Resource Revenue
Transparency.

[II] — The government of Ukraine should:

[1] Renew efforts to investigate alleged impropriety by government
officials and intermediary companies, publish the results of
investigations and, if wrongdoing is established, prosecute those
responsible;

[2] Publish full, independent audits of the state oil and gas company
Naftohaz Ukrainy for the years where information has not previously
been available (that is, for most of the company’s existence).

[III] — The government of the Russian Federation should:

[1] Show leadership on its G8 Presidency theme of energy security by
investigating all credible allegations of wrongdoing in its natural gas
sector and by endorsing and adopting best practice in revenue
transparency;

[2] Ratify the Energy Charter Treaty and its Protocols which would
provide for more transparent transit arrangements for gas and oil and
provide for a rules based approach to dispute resolution;

[3] Extradite former Naftohaz Ukrainy chairman Ihor Bakai to Ukraine
where he is wanted on charges of the misuse of state funds.

[IV] — The government of Turkmenistan should:

[1] Provide for a full, independent and published audit of all off-budget
funds and adopt best practice in disclosure and management of natural
resource revenues according to the EITI and the IMF Guide to Resource
Revenue Transparency.

[V] — The government of Germany (and the governments

of other EU member states) should:

[1] Tighten banking laws to prevent the use of domestic banks by foreign
public officials who, like President Niyazov of Turkmenistan, are not
subject to even a basic degree of public accountability for their use of
state funds.

[VI] — The European Union should:

[1] Not enter into any agreements with Turkmenistan, concerning trade
or otherwise, until its government makes a commitment to, and shows
measurable progress towards, implementing basic norms of fiscal
transparency as defined, for example, in the IMF Manual on Fiscal
Transparency and Guide to Resource Revenue Transparency;

[2] Recognise that good governance in neighbouring countries in the
former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa which provide
energy to Europe, whether as producers or transit countries, is
inextricably linked to the security of Europe’s energy supplies;

[3] Make the promotion of transparency and improved governance in
the energy industries of neighbouring countries a top policy priority.
This theme should be embedded in all the EU’s neighbourhood
agreements signed with resource revenue-dependent countries and in
the diplomatic, aid and trade activities of the EU and its member states.

This work should include capacity-building assistance to help civil
society groups in these countries act as independent monitors of their
energy industries;

[4 Encourage all resource revenue-dependent countries in Eastern
Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to join the EITI and
implement the provisions of the IMF Guide to Resource Revenue
Transparency and provide technical assistance to help them do so.
——————————————————————————————-
Global Witness is a British-based non-governmental organisation
which investigates the role of natural resources in funding conflict
and corruption around the world.

References to ‘Global Witness’ above and in the body of this report
are to Global Witness Limited, a company limited by guarantee and
registered in England and Wales.

This report is compiled, published and distributed by Global Witness
Publishing Inc. from the results of the investigations carried out by
Global Witness Limited and is used to brief governments, inter-
governmental organisations, civil society and the media.
——————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00088.html

FOOTNOTE: This is a very important report. Do not miss reading it.
————————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
4. GAS FIRM ROSUKRENERGO UNDER U.S. SCRUTINY

By Catherine Belton, Staff Writer, The Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 24, 2006. Issue 3399. Page 1.

MOSCOW – The U.S. Justice Department is investigating RosUkrEnergo,
the secretive gas trader that has a monopoly on billions of dollars in gas
sales to Ukraine, people familiar with the situation say.

The Swiss-registered company, half owned by Gazprom and half by
unidentified beneficiaries, has come under growing scrutiny after it landed
a lucrative role as Ukraine’s monopoly gas trader in a controversial Jan. 4
deal between Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart, Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has branded the deal a
threat to European and Ukrainian energy security, while one of her top
aides, Olexander Turchinov, has said he investigated the company for
possible links with international organized crime when he headed Ukraine’s
security service, the SBU, last year.

One person familiar with the situation said RosUkrEnergo executives two
months ago traveled to the United States, where “there was a conversation”
with Justice Department officials about the group’s structure.

While that source said there had been no follow-up since then, another
person with knowledge of the situation said U.S. officials had recently
requested information about RosUkrEnergo from the Austrian government.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank holds the 50 percent of RosUkrEnergo not owned
by Gazprom on behalf of the unknown beneficiaries.

Justice Department spokesman Drew Wade said he could not “confirm or
deny the existence of criminal investigations.” The Wall Street Journal
reported Friday that investigations were under way.

The company is expected to come under new pressure following the publication
Monday of a detailed report on Ukrainian gas deals by Global Witness, a
highly respected London-based nongovernmental organization that investigates
corruption in the natural resources sector.

A Global Witness investigation into the role of so-called blood diamonds in
funding armed conflicts in Africa helped kick-start the Kimberley Process
for closer monitoring of the global diamond trade, and led to the group
being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The report focuses on the new monopoly role taken by RosUkrEnergo and calls
on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko to clean up endemic corruption in
the energy sector. It also urges Russia to use its presidency of the G8 this
year to end the use of opaque intermediary companies in gas trading.

The Gazprom-Naftogaz Ukrainy deal highlights the threat posed to European
energy security by putting middlemen with a murky ownership structure in
control of supplies to Ukraine via Gazprom pipelines, the report says.
Europe relies on Russia for about one-quarter of its gas imports, and 80
percent of Russian exports to Europe pass through Ukraine.

“Without transparency there cannot be predictability, and without
predictability there cannot be security of energy supply,” says the 64-page
report, a copy of which was made available to The Moscow Times.

European concerns about energy dependence on Russia reached new heights
when Russia cut off supplies to Ukraine during a standoff over prices at the
beginning of the year, which led to shortfalls to Europe. In the Jan. 4
deal, RosUkrEnergo — previously an intermediary in Turkmen-Ukrainian
sales — gained a monopoly over all sales of Russian and Central Asian gas
to Ukraine.

Tymoshenko has criticized the deal, which almost doubled gas prices for
Ukraine, as a way for Russia to win back control over the country.

The Global Witness report delves into more than a decade of gas deals
between Turkmenistan and Ukraine involving intermediary gas traders with
unclear ownership structures.

Starting with the notoriously opaque regime of Turkmen President Saparmurat
Niyazov, Global Witness cites bank documents as showing that the vast
majority of the billions of dollars made by Turkmenistan in annual gas sales
never made it to the poverty-stricken country’s budget. Instead, it says,
they are kept in Frankfurt, in a Deutsche Bank foreign currency fund. Sole
control of the account rests with Niyazov.

From Turkmenistan, the report investigates a series of traders in
Turkmen-Ukrainian gas deals starting with Respublika, a company headed in
1994 by Igor Bakai, a businessman who was later an adviser to Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma.

Respublika was followed by independent gas producer Itera, which had close
ties to the Turkmen regime. Next was Eural Trans Gas, and finally
RosUkrEnergo. Unclear ownership of these middlemen has led to billions of
dollars in revenues being unaccounted for, the report says.

RosUkrEnergo was set up in 2004 to replace its discredited predecessor Eural
Trans Gas, but it has retained many of ETG’s directors, including three
British citizens, Robert Shetler-Jones, David Brown and Howard Wilson, the
report says.

Concerns over RosUkrEnergo’s ownership structure led KPMG to resign as the
trader’s auditor, Global Witness said Friday, citing a letter from KPMG to
RosUkrEnergo. “The political situation in Ukraine and various allegations
raised by the international press contain a risk of reputational damage to
our company. … An adequate assessment of these risks is not possible,”
says the letter obtained by Global Witness, which is dated Oct. 17, 2005.

ETG was founded in 2002 in a Hungarian village by Zeev Gordon, an Israeli
lawyer who for more than 20 years has represented Semyon Mogilevich, a
Ukrainian-born suspected organized-crime boss wanted by the FBI.

Gordon told Global Witness that he had been asked to set up ETG by Ukrainian
citizen Dmitry Firtash, the director of Highrock Holdings, a Cyprus-based
holding company.

Global Witness said Firtash was also the chairman of Nitrofert, a fertilizer
plant in Estonia, which shares the same trading company as Crimean Soda
Plant, which is owned by Shetler-Jones. The trading company, ACI Trading,
has the same Cyprus-based nominee shareholders as a series of investment
vehicles that owned ETG in 2004. The investment vehicles were directed by
Shetler-Jones and Brown, the report says.

When reached by telephone Friday, Shetler-Jones, who has held a position on
the coordinating committee of RosUkrEnergo, refused to comment on the
Global Witness and Wall Street Journal reports.

Turchinov said in an interview in Kiev last month that his investigations
into RosUkrEnergo and ETG had uncovered the involvement of Mogilevich,
Kuchma and Firtash. Turchinov has said the investigation was closed down
after Tymoshenko was fired last September and he stepped down as SBU chief.

The current chief of the SBU, Igor Drizhchany, however, has denied there was
ever any criminal investigation into RosUkrEnergo by the SBU under
Turchinov.

While Yushchenko has stood by the Jan. 4 gas deal, Tymoshenko has
called for it to be canceled.

The rift between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko over the deal was a major
campaign issue in last month’s Ukrainian parliamentary elections and is
hampering attempts to build a new government coalition out of the
Western-leaning parties run by the two former leaders of the Orange
Revolution. Tymoshenko’s party came in second in the elections; she
wants to be prime minister again.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Friday that so far there was no
alternative to retaining RosUkrEnergo as the broker in the Ukrainian gas
deal. He said RosUkrEnergo’s business was “transparent enough,” while
Gazprom’s stake in the trader was transparent too. The ownership of the
other 50 percent, he said, was a question for Ukraine.

“We clearly defined our position,” he said, referring to Gazprom’s calls
earlier this year for Ukrainian gas monopoly Naftogaz Ukrainy to buy the
stake.

Naftogaz has said, however, that it has not received any response to its
proposals to buy the stake. Naftogaz president Oleksiy Ivchenko told a news
conference in Kiev on Friday that his inquires into who was behind the stake
had reached a dead end.

“Should Ukraine seek further explanations? Yes, we have made requests to
various institutions, including Gazprom, one of RosUkrEnergo’s owners,” he
said, Reuters reported.

When contacted by telephone Friday, Wolfgang Putschek, an executive at
Raiffeisen Investment Group and a director of Centragas, the Vienna-based
entity through which the unknown beneficiaries control half of RosUkrEnergo,
declined to comment and referred all calls to Merlin, a London-based PR
agency that represents Centragas. Michael Rommel, a director at Merlin,
refused to comment Friday.

Putschek has said RosUkrEnergo would disclose its ownership structure in
advance of an initial public offering of its shares this year, and that
Raiffeisen had signed off on its due diligence before agreeing to hold the
RosUkrEnergo stake. He has denied any links to organized-crime structures.

————————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/04/24/001-full.html
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5. UKRAINIAN POLITICAL DISAGREEMENTS RE-EMERGE OVER
NATURAL GAS DEAL STRUCK EARLIER THIS YEAR WITH RUSSIA

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Disagreements between Ukraine’s “Orange” leaders over a natural gas deal
struck earlier this year with Russia resurfaced on Tuesday as one of the
chief obstacles to forming a new governing coalition.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and the leading candidate to
head a new cabinet, on Tuesday lashed out at prosecutors who were seeking to
detain and question two of her allies in a case that stems from the roles
they played last year investigating the secretive company at the centre of
the gas deal, RosUkrEnergo.

Ms Tymoshenko promised during her campaign to annul the gas deal, a move
that Russia has warned could lead to a new round of supply cuts similar to
the one in January that interrupted the supply of Russian gas across Ukraine
to consumers in other European countries.

The dispute had been moved to the back burner in recent weeks as Ms
Tymoshenko sought to convince the president, Viktor Yushchenko, to rally
support for the coalition. However, in a speech on Tuesday she appeared
enraged by the attempts to arrest her allies and accused the deputy
prosecutor general in charge of the case, Viktor Shokin, of being part of a
conspiracy aimed at wrecking the coalition.

Ms Tymoshenko said her supporters would “tear down the prison” if her allies
were jailed and called on Mr Yushchenko to intervene to contain his allies.
He shot back by issuing a statement that called on prospective coalition
partners to “refrain from the language of blackmail and ultimatums”.

The prosecutor general’s office confirmed it was seeking to detain Olexander
Turchinov, Ms Tymoshenko’s campaign manager, and Andry Kozhemyakin, a
Tymoshenko bloc candidate, in order to bring them in for questioning because
they had not come in to testify voluntarily.

However, the two men were regarded as witnesses, not as suspects, and there
were no plans to detain them for longer than the questioning, a spokesman
said.

Prosecutors want to ask the two men about the alleged disappearance of
documents from the files of the SBU national security police last year, when
Mr Turchinov headed the SBU and Mr Kozhemyakin was an investigator who
worked on the RosUkrEnergo case.

Mr Shokin and the current SBU chief have alleged that a large file on Semyon
Mogilevich, a reputed crime boss who is on the FBI’s most wanted list, was
found missing.

Mr Turchinov and Mr Kozhemyakin have said they merely archived old material
on Mr Mogilevich on microfiche. They claim Mr Shokin is seeking retribution
against them for having investigated RosUkrEnergo, a Swiss-registered
company which is owned half by Russia’s Gazprom and half by unnamed
beneficiaries.

Mr Turchinov’s investigation of RosUkrEnergo included an examination of
suspicions that Mr Mogilevich indirectly controlled the company. The company
has said repeatedly that it has no relationship with Mr Mogilevich. -30-

————————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/b1224180-cef6-11da-925d-0000779e2340.html
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
6. UKRAINE LEADER YUSHCHENKO ADVISED TO PROBE GAS DEAL

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 21 2006

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko must investigate the companies at
the heart of a controversial natural gas deal with Russia or risk
undermining his pro-western reform drive, according to a hard-hitting

report from Global Witness, the respected human rights group.

In a report due out on Monday, the UK-based watchdog will say the lack
of transparency around gas supplies from Turkmenistan to Ukraine by
RosUkrEnergo, a secretive Swiss-registered company part-owned by
Gazprom of Russia, also threatens the security of gas supplies to Europe.

In adding its voice to the controversy surrounding RosUkrEnergo, Global
Witness is increasing the political pressure on Mr Yushchenko, who is
currently embroiled in tense coalition talks with the leaders of other
pro-western political parties, some of whom are keen to annul the gas deal.

The report will also put pressure on the European Union, which, Global
Witness will say, must “recognise that good governance in neighbouring
countries . . . which provide energy to Europe, whether as producers or
transit countries, is inextricably linked to the security of Europe’s energy
supplies”.

“If we’re not confident about the sources of funding [for gas] and how it is
going to get to Europe, we’re going to be in a difficult position 10 years
down the line,” warned Tom Mayne, one of the report’s authors.

The report is the latest part of Global Witness’s campaign against
corruption in the natural resources sector, which, the group argues, is
often linked to human rights abuses. The report details conditions in
Turkmenistan, where imprisonment and torture of dissidents are said to be
commonplace.

Global Witness describes how it was unable to get a definitive answer on the
outcome of an investigation announced last year by the SBU national security
police into the activities and owners of RosUkrEnergo.

The SBU said last year it suspected the company was controlled by an
organised crime group. RosUkrEnergo strongly denies the claim.

After a change of leadership in September, the SBU told Global Witness no
such investigation had existed, while others claimed the probe was
suppressed.

“Against the background of this confusion, critics might question
Yushchenko’s political will to confront . . . opaque and unaccountable
business practices,” the report says.

Mr Yushchenko has said that Russia chose RosUkrEnergo to supply Ukraine’s
gas and gave him no other option. He has accused the former SBU chief who
investigated RosUkrEnergo of supporting a different intermediary company.

RosUkrEnergo declined to comment on the Global Witness report or on
whether it had any plans to reveal its owners. -30-

————————————————————————————————-
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/31a95b4e-d0d3-11da-b160-0000779e2340.html
————————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7. “FAREWELL TO ROSUKRENERGO”
AUSTRIAN BANK MAY LEAVE RUSSIA-UKRAINE GAS CONSORTIUM

EXCERPT FROM REPORT: By Renate Graber, Der Standard Website,
Austrian newspaper, Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, April 25, 2006
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006

Raiffeisen Investment AG may well withdraw from the gas transport consortium
RosUkrEnergo, the trustees now reveal themselves. Raiffeisen banker Herbert
Stepic says: Audits are already stricter in the East because of BAWAG and
Hypo Alpe-Adria [Austrian banks now under investigation].

Herbert Stepic, head of Raiffeisen International (RI, the quoted East bank
holding company of the Raiffeisen sector), does not believe Raiffeisen
Investment AG (Riag) will be a participant in RosUkrEnergo much longer. “I
am not a decision-maker there, but I am assuming Riag will withdraw once the
true owners have introduced themselves in public,” Stepic said on Monday [24
April] at the Economic Journalists’ Club in Vienna.

The shares in the gas transport consortium RosUkrEnergo, which is registered
in Switzerland and plays a substantial role in the gas dispute between
Russia and Ukraine, are held in equal parts by Russia’s Gazprombank and (on
a trustee basis) by Riag, but Stepic says the trustees want to “soon go
public” as to whom they are holding the shares for, a fact not previously
revealed.

Regarding the assumption repeatedly made (also by the United States) that
Semyon Mogilevich, wanted by the FBI on suspicion of money laundering and
extortion, could be behind this, Stepic commented: “Everything was examined
by professionals, no criminal background and no close relationship with Mr
Mogilevich were found. The government authorities of Ukraine and Russia have
always known who the owners are.”

Now it is also known by the Austrian supervisory agency FMA, which was
informed this year in response to an inquiry.

Why do the owners want to reveal themselves at this particular time? Stepic:
“There is a new government in Ukraine, and the interim contracts for the gas
deliveries expire in the summer. Now there are new rules of the game.”

He described the reason for the involvement in the gas transport company as
follows: “Raiffeisen has a good name in Russia and Ukraine and supports the
negotiations of the two contracting parties as a mediator, so to speak. When
Riag entered into the trustee relationship in early 2004, that was an
entirely normal business deal. But then we got caught up in the maelstrom of
the election discussions in Ukraine.” [Passage omitted]

As regards its own plans in Ukraine, RI reportedly made a decision at the
end of May: It either sells its subsidiary there to the best bidder (“We
have very interesting offers”), or Raiffeisen Ukraine will be merged with
the bank Aval acquired in 2005. -30-
———————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. OWNERS OF UKRAINE’S GAS TRADER ROSUKRENERGO REVEALED
“What we still don’t understand is what these men bring to the table.”

Stephen Boykewich, Staff Writer, Moscow Times
Moscow, Russia, Thursday, April 27, 2006. Issue 3402. Page 1.

MOSCOW – Gazprom’s Izvestia newspaper announced with a flourish

Wednesday that two Ukrainian businessmen, Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin,
were the beneficiaries behind the mysterious other half of RosUkrEnergo.

Citing what it said were excerpts of a PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of the
secretive gas trader, the newspaper named the men in a front-page article
written in a sarcastic, anti-American tone that attempted to link them to
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

The audit named Firtash and Fursin as the owners of Centragas, a company
that owns the 50 percent of RosUkrEnergo not owned by Gazprom. Centragas

is held by Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank for beneficiaries who had refused to be
named.

Centragas confirmed Izvestia’s report in a statement late Wednesday, saying
Firtash owned a 90 percent stake in Centragas, and Fursin a 10 percent
stake.

Firtash is director of the Cyprus-based investment company Highrock
Holdings, as well as board chairman of Estonian fertilizer factory
Nitrofert, according to anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness. Fursin owns
an Odessa bank and a movie theater, and is also president of a branch of
Highrock Holdings, according to Izvestia.

Izvestia said Highrock was owned by Semyon Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-born
businessman wanted by the FBI and reputed to be a major figure in organized
crime.

The revelation came after Gazprom had for months redirected inquiries about
RosUkrEnergo’s ownership to Ukrainian officials.

Yet the article appeared to raise far more questions than it answered — in
particular, about the timing and motives behind its publication.

Written under the name “Vladimir Berezhnoi,” the article attacked the U.S.
Justice Department, which was reported last week to be investigating
RosUkrEnergo’s then-unknown beneficiaries.

“The internal problems of their own country, evidently, have long since been
resolved (the only thing left is to execute the terrorist Moussaoui), and
thus they have the time and desire to meddle in other people’s affairs,” the
Izvestia article said.

Several staff members at Izvestia contacted by telephone Wednesday
identified Berezhnoi as a freelance writer. But a source at Izvestia said on
condition of anonymity that Berezhnoi did not exist, and that the article
had been written by an Izvestia staff member under a pseudonym after a
Gazprom representative showed him the PwC audit.

A search of Izvestia’s archives revealed no other articles published under
the name Vladimir Berezhnoi, and a Russian-language Internet search revealed
no articles in other publications written by a journalist of that name.

Galina Zhukova, a member of Izvestia’s editorial staff, asked that questions
for Berezhnoi be submitted to her by e-mail, and said that Berezhnoi would
reply the same way if he chose to respond. Questions submitted by e-mail had
not been answered by late Wednesday evening.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov confirmed that Gazprom had possession

of the PwC audit of RosUkrEnergo, though said he could not comment on how
Izvestia had seen it. He also said the revelation of Centragas’ beneficiaries in no
way changed Gazprom’s position.

“We have already said that our partner in the project is Raiffeisen, and
that all other questions should be directed to the Ukrainian side,”
Kupriyanov said. “As for our part, we’ve always been open and transparent.”

A PwC spokeswoman confirmed that the company had audited RosUkrEnergo

but could not provide details.

Earlier this week, Raiffeisen said it would likely withdraw from the
arrangement under which it holds 50 percent in RosUkrEnergo once the
beneficiaries came forward, according to a report published Tuesday on the
web site of the Austrian newspaper Der Standard.

“I am assuming Raiffeisen will withdraw once the true owners have introduced
themselves in public,” Herbert Stepic, head of Raiffeisen International,
said Monday.

There has been much speculation about Firtash’s possible connection to
RosUkrEnergo. A report published this week by Global Witness, which was
nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work tracking corruption in the
natural resources sector, noted that Firtash had registered and was closely
associated with Eural Trans Gas, another secretive gas trader that served as
the immediate predecessor to RosUkrEnergo.

“It obviously clarifies who these people are,” Tom Mayne, a researcher at
Global Witness, said by telephone from London. “What we still don’t
understand is what these men bring to the table.”

Mayne also said the revelation would likely increase pressure on Yushchenko
to explain why RosUkrEnergo had been given exclusive rights as Ukraine’s gas
trader.

Many observers have questioned why the trader was being employed at all,
rather than having Gazprom sell gas directly to Ukrainian gas monopoly
Naftogaz Ukrainy.

The Jan. 4 deal that ended the gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine has
been a major bone of contention between Yushchenko, who has denied any
knowledge of who is behind RosUkrEnergo, and former Prime Minister Yulia
Tymoshenko, his erstwhile Orange Revolution ally.

Tymoshenko has accused Yushchenko of concealing his knowledge of
RosUkrEnergo’s beneficiaries, while Yushchenko has fired back that critics
of the trader only want it replaced with their own favored company.
Yushchenko’s spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment
Wednesday.

The Ukrainian government will make official decisions regarding the gas
trader only after the PwC audit is officially published, Fuel and Energy
Minister Ivan Plachkov said Wednesday, Interfax reported.

“We have signed contracts, we are satisfied with the price. … Ukraine will
work and consume gas, just as agreed,” Plachkov said.

Izvestia sought to stress purported links between Firtash and the Ukrainian
president, saying Firtash was friends with former presidential aide
Alexander Tretyakov.
It also related Ukrainian media reports that Firtash had endeared himself to
the president by flying Yushchenko’s American relatives to Kiev for his
inauguration.

But Ukrainian political commentator Boris Pogrebinsky said the links were
tenuous. Firtash’s arranging the flight is “the only information known to me
from any source making some connection” between the two, Pogrebinsky said.

Pogrebinsky also said that while Tymoshenko might seek to use the
information as a way to press her case to regain the prime minister’s job,
there would be little public reaction in Ukraine — even if Yushchenko were
publicly linked to Firtash and Fursin.

“But the public doesn’t react harshly to indications of corruption. This is
far too complicated a matter for the general public,” Pogrebinsky said.
———————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/04/27/004.html

———————————————————————————————-
FOOTNOTE: Many Ukrainian analysts in Washington are not sure that
Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin only represent themselves in the owner-
ship of RosUkrEnergo. It is believed by many that these two Ukrainians
represent themselves and also other Ukrainians who are actually involved
in the ownership structure and who receive fund when the billions in
profits are distributed at the end of the day. AUR EDITOR
————————————————————————————————–
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. TWO UKRAINIAN BUSINESSMEN LINKED TO MURKY RUSSIAN-
UKRAINIAN GAS VENTURE REPORTS RUSSIAN NEWSPAPER

AP Worldstream, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, April 26, 2006

Two Ukrainian businessmen are among the main beneficiaries of a secretive
Russian-Ukrainian natural gas venture thrust into the spotlight during a New
Year’s price dispute that briefly cut gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe, a
Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

The daily Izvestia, citing documents it said were from auditing company
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, said Kiev basketball club owner Dmytro Firtash and
Ivan Fursin, owner of a Ukrainian bank, owned 90 percent and 10 percent,
respectively, of a company called Centragas Holding AG.

In turn, it said, Centragas owns half of RosUkrEnergo, which is central to a
deal that eased the impact of a drastic hike in gas prices proposed for
Ukraine by Russia and its state-controlled gas monopoly, OAO Gazprom.

The other half of RosUkrEnergo is owned by Gazprom.

The complicated deal – and the murky ownership structure of RosUkrEnergo

in particular – prompted wide criticism of Ukrainian President Viktor
Yushchenko’s government, even as it helped settle a bitter price dispute
that caused a temporary drop in supplies to Europe when Russia turned off
the taps to Ukraine.

Izvestia reported that Firtash is a representative of a company called
EuralTransGas, registered in Budapest, Hungary, where it said he lives most
of the time, and that he was on friendly terms with a former top aide to
Yushchenko, Oleksandr Tretyakov.

Gazprom acquired a majority stake in Izvestia last year.

Fursin, who unsuccessfully ran for parliament last year, is the owner of a
bank in the Black Sea city of Odessa and a film studio, according to the
newspaper.

It also said Fursin is president of a branch of Highrock Holdings Ltd., a
company it said is owned by Semyon Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-born Russian
citizen and reputed organized crime figure who is wanted by the FBI and
whose name has been linked with RosUkrEnergo in media reports.

A RosUkrEnergo representative said earlier this year that the company had no
connection with Mogilevich.

Efforts to contact both Firtash and Fursin were unsuccessful. A woman who
answered the phone at the Kiev basketball club refused to comment, and
Fursin could not be immediately located.

Gazprom initially demanded Ukraine pay US$230 (A195) per 1,000 cubic meters
of gas, more than a fourfold increase. The face-saving deal reached in early
January called for RosUkrEnergo to buy Russian gas at that price and sell
Ukraine a mix of Russian and Central Asian gas at US$95 (A80).

Questions have since been raised over whether the agreement will prove
sustainable, and the secrecy surrounding RosUkrEnergo also undermined
Russian claims that the agreement marked a shift to transparency after years
of opaque gas trade practices. -30-

————————————————————————————————–
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10. UKRAINE MYSTERY SOLVED: OWNERSHIP OF ROSUKRENERGO

Reuters, Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

MOSCOW – Two influential Ukrainian businessmen were named Wednesday

as the owners of a one-half stake in RosUkrEnergo, a mysterious company
that controls Ukraine’s gas imports.

Citing audit documents, the newspaper Izvestia said Dmitry Firtash – who has
in the past played a role in importing gas from Turkmenistan to Ukraine and
owns a Kiev basketball club – and Ivan Fursin, a banker, were the beneficial
owners of the 50-percent stake.

Raiffeisen Zentralbank in Austria confirmed the names, saying it was holding
the stake on their behalf.

In an e-mailed statement, the bank said Centragas Holding, a company based
in Vienna, “is a joint owner of RosUkrEnergo.” Firtash owns 90 percent of
Centragas and Fursin holds the other 10 percent, the statement said.

Raiffeisen said in the past that it held the stake as trustee but declined
to disclose the names of the owners.

Firtash, who reportedly spends most of his time in Hungary, could not be
reached immediately for comment. Fursin also was not reached.

RosUkrEnergo bounced into the public eye when it was named as the go-between
in a deal to resolve a gas pricing dispute between Russia and Ukraine which
interrupted supplies to Europe over the New Year.

Russia’s state-controlled monopoly Gazprom owns the other 50 percent of
Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo.

The U.S. Justice Department’s organized crime section reportedly opened a
probe into RosUkrEnergo, with diplomatic and financial sources saying that
Raiffeisen had cooperated by providing information on the company.

Izvestia, which is owned by Gazprom, published extracts from an audit report
by PricewaterhouseCoopers that named the two men as owners of Centragas.

Ukraine’s energy minister, Ivan Plachkov, was quoted by Interfax- Ukraine
news agency as saying that Kiev may review the January gas deal because of
the revelation.

RosUkrEnergo’s sales in 2005 were around $3.5 billion and it made profits of
$500 million from the sale of about 40 billion cubic metres of gas,
Raiffeisen has said. That makes it one of Europe’s largest gas marketers.

The disclosures come as concern grew that Ukraine, which is the transit
route for 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe, was tolerating
opaque gas deals, even after the “Orange Revolution” of 2004, that
jeopardize regional energy security.

Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz, is struggling to pay for gas
imports following the January gas deal, under which the import price Ukraine
must pay nearly doubled to $95 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Naftogaz has been unable to pass on the gas price increase to consumers and,
according to local media reports, ran up losses of at least $500 million in
the first quarter of 2006.

Firtash also figures prominently in a recent report by Global Witness, a
non- governmental organization that campaigns against corruption involving
natural resources, on the structures through which Turkmen gas has been sold
to Ukraine.

Global Witness warned that Europe’s energy security was threatened by the
opaque nature of gas supply deals in the former Soviet states. -30-
————————————————————————————————-

FOOTNOTE: Many Ukrainian analysts in Washington are not sure that
Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin only represent themselves in the owner-
ship of RosUkrEnergo. It is believed by many that these two Ukrainians
represent themselves and also other Ukrainians who are actually involved
in the ownership structure and who receive fund when the billions in
profits are distributed at the end of the day. AUR EDITOR
————————————————————————————————
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. ROSUKRENERGO HITS AT CRITICS BY NAMING OWNERS
Names Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin, two Ukrainian businessmen

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27 2006

RosUkrEnergo, the secretive energy trader that dominates gas supplies from
Central Asia to Europe, yesterday revealed its beneficial owners in a move
aimed at countering mounting international concern about its ownership.

The Swiss-registered trading company, which earlier this year won
billion-dollar contracts to supply gas to Ukraine and other European
countries, named Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin, two Ukrainian businessmen,
as the owners of a 50 per cent stake. The other 50 per cent is held by
Gazprom, the Russian energy group, whose shareholding was publicly known.

By disclosing its Ukrainian owners, RosUkrEnergo was seeking to take some of
the pressure off Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, whose government has
been criticised for giving the company exclusive rights to transport central
Asian gas across Russia.

At the Russian Economic Forum in London earlier this week Alexander
Medvedev, Gazprom deputy chief executive, was questioned about
RosUkrEnergo’s ownership and responded that it was an issue for the
authorities in Kiev and not in Moscow.

RosUkrEnergo was the principal beneficiary of the settlement of a
contractual dispute this year between Russia and Ukraine, when Moscow
briefly cut gas supplies to its southern neighbour. Acting as an
intermediary, the company now supplies gas worth about $10bn (Euro8bn,
£5.6bn) a year at current prices, with two-thirds going to Ukraine and the
rest to the European Union.

The ownership details were disclosed yesterday in Izvestia, the Russian
daily newspaper owned by Gazprom. Merlin, RosUkrEnergo’s London-

based public relations company, later confirmed the accuracy of the report
in a phone conversation with the FT.

The newspaper quoted a report by PwC, RosUkrEnergo’s auditors, which
identified Mr Firtash as 90 per cent owner and Mr Fursin as 10 per cent
owner of Centragas Holding, an Austrian-registered company that owns the 50
per cent stake.

Mr Firtash controls chemicals plants in the former Soviet Union and has been
involved in gas trading since 2001. Mr Fursin is the chairman of Misto, a
small Ukrainian bank. Both have close associates involved at senior levels
in Ukrainian politics.

The confirmation that Mr Firtash was the main owner of the stake is unlikely
to quell the speculation that has engulfed RosUkrEnergo ever since the
company commenced operations in 2005. In a parliamentary debate earlier this
year it was alleged that Semyon Mogilevich, a reputed organised crime boss
who is on the FBI’s “most wanted” list on charges of being involved in a
stock fraud, is involved in the company.

Last year the then head of Ukraine’s SBU national security police said he
was investigating suspicions that Mr Mogilevich indirectly controlled
RosUkrEnergo.

Mr Firtash was previously involved in two other gas traders, Highrock
Holdings and Eural Trans Gas, together with Zeev Gordon, an Israeli lawyer
who also represents Mr Mogilevich. Mr Gordon was a nominal shareholder of
Eural in 2002-2004 and set up an Israeli subsidiary of Highrock in 2001.

Mr Gordon said in a telephone interview yesterday that Mr Mogilevich, who is
believed to live outside Moscow, denies any involvement in RosUkrEnergo. Mr
Gordon also said he had not met Mr Firtash through Mr Mogilevich.
—————————————————————————————————-
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/bc326650-d58a-11da-93bc-0000779e2340.html

—————————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12. DMYTRO FIRTASH, UKRAINIAN BILLIONAIRE NOBODY KNOWS

By Tom Warner in Kyiv, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dmytro Firtash, the 40-year-old Ukrainian who was identified yesterday as
effectively owning 45 per cent of RosUkrEnergo, could be the world’s most
secretive billionaire.

He has never given a published interview. Until now, he has never had his
name and photograph published together. But his name often appears in
Ukrainian and Russian media, which had frequently linked him to RosUkrEnergo
and to two other gas traders, Eural Trans Gas and Highrock Holdings, which
are no longer active.

In the 1990s, Mr Firtash and his wife Maria built up several small companies
in their home town of Chernivtsy, the largest of which was Kmil, which ran
trucks, traded commodities and produced packaged food.

They also had a residence in Berlin and co-owned a German trucking company,
MDF Transspeditions, which they quit in 2000.

Mr Firtash’s fortunes changed dramatically in 2001 after he became director
of the Cyprus-registered Highrock Holdings, which occupied a newly
refurbished office building on Moscow’s glitzy Novy Arbat. The company acted
as a barter agent between Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state oil and gas company, and
Turkmenistan.

Two years later his career took another leap when the Hungarian-registered
Eural Trans Gas secured exclusive contracts to supply Turkmen gas to
Ukraine. After RosUkrEnergo took over those contracts in 2005, Eural
revealed that Mr Firtash was its main beneficial owner.

Mr Firtash has also been named in local media as a beneficial owner of three
Ukrainian chemicals plants, Crimean Soda, Crimean Titan and Rivneazot.

————————————————————————————————-
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/97afedb2-d589-11da-93bc-0000779e2340.html
————————————————————————————————
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT WANTS OFFICIAL
DOCUMENTS ON INVOLVEMENT OF UKRAINIAN CITIZENS
IN GAS INTERMEDIARY ROSUKRENERGO
INTERFAX-UKRAINE, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006
KYIV – The Ukrainian presidential secretariat hopes to get official
documents the Izvestia newspaper referred to in saying that Ukrainian
citizens are involved in RosUkrEnergo A.G.

The presidential secretariat reports all reliable information on RosUkrEnergo.

The attention of the press service was drawn to an article in the Izvestia
newspaper that Ukrainian citizens are involved in RosUkrEnergo
with reference to a report by the PricewaterhouseCoopers international
audit company.
In this connection, the secretariat of the president will use all legal ways
to get official documents,” the secretariat of the Ukrainian president told
Interfax-Ukraine on Wednesday.

“President [Yuschenko] has marked that Ukrainian state establishments or
officials are not among founders or owners [of RosUkrEnergo],” the press
service said. -30-

————————————————————————————————
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14. UKRAINIAN OIL, GAS CO. CHIEF ACCUSED OF INCOMPETENCE
Oleksiy Ivchenko called “useless negotiator and cynical politician”

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY: By Alla Yeremenko
Zerkalo Nedeli, Kiev, in Russian Sat, 22 Apr 06; p 1, 3
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tue, Apr 25, 2006

A serious weekly has launched a scathing attack on Oleksiy Ivchenko, the
head Ukraine’s state-run oil and gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny. The paper
called him a “useless negotiator and cynical politician” and suggested he
was largely responsible for the company’s dire financial situation. It also
accused him to tackle alleged financial fraud within Naftohaz.

The article features an interview with Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk, who
criticizes financial documents produced by Naftohaz, saying they lack
concrete plans.

The following is an excerpt from the article by Alla Yeremenko published in
the Ukrainian weekly Zerkalo Nedeli on 22 April; subheadings have been
inserted editorially:

If only Zerkalo Nedeli had known that in order to prove the unscrupulousness
of [head of oil and gas monopoly Naftohaz Ukrayiny] Oleksiy Ivchenko it was
necessary not to get hold of the agreements and protocols hidden from the
government and causing losses to Ukraine, but merely to say that Ivchenko
had bought himself the latest Mercedes with Naftohaz money.

If the paper had only known that in order to prove his uselessness as a
negotiator and primitive cynicism as a politician, it was necessary not to
check Ivchenko’s statements and those by his opponents – [Russian gas
monopoly] Gazprom and [Turkmen President Saparmyrat Nyyazow] Turkmenbashy –
that refute his words, but simply take the Naftohaz chief’s comment
regarding the Mercedes, in which he showed himself in his true colours to
the whole country.

If the paper had only known that the president of Ukraine [Viktor
Yushchenko] was worried only by the Mercedes story, then it would not have
written in detail about how the company under Ivchenko’s leadership was
unswervingly moving towards financial disaster.

But we did not know all that. What is more, we realized why the president
continued to keep in the job a person with such a level of competence,
despite the position of almost the entire government, the prime minister and
the opposition.

The story of the Mercedes and Ivchenko’s entry into parliament on the
[pro-presidential] Our Ukraine list helps the president partly to have done
with the story of Ivchenko’s chairmanship. And given a proper choice of
successor to the post of chairman of the company, to maintain the existing
gas schemes as well.

The Mercedes has been sold and Ivchenko is almost dismissed, but colossal
problems remain.

After our paper (and some like-minded people) insistently drew attention to
the lack of transparency of the 100 per cent state-owned national
joint-stock company Naftohaz Ukrayiny, to the ever growing external debt for
credits and a mass of other looming troubles, on 27 December last year
President Viktor Yushchenko also took an interest in Naftohaz for a while
and issued a decree prescribing in particular the holding of a joint check
on Naftohaz by the Security Service of Ukraine and the Main Auditing
Directorate.

The object of interest was the effectiveness of the use of credits obtained
by Naftohaz in 2004-05. By raising the topic not point by point, but in a
concentrated form, our paper raised the question: “Who will answer and how
for the credits of Naftohaz Ukrayiny?” (see Zerkalo Nedeli No 6 published on
18 February 2006). And already then we described the basic nuances of the
credit-discrediting biography of Naftohaz.

PROBE FINDS NAFTOHAZ IN SORRY SHAPE
As soon as on 7 March the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Ihor
Drizhchanyy, sent a letter to President Viktor Yushchenko with a more
detailed account of the finance and credit position of the biggest national
oil and gas company.

The letter compiled as a result of the check by the Auditing Directorate and
the Security Service said in particular:
“Over the period in question Naftohaz Ukrayiny had attracted from seven
non-resident banks and five resident banks credit funds to the value of
20,197.2m hryvnyas [almost 4bn dollars], including long-term credits of
9,484.2m hryvnyas [about 1.8bn dollars] and short-term credits of 10,713m
hryvnyas [over 2bn dollars]. [Passage omitted: breakdown of how much money
lent by which non-resident banks]

Naftohaz Ukrayiny obtained the credit resources to replenish its working
capital and carry out payments for imported natural gas. The loans were
provided by non-resident banks against collateral of all the company’s
assets and by resident banks against collateral of the property rights to
the proceeds from selling natural gas.

An analysis of the company’s financial and economic activity shows that it
depended on long-term obligations in 2004 to 58.3 per cent, and in 2005 to
97.6 per cent. For use of the credit funds over 2004-05 Naftohaz Ukrayiny
paid out interest amounting in total to 320.6m hryvnyas, or 62.1m dollars.

Because of the shortage of its own working capital, the company is not in a
position to carry out its obligations at the expense of its own assets
without external loans, which renders the company dependent on creditors and
makes it impossible to expand production and pay back the debts on time.

Taking account of all this, the overall financial and economic situation of
Naftohaz Ukrayiny is in crisis and seen as unstable.
[Passage omitted: danger of bankruptcy]

Proceeding from the above, the SBU deems it expedient:
– to make it mandatory for Naftohaz Ukrayiny to get the consent of the
Finance Ministry, the Economics Ministry and the Justice Ministry of Ukraine
prior to obtaining loans and their conditions;
– for the Fuel and Energy Ministry of Ukraine urgently to develop a set of
measures to improve the financial health of the company… [ellipsis as
published]”

It is worth noting that the version of Drizhchanyy’s letter sent to the
president differs somewhat from the original draft, which suggested, for
example, specific staffing changes in the management of Naftohaz.

On 13 March the president instructed Prime Minister [Yuriy] Yekhanurov “to
conduct an in-depth analysis of the state of affairs of Naftohaz Ukrayiny
and develop an effective programme for improving its financial health”.

On 15 March the prime minister in turn instructed nine state officials,
including Fuel and Energy Minister [Ivan] Plachkov, Economics Minister
Arseniy Yatsenyuk; Security Service Chairman Drizhchanyy; State Property
Fund Chairwoman [Valentyna] Semenyuk and also Ivchenko, “in accordance with
the requirements of the president of Ukraine to conduct an in-depth analysis
of the state of affairs at Naftohaz Ukrayiny and make coordinated proposals
to improve the financial and economic position of the company… [ellipsis
as published] The deadline for this is 6 April 2006.”

As far as I understand, the Security Service head had done all he could even
before that. Fuel and Energy Minister Plachkov is a clear ally of his former
deputy and Naftohaz head Ivchenko. So it looks as if it was none other than
Ivchenko himself who dealt with the “improvement” measures in Naftohaz.

As a result of this, it must be supposed that the Cabinet of Ministers
received the same basic composite financial indicators instead of the
expected financial plan together with coordinated proposals to improve the
company’s financial and economic position.

FINANCE MINISTER’S DISPLEASURE
And there clearly is something that needs improving in Naftohaz. It is not
for nothing that on 19 April the consideration of the company’s financial
plan for 2006 ended up with nothing – “for further work to be carried out” –
apart from the scandal with [Finance Minister] Viktor Pynzenyk.

After the failure of Naftohaz’s financial plan, the company’s head,
Ivchenko, not mincing his words, said “Go on listening to Pynzenyk’s
position and the diarrhoea that he is spouting. The finance minister should
not do that.” In a word, here is Mr Ivchenko the way he is. And none of the
finance minister’s conclusions produced the due effect on him.

Meanwhile, Pynzenyk apart from criticizing “the basic financial indicators”,
also confirmed that Naftohaz Ukrayiny did indeed have a problem with cash
flows, since its income and expenditure did not coincide in time.

However, in that case the movement of funds should be reflected in the
relevant documents. “I want to see a month: income, expenditure and movement
of funds. We see cash shortages and then we understand for what period and
what amounts they need to be given permission to obtain credit,” Pynzenyk
said.

Apart from that, the Finance Ministry stated that in principle it would
change its approach to financial plans, both of Naftohaz and of other state
enterprises. [Passage omitted: high wage costs in Naftohaz]

Naftohaz has what appears at first glance to be a modest affiliate,
Naftohazobsluhovuvannya [Oil and gas services]. It is in charge of
Naftohaz’s fleet of cars. But that is only the icing on the cake. Under the
pretext that the company is in tax security, Naftohaz does not buy cars
directly.

Its affiliate enterprise and departments buy them. And Naftohaz rents all
this stuff from them at the usual prices, even higher than usual prices –
93m hryvnyas [over 18m dollars] for 2005 (for that money they could have
bought 40 Rolls Royces with moderate fittings.

Although, if you get down to it, Naftohaz is renting it all from itself. But
it is written off as expenditure. And that is only the rental. For example,
the rental of Ivchenko’s newly sold Mercedes would have cost the company
(which in essence owns it) 45,000 hryvnyas [under 9,000 dollars] a month.
Then there is also servicing. For a simple check-up of a new car, Naftohaz
easily spent 5,000 dollars.
NO GAS SUPPLIES FROM TURKMENISTAN
It looks as if Ivchenko did not manage to get to grips with the
Naftohazpostach [oil and gas supplies] company either. And why was that?
Well, who will check how expensive is the equipment – often second-hand –
that this “daughter” sells to Naftohaz? And who will check that the
isolation layer on pipes being laid is twice as thin as agreed, declared and
paid for by Naftohaz?

Just as nobody checks how much gas is really used in the country and how
much as in olden days is written off as losses, etc. Why is it that the
balances of gas consumers and gas sellers do not match up?

There are many other strange things in Naftohaz, which our wise men have not
even heard of. The strangest things are in the foreign economic activity of
Naftohaz. For example, Ivchenko recently, emotional as ever, assured
everyone that Naftohaz was regularly receiving Turkmen gas. No problems with
supplies, apparently.

Only he forgot to add that there was only one supplier, Rosukrenergo, to
which Naftohaz already owes a considerable amount. True, the head of
Naftohaz also denies the fact that the debt actually exists and believes in
the reliability of Ukraine’s sole gas supplier.

According to our information, it is all not as rosy as Ivchenko portrays it.
To be more accurate, it is exactly the opposite. Turkmen gas did not arrive
in Ukraine in the first quarter and the Ukrainian side to a considerable
extent has not paid Rosukrenergo.

What is more, Gazprom in the person of the deputy chairman of the board,
Aleksandr Medvedev, has announced a possible price rise. And Rosukrenergo is
not ruling out the possibility that prices for Ukraine may change from June.

Despite this, Ivchenko sees no prerequisites and grounds for raising prices
and refers to the agreements and contracts signed. It is possible that
before winter the Russians, in particular from Rosukrenergo, will not start
taking radical actions, but as the cold weather draws closer, they will
certainly say: “Winter… [ellipsis as published]”

[Passage omitted: danger of Gazprom taking over Ukraine’s gas transportation
system; quote from Ivchenko’s 2005 interview in Zerkalo Nedeli]

“I’m not going anywhere,” Ivchenko said at a news conference on Friday [21
April]. He said that his leaving Naftohaz depended on who would head the new
government. In other words, on whether he will be able to keep the existing
gas scheme untouched or not.
INTERVIEW WITH FINANCE MINISTER PYNZENYK
In order to get all the details right in the Finance Ministry-Naftohaz
quarrel over financial indicators, our paper asked Ukrainian Finance
Minister Viktor Pynzenyk to comment.

[Yeremenko] Mr Pynzenyk, after preliminary consideration of the Naftohaz
Ukrayiny financial plan, you said that that this was no sort of financial
plan for the company. Why do you believe this? And what then did the cabinet
consider at its 19 April sitting?

[Pynzenyk] Naftohaz Ukrayiny presented the government with what they call
basic financial indicators. But the law envisages that a government
resolution should be backed precisely by a financial plan rather than basic
financial-economic indicators of the national joint-stock company. Clear-cut
criteria for the compilation of such a plan are set out in writing. Naftohaz
did not bother to present anything of the sort.

[Yeremenko] Was that why you as finance minister were against approving the
document?

[Pynzenyk] Definitely: this is the position of the Finance Ministry and it
is entirely justified, since Naftohaz Ukrayiny does not have a financial
plan.

[Yeremenko] But apart from that, if I’m not mistaken, you found
discrepancies even in those indicators of the financial documentation that
were presented by Naftohaz. What did they consist of?

[Pynzenyk] If one looks at the financial indicators of Naftohaz and at how
they are compiled, it is obvious that income and expenditure do not tally.
In connection with this, a legitimate question arises: what is considered
income and what expenditure?

[Yeremenko] Then clarify please how do you consider it and how does
Naftohaz?

[Pynzenyk] The problem here is not with me or Naftohaz. Because when the
income and expenditure of any company, i.e. any business activity, is being
planned, they present what expenditure is essential for production and what
income they can expect to receive as a result.

In Ukraine, unfortunately, this is often not taken into account. And not
only in Naftohaz; it’s just that in this company it is manifested in the
most critical dimension. They have revenue and there is a concept of losses,
i.e. the wish to spend what they don’t have. [Passage omitted: expanding
this]

[Yeremenko] For example, there was the S-class Mercedes costing 215,000
dollars.

[Pynzenyk] This story became public knowledge, and that’s maybe not a bad
thing. But there are also more substantial intentions of Naftohaz. Without
having resources, the company plans to invest 2bn hryvnyas abroad. From what
sources? From the profit of 500m plus amortization payments?

Then there are capital investments. Last year Naftohaz had 3.6bn hryvnyas of
them and this year they want to invest 6bn.
[Passage omitted: this is clearly unsound thinking]

[Yeremenko] What about the 400m dollars invested in the United Arab
Emirates?

[Pynzenyk] If I’m not mistaken, the amount there was 1.922bn. And it’s the
same problem as in the Russian Federation, only plus, probably, nuances of
the local oil and gas business.

[Passage omitted: new rules mean that Naftohaz has to get Finance Ministry
approval for new loans]
NAFTOHAZ TRYING TO AVOID PAYING TAX
[Yeremenko] Naftohaz is asking for a deferment of payments to the budget for
six months. The Finance Ministry is opposed. Why?

[Pynzenyk] To start with, we proposed that Naftohaz reduce the gap between
real income and planned (unjustified) expenditure, including investments in
various companies. That meant reducing it by 6bn hryvnyas. Naftohaz does not
agree with this. What is more, it does not even want to pay taxes to the
budget either.

But given financial planning, they would already be part of the company’s
plan. We agreed to go for tax privileges, but on condition that that
Naftohaz spending was reduced. However, Naftohaz wants to get excessive
credits while not paying taxes at the same time.

[Yeremenko] Naftohaz is relying on the fact that in connection with the
scrapping of the VAT zero rate on gas, it will have a temporary gap in
payments to the budget. Formerly there was a VAT zero rate, and there was no
such problem, so it goes.

[Pynzenyk] The thing is that VAT is a tax not on the company, but on the
consumer, that should immediately go into the budget. It is not part of
Naftohaz income. The income of Naftohaz is the price of gas.

Technically the company pays the tax when gas is sold, but VAT does not form
part of the price of the energy source; it is counted on top of it, and so
does not belong to Naftohaz. [Passage omitted: expanding this]

[Yeremenko] What sum are we talking about?

[Pynzenyk] Unless I’m mistaken, it’s something in the order of 5-6bn
hryvnyas [about 1bn dollars]. And it will be extremely problematic to make
up for it to the budget from other sources.

[Yeremenko] What is the restructuring of payments for income payments for
oil and gas extracted according to Naftohaz?

[Pynzenyk] I really don’t know what Naftohaz can gain in this case. The
budget law envisages privileges and subsidies for the population. They are
paid out by the Finance Ministry, as determined by law (for five years now),
from revenues from income payments. Money is returned to Naftohaz from

those funds in the form of privileges and subsidies.

So, if Naftohaz stops making income payments to the state budget, the
Finance Ministry will simply be forced, in accordance with the requirements
of the law, to stop payments of privileges and subsidies to Naftohaz.

So, will Naftohaz or the state budget be the winner? -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15. IMPERIALIST GAS
Russia doesn’t want to “politicize” energy sales.
It just wants to use them to bully its neighbors.

LEAD EDITORIAL: The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 23, 2006; Page B06

RUSSIAN FOREIGN policy seems to grow more aggressive with each
week that President Vladimir Putin serves as chairman of the Group of
Eight nations, which consists of seven rich industrial democracies and
his own resource-exporting autocracy.

Last week the chairman of the state-controlled gas exporter, Gazprom, which
provides a quarter of the European Union’s supply, crudely threatened E.U.
governments that his company will sell its product in other markets unless
they give way to its “international ambitions.”

The chairman, Alexei Miller, was reacting to reports of British unease at
the possibility that Gazprom might seek to purchase Britain’s largest gas
company. With a cynicism reminiscent of former Soviet bureaucrats, Mr.
Miller denounced supposed Western attempts to “politicize questions of gas
supply,” even though Mr. Putin is overtly using Gazprom and its
near-monopoly control of energy and pipelines to restore Moscow’s dominion
over neighbors such as Belarus and Armenia.

Lacking Soviet military might or a large economy, Mr. Putin now describes
Russia as an “energy superpower.” He offered a taste of what this might mean
in January, when he personally ordered a cutoff of gas to Ukraine — which
had the temerity to reject his candidate in a presidential election — even
though this also meant a shortage of gas in Vienna, Rome and Berlin. Given
Mr. Putin’s consolidation of power at home and stated regret over the
collapse of the Soviet empire, there is good reason for disquiet over
Gazprom’s acquisition strategy.

As for the politicization of economic markets, Europeans wondering about
Russia’s intentions need look no farther than Georgia and Moldova, two
former Soviet republics that, like Ukraine, have attempted to consolidate
democracies and establish independence from Moscow. Late last month Russia
abruptly banned the import of their wines, even though these supply more
than 40 percent of the Russian market and account for a large part of the
two countries’ foreign exports.

The health reasons cited by Russian officials were unserious; the real
reason was the Kremlin’s ire over arguments by Georgia and Moldova that
Russia should not be allowed into the World Trade Organization until it
stops supporting separatist regimes on their territories and removes troops
it was bound to withdraw years ago.

Mr. Putin’s attempts to strangle Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and to
consolidate control over Belarus haven’t slackened even as he prepares to
host President Bush and the other G-8 leaders at a St. Petersburg summit
this summer. In fact he clearly hopes the summit will ratify Russia’s return
as a global power with the right to its own sphere of influence. President
Bush has resisted suggestions that he short-circuit this by skipping the
summit or proposing Russia’s removal from the G-8.

His administration did, however, take a little-noticed but important step
last week toward pricking Mr. Putin’s inflated ambitions. At a G-8 meeting
in Moscow, U.S. and European diplomats insisted that Belarus, Georgia and
Moldova be added to the agenda for discussions at preparatory meetings
leading up to the summit. That should make it hard for Mr. Putin to exclude
a review of his bullying at the summit itself.

If St. Petersburg can become the forum at which Western leaders make clear
they will not accept Russia’s use of economic blackmail or military force to
dominate its neighbors, or its backing of a dictatorship in Belarus, then
the summit might be worth having after all. -30-

—————————————————————————————————-
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/22/AR2006042201026.html
——————————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16. IN RUSSIA, CORPORATE THUGS USE LEGAL GUISE

By Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.,
Thursday, April 20, 2006, Front Page Article

MOSCOW — The general director of the Na Ilyinke catering company was

very much alive when his coffin arrived. “In memory of dear Alexei Alexeyevich
Likhachev,” read the message on a ribbon attached to an accompanying wreath.
“We will never forget you.”

The empty pine coffin, draped in red cloth, was delivered to the company’s
central Moscow office by a courier service. Soon the phones began to ring as
shareholders, who had received telegrams inviting them to a memorial
service, called about poor Alexei’s unexpected passing.

For the owners of Na Ilyinke, the ghoulish stunt carried an unspoken
message: Sell or else, according to Oleg Gubinsky, a shareholder and head of
the company’s legal team. “It was an opening move,” Gubinsky said.

Na Ilyinke is the target of a new breed of Russian financial predator, one
that hunts in lesser-known parts of the country’s booming economy: small and
medium-size companies. Often the goal is not the company itself, but the
real estate it occupies, acquired in the privatizations of the early 1990s.

In those days, people wanting to take over a company often simply sent

armed thugs to occupy it. The new raiders employ some of that old-style
intimidation, but dress it up in legality by teaming with corrupt lawyers,
accountants, judges, bureaucrats and police to exploit weaknesses in
Russia’s fledgling corporate legal system, Russian lawmakers and
entrepreneurs say.

Typically the raiders are politically connected developers and their allies
in the bureaucracy. Their activity is drawing attention at the highest
levels of the government, where officials fear it undermines Russia’s
investment climate and adds to the sense that rule of law remains illusory
in the country.


“Honest business people and property rights should be protected,” President
Vladimir Putin told an audience of prosecutors in February. He added that
the criminal seizure of property was destabilizing the country.

In Soviet days, Na Ilyinke was the government-owned catering facility for
the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party. Located in downtown
Moscow, it was also a center of social life and shopping for the party
elite. Its basement held a supermarket carrying such hard-to-find products
as Coca-Cola; senior party officials held wakes and receptions on its
premises, which at one point had a tunnel to the nearby headquarters of the
KGB.

During the waning days of the Soviet Union, Likhachev ran the place as a
government employee. After the collapse of the communist state, he and a
team of investors bought it and turned it into a private company, a
hand-over similar to other privatization deals that took place all over
Russia in the 1990s.

Today, its staff of 60 continues to run cafeterias in government buildings,
including the former party building across the street that became the office
of the presidential administration.

Na Ilyinke’s prime fixed asset is its 130,000-square-foot headquarters.
Given its choice location, real estate experts estimate it would fetch at
least $35 million as is, and much more if refurbished and converted into
luxury offices or apartments.

Gubinsky said he had suspicions as to who the raiders were, but no proof. He
believes that the real estate value is what drew their interest; he and the
other owners foresee rehabbing the building themselves but think the timing
isn’t quite right.

The delivery of the coffin spooked Likhachev, an elderly man. He sold his
shares to two colleagues, Gubinsky and Ilya Dyskin, who had the spirit to
fight the raiders’ next moves. One occurred at a private depository company,
where Na Ilyinke stores its official documents that list its shareholders.

Last September, a Ukrainian citizen named Sergei Shevchuk came to the firm
and presented a power of attorney document that indicated he had the legal
right to manage the shares of Gubinsky and Dyskin.

Shevchuk then sold the shares, 58 percent of the company’s total, to Tamara
Tobiya, another Ukrainian. Three days later Tobiya sold them again, to a man
named Evgen Halynski, who provided a Warwick, N.Y., address on official
forms.

The Warwick address, it turns out, is a dry-cleaning shop. A person who
answered the phone there said there was no one named Evgen Halynski living
or working in the building. And no one responded to messages left at the
Brooklyn, N.Y., address of a man by that name. Both Shevchuk and Tobiya,

who worked at a stall at an open-air market in Moscow, later vanished.

None of this was known at Na Ilyinke, Gubinsky said, until after a letter
arrived from the depository last fall informing it of the company’s new
ownership structure. “It was like thunder from a blue sky,” Gubinsky said.

The rightful shareholders quickly secured an investigation by the Federal
Financial Markets Service. A report it issued last November documented the
fraudulent sales and concluded that the power of attorney document that set
them in motion had been forged. The agency suspended the transactions and,
in January, revoked the license of the depository company, according to
agency documents, on grounds it should have tried to ascertain that the
power of attorney was real.

“We know about maybe 1,000 cases a year, but the real scale of these attacks
is probably closer to 10,000 or 15,000,” said Gennady Gudkov, head of a
parliamentary working group examining the issue. “This problem is almost
impossible to solve in a corrupt state.”

“Big business can usually protect itself,” said Yuri Glotser, head of the
Federation for the Protection of Entrepreneurs’ Rights in Moscow. “Smaller
businesses are much more vulnerable, and their property can be worth a lot
of money.”

In Na Ilyinke’s case, the fraudulent share sale was just one element of the
attack. Last year it also found itself fighting off three separate court
orders. Each one followed a pattern: Legal papers would arrive at the
company informing it that a judgment had been returned against it, in a
proceeding that the company was entirely unaware of. The company then had to
respond with its own attorneys.

One order was issued by a court in St. Petersburg and another by a court in
Moscow, freezing the company’s assets, Gubinsky said. The third originated
in the city of Tuva, near the border with Mongolia. A court there ordered
the company to vacate its Moscow building, saying it had been leased to a
Tuva company. The person listed as the Tuva firm’s director turned out to be
a student at the local agricultural college.

Gubinsky estimates the company has spent $300,000 defending itself. The
multiple attacks in the courts are a pretext to establish some legal basis
to send security guards to seize the building, Gubinsky said. If they
successfully occupy the targeted property, the police typically tell the
ejected party to go to court and fight it there.

As a defense, Na Ilyinke’s building now resembles an armed camp. An alarm
system at the front entrance can trigger the closing of steel doors that
seal off all sections of the building. The rear entrance has a large steel
gate and is surrounded by barbed wire. “If you lose physical possession of
your property, you are in serious trouble,” Gubinsky said. “So far, we’ve
kept them out.”

Other owners wish they’d taken such precautions. Near Moscow’s Kiev railroad
station, a group of prominent artists is battling in the courts to get back
light-filled studios that were seized last April by private security guards
after the ownership of the studios was re-registered in what the artists
call a fraudulent transaction.

The studios would fetch millions if converted to penthouse apartments. “It
was monstrous,” said Lev Tabenkin, a painter who was forced out after the
raiders persuaded a court to issue an eviction order. “I don’t understand
our system.”

In January, Rinat Kudashev, general director of a former state institute
that designs pipelines and other facilities for transporting oil and gas,
was escorted out of his offices by about 30 private guards. The previous
November, he said in an interview, one of the institute’s minority
shareholders called a meeting without the knowledge of Kudashev or the
company’s two majority shareholders and merged the business with another
company. The original two companies were then liquidated.

Vitaly Semyonov, general director of a Moscow transportation company, said
his company has been raided 31 times by different government agencies, the
orchestrated prelude to a $10 million offer for a business that he values at
$25 million. He rejected the offer, he said, not only because it was low,
but because what the raiders really wanted was the land his business sits
on — and they intended to lay off his 1,000 workers. He remains ensnared in
several court actions.

“In the ’90s, your enemy operated openly and you knew how to defend
yourself,” Semyonov said. “I was shot by bandits who wanted our business,
but we survived. Today I’m facing Oxford-educated lawyers.” -30-

————————————————————————————————-
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/19/AR2006041902376.html?sub=AR
——————————————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17. SAYING NO TO STOCK MARKET FLOTATION OF ROSNEFT
Three articles about Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil company
A. ROSNEFT FLOTATION WOULD SPUR PUTIN ON
Planned public offering raises serious ethical and energy security issues
Through network of untransparent companies billions of dollars siphoned off

COMMENTARY: By George Soros
Financial Times, London, UK, Wed, April 26 2006

The planned initial public offering of Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil
company, on the London Stock Exchange raises serious ethical and energy
security issues.

The ethical issues are relatively straightforward. The main asset of Rosneft
is the Yugansk oilfield that was acquired from Yukos when that company was
assessed for back taxes and its assets were auctioned off. But it was not
acquired directly. The auction was won by an unknown Russian company that
sold itself within days to Rosneft.

The transaction was widely believed to have been engineered by President
Vladimir Putin’s powerful aide, Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin, and it was
financed by compliant Russian banks. The unknown owners made an unknown
amount of money on the transaction. Part of the IPO proceeds would go to
repay the Russian banks.

The question is, should an IPO be allowed to go forward without disclosing
the pertinent information; indeed, should it be allowed to go forward at
all? To argue that it will improve transparency ignores the fact that
Rosneft is an instrument of state that will always serve the political
objectives of Russia in preference to the interests of the shareholders. Is
Rosneft willing to put this into the prospectus?

The energy security issue is more complicated and requires some explanation.
When the Soviet system disintegrated, the energy sector was privatised in a
chaotic fashion. Devious transactions were perpetrated, such as the loan for
shares scheme, and enormous fortunes were made.

When Mr Putin became president, he used the power of the state to regain
control of the energy industry. He put the president of Yukos, Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, in jail and bankrupted the company.

Mr Putin put his own man, Alexei Miller, in charge of Gazprom and pushed out
the previous management that had built a private fiefdom out of Gazprom’s
properties. The president did not dissolve the fiefdom, however, but used it
to assert control over the production and transportation of gas in the
neighbouring countries.

This led to the formation of a network of untransparent companies that
served the dual purpose of extending Russian influence and creating private
wealth. Billions of dollars were siphoned off over the years. The most
valuable asset was the gas of Turkmenistan, part of which was resold by a
company registered in Hungary at a multiple of the price at which it was
bought.

While the ownership of Eural Trans Gas was never disclosed, the decisions to
give it contracts were made jointly by Mr Putin and the then president of
Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma. I believe that was one reason why Mr Putin exposed
himself so publicly in backing Mr Kuchma’s nominee, Viktor Yanukovich, for
president of Ukraine in 2004.

After the Orange Revolution, the contract with Turkmenistan passed into the
hands of RosUkrEnergo, a company with obscure ownership set up by
Raiffeisenbank of Austria.

At the start of 2006, Russia cut off the gas supply to Ukraine. Ukraine, in
turn, tapped into the gas that was passing through Ukraine on its way to the
rest of Europe. This caused an uproar in Europe and forced Russia to restore
supplies to Ukraine; but in the subsequent settlement Russia gained the
upper hand.

It promised gas supplies at reduced prices through RosUkrEnergo for six
months, but Ukraine committed itself to fixing the transit fees for five
years. After six months, Russia will be able to exert political pressure on
Ukraine by threatening to raise gas prices. Russia already exercises
considerable influence over Belarus.

The result is that Europe is relying for a large portion of energy supplies
on a country that does not hesitate to use its monopoly power in devious and
arbitrary ways. Until now, European countries have been competing with each
other to obtain supplies from Russia. This has put them at Russia’s mercy.
Energy dependence is having a major influence on the attitude and policies
of the European Union towards Russia and its neighbours.

It will serve the national interests of the member states to develop a
European energy policy. Acting together, they can improve the balance of
power. In the short run, Russia is in the driver’s seat: an interruption of
gas supplies disrupts European economies immediately while an interruption
of gas revenues would affect Russia only with a delay. In the long run, the
situation is reversed. Russia needs a market for its gas and few
alternatives exist as long as Europe sticks together.

Europe could tell Russia that if it wants to maintain and increase its
market in Europe, it must agree to a change in conditions by ratifying the
European Energy Charter and the Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative. This would turn the pipelines into highways, break up the
Russian gas monopoly and inhibit the currently prevailing devious
arrangements.

Energy security is on the agenda of the forthcoming Group of Eight meeting
in St Petersburg. If the Rosneft IPO went forward, it would consolidate and
legitimise a state of affairs that is detrimental to Europe’s energy
security and weaken the EU’s hand in negotiating better conditions with
Russia. -30-
————————————————————————————————
The writer is the author of “The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War
on Terror” to be published by Weidenfeld and Nicholson in early July

————————————————————————————————
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/360e76c4-d4c0-11da-a357-0000779e2340.html
=====================================================
B. SAYING NO TO ROSNEFT
Planned stock market flotation of Rosneft, Russian state-owned oil group

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 27 2006

The planned stock market flotation of Rosneft, the Russian state-owned oil
group, presents investors with an unprecedented opportunity to buy into
Russia’s oil riches. But it is an offer that raises profoundly uncomfortable
political, legal and moral questions.

As George Soros, the financier, wrote in yesterday’s Financial Times,
Rosneft is above all an instrument of the Russian state, which will retain a
majority stake and management control. The Kremlin will be happy to see
Rosneft make money – but the drive to maximise profits will be tempered by
pressure to achieve other policy aims.

The experience of Gazprom might persuade many investors the risks of state
control are worth taking – that in Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian Russia it
is best to have Kremlin protection. Certainly, Gazprom shareholders have had
little reason to complain, with the market value soaring from $10bn to
$250bn (£139bn) in five years.

However, Kremlin protection comes at a price. State-controlled companies
reserve the right to withhold crucial information, such as details of
Gazprom’s deal with Ukraine. Outside shareholders can expect to have little
say in senior appointments, as top jobs go to political favourites such as
Igor Sechin, the Rosneft chairman and Mr Putin’s deputy chief of staff.

Nor will investors have much influence if they find fault with these
appointees, especially in questions of incompetence or corruption. The
Kremlin alone will decide. Investors who question companies aggressively may
be harassed and even barred from Russia, as William Browder, a fund manager
and Gazprom shareholder, has discovered to his cost.

In the longer term, investors should not forget that state-owned industry
has a baleful record nor that Russia is prone to dramatic political
upheavals. The shareholders of the Yukos oil group profited greatly under
former president Boris Yeltsin.

Under Mr Putin, the company has been bankrupted and Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
its founder, jailed for fraud. The state seized Yukos’s main asset in lieu
of unpaid tax and sold it to Rosneft.

Yukos shareholders have pledged to fight the Kremlin. It will be a hopeless
battle, but it could mire Rosneft – and its future shareholders – in years
of unsavoury litigation.

Investors must also consider the moral dimension. They will be denounced by
Yukos shareholders as receivers of stolen goods. The charge is simplistic.
Mr Khodorkovsky made his fortune through one arbitrary state act – an
untransparent privatisation – and lost it in another – a
Kremlin-orchestrated tax probe.

Both acts were unjust. The state first cheated the Russian people and then
robbed Mr Khodorkovsky and his fellow shareholders. Now, in an equally
arbitrary way, it is inviting outsiders to share in the spoils. It will
indeed be a fabulous feast. But there will be unquiet spirits at the table.

————————————————————————————————
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/2306b57a-d58b-11da-93bc-0000779e2340.html
=====================================================
C. SOROS IS RIGHT TO BE SCARED OF RUSSIAN MONOPOLIES

VIEWPOINT: The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Thu, Apr 27, 2006

The word from Moscow is not to expect a bid from Gazprom for Centrica any
time soon, but don’t expect the tale to go away.

Gazprom has an ambition to supply 20% of the British gas market, and so the
comments by George Soros yesterday on the true nature of Russia’s
state-controlled energy companies deserve to be heard.

His prime concern is the danger of allowing Rosneft, the oil company, to
float in London, but his analysis applies equally to Gazprom. Both companies
are in effect controlled directly by Moscow.

This is what Soros said: “Europe is relying for a large portion of energy
supplies on a country that does not hesitate to use its monopoly power in
devious and arbitrary ways.”

Gazprom’s heavy-handed, and widely condemned, act of turning off the taps to
Ukraine in January is the prime piece of evidence.
To that, we could add last week’s warning from Gazprom’s chief executive
that “no good results” would follow if the company was denied its ambition
to expand in Europe.

The argument here is very simple. Gazprom is not a normal company. It’s a
monopoly supplier that wants to restrict access to its own markets and is
not afraid to adopt bullying tactics abroad.

The question of whether Gazprom should be allowed to buy British, or other
European assets, is not an argument about protectionism. It is about the
wisdom of relying on a company that doesn’t play by standard rules and
pursues political ambitions.

This point has apparently yet to be appreciated by the government if it is
really true that Tony Blair has ruled out ministerial interference in any
future Gazprom bid for Centrica, Britain’s biggest home-owned utility.

Such a hands-off policy would be taking belief in open markets to an absurd
extreme. Soros’s solution – common European resolve to force Russia to agree
binding agreements on supply – sounds far more sensible.

The sooner the government accepts this the better – before we wake up to
find that Gazprom has raided the market for 10% of Centrica’s shares.

————————————————————————————————
[ return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
“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
Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only
Additional readers are welcome.
========================================================
SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
“SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”
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.
All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
“UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
========================================================
UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
========================================================
ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Holodomor Commemorative Exhibition Collection
“Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1. THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Chairperson; Vera M. Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4. ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX 77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM – Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
17. VADIM GORBACH, Consultant, Washington, D.C.
========================================================
TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,
and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net. If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected.
========================================================
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
mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com; www.SigmaBleyzer.com
========================================================
Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#689 Bells Ring, Candles Lit, Tears Fall, Mourners March, Memories Stirred, Liquidators Remembered 20 Years After Chornobyl Nuclear Tragedy

========================================================
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

CHORNOBYL +20 – PART IV

APRIL 26, 1986 – APRIL 26, 2006
20th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster
(Chornobyl +20 – Part I, AUR#685, Friday, April 07, 2006)
(Chornobyl +20 – Part II, AUR#687, Monday, April 24, 2006)
(Chornobyl +20 – Part III, AUR#688, Tuesday, April 25, 2006)
BELLS RING, CANDLES LIT, TEARS FALL,
MOURNERS MARCH, MEMORIES STIRRED
LIQUIDATOR’S REMEMBERED

ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 689
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C., WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 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. 20 YEARS LATER, UKRAINE, A COUNTRY OF 47 MILLION, TRIES
TO MAKE SENSE OF CHORNOBYL TRAGEDY
Associated Press, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

2. HAUNTING VIGILS MARK 20 YEARS SINCE CHERNOBYL DISASTER
Agence France-Presse, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wed, April 26, 2006

3. MOURNERS, CANDLES MARK CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY
Reuters, Slavutych, Ukraine, Wednesday April 26, 2006

4. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL BLAST
President Yushchenko joined mourners at the night-time vigil
BBC News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

5. U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH STATEMENT ON THE 20TH
ANNIVERSARY OF CHORNOBYL DISASTER
Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 25, 2006

6. US HELSINKI COMMISSION CONVENES HEARINGS ON CHORNOBYL
Embassy of Ukraine to the USA, Washington, D.C. Tue, April 25, 2006

7. CHERNOBYL EXPLODED USSR
By Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

8. COULD CHERNOBYL HAPPEN AGAIN?
Jim Heintz, Associated Press Writer, Moscow, Russia, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

9. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY
Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

10. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tue, April 25 2006

11. FIRST AT CHERNOBYL, BURNING STILL
By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
New York, New York, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

12. CHERNOBYL’S DEATH TOLL
LEAD EDITORIAL: Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22 2006

13. HELL ON EARTH:
CHERNOBYL WAS WORLD’S WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER

Twenty years on, John Vidal reports on the clean-up, the false medical records,
the communities that refused to leave and the continuing cost to people &planet
John Vidal, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 26, 2006

14. UKRAINE PRES URGES INTL AID FOR CHERNOBYL-HIT REGION
Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 24, 2006

15. CHERNOBYL: 20 YEARS, NO END IN SIGHT TO THE SUFFERING
John Vidal and Mark Milner, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

16. CANADA TO GIVE $8MILLION CANADIAN DOLLARS MORE
FOR BUILDING CHERNOBYL REACTOR SHELTOR
Associated Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tue, April 25, 2006 .

17. CHERNOBYL: THE GERMANY SYNDROME
COMMENTARY: Essay By Michael Miersch
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

19. DECLARED DEAD AFTER CHERNOBYL, NUCLEAR LIVES AGAIN
FEATURE ARTICLE: By Jeremy Lovell
Reuters News Service, London, UK, Friday, April 21, 2006

20. COMMEMORATION OF THE CHERNOBYL DISASTER:
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE TWENTY YEARS LATER
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 – 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.
The Kennen Institute, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

21. 20th ANNIVERSARY CHORNOBYL COMMEMORATION
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AND REQUIEM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7 PM, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Group, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

22. CHORNOBYL: THE NEXT GENERATION
Conference, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, April 29, 2006, 9 a.m.
Chornobyl: The Next Generation” Coalition, Chicago, Illinois, April 2006

23. LEGACY OF THE CHORNOBYL DISASTER, TWENTY YEARS ON
Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)
Australia, Thursday, April 20, 2006

24. UKRAINE’S CHERNOBYL PLANT STAFF MOURN COLLEAGUES
By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, 21 Apr 2006

25. BELARUS SCIENTIST JAILED FOR CRITICISING HANDLING
OF CHERNOBYL DISASTER ARRIVES IN FRANCE
Agence France-Presse, Gmtylon, France, Saturday, 22 April 2006
========================================================
1
. 20 YEARS LATER, UKRAINE, A COUNTRY OF 47 MILLION, TRIES
TO MAKE SENSE OF CHORNOBYL TRAGEDY

Associated Press, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian mourners carried single red carnations and
flickering candles during a solemn ceremony early Wednesday to remember
the 1986 Chornobyl explosion, an event that continues to scar the country 20
years later.

The April 26, 1986, pre-dawn explosion became the world’s worst-ever nuclear
accident, ripping off the nuclear power plant’s roof and spewing radioactive
fallout for 10 days over one million square kilometres of the Soviet Union
and Europe. It cast a radioactive shadow over the health of millions of
people; many believe it also contributed to the eventual collapse of the
Soviet Union.

“My friends were dying under my eyes,” said Konstantyn Sokolov, a
68-year-old former Chornobyl worker whose voice was hoarse from
throat and lip cancer.

Sokolov was among hundreds gathering for a middle-of-the-night ceremony
Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital, which President Viktor Yushchenko
attended. Sokolov said his memories of that time “are very terrible.”

In Kyiv, bells tolled 20 times starting at 1:23 a.m. local time, marking the
time of the explosion at Reactor No. 4 at the Chornobyl nuclear power
station. Orthodox priests led the mourners in a somber procession.

Closer to Chornobyl in Slavutych – the town built to house Chornobyl workers
displaced in the accident – the commemorations began an hour earlier to
coincide with Moscow time, which was used in Ukraine at the time of the
accident. Residents laid flowers and placed candles at a monument dedicated
to Chornobyl as sirens blared.

Death tolls connected to the blast remain hotly debated, as do the long-term
health effects.

At least 31 people died as a direct result of trying to keep the fire from
spreading to the plant’s three other operating reactors. One plant worker
was killed instantly and his body has never been recovered. Twenty-nine
rescuers, firefighters and plant workers died later from radiation poisoning
and burns and another person died of an apparent heart attack

Mykola Malyshev, now 66, was working in the control room of Chornobyl’s
Reactor No. 1 at the time of the explosion. He said the lights went off and
on and the room shook. The workers were ordered to the destroyed reactor
but hen they arrived, their co-workers ordered them to flee and save
themselves. “They told us: ‘We are already dead. Go away,”‘ Malyshev
recalled at the Kyiv ceremony.

Thousands have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, one of the only
internationally accepted illnesses linked to Chornobyl, and the UN. health
agency said about 9,300 people were likely to die of cancers caused by
radiation.

Some groups, however, including Greenpeace, have warned death tolls could be
10 times higher and accused the UN of whitewashing the long-term effects of
the accident in order to restore trust in the safety of atomic power.

Around 350,000 people were evacuated forever from their homes, leaving the
whole city of Pripyat and dozens of villages to decay and rot away. Experts
said some may not be habitable again for centuries.

Some five million people live in areas covered by the radioactive fallout,
in Ukraine, neighbouring Belarus and Russia.

Valentyna Abramovych, now 50, her husband and their infant son were forced
to evacuate their home in the Chornobyl workers’ city Pripyat, leaving
behind all their belongings. They were shuffled around, first to a nearby
village, then to a relative’s house.

“Every day, I would watch television and expect to hear when we could come
back,” Valentyna Abramovych said. “When they said we could never come back,
I burst into tears. We feel like outcasts. No one needs us.”

Ukraine hosted competing scientific conferences Tuesday as the country of 47
million tried to make sense of the catastrophe.
Some Ukrainians, however, sought out more private places to remember.

“The whole country grieves and the whole world joins us in this grief,” Lena
Makarova, 27, said as she visited the Chornobyl museum in Kyiv.
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. HAUNTING VIGILS MARK 20 YEARS SINCE CHERNOBYL DISASTER

Agence France-Presse, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wed, April 26, 2006

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine – Haunting night-time vigils marked the 20th anniversary
of the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident that shocked
the globe, ravaged this corner of eastern Europe and affects millions of
people to this day.

Clutching candles and carnations, hundreds of people silently poured into
the central square of the Ukrainian town of Slavutich, built 50 kilometers
(31 miles) to the east of the defunct nuclear power station to house its
staff and others evacuated following the accident.

A shrieking siren pierced the silence around the time that two explosions
ripped through reactor number four at the Soviet-designed plant on April 26,
1986, releasing a huge radioactive cloud into the air.

Somber-faced, many with tears in their eyes, the crowd made their way toward
a monument honoring the 30 people who died in the first year after the
accident that became a grim symbol of the hazards of atomic energy.

“I knew all of these people,” Mykola Ryabushkin said, pointing to the
portraits hanging on the monument. The 59-year-old was an operator at the
station and was working the night of the explosion that bathed the station
in an otherworldly bluish light.

“I look at them and I want to ask them for forgiveness,” he said, tears
rolling down his cheeks. “Maybe we’re all to blame for letting this accident
happen.”

The cloud released by the Chernobyl explosion settled mostly in Ukraine and
neighboring Belarus to the north, but parts of it drifted across Russia and
a large swathe of Europe, and its effects were felt from Scandinavia to
Greece.

The impact was made worse by the fact that the then Soviet authorities
concealed the extent of what had happened for several days and did not begin
to evacuate people from the area until more than a day and half later.

“The explosion affected half of the planet, but Belarus and Ukraine suffered
worst of all,” Terry Davis, secretary general of the Council of Europe, said
in a statement on Tuesday. “For these countries, Chernobyl is not an
historic event, it is a problem of today and of tomorrow,” Davis said.

At an eerie ceremony in front of the concrete sarcophagus covering the
destroyed reactor, with a dozen journalists their only audience, a French
theater troupe recounted stories of a handful of ordinary people who found
their lives torn apart by the disaster. “We are playing for the dead,” Bruno
Boussagol, the producer and artistic director of the Brut de Beton troupe,
told AFP.

Some five million people are believed to have been affected by the disaster
in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, all of which still have regions where the
levels of dangerous cesium-137 and strontium-90 radioisotopes are much
higher than accepted norms.

Millions of acres of agricultural and forest land remain contaminated from
the accident.

Two decades on, the death toll from the tragedy is hotly debated. Agencies
of the United Nations, backed by the governments of Belarus, Russia and
Ukraine, estimate that between 4,000 and 9,000 people could be expected to
die overall as a direct consequence of the accident. Environmental groups
put the figure at 100,000 and higher.

The UN has estimated that the disaster will end up costing hundreds of
billions of dollars. The Chernobyl plant was eventually closed for good in
December 2000 but will continue to be a concern for years to come.

The concrete sarcophagus that was hastily constructed over its destroyed
reactor immediately following the accident is showing signs of wear and more
than 20 countries have chipped in nearly a billion dollars for the
construction of a 20,000-ton steel case to take its place.

Construction of the new containment unit is expected to begin later this
year and Ukraine hopes to complete it by 2010. -30-
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3. MOURNERS, CANDLES MARK CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY

Reuters, Slavutych, Ukraine, Wednesday April 26, 2006

SLAVUTYCH, Ukraine – Mourners bearing candles marked the 20th
anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on Wednesday, honoring
those who died as leaders pledged to ensure it would never happen again.

Hundreds of people, each bearing a candle and some with red carnations,
filed slowly through the streets of Slavutych, the town built to house the
Chernobyl plant’s workers after the world’s worst nuclear accident on April
26, 1986.

At 1:23 a.m. Moscow time (5:23 p.m. EDT) — about the time of the explosion
and subsequent fire that sent radiation billowing throughout Europe — a
minute of silence was declared. A bell tolled and alarm sirens blared. A
middle-aged man, tears welling in his eyes, shook his head in disbelief as
he stood alongside younger mourners.

Well after midnight, in Kiev, 80 km (50 miles) to the south, President
Viktor Yushchenko stood alongside other dignitaries by the “Chernobyl
church,” where survivors gather every year, and placed a large bouquet of
roses at a memorial marked by two stone slabs on a knoll.

The memorial bears the names of the “liquidators,” the firefighters and
engineers who died trying to extinguish the blaze or later from excessive
doses of radiation.

The blast in Chernobyl’s fourth reactor — during an unexplained
experiment — contaminated large swaths of territory in Ukraine, Belarus and
Russia. Soviet authorities took two days to inform the world and their own
people. They then launched feverish clean-up and reconstruction efforts
culminating in construction of a shelter to house the wrecked reactor.

The Slavutych procession moved to a memorial, with mourners placing candles
at the foot of a wall bearing images graved in stone of the “liquidators.”
VARYING DEATH TOLLS
Estimates of the death toll linked to Chernobyl vary widely. The World
Health Organization puts at 9,000 the number of people expected to die due
to radiation exposure, while the environmental group Greenpeace predicts an
eventual death toll of 93,000.

Hundreds of thousands were evacuated. The United Nations says 7 million
still live on land with unsafe radiation levels.

Yushchenko, due to visit the 30-km (19-mile) “exclusion zone” around
Chernobyl later in the day, appealed before the anniversary for financial
help in building a new “sarcophagus” to replace the leaking original
containment structure.

International figures said the main lesson was to adopt a common approach to
nuclear safety.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which
helped investigate the accident, called for closer cooperation,
“particularly at a time when we are witnessing an expansion of nuclear power
to meet increasing energy demands in many parts of the world.”

President Bush paid tribute to “lives lost and communities hurt in the
devastation” and said Washington was committed to efforts “to improve the
safety and security of Chernobyl by confining its nuclear reactor.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, decorating “liquidators” in Moscow,
promised to look into setting up a treatment center for people suffering the
ill-effects of exposure to large doses of radiation. “These people who
worked there did not think of themselves, they understood that the disaster
had to be stopped, whatever the cost,” Putin told them.

Yushchenko told officials assessing the effects of Chernobyl on Monday that
a new conference of donors was needed to complete the “tomb” project
launched in the 1990s. Ukraine, which spent up to 10 percent of its budget
on the post-Chernobyl cleanup, cannot afford to take on the project alone.
It has a price tag of $800 million to $1.4 billion.

Experts see construction of a new “sarcophagus” as part of a plan to
decommission the station, which stopped producing electricity in 2000 at the
insistence of the international community but still contains some 200 tonnes
of nuclear fuel. (Additional reporting by Mikhail Yelchev in Kiev)
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
4. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL BLAST
President Yushchenko joined mourners at the night-time vigil

BBC News, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

KYIV – Ukraine is holding a series of events to commemorate the 20th
anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl power
plant.

The blast was marked by tolling bells and a minute’s silence at 0123 local
time (2223 GMT on Tuesday) – when the alarm was set off on 26 April 1986.
The explosion tore off the plant’s roof, spewing radioactive fallout over
swathes of the then-USSR and Europe.

President Viktor Yushchenko will visit the site later in the day. He will
meet some of the people who worked at the plant and those who risked their
lives to deal with the accident.

A monument to victims is due to be unveiled, and the country’s parliament is
holding a special hearing into the disaster.

In neighbouring Belarus, also badly affected by fallout, opposition groups
are expected to hold a rally in the capital Minsk to protest against
government attempts to rehabilitate contaminated areas.
‘ASK FOR FORGIVENESS’
At evening ceremonies, hundreds of mourners, each carrying a single red
carnation and flickering candles, gathered for the outdoor Orthodox
Christian service at the church in Kiev.

President Yushchenko laid a wreath to remember those who were sent to deal
with the accident and to the many who have since been affected.

At precisely 0123, the church bells tolled 20 times. A similar ceremony got
under way an hour earlier, to coincide with 0123 Moscow time, in Slavutych,
the town built to house the Chernobyl plant workers displaced by the
accident.

To the sound of bells tolling and alarm sirens blaring, mourners laid
flowers and candles at a monument dedicated to those who died in the
immediate aftermath of the accident.

“I knew all of these people,” a tearful Mykola Ryabushkin told the AFP news
agency, pointing to the portraits hanging on the monument. The 59-year-old
had been working as an operator at the plant when the explosion happened.

“I look at them and I want to ask them for forgiveness,” he said. “Maybe
we’re all to blame for letting this accident happen.”
DISPUTED DEATH TOLL
The accident happened at one of four reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant, 110km (70 miles) north of the capital, Kiev.

Throughout most of the following day the Soviet authorities refused to
admit anything out of the ordinary had occurred.

It was only two weeks after the explosion, when radiation releases had
tailed off, that the first Soviet official gave a frank account, speaking of
the “possibility of a catastrophe”.

Official UN figures predicted up to 9,000 Chernobyl-related cancer deaths.
But a Greenpeace report released last week estimated a figure of 93,000.
Greenpeace said other illnesses could bring the toll up to 200,000.

A restricted area with a radius of 30km (19 miles) remains in force around
the destroyed nuclear reactor which is encased in concrete.
————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4944898.stm
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5. U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH STATEMENT ON THE 20TH
ANNIVERSARY OF CHORNOBYL DISASTER

Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, I join my fellow
Americans in expressing our deepest condolences for this tragedy. Today, we
remember the victims of this horrible accident and recognize those who still
suffer great hardship in its aftermath.

By closing Chornobyl more than 5 years ago, a free Ukraine removed an
environmental threat built by an oppressive government, created the
circumstances for a safer and more prosperous region, and acted with
courage in the march of democracy.

I appreciate the people around the world who continue to show their
compassion for those still suffering in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and I
reaffirm America’s commitment to the ongoing effort to improve the safety
and security of Chornobyl by confining its nuclear reactor.

On this solemn anniversary, we pay tribute to the lives lost and the
communities hurt in the devastation following the disaster at Chornobyl. We
are encouraged as the people of Ukraine and neighboring regions resolve to
rise again and reclaim a future of hope and dignity.

May God bless you!
————————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://kiev.usembassy.gov/infocentral_eng.html
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
6. US HELSINKI COMMISSION CONVENES HEARINGS ON CHORNOBYL

Embassy of Ukraine to the USA, Washington, D.C. Tue, April 25, 2006

WASHINGTON – On April 25 the US Helsinki commission held a hearing
“The Legacy of Chornobyl: Health and Safety 20 years later”.

The Commission invited to testify Dr. Oleh Shamshur, Ambassador of Ukraine
to the United States, Stephen G. Rademaker, Acting Assistant Secretary of
State in charge of international security and nonproliferation, David
Marples, Professor of History, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies,
University of Alberta Pablo Rubinstein, Director of the National Cord Blood
Program New York Blood Center, and Kathleen Ryan, Executive Director of
Chernobyl Children’s Project International.

Congressman Chris Smith called Chornobyl in his opening statement one of the
biggest catastrophes of the modern times and urged international bodies to
fulfill their commitments as to the assistance to those who suffered from
its aftermath.

Congressman Benjamin Cardin joined his colleague in expressions of hope that
Chornobyl-awareness won’t wear thin since the consequences of the accident
are and will be palpable for decades to come.

Representative from the State Department focused on US Administration
assistance programs to Ukraine aimed at mitigating the consequences of the
Chornobyl accident.

Ambassador Shamshur appealed to the concrete facts illustrating the enormous
losses Ukraine suffered from Chornobyl and focused on the problems which
might emerge in the near future. He emphasized the urgent necessity to
finalize preparations for creation of the new Sarcophagus around the erupted
reactor #4, the work needs to commence by 2007.

The invited scientists testified about health repercussions for the
population of affected areas and about concrete aid the US is able to render
Ukraine in this regard.

The Ambassador engaged in the questions and answers session responding on
various aspects of international co-operation on Chornobyl and current needs
of Ukraine in the nuclear energy sector.
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7. CHERNOBYL EXPLODED USSR

By Pyotr Romanov, RIA Novosti political commentator
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The world media will mark with many publications the 20th anniversary of
the Chernobyl disaster (April 26, 1986). This is only natural since this is
a truly tragic date, and the aftermath of this drama is still affecting the
lives of many people.

Radioactive dust settled down not only on the territory of the former
U.S.S.R., but also in Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland,
Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and some other countries. Only France,
Spain and southern Italy were fortunate thanks to the prevailing winds.

Many publications on Chernobyl justifiably focus on the safety of atomic
power engineering. Nobody wants its repetition. In many countries Chernobyl
slowed down the advance of atomic power engineering, deteriorated the world
energy crisis, and caused a boost of prices on energy carriers.

It is alarming, though, that quite a few publications on Chernobyl are
undisguised stove piping reflecting the struggle for the market of nuclear
technologies. For some rivals, the Chernobyl tragedy is just an excuse to
tell the potential buyers that Russian nuclear technologies are unreliable.

The timing and purpose are awkward, and, besides, this is simply untrue.

As we know, failure teaches success. As distinct from most of its rivals,
the Russians have thoroughly studied the bitter experience and greatly
contributed to the safety of nuclear reactors. They have focused on making
nuclear plants foolproof, since it was the human factor which triggered off
the Chernobyl tragedy.

Today, the most regrettable aspect of Chernobyl is that the West shows
practically no interest in this unique Russian experience – either in enhancing
the safety of nuclear plants, or in dealing with emergencies.

Associates of the Kurchatov Institute, Russia’s center of nuclear science,
have complained many times that their foreign colleagues are ignoring what
they have done in the twenty years of incessant research on the Chernobyl
reactor. This is, of course, regrettable. Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, the
head of the Kurchatov Institute Research Center, had every reason to say:”
The Russian nuclear physicists have learnt by heart the lessons of
Chernobyl once and for all.”

To sum up, the only positive aspect of the tragedy is the practical
experience and ensuing precious recommendations, but foreign experts took
no interest in them. Meanwhile, they know only too well that many Western
countries have been through most dangerous accidents, which could trigger
off even worse tragedies. The list is so long that I won’t quote it here,
but the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland are all there. Those who are well versed
in the subject know perfectly well that Russian nuclear technologies are
the safest of all. Everything else is just commercial tat. The only
difference is that it’s not about Pepsi.

There is one more consequence of the Chernobyl disaster, which is rarely
mentioned. I think it was Chernobyl that exploded the U.S.S.R. Needless to
say, the reasons for the disintegration of such a colossus were bound to be
multiple. Some people say with good reason that the founders of Marxism
programmed the elements of self-destruction into the Soviet Union’s policy
and economy.

Others justifiably quote the arms race or Afghanistan, which also undermined
the Soviet might. Still others blame the then leaders of Russia, Ukraine and
Belarus for signing a document in secret from President Gorbachev in
Belovezhskaya Pushcha. They believe, not without a reason, that this
document finished the U.S.S.R off.

However, I still think that Chernobyl was one of the major factors behind
the Soviet collapse. The tragedy was not just about radioactive
contamination. It produced a huge pack of lies, which shocked the Soviet
people. The authorities concealed from them the truth for several days.

In blissful ignorance, children and adults were walking under the genial
spring rain in Kiev and Minsk, eating fruit, fishing, going to Ukrainian
and Byelorussian resorts.
If they had known the truth, they would have been running away. When
rumors finally got through, people panicked. They rushed to railroad
stations and drug stores. Only the first semi-truthful official reports
outlined the enormous scale of the catastrophe.

Importantly, the liars were the Party reformers whom many people had
trusted when they said that the Soviet system could be reformed. After this
lie there was nobody to believe. So, when a report on the Soviet Union’s
demise came from Belovezhskaya Pushcha, nobody tried to resuscitate it.

The lie proved to be as deadly as radiation. -30-
————————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. COULD CHERNOBYL HAPPEN AGAIN?

Jim Heintz, Associated Press Writer, Moscow, Russia, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

MOSCOW – The Chernobyl plant sits idle 20 years after the world’s worst
nuclear accident, its last reactor taken out of service some six years ago.
But a dozen other reactors of the same design remain in operation and some
could be in service for another 30 years. Could another one blow up?

The explosion of April 26, 1986, is attributed by experts to a fatal
combination of design flaws and poor staff training. The design problems
have been addressed, but doubt remains about the human factor.

The accident was a terrible irony, coming during a routine drill to test how
long the electricity-generating turbines would spin and supply power during
a shutdown.
But reactors of the RBMK type used at Chernobyl have a “positive void
coefficient” in which excess steam, which absorbs neutrons less effectively
than water, leads to an increase in reactor power. RBMKs are considered
unstable at low power.

Automatic shutdown systems had been switched off for the test, and workers
couldn’t insert control rods in time once they started losing control of the
reactor, according to generally accepted accounts of the blast. Since then,
the RBMK reactors in Russia and Lithuania have undergone modifications
recommended by the

International Atomic Energy Agency including speeding up the control-rod
insertion time by about a third, to 12 seconds, and using uranium of a
slightly higher enrichment in the core, which essentially means the reactor
doesn’t have to be driven as hard to spin the turbines.

Nuclear experts say the changes have substantially reduced the technical
likelihood of a repeat of the Chernobyl blast. “Very significant changes
have been made in the technology,” IAEA deputy director Tomihiro Taniguchi
told The Associated Press. “The IAEA is firmly committed that such an
accident not happen again.”

“People are fairly relaxed about the RBMKs,” said Ian Hore-Lacey, a
spokesman for the World Nuclear Organization, which promotes peaceful uses
of nuclear energy.

John Ahearne, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief who now
teaches at Duke University, agreed with the technical assessment, but was
less sure about staff at plants using RBMKs. “How well are they trained, how
well are they paid – that’s harder to assess,” he said.

Vladimir Chuprov, head of energy issues at the Russian branch of the
Greenpeace environmental watchdog group, said work conditions are as
important as the technology – and more worrisome. Reactors can be
modernized, he said, but “the majority of nuclear accidents are connected
not with technology, but with the human factor.”

A study by Greenpeace and the Russian Academy of Sciences found many nuclear
workers in Russia showing up for work drunk or on drugs, Chuprov said. At
the Leningradsky plant in northern Russia, pay is so poor that some workers
have to moonlight as taxi drivers, he said.

Yuri Sarayev, a nuclear expert at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences,
said pay hasn’t kept up with the country’s booming economy, so “specialists
with solid training and 10-15 years experience are leaving, and being
replaced by less-prepared people.”

Russian officials insist the RBMK reactors’ future is bright and their
service life will be extended from 30 to 45 years, with the last to close in
2036. That confidence isn’t universally shared. Lithuania, a former Soviet
republic, has already mothballed one RBMK at its Ignalina plant and is to
shut the other in 2009.

Can a Chernobyl-type disaster happen again?

Nikolai Tarakanov, a scientist and retired general who heads the Center for
Social Support of Chernobyl’s Invalids, replies: “No one can give you a
guarantee that it will not happen tomorrow.” -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY

Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

The extent of the genetic damage caused by radiation can be seen in the
suffering of children throughout the region, writes Kathy Sheridan in
Chernobyl, in the second of a three-part series

Vyacheslav Klimovich is the director of what Belarussians call a “children’s
mental asylum”, a place that, to many volunteers working for Adi Roche’s
Chernobyl charity, resonates with both horror and triumph. The radical
renovation work, teacher training and modern equipment funded by the
Children of Chernobyl Project International (CCPI) are slowly turning
Vesnovo into a bright, enlightened haven.

But for The Irish Times, on a tight schedule, it’s fair to admit that it is
no more than a stop on the long road between Minsk and Chernobyl, and the
interview with the director no more than a courtesy call.

Then a casual question elicits the information that the dignified Klimovich
was once a physics teacher. He knows enough about what lies in the soil
around highly contaminated Vetka, his wife’s birthplace, and around Gomel,
their subsequent home in southern Belarus, to fear it.

He has a son aged 13, a child with no particular disease, he says slowly,
“but he hasn’t good health either. He is very weak and gets tired very
quickly. He runs temperatures for no reason. We try to give him clean food
and vitamins . . .”

Klimovich is so fearful of radiation that the couple have decided not to
have a second child.

According to many Belarussian doctors and ordinary families to whom we talk,
his description of his son’s health and reasons for having an only child
could apply to nearly every family in the Gomel region.

Klimovich’s case is not dramatic, and his son’s unexplained lethargy and
temperature spikes will not feature in any statistic. But it’s one reason
why an eastern European cry of rage greeted last September’s Chernobyl Forum
report from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World
Health Organisation (WHO).

It stated that only 50 deaths could be directly attributed to the disaster,
that 4,000 at most would eventually die from it and that the majority of
illnesses among the estimated five million contaminated in the former Soviet
Union are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles.

Dr Michael Repacholi, manager of the WHO Radiation Programme, is quoted in
the summary: “The sum total of the Chernobyl Forum is a reassuring message.”

Another series of reports, however, are on the way, according to the
Guardian newspaper, which will tell a radically different story. These are
also from leading scientists and doctors and take into account 50 published
scientific studies in estimates from researchers commissioned by European
parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International, and medical foundations in
Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere.

The forthcoming estimates will suggest that at least 30,000 people are
expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe radiation exposure in
1986 and that up to 500,000 may have already died in Ukraine alone.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s National Commission for Radiation Protection
says: “We have found that infant mortality increased 20 to 30 per cent
because of chronic exposure after the accident. All this information has
been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year
and again in June. They’ve not said why they haven’t accepted it.”

The IAEA report has attracted much criticism for its tendency to concentrate
on numbers of deaths while virtually ignoring the incidence of morbidity,
such as chronic illness and the ongoing suffering of those who have managed
to survive life-threatening disease.

For example, the report states that nine children have died from thyroid
cancer and that 4,000 have been found to be affected, but notes that the
survival rate is around 99 per cent. The livid “Belarus necklace”, the scar
which marks such victims for life, and their lifelong dependence on
medication, rates no mention.

AE Okeanov, head of the cancer registry in Belarus for many years and now
working at the Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology
Research in Minsk, published work in the Swiss Medical Weekly in 2004,
showing that cancerous “affections” (women undergoing mastectomies, for
example) had increased by about 52 per cent in the Gomel region.

The rate for the whole of Belarus was up by 40 per cent. His study also
showed that the peak incidence rates of breast cancer had shifted to younger
women between 45 and 49 years of age.

IN THE RIVNE region of Ukraine, 310 miles west of Chernobyl, doctors are
also reporting an unusual rate of cancers and mutations.

“In the 30 hospitals of our region we find that up to 30 per cent of people
who were in highly radiated areas have physical disorders, including heart
and blood diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases,” says Alexander
Vewremchuk, of the Special Hospital for the Radiological Protection of the
Population in Vilne. “Nearly one in three of all the newborn babies have
deformities, mostly internal.”

In Belarus, Dr Vyacheslav Izhakovsky, the chief doctor at the Gomel Regional
Children’s Hospital, which treats 12,000 children a year, says that,
factoring in the plummeting birthrate, the hospital has seen the rate of
genetic damage in newborns increase by 16 times since 1985.

“We’re at a time when women who were aged between one and three in 1986 are
giving birth . . . No more than 16 to 17 per cent of all newborn babies are
completely healthy,” he says. “The cause behind 60 per cent of these is the
mother’s sickness during pregnancy.

Twenty years after Chernobyl, you have to take into consideration
radiological problems. I and many doctors believe that 50 per cent of
illness is rooted in ecological problems. But we can’t prove it because we
have no time to do research. I can tell you though, that the problems are
only starting . . .”

Dr Irina Kolmanovich, the pediatrician who runs the newborns’ intensive
care unit, points to several babies with genetic problems. They include
eight- month-old Vlad, who was born with damage to his muscle and nervous
system. He can still move his legs and hands but no one is prepared to give
a prognosis. Vlad lies opposite three-year-old Masha, who was born with a
similar condition and mobility, but has been deteriorating steadily during
her short life.

Vlad’s mother is in the bracket of girls who were aged between one and three
in 1986.

“It’s all genetic,” says Dr Kolmanovich, “You can read it when the damage is
ecological.”

In Gomel, in particular, people like Vyacheslav Klimovich drew their own
conclusions by not risking a second child. Quite apart from a “demographic
doomsday” being discussed by some researchers, the result can be unspeakably
tragic. Lena Pogorelova, a math teacher in Gomel, took the “risk” of having
a child five years ago.

She had always worried about what is called the “Chernobyl effect” and had
heard about the low number of healthy newborns. She gave birth to Diana, now
aged five, who seemed normal but slowly manifested enough symptoms to fill
three handwritten pages, the main ones of which are cerebral palsy, a heart
defect, eye problems and anaemia.

Diana is now confined to a special chair, is subject to terrifying
convulsions and seizures, and is almost impossible to calm at any time. The
only saviours for Pogorelova are her mother-in-law, who acts as carer while
Pogorelova goes to work, and the hospice nurses of the CCPI.

Pogorelova’s husband, a plasterer, finds work where he can, in a region
where jobs are scarce, so Pogorelova’s income is vital. But she can hardly
find a minute even to prepare her lessons.

Diana remains the Pogorelovas’ only child. Her mother sees no hope, no
future.

She will not attribute Diana’s condition to Chernobyl. She blames herself
for being an “old” mother (35 when Diana was born). But she does believe
that there is a sickness in the population. Many of her female teaching
colleagues have unexplained spinal problems, for example. She observes that
children are much “weaker” now than before, that they get tired far more
easily and that even psychologically there are changes.

“Radiation doesn’t only affect the liver,” she says.”It affects different
systems in the body and changes them, and we never know where it’s going to
strike.”

THE OTHER CATEGORY which rails against the IAEA’s Chernobyl Forum
report is the “liquidators”, the 600,000 heroes of the Soviet Union who battled
the radioactive inferno in 1986, working in radioactive hot spots, clearing up
the debris around the plant, disposing of vehicles, suppressing dust,
demolishing villages and controlling the populations.

The forum summary asserts that “as of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths had
been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being
highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident
but others who died as late as 2004″.

Contrast this with what the deputy head of the National Commission for
Radiation Protection in Ukraine told the Guardian: “[ Studies show] that
34,449 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the
years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was
nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.”

Few dismiss out of the hand the forum’s assertion that some illnesses in the
population are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles or
that under-reporting in previous years might be a factor in percentage
increases.

“Of course there is some truth in this,” says Dr Izhakovsky of Gomel
Regional Children’s Hospital. “We accept there has been a certain percentage
of under-reporting but believe it is minor. And of course we have social
problems now. But there is no huge gap between living conditions then and
now, other than a small percentage.

“The disaster was a difficult situation for any republic, although Belarus
was left facing all the problems and hadn’t enough money. You can say it’s
just a socio-economic problem, but on the other hand we didn’t have the
money to deal with it. Go to Vetka and see what people are eating there,
where radiation is three times higher than it should be.

Traditionally, Belarussians go to the woods for food, and that food is not
being checked for radiation. Fifty per cent of all the effects are
environmental – you cannot get away from that.”

“WHERE DID THE IAEA do its research?” he adds angrily, pointing out that no
one consulted him, although he has been a doctor here since 1982. “Why don’t
they do some real research work?”

He castigates those responsible for keeping the people in ignorance in 1986,
for not evacuating people quickly enough, for failing to give out iodine.

The politicians thought they were gods, he says, but they couldn’t
“influence the chemical processes”. And as for the academics who helped to
hide information at the time and are now handing it over when it’s too late:
“Where were you back then?” -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10. UKRAINE REMEMBERS CHERNOBYL

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Tue, April 25 2006

For Ukrainians the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster is a time to
grieve. For foreigners it is a chance to argue among themselves over the
future of nuclear power.

Ahead of a ceremony to be held at the plant on Wednesday to remember the
victims, politicians, scientists, and activists from around the world
gathered at competing international conferences to present their assessments
of the disaster.

The two sides came up with differing conclusions. Speakers at a conference
co-sponsored by the European Union, the United Nations and the International
Atomic Energy Agency pledged that such an accident would never be repeated.

At the other, an anti-nuclear forum put on by environmentalist groups,
speakers claimed the risk of future disasters was growing as memories of
Chernobyl faded and governments returned to nuclear power.

Wednesday’s anniversary has been a crucial intellectual battleground that
anti-nuclear activists believe will help determine whether or not nuclear
power makes a big comeback in the decades ahead.

Each side came prepared with studies showing that the effects of Chernobyl
on human health had been either less severe (from the IAEA and World Heath
Organisation) or more severe (from Greenpeace) than popularly imagined. The
two studies estimated the death toll at 9,300 and 93,000 respectively.

“There is everything to fight for and everything to lose,” Antony Froggat,
an anti-nuclear campaigner, declared at the environmentalist conference.
With most of the world’s power-generation infrastructure ageing and
governments under pressure from the Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse
gases, he said “the next 10 years will be a unique period of investment that
will set in place trends in the power industry for generations”.

Meanwhile, just across the street at the intergovernmental conference,
Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine’s president, appealed to the international
community for aid, including $1bn (Euro806m, £560m) for a new enclosure to
cover the exploded reactor, which still leaks radiation. The planned
enclosure has been repeatedly stalled by disagreements between donors and
Kiev’s rapidly changing governments.

Other speakers were eager to counter the “gloom” that they accused
environmentalists of spreading. “The impact of Chernobyl in the popular
imagination is exaggerated 1,000 times. By far the worst effect is the
psychological impact,” said Kalman Mizsei, a UN assistant secretary-general,
in an interview.

Outside, a few dozen young European and Ukrainian activists held up
anti-nuclear banners. Another group of older men held placards that read:
“Chernobyl is the continuation of Ukrainian genocide!”. For them the
catastrophe is linked to Soviet misrule, and they want European leaders to
be more wary of Russia.

The explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 was yet another
catastrophe from which Ukraine had to bounce back in the last century. The
country lost 10m in the second world war and 7m in a famine in the 1930s.

The area around the plant is now a de facto wildlife preserve. Olga
Pereverzeva, an archaeologist who digs in the zone for medieval artefacts,
describes it as an idyll. She winces at proposals to declare much of it safe
for living.

Former Chernobyl workers and their families will gather this weekend in a
forest outside Kiev, near the housing blocks where most of them were
relocated. Their memories are sad but they keep their humour.

Olexy Barankevich, a journalist who grew up in the town next to the plant,
remembers how the group of children he was with when news spread decided
to run down towards the plant to “have a look at the fire”. “I’m very glad I
didn’t go,” he says. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/93b396ea-d477-11da-a357-0000779e2340.html

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. FIRST AT CHERNOBYL, BURNING STILL

By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times
New York, New York, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chernobyl still haunts, 20 years after that morning, April 26, 1986, when
something went wrong in Reactor No. 4 and it exploded, sending a plume of
debris and radioactive particles across the Soviet Union and eventually far
beyond.

Some have said that Chernobyl – the human and environmental toll it caused,
the obfuscations of the Kremlin it revealed – hastened the end of the Soviet
Union itself. Perhaps. It was certainly never the same afterward.

“What they described in newspapers and magazines – it was all rubbish,” said
Anatoly Rasskazov, the station photographer who was there that day.

“The ruins that I photographed from the ground and the upper part were
retouched so it couldn’t be seen that there was a ray coming from there,
that everything was glowing,” he said. “Just a ruin. So as not to get the
public up in arms.”

Twenty years later, the anniversary has occasioned new debate among those
who have studied its consequences and those who have wielded the results as
evidence of what a world in urgent search of energy should do with nuclear
power.

A committee of United Nations agencies released a study last fall concluding
that the effects were not as dire as first feared. It suggested that only
4,000 would, in the end, die from diseases caused by direct exposure to the
radiation. Greenpeace, the environmental group, released its own response
last week, saying Chernobyl would kill at least 90,000.

The true number may never be known, but the lasting impacts, physical and
psychological, are evident in those who came to be known as liquidators.
They were the hundreds of thousands of firefighters, pilots, soldiers,
scientists and experts sent to contain the damage, to evacuate the citizenry
and ultimately to encase the deadly ruin in a concrete sarcophagus whose
stability appears precarious.

A photographer for The New York Times sought out 27 of them in Moscow,
Kiev and Minsk, photographing them as they recounted their experiences at the
time and in the turbulent years that followed. What they described sounded
very much like war.

At least 47 workers and liquidators died almost immediately. Hundreds,
perhaps thousands have died since; the records are unclear. The rest endure
as veterans, many as invalids, sickly and unappreciated, if not entirely
unrecognized by newly independent countries that wish to put the worst of
Soviet history behind them.

“Just like the Germans had come, this enemy had arrived,” said Arkady
Rokhlin, an engineer, who was 58 at the time and so old enough to remember
that war. “And we had to defend ourselves.”

And like war, it was disorienting. Fear and heroism mingled with
bureaucratic chaos and surrealistic calm. “In a real war shells explode,
bullets fly, bodies fall, blood flows,” he said. And then he remembered the
summer of ’86 in the most poisoned place on earth: sun, birds, gardens
“bulging with fruit.”

“You couldn’t possibly have imagined that all this was death.” -30-

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12. CHERNOBYL’S DEATH TOLL

LEAD EDITORIAL: Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22 2006

In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster next week,
supporters and opponents of nuclear power have been trading wildly different
estimates for the number of people who are likely to die as a result of the
radioactivity spread across Europe by the explosion.

Fatal cancers will eventually kill 93,000 people according to Greenpeace,
9,000 according to the World Health Organisation and just 1,000 according to
one optimistic academic study.

The death toll from the world’s worst nuclear accident is of far more than
academic interest. The figures are propaganda in the increasingly vociferous
debate over whether industrialised countries should resume building nuclear
power stations in response to dwindling fossil fuel supplies and the threat
from global warming.

And Chernobyl’s impact on public health is an important practical issue in
the worst affected regions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, where an epidemic
of thyroid cancer among young people is overwhelming oncology services.

Independent public health researchers, writing in the current issue of the
scientific journal Nature, say all the uncertainties make it impossible to
give a reliable estimate for Chernobyl’s death toll, particularly among
the millions of Europeans who lived further from the reactor but still
received a radiation dose. (Eventoday, 370 sheep farms in Britain are
subject to movement restrictions as a result of Chernobyl fall-out.)

There could be tens of thousands of Chernobyl-related deaths over the next
30 years though it will be almost impossible to distinguish these from other
causes of cancer mortality. The psychological consequences – an inevitable
result of any nuclear accident – are probably even more important, in public
health terms, than the physical damage from radiation.

While environmental groups such as Greenpeace may exaggerate the effect of
Chernobyl, the nuclear industry and organisations such as the International
Atomic Energy Agency have tended to play them down. Nuclear advocates do
their cause no service when they portray Chernobyl as a historical event
irrelevant to today’s debate – an accident caused by human error and an
obsolete Soviet reactor.

Although the technical details may not be relevant to a 21st-century nuclear
renaissance, the broad principles of how to respond to a large radioactive
discharge certainly are. The accident – and its catastrophic handling by the
Soviet authorities – remains such a powerful symbol that advocates of
nuclear power must confront the issues it raises rather than ignoring or
belittling them.

It is a pity that a full-scale international study of Chernobyl’s health
effects was not started soon after the disaster, along the lines of the
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and its successor, the Radiation Effects
Research Foundation, which have produced invaluable radiological data by
studying Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors for 60 years.

It may still be worth launching such a project, although the research would
be much harder than in Japan because Chernobyl survivors are dispersed so
much more widely – and raising funds for it from independent sources would
be a formidable challenge. But the scientific uncertainty about the number
of long-term casualties from Chernobyl directly undermines public trust in
the nuclear industry. And this at the very time when a serious debate about
its merits is most needed. -30-
————————————————————————————————-
http://news.ft.com/cms/s/3a0a9256-d19d-11da-a38b-0000779e2340.html
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13. HELL ON EARTH:
CHERNOBYL WAS WORLD’S WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
Twenty years on, John Vidal reports on the clean-up, the false medical records,

the communities that refused to leave and the continuing cost to people &planet

John Vidal, The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 26, 2006

Twenty years ago today, Konstantin Tatuyan, a Ukrainian radio engineer, was
horrified when Reactor No 4 at Chernobyl nuclear power complex exploded,
caught fire, and for the next 10 days spewed the equivalent of 400 Hiroshima
bombs’ worth of radioactivity across 150,000 sq miles of Europe and beyond.
He was just married, and he and his young family lived in the town of
Chernobyl, just a few miles from the reactor.

Like 120,000 people, the family was evacuated, but Tatuyan volunteered to
become a “liquidator”, to help with the clean up, believing that his
knowledge of radiation could save not just him but many of the 200,000 young
soldiers and others who were rushed in from all over the Soviet Union. “We
felt we had to do it,” he says. “Who else, if not us, would do it?”

Tatuyan spent the next seven years in charge of 5,000 mostly young army
reservists – drafted in from Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Chechnya, Kazakhstan and
elsewhere in what was the Soviet Union – working 22 days on, eight days off,
digging great holes, demolishing villages, dumping high-level waste,
monitoring hot spots, testing the water, cleaning railway lines and roads,
decontaminating ground and travelling throughout some of the most
radioactive regions of Ukraine, Belarus and southern Russia.

He survived the worst environment disaster in history, he says, because he
knew the danger and could monitor the radioactivity that varied from yard to
yard and from village to village depending on where the plume descended to
ground level, and on where the deadly bits of graphite from the core of the
reactor were carried by the wind.

He took precautions but he also kept meticulous – albeit illegal – records
of his own accumulating exposure. Every year the authorities told him he was
“fit for duty”, and when he left Chernobyl they gave him a letter saying he
had received just under the safe lifetime dose of radiation. He knew he had
received more than five times that amount.

What he saw in those years, he says, appalled him: young men dying for want
of the simplest information about exposure to radiation; the wide-scale
falsification of medical histories by the Soviet army and the disappearance
of people’s records so the state would not have to compensate them; the
wholesale looting of evacuated houses and abandoned churches; the haste and
carelessness with which the concrete “sarcophagus” was erected over the
stricken reactor; and, above all, the horror of seeing land almost twice the
size of Britain contaminated, with thousands of villages made uninhabitable.

It was sometimes surreal, he says. He had people beg him to leave their
homes or villages contaminated because that would guarantee them a pension;
he recalls how several carriages of radioactive animal carcasses travelled
for five years around the Soviet Union being rejected by every state,
returning to Chernobyl to be buried – train and all.

He helped fill a 4 sq mile dump with radioactive lorries, cement mixers,
trains and helicopters. He knows where the Chernobyl bodies are buried, he
says, because he was the grave digger. “We made up the response as we went
along,” he says. “It was hell.”
OPTIMISTIC
Tatuyan has now retired, an invalid. He says he surely saved many lives and
made great parts of the Ukraine semi-habitable, but the price is a heart
condition, an enlarged thyroid, diabetes, pains in the right side of his
body, breathing difficulties and headaches.

But he is optimistic and, like several million people across Ukraine,
Belarus and southern Russia, says he now looks at his life in terms of the
time before and after Chernobyl. Most of his team of liquidators are dead;
the rest, like him, are ill.

Tatuyan is now 56, and his children and country are proud of him. For him,
the effect of the radiation on the environment was shocking. “The first
thing we noticed was that many miles of trees in the forest turned red,” he
says. “They had to be cut down and buried. All the animals left. The birds
did not come back for four years. It was strange not hearing them.

“In the winter of 1986/87, there was an infestation of mice because the
crops had not been harvested. So the population of foxes increased. Most of
them had rabies, and hunters were called to come and kill them. The wild
pigs came back first. Then the wolves. Because people were evacuated,
thinking they would be gone for only a few days, they left their dogs. But
the dogs then crossed with the wolves and were not afraid of humans. It was
very dangerous.”

Today, the forest is moving in on the modernistic town of Pripyat, built for
the reactor workers just a few miles from the plant. According to
ecologists, weathering, decay and the migration of radionuclides down the
soil have already led to a significant reduction of the contamination of
plants and animals. Some scientists are upbeat.

Biodiversity, says the Institute of Ecology in the Ukraine, has increased
due to the removal of human influence. Moose, wild boar, roe and red deer,
beavers, wolves, badgers, otters and lynx have all been reported in the
area, and species associated with humans – rats, house mice, sparrows and
pigeons – have all declined. Indeed, of 270 species of birds in the area,
180 are breeding.

But it is not as simple as that. Other scientists report mammals
experiencing heavy doses from internally deposited Caesium-137 and
Strontium-90 radioactive fallout. One study has found mutations in 18
generations of birds; another that radioactivity levels in trees are still
rising. Contamination has been found migrating into underground aquifers.

Levels of Caesium-137 are expected to remain high all over Europe for
decades, says the United Nations. In parts of Germany, Austria, Italy,
Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Poland, levels in wild game, mushrooms,
berries and fish from some lakes are well over a safe dose, as they are in
all the most affected regions of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

In Britain, there are still restrictions on milk on 375 hill farms, mainly
in Snowdonia and the Lake District. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of square
miles of agricultural land still cannot be used for farming until the soil
has been remediated.

Humans have fared badly. In the past few weeks four major scientific reports
have challenged the World Health Organisation (WHO), which believes that
only 50 people have died and 9,000 may over the coming years. The reports
widely accuse WHO of ignoring the evidence and dismissing illnesses that
many doctors in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus say are worsening, especially in
children of liquidators.

The charge is led by the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, which last
week declared that 212,000 people have now died as a direct consequence of
Chernobyl. Meanwhile, a major report commissioned by Greenpeace considers
the evidence of 52 scientists and estimates the deaths and illnesses to be
93,000 termi nal cancers already and perhaps 100,000 deaths in time. A
further report for European parliamentarians suggested 60,000 deaths. In
truth no one knows.

More than 500km from Chernobyl, the peasant farmers of the village of
Boudimca, one of the most affected in Ukraine, refuse to leave, despite the
fact that many of their children are suffering from acute radiation
diseases. Every child in Boudimca has a thyroid problem – known as the
“Chernobyl necklace”.

The villagers are attached to the land.”We would prefer to die in our own
land rather than go somewhere else and not survive,” says Valentina
Molchanovich, one of whose daughters is in hospital in Vilne with radiation
sickness. “We understand the paradox, but we prefer to stay.”

Though they live simple lives – each family has a cow, ducks and a few
chickens – they suffer all the ailments of stressed out western executives:
high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes and respiratory problems. They know
that the berries and the mushrooms they have always lived on are
contaminated. “We are just so used to living here,” says Molchanovich. “My
parents lived here. We build our houses together. We are a very tight
community.”

But others are, literally, dying to leave the village. Mikola Molchanovich,
a distant relation, is the father of Sasha, a 12- year-old girl who this
month was also being treated for constant stomach aches in a children’s
hospital in Rivne.

He says: “My wife is in hospital giving birth, my son is in another hospital
being treated for radiation sickness. My sister has 30,000 becquerels [units
of radioactivity] in her body. Some people have 80,000, or more.

“This is our community; my parents lived and died here. We used to be able
to collect 100kg of mushrooms a day – the whole village would collect them.
Some of our cows have leukaemia. The people who moved away from the village
are healthier and better. I would go if I had the chance. But I am trapped.
I cannot sell my house because it is contaminated. People are becoming
weaker. We cannot feel it, we cannot see it, yet we are not afraid of it.
SITUATION WORSENING
“Everyone who helped on the clean up is now ill,” says Tatiana, a senior
doctor at the Dispensary for Radiological Protection at Rivne. “The
situation is worsening. In 1985, we had four lymph cancers a year. Now we
have seven times that many.

We have between five and eight people a year with rare bone cancers, when
we never had any. We expect more cancers, and ill health. One in three
pregnancies here are malformed. We are overwhelmed.”

A doctor in the local region’s children’s hospital says: “The children born
to the people who cleaned up Chernobyl are dying very young. We are finding
Caesium and Strontium in breast milk and the placenta. More children now
have leukaemias, and there has been a quadrupling of spina bifida cases.

There are more clusters of cancers. Children are being born with stunted
growth and dwarf torsos, without thighs. I would expect more of this over
the years.”

Tatuyan is now an environmentalist, convinced that nuclear power is no
answer. “I go to the forest with friends to care for the deer,” he says.

Tonight, he and the other liquidators will meet and celebrate the 20 years.
“When we meet we make the same toast. We say: ‘Let’s meet again alive.'”

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14. UKRAINE PRES URGES INTL AID FOR CHERNOBYL-HIT REGION

Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 24, 2006

KIEV – Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko appealed to the international
community for financial help Monday, days before the 20th anniversary of the
Chernobyl disaster, to help regenerate the surrounding region.

“We need to get rid of the Chernobyl stereotype as an incurable inflammation
on the body of Ukraine,” Yushchenko said, opening an international
conference of radiation and health experts in the Ukrainian capital. “This
is land – land we should recover and put back to life…A new day should
come to the Chernobyl area, a day of its recovery.”

That will require money – far more than this cash-strapped ex-Soviet
republic can afford, Yushchenko said, noting that Ukraine had already spent
$15 billion on Chernobyl-related projects.

The April 26, 1986, explosion at Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 spewed radiation
across much of northern Europe over a 10-day period, resulting in the
evacuation of more than 100,000 people and the contamination of more than
200,000 square kilometers of European land.

Death tolls connected to the explosion, which released about 400 times more
radiation than the U.S. atom bomb dropped over Hiroshima, remain hotly
debated, though at least 31 people died as a direct result of trying to
contain the fire.

Thousands have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and the U.N. health
agency said that about 9,300 people were likely to die of cancers caused by
radiation. Some groups, however, including Greenpeace, have put the numbers
10 times higher.

“The toll of the accident was huge, that is clear. And we can never forget
the problems it caused, but there is a way forward,” said U.N. Assistant
Secretary-General Kalman Mizsei, defending last year’s U.N. Chernobyl Forum
report that found the biggest obstacle to recovery was a sense of malaise
and fear among residents – rather than lingering radiation.

The U.N. report concluded that most of those affected received such low
doses of radiation that it was unlikely to have had any significant health
effects. “The 5 million residents of contaminated areas need not live in
fear of radiation – and that is a hopeful finding,” Mizsei said.

The three-day conference in Kiev, titled “Twenty Years after The Chernobyl
Accident. Future Outlook,” was being co-hosted by numerous U.N. agencies,
the European Commission and the governments of Russia and Belarus. It was
aimed at “reviewing and better using the experience gained from the accident
and enabling the world to be better prepared for a future accident of this
magnitude,” conference organizers said.

Yushchenko complained that even 20 years after the accident, much still
remained unknown about the tragedy, saying that people deserved truth more
than anything. He said that while the accident was horrific with almost
unspeakable consequences, it should not be used as a “black spot on energy
technology.”

“We have learned some lessons,” said Yushchenko, who has expressed his
backing for nuclear energy as a way to reduce Ukraine’s energy dependence on
Russian gas supplies.

Environmentalists protested outside the Ukrainian Opera House, where the
conference was held, carrying signs that read: “Remember Chernobyl. No
new Reactors.” -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15. CHERNOBYL: 20 YEARS, NO END IN SIGHT TO THE SUFFERING

John Vidal and Mark Milner, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hundreds of thousands of people across Europe will today commemorate the
20th anniversary of the world’s worst human-made disaster – when Reactor 4
at the Chernobyl nuclear power complex exploded during a routine safety test
and sent a plume of radioactivity a mile high to drift over 40% of Europe
and as far away as Japan. Between 50 and 250 million curies of radiation,
approximately equal to 100 medium-sized atomic bombs, was unleashed.fd

But there will be no celebrations of progress in Ukraine – home to
Chernobyl – Russia, or Belarus, the three most affected countries, which
said yesterday they were struggling with a legacy of ill-health, poverty and
psychological illnesses affecting their people.

Yesterday Belarus said that one-sixth of the country was still contaminated
and the disaster had cost it $235bn (£131.5bn) so far. In a separate study,
scientists said the health of the 200,000 people in Ukraine who took part in
the cleanup had been badly affected. Across the region, hospitals said they
were overwhelmed by people with thyroid cancers, children with genetic
mutations and adolescents with radiation-linked illnesses.

But while five independent scientific studies in the last two weeks,
including one by the Russia’s academy of sciences, have estimated that
between 30,000 and 250,000 people have died so far as a result of the
disaster, yesterday the World Health Organisation maintained its figure that
only 50 people died and that it expects perhaps 9,000 to die eventually from
the accident.

Greg Hartl, a WHO spokesman, said a generation of people had become deeply
disturbed and poverty and lifestyle illnesses had scarred large populations.
“The relocation of people proved a … traumatic experience because of
disruption to social networks and the impossibility of returning home,” he
said.

Although vast areas across the three countries are technically
uninhabitable, several hundred people have either refused to go or are now
moving in to the abandoned houses in the “dead zone” surrounding the
reactor.

In Chernobyl, Ivan Benidenko, his wife Natalya and father Petro have moved
back, but say they get their food supplies from outside. “I am from here, I
like living here. Now we are trying to rebuild a life,” said Ivan. “This is
the birth of a new community. It is our big hope, even though there are no
children.”

On the edge of a forest, Maria Urupa and her husband Mikhail were both
victims who refused to leave in 1986 and now take their chances. They eat
contaminated berries and mushrooms. “I am afraid of nothing here. Our
neighbours were very ill, and many who left have died, and my son had
stomach illnesses for years but we are lucky. We would die if we left,” she
said.

Meanwhile, the future of the reactor is uncertain. A sarcophagus of nearly
700,000 tonnes of steel and 400,000 tonnes of concrete was hastily built to
seal the reactor in 1986, but this is now leaking and close to the end of
its life.

Vince Novak, the director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development’s nuclear safety department who is in charge of the bank’s
Chernobyl project said: “How the Soviets built [the sarcophagus] in 1986 for
me is almost a miracle. I can’t think of anyone else being able to do it in
the way they did it.”

The plan now is to construct a giant steel arch, costing nearly $1.2bn,
which will be installed over the site. But this will not be ready for five
years.

The structure will last 100 years but because 200 tonnes of uranium and
almost a tonne of elements including plutonium are still inside the power
station, as well as vast amounts of radioactive water and dust, the reactor
may have to be monitored forever.
————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukraine/story/0,,1761437,00.html
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16. CANADA TO GIVE $8MILLION CANADIAN DOLLARS MORE
FOR BUILDING CHERNOBYL REACTOR SHELTOR

Associated Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tue, April 25, 2006

OTTAWA – Canada announced Tuesday it would contribute an additional
C$8 million to help complete a concrete shelter over the damaged reactor at
the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay made the announcement on the eve of
the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy in Ukraine, the world’s worst
nuclear accident.

The 1986 explosion and fire at Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4 spewed radiation
over much of northern Europe. Engineers hastily erected a shelter over the
damaged reactor, while the rest of the plant continued to operate until
2000.

Experts say the shelter over Reactor No. 4 is now crumbling, and needs to be
replaced. The Group of Eight, the European Union, Ukraine and other
countries have pledged funding for the project, which is estimated to cost
US$420 million.

MacKay said the funding would bring Canada’s total contribution to
Chernobyl-related projects to C$66.2 million. -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17. AUTHORITIES ACCUSED OF DOWNPLAYING CHERNOBYL
CONSEQUENCES IN FRANCE

Associated Press (AP), Paris, France, Tue, April 25, 2006

PARIS – French children drank radioactive milk and radiation still pocks
Alpine valleys because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, according to
researchers and cancer victims who accuse authorities of downplaying the
disaster’s consequences in France.

Government agencies have adjusted some of their initial estimates of
radiation released from the world’s worst nuclear accident, 20 years ago
Wednesday. They deny any intentional deception, however, and say critics
exaggerate the health and environmental damage.

The French government has been widely ridiculed for insisting after the 1986
accident the radiation didn’t reach France, though neighboring countries all
said it had passed through their skies. Some say France was protecting its
powerful nuclear industry.

“The government didn’t want to know,” said Roland Desbordes, head of the
respected Commission for Independent Research and Information on
Radioactivity. “It was content to say: We saw nothing, therefore there was
nothing.”

The commission, which has been monitoring radiation levels since the
accident, says they were 100 to 1,000 times higher than the government
initially reported. Pockets of radiation from Chernobyl settled in crevices
and valleys in the Alps and have remained, the commission says.

More than 500 people who have developed thyroid and other cancers they
believe are linked to the accident have pressed charges against the French
government since 2001. The cases are still under review, as prosecutors
consider whether to reduce the charge to “deception” instead of “voluntary
violence,” as the victims are seeking.

Death tolls connected to the Chernobyl explosion remain hotly debated. The
U.N. health agency said about 9,300 people, mostly in the former Soviet
Union, were likely to die of cancers caused by radiation, but some groups
put the numbers 10 times higher.

France’s Agriculture Ministry said at the time of the blast that food wasn’t
affected. No warnings were issued and no products were pulled from shelves,
as happened elsewhere. Other European countries said children should be kept
inside and recommended drinking powdered milk. Poland and Germany
distributed or recommended iodine tablets to protect thyroid glands from
radiation. France did none of these things.

Then, in a 1997 report, the government radiation safety agency admitted
leafy vegetables in northwest France and meat and milk from animals that ate
them, including cows and sheep, contained unusually high levels of radiation
following the accident. In 2005, the safety agency released “readjusted”
figures showing radiation levels in 1986 were 1,000 times higher in some
areas than initially registered.

The environment minister at the time, Alain Carignon, later said he was
“tormented” by the Chernobyl experience and regretted not being able to give
the population more information.

Didier Champion, a director at the government radiation safety agency today,
said it remains a “puzzle” how his predecessors made their calculations.

French nuclear industry officials have denied pressuring the government to
downplay the accident’s consequences. Influential reactor-maker Areva
(427583.FR) called the accident “a catastrophe that sent the nuclear
industry to work on safety, responsibility and transparency.”

France is more dependent on any other country on nuclear energy, yet has
had little of the public debate about nuclear power seen elsewhere in Europe
before and since Chernobyl.

“It’s to protect the French nuclear image that they decided to hide the
consequences of the Chernobyl cloud,” said Stephoane Lhomme, activist
with the Get Out of Nuclear group. He called the official data “either serious
incompetence or a deliberate underestimation.”

Tuesday, about 20 French activists tried to block a truck carrying
radioactive materials near Cherbourg on the Atlantic Coast.
Wearing yellow smocks reading “Citizens’ Inspection,” the activists
stretched out across a highway, sounded a siren and waved flares shooting
white smoke. Riot police accompanying the truck dispersed the group
peacefully. -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
18. CHERNOBYL: THE GERMANY SYNDROME

COMMENTARY: Essay By Michael Miersch
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Friday, April 21, 2006

Chernobyl fever has hit Germany. Nowhere else in the world, Ukraine probably
included, did the reactor accident of April 26, 1986, leave such deep scars.
In Germany it is considered the greatest manmade civil catastrophe of the
20th century, a warning against the incalculable risks of technological
progress.

A plethora of events commemorate its 20th anniversary. Activists from the
German branch of Friends of the Earth have been marching since March through
12 German cities, carrying with them giant models of nuclear reactors and
the concrete sarcophagus built around the Chernobyl reactor to contain
radioactive debris.

Greenpeace Germany is organizing Chernobyl exhibitions in several cities and
a demonstration next week in Munich. On Sunday, a memorial service will be
held in a church in Frankfurt. Movie theaters are showing “The Cloud,” an
apocalyptic fantasy about a fictional nuclear disaster in Germany.

The movie is based on a children’s book of the same name published in 1987
and inspired by the Chernobyl accident. It instantly became standard reading
material at German high schools.

The Chernobyl accident triggered in the Western part of the then
still-divided Germany an apocalyptic cult. Mothers placed blankets over
their baby carriages to protect children from nuclear fallout. Others didn’t
even let their children outside. A facility was built for several million
deutsche marks to decontaminate so-called “radioactive whey.”

Nobody seemed to care that it contained less radiation than many food items
contain naturally. Railroad cars carrying the harmless powder were guarded
by the Bundeswehr. Only the East Germans were happy because there was
finally enough fresh fruit and vegetables in the “worker and farmer
state” — at least as long as West Germans refused to buy East German
agricultural products out of fear that they could be radioactive. Twenty
years later, the statistics in Germany show no increase in either cancer or
birth defects.

Chernobyl was the powerful myth that catapulted the Greens into the
mainstream, for the first time aligning their policy goals with the thinking
of the middle class. In the first parliamentary elections following
Chernobyl, in 1987, they received a sensational 8.3%, up from 5.6% in the
previous election. At the same time, the Social Democrats had to become
“greener” to compete for voters.

The accident ultimately carried the Red-Green alliance into power.
Chernobyl’s real long-term effect in Germany wasn’t higher cancer rates but
the Schröder-Fischer government.

Chernobyl still smolders deep within the soul of every German over 30. This
is also a result of the media’s (mis)reporting, overwhelmingly reflecting
the fears and prognoses of the environmental doomsayers. Scientists and
experts on radiation were almost entirely discredited as puppets of the
nuclear lobby.

Sensational television programs showed miscarriages and birth defects that
had nothing to do with Chernobyl but were filmed in completely different
parts of the former Soviet Union.

These days, few newspapers bothered to report, and if so only in the back
pages, a major study by the World Health Organization, the International
Atomic Energy Agency and other U.N. agencies. It’s a pity the German public
remains largely uninformed about this report as it refutes pretty much all
the common misconceptions about Chernobyl.

Dr. Burton Bennett, head of the U.N.’s Chernobyl Forum, summarizes it as
follows: “This was a very serious accident with major health consequences,
especially for thousands of workers exposed in the early days who received
very high radiation doses, and for the thousands more stricken with thyroid
cancer.

By and large, however, we have not found profound negative health impacts to
the rest of the population in surrounding areas, nor have we found
widespread contamination that would continue to pose a substantial threat to
human health, with a few exceptional, restricted areas.”

According to the report, fewer than 50 deaths can so far be attributed
directly to radiation. In addition, nine children have died of thyroid
cancer. Several thousand became sick with it, but the survival rate for
thyroid cancer is now 99%. The scientists predict that over the next 70
years a total of around 4,000 people will eventually contract cancer and die
earlier than they would have if the accident hadn’t happened.

Every death is tragic but these figures are far below those cited in
Germany, where a macabre argument has broken out about the number of
victims. Opponents of nuclear energy are protesting the U.N. report. The
German section of Greenpeace said this week that 93,000 people died.

Renate Künast, parliamentary head of the Greens, recently spoke of 100,000
dead. Earlier this month, the German section of International Physicians for
the Prevention of Nuclear War put the death toll at 264,000. For many
Germans, the catastrophe simply cannot be less than what they so long have
believed it to be.

It is during all that Chernobyl hype that government and industry are
discussing Germany’s energy future. The problems are the same as nearly
everywhere: Wind and solar energy are expensive and often unreliable. Coal
burning releases too much carbon dioxide. Oil and gas create dependencies on
countries one prefers not to depend on.

But discussing nuclear power in Germany remains a taboo. The previous
Red-Green government ordered all nuclear power plants to be gradually shut
down by 2021. Today they supply roughly a third of the country’s
electricity. Around the world, over 100 new nuclear reactors are being built
or planned. But a majority of Germans still regards nuclear energy as the
devil’s handiwork.

From the Greens’ perspective, anyone who doubts the apocalyptic version is
either cynical or has been bought. As with the alleged death of forests
(Waldsterben), the belief in the Chernobyl apocalypse has become a question
of conviction. Unfortunately, an industrialized country’s energy needs can’t
be met with a surplus of conviction. -30-
———————————————————————————————–
Mr. Miersch, a columnist for Die Welt, regularly addresses the German
state of mind on his Web site, www.maxeiner-miersch.de. Belinda Cooper
translated this essay from the German.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
19. DECLARED DEAD AFTER CHERNOBYL, NUCLEAR LIVES AGAIN

FEATURE ARTICLE: By Jeremy Lovell
Reuters News Service, London, UK, Friday, April 21, 2006

LONDON – When reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in
Ukraine exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radioactive dust over much of
Europe, many people believed the disaster sounded the death knell for
nuclear power.

The radioactive fallout — up to 10 times the amount released during the
Hiroshima atomic bombing in 1945 — spread across Ukraine and its neighbours
and reached eastern Europe, Scandinavia, northern Britain and even eastern
United States.

Estimates of human deaths from the explosion vary from tens to thousands.
The accident made Chernobyl a global byword for all the perceived ills of
nuclear power. But 20 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, atomic
power is back in favour in several countries.

“The safety record of the nuclear industry since Chernobyl has been very
good. Predictions of a major incident every 10 years have simply proved
incorrect,” Malcolm Grimston of the Royal Institute for International
Affairs think-tank said. “Fossil fuel prices have shot up in the past
decade, so the economic argument has swung back in favour of nuclear power.”

Booming economy China is embarking on a major nuclear building programme,
the United States has given the green light to new nuclear plants and at
least 15 other nations from Turkey to Australia are considering nuclear
power. Britain is debating whether to renew ageing nuclear plants, —
despite sharp controversy — and the Group of Eight rich nations is expected
to endorse atomic power at a July summit.
NUCLEAR AGE?
The reasons for nuclear’s rehabilitation are simple, although they stem from
intractable global challenges. Many scientists say global warming, blamed in
large part on the burning of fossil fuels in power plants, factories and
cars, could herald catastrophic climate changes such as more droughts.

Turmoil in the Middle East, declining reserves of oil and gas elsewhere and
the rising power of unpredictable, energy-rich Russia have pushed security
of supply up the political agenda.

The nuclear industry boasts it has zero carbon emissions and, as fuel can be
stored for decades, is not at the mercy of international supply chains such
as those for oil and gas.

“Nuclear is emerging as the lowest cost option with likely forward high
fossil fuel prices, the greenhouse gas issue and likelihood of costs being
imposed on CO2 emissions,” said Ian Hore-Lacy of the World Nuclear
Association (WNA), which aims to promote nuclear power as a sustainable
energy resource.

Those opposed to nuclear power say, however, that the question of what to do
with nuclear waste, which has a lethal life measured in thousands of years,
has not been resolved.

There are about 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 31
countries supplying about 16 percent of the world’s electricity, ranging
from 78 percent in France to two percent in China, according to the WNA.

At a March meeting of the Group of Eight, Russia and the United States urged
the world to embrace nuclear power to guarantee stable energy supplies and
cut dangerous emissions. Russia said “safe and secure” nuclear power
represented a crucial alternative for countries that choose to use it.

Rapidly developing countries like India are banking on nuclear in their
quest for unlimited energy supplies, but some analysts say they could simply
be exchanging reliance on Middle East oil and gas for dependence on a
45-nation club of nuclear fuel suppliers.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
The nuclear industry’s most optimistic scenario sees atomic power providing
half the world’s electricity in less than 50 years, but while it may be
ready to celebrate nuclear’s rebirth, opposition from the green movement is
mounting.

Anti-nuclear campaigners note huge cost overruns on building nuclear plants,
the need for massive state subsidies to make atomic power economically
viable and the fact that no new designs for plants have been proven on a
commercial scale yet.

They also say that the massive expenditure needed for nuclear power would
divert much needed resources from cleaner and cheaper alternatives like
wind, solar, waves and biomass.

“There is a real chance to give power to the people,” said Philip Sellwood
of the Energy Saving Trust (EST), a British body funded by government and
industry to promote energy efficiency. “It would be extremely unfortunate if
we say this is a large-scale technology solution. We would fail to deliver
on the environment, security of supply or cost,” he told Reuters.

Environmentalists are not alone in raising danger flags. A report this month
from a British all-party parliamentary group warned the government, faced
with having to shut down all but one of its ageing nuclear plants within a
decade, not to rush a decision on a new generation of nuclear power
stations. “Over the next 10 years, nuclear power cannot contribute either to
the need for more generating capacity or to carbon reductions as it simply
could not be built in time,” it said.

The report said many issues — like long-term waste disposal, public
acceptability and the availability of uranium — still needed to be
resolved, and it raised questions of safety, the risk of terrorist attacks
and nuclear proliferation.

Hore-Lacy dismissed the worries as “fear-mongering”, while Grimston said
that, on paper at least, nuclear technology was now cheaper, more reliable
and safer.

“On safety, Chernobyl was a flawed design — which is why it wasn’t licensed
here — that was badly operated,” said Grimston, who pointed out that nobody
was hurt in America’s worst nuclear accident in 1979 at the Three Mile
Island plant in Pennsylvania.

For Greenpeace nuclear specialist Jean McSorley, the industry’s optimism is
a case of smoke and mirrors. “There are still more reactors round the world
planned for closure than construction. I think this is very good public
relations from an industry that knows that if not now — with high energy
prices — then it will be never,” she said. -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
20. COMMEMORATION OF THE CHERNOBYL DISASTER:
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE TWENTY YEARS LATER
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 – 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C
.

The Kennen Institute, Washington, D.C., April, 2006

WASHINGTON – On April 26, 1986, the nuclear power plant in a small
city north of Kyiv in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
exploded, making the name of the city-Chernobyl-a household word around
the world.

In the almost twenty years since the accident, we have learned much
about its causes, immediate consequences, and long-term aftermath.
However, although many people know the basic story of Chernobyl, for U.S.
audiences the details and the human experience of Chernobyl have faded.

The Kennan Institute, in cooperation with the University of Alberta and the
Harriman Institute, will commemorate the disaster on its twentieth
anniversary in an attempt to help to bring the personal side of the story
back into the spotlight. The event will be held Wednesday, April 26, 2006 –
8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.
————————————————————————————————-
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1424&fuseaction=topics.event_summary&event_id=174453
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR
========================================================
21. 20th ANNIVERSARY CHORNOBYL COMMEMORATION

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL AND REQUIEM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 7 PM, Washington, D.C.
The Washington Group, Washington, D.C., April, 2006
WASHINGTON – The Washington Group in cooperation with The
Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC and the Washington, DC
area Ukrainian churches invite you to a 20th Anniversary Chornobyl
Commemoration Candlelight Vigil and Requiem.

The event will be held at the Taras Shevchenko Monument, 22nd and

P St. NW, Washington, DC which is near the Dupont Metro station
Please bring candles. -30-
—————————————————————————————–
For more information please contact: Andrew Sorokowski,
202-514-1822or Adrian Pidlusky 240-381-0993
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
22. CHORNOBYL: THE NEXT GENERATION
Conference, Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, April 29, 2006, 9 a.m.

Chornobyl: The Next Generation” Coalition, Chicago, Illinois, April 2006

CHICAGO – A coalition of professional, educational and community
organizations in Chicago is hosting the conference “Chornobyl: The Next
Generation” to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear plant
disaster.

The conference will be held Saturday, April 29, 9:00 am- 5:00 pm, at the
School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, Il.

It will be preceded by an evening reception on Friday, April 28 at the
Ukrainian National Museum of Chicago which will be showing a special
Chornobyl exhibit.

The conference will examine the ongoing health and social effects of the
disaster on Ukraine and Belarus. Participants will discuss the effects on
both countries and provide new information on consequences that continue

to have an impact on the residents of Ukraine, Belarus and many other
countries.

The distinguished panel of experts includes: David Marples, professor of
history, University of Alberta, Edmonton, and the author of “The Social
Impact of the Chornobyl Disaster,” Dr. Ihor Masnyk, director of the
Chornobyl Research Project, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Dr. A. E.
Okeanov, vice rector, International Sakharov Environmental University,
Belarus and Dr. Pavlo Zamostyan, Project Manager, UN Chornobyl

Recovery and Development Program.

Also on the agenda are discussions of the sarcophagus and international
relief efforts, as well as nuclear energy safety, with presentations by Dr.
Andrew Sowder, U.S. Department of State, Gordon Fowler, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Daria and Karim Khan, Shelter Implementation

Plan, Alex Kuzma, Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund,
and others.

The conference was organized through the joint efforts of the Ukrainian
Business and Professional Group of Chicago, the Ukrainian Medical
Association of North America-Illinois Chapter, the Ukrainian Engineers’
Society, Chicago Chapter, and the University of Illinois at Chicago
Occupational Health and Safety Center.

Pre-registration by April 26 is required. The registration fee is $35
general public, $15 students, $10 for box lunches. Register and pay by
credit card at (312) 996-6904 or online at
http://128.248.232.70/glakes/ce/register.asp?gid=369.
For additional information, call Anna Mostovych at 847-359-3676 or

Marijka at 773-883-9737. -30-

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
23. LEGACY OF THE CHORNOBYL DISASTER, TWENTY YEARS ON

Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)
Australia, Thursday, April 20, 2006

Australians should take a moment to pause and reflect on the effects of
the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, twenty years on from the tragic events of
26 April 1986,

It was a cool Saturday night in northern Ukraine when one of the four
nuclear reactors at the Chornobyl power station, located 130 kilometers
north of Kyiv near the town of at Prypyiat, exploded and released clouds
of deadly radioactive particles.

Over the next few days Soviet authorities slowly evacuated over 100,000
people from areas of northern Ukraine, southern Belarus and Russia as
radioactive clouds spread across Europe.

“The world should never forget what happened in Chornobyl and the legacy
that accident has left upon tens of thousands of families in Ukraine,
Belarus and Russia” Chairman of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian
Organisations (AFUO) Stefan Romaniw OAM said today.

“While health effects and land contamination levels are decreasing, the
accident has left a major scare on the psyche of the Ukrainian people and
represents one of the most obvious examples of the incompetence of the
Soviet regime.”

Australia’s Ukrainian community has planned a number of ecumenical services
nationally to remember those who had died from the initial explosion at the
huge nuclear power plant, or from after effects from exposure to high doses
of radiation. The AFUO is hosting and touring nationally a photographic
Exhibition Chornobyl 20 Years, 20 Lives by Danish Journalist Photographer
Meds Skeen.

“We would ask all Australians not to forget the tragedy of this event and to
remember the people – particularly the children – who suffered as a result
of the Chornobyl explosion.” Mr. Romaniw said.

“Twenty years on, while the world considers alternative power generation
methods to coal, Chornobyl should remain a legacy of what happens when
dictatorial, unelected governments like the Soviets, use this energy without
proper respect for its power and possible dangers.” Mr. Romaniw said

“We should never lose sight of the fact that hundreds of thousands of lives
were changed forever by the events of the Chornobyl disaster. The AFUO
asks everyone simply to remember the lives lost, the lives scared and those
who are still living with terrible memories from the events of that night.”
Mr. Romaniw said.

“The old Soviet system has much to answer for .To date this system has not
been condemned or held accountable for its then lies, atrocities and blatant
disregard for human life, environment or the future” Mr. Romaniw said.
—————————————————————————————————
AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION OF UKRAINIAN ORGANISATIONS
Representing 24 Peak Ukrainian Organisations in Australia –
Member of Ukrainian World Congress, sromaniw@bigpond.net.au.
————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
24. UKRAINE’S CHERNOBYL PLANT STAFF MOURN COLLEAGUES

By Sergei Karazy, Reuters, Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, 21 Apr 2006

KIEV – Staff from Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power station on duty when
the plant’s fourth reactor exploded 20 years ago honoured colleagues who
died in the aftermath and recalled how the disaster shattered their lives.

Dressed in their best suits and sporting rows of medals, dozens of engineers
and firefighters remembered in vivid detail while gathered in a Kiev
cemetery the terrifying images of a radiation inferno out of control.

“We have summoned our courage and overcome our pain to come today to
bow our heads by these graves,” said Oleksander Zelentsov, head of a group
which brings together those who were at work at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986.

“What we did with our colleagues will always be remembered. The accident
split our lives into ‘before and after’. But we have found strength and life
supporting each other.” After a memorial service in a church, members of
the “Ray 5/2 Union”, so named for the two shifts of the day, laid flowers
and lit candles at the gravesides of dozens who paid with their lives to
contain the world’s worst civil nuclear disaster.

A series of explosions at 1.26 a.m. destroyed reactor No. 4 station and
several hundred staff and firefighters were thrown into the task of tackling
a blaze that burned for 10 days, sending a plume of radiation around the
world.

Flames soared into the sky, sparks cascaded down from cables hanging from
shattered pumps, dirty water gushed in all directions and the reactor’s
wreckage was red hot. Worst of all was a blue-white light shooting
skyward — a shaft of ionising radiation from the exposed reactor core.
LIMITED PROTECTION
Staff toiled without protective clothing and, more often than not, with no
equipment to measure the radiation. Their families were asleep a mere 3 km
(two miles) away in Pripyat, a town specially built along with the plant.
Absorption of huge radiation doses turned out to be fatal for some. Workers
from that shift were ferried to hospitals in Kiev or in Moscow. Many
remained for long periods.

“I worked for the entire night,” said Oleksander Nikhaev, a senior engineer.
“On April 27, I was already in hospital in Moscow. I stayed there until
February 1988. Over 80 percent of my skin had radiation burns. I underwent
19 operations.” Twenty years on, all agree that they had lived two lives.

One was anchored in a stable job, with high pay and comfortable housing in
Pripyat, a model Soviet town near a river bank and abundant forests. he
other life meant hospitals, disease and destitution. “The accident took
everything away. It changed everything. Health, work problems. It was a
calamity,” said Oleksander Ogulov, a Chernobyl engineer.

Time has taken a toll. The Ray 5/2 Union had 250 members when it was
founded. Only 174 are left. “Eight years ago, we brought three baskets of
flowers. Today we bring 12 to this cemetery alone,” Zelentsov said.

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
25. BELARUS SCIENTIST JAILED FOR CRITICISING HANDLING
OF CHERNOBYL DISASTER ARRIVES IN FRANCE

Agence France-Presse, Gmtylon, France, Saturday, 22 April 2006

GMTLYON, France – Belarussian scientist Yuri Bandazhevsky, a specialist
in nuclear medicine who was jailed for criticising the way the effects of the
Chernobyl disaster were dealt with, arrived in France late Friday, local
officials said.

Bandazhevsky, who arrived with his wife Galina on his first trip abroad
since his release last August, is to take up a residential study post in the
central French city of Clermont-Ferrand, mayor Serge Godard said.

Former head of the Gomel medical institute, Bandazhevsky was considered a
prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. He was arrested in late
1999 and sentenced in 2001 to eight years in a labour camp for “corruption.”

Bandazhevsky had accused the authoritarian government of President Alexander
Lukashenko of irresponsibility in dealing with the effects on health of the
1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in neighbouring Ukraine and
concealing the extent of the disaster.

His arrival in France comes a few days before the 20th anniversary of
Chernobyl. Bandazhevsky was made an honorary citizen of Clermont-Ferrand,
which is twinned with Gomel, in 2002. -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
“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
Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only

Additional readers are welcome.
========================================================
SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
“SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”

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.

All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
LINK: http://www.sigmableyzer.com/index.php?action=publications

You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
“UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
========================================================

UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
========================================================

“WELCOME TO UKRAINE”- “NARODNE MYSTETSTVO”

(Folk Art) and ContempoARTukraine MAGAZINES
For information on how to subscribe to the “Welcome to Ukraine” magazine
in English, Ukrainian Folk Art magazine “Narodne Mystetstvo” in Ukrainian,
or ContempoARTukraine in English please send an e-mail to
ArtUkraine.com@starpower.net. Complete information can be found at
========================================================
ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Holodomor Commemorative Exhibition Collection
“Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1. THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Chairperson; Vera M. Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4. ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX 77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM– Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
17. VADIM GORBACH, Consultant, Washington, D.C.
========================================================
TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,

and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net. If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected.
========================================================
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
========================================================
Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#688 Chornobyl Rescue Ark Stalled; Chernobyl Hero, Men Who Saved Europe; Lingering Fallout; Long Chernobyl Shadow

=========================================================
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      

 
      CHORNOBYL +20 – PART III  
 April 26, 2006, 20th Anniversary of the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster
              (Chornobyl +20 – Part  I, AUR#685, Friday,    April 07, 2006)
              (Chornobyl +20 – Part II, AUR#687, Monday, April 24, 2006)
 
   STALLED: THE CHERNOBYL RESCUE ARK
                            
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 688
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
WASHINGTON, D.C., TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 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.                    STALLED: THE CHERNOBYL RESCUE ARK
“New shelter is going to be the eighth wonder of the world – it’s an amazing
   piece of engineering on the scale of the Egyptians building the pyramids.”
Askold Krushelnycky from Chernobyl, Ukraine
The Sunday Times, London, UK, Sunday, April 23, 2006

2.          LESSONS OF CHERNOBYL – HEEDED AND UNHEEDED 

COMMENTARY: Academician Yevgeny Velikhov for RIA Novosti
NIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 17, 2006

3. NUCLEAR TEXTBOOK “CHERNOBYL LESSONS” PROVOKES DEBATE
By Galina Stolyarova,  Staff Writer, St. Petersburg Times
St Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

4CHERNOBYL HERO REMEMBERS THE MEN WHO SAVED EUROPE
Jeremy Page from Moscow, The Times (UK)
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22, 2006

5.    20 YEARS ON: LIFE AND DEATH IN CHERNOBYL’S SHADOW

Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Saturday, April 22, 2006,

6.               GORBACHEV WEIGHS CHERNOBYL LEGACY
    Former leader Mikhail Gorbachev admits some mistakes were made
BBC NEWS, UK,  Saturday, April 22, 2006

7.            “EVERY TYPE OF REACTOR POSES A THREAT”
 Phasing out atomic energy is the best course of action, according to Hirsch
INTERVIEW: With Helmut Hirsch by Christine Harjes
Deutsche Welle, DW.WORLD.DE, Bonn, Germany, Thu, Mar 20, 2006

8CHERNOBYL LEGACY HANGS OVER SWISS ENERGY POLICY
INTERVIEW: With Johann Schneider-Ammann & Rudolf Rechsteiner
Swissinfo Interview by: Urs Maurer and Rita Emch
Swissinfo/Swiss Radio International, Bern, Switzerland, Sunday 23.04.2006


9
GREENPEACE QUESTIONS CHERNOBYL CASUALTY FIGURES
          Children were particularly hit by the high levels of radioactivity
DW-World.de, Deutsche Welle, Bonn Germany, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

10.           THE LINGERING FALLOUT FROM CHERNOBYL
EDITORIAL: The Manila Times, Manila, Philippines, Mon, Apr 24, 2006

11. BELARUS: VILLAGERS RETURN TO CHERNOBYL’S SHADOW
By Maria Danilova, Associated Press Writer, AP
Bartolomeyevka, Belarus, Sunday, April 23, 2006

12.          TRIP TO CHERNOBYL: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY
Twenty years ago Chernobyl power plant exploded. Now a tourist attraction. 

  Joins a group for what must be the most unusual day-trip in the world.
By Bernice Davison, Travel.Telegraph.com
Telegraph, London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22, 2006

13CANADA: MYCHAILO RYNDZAK OF OTTAWA FEELS WHAT HE
           ENDURED AT CHERNOBYL IN 1986 WAS A GENOCIDE
Andrew McLeod, Ottawa Sun, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

14.                    THE LONG SHADOW OF CHERNOBYL                                                 
Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Sun, Apr 23, 2006

15.         CHERNOBYL STILL POISONS BODIES AND MINDS
     20 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, millions have sunk
       into an apathy that lets them eat yields of land they know is tainted
By Alex Rodriguez, Tribune foreign correspondent
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, April 23, 2006

16.                     SURVIVORS REMEMBER CHERNOBYL
By Jonathan Gorvett in Pripyat, Ukraine
Aljazeera.net, Doha, Qatar, Saturday 22 April 2006

17.           CHERNOBYL’S GENERATIONS OF SUFFERING
Juliette Jowit, Reporting for The Observer
Observer, Guardian Unlimited, London, UK, Sunday, April 23 2006
========================================================
1
         STALLED: THE CHERNOBYL RESCUE ARK
         “The new shelter is going to be the eighth wonder of the world –

         it’s an amazing piece of engineering which is on the scale of the
                                Egyptians building the pyramids.”

Askold Krushelnycky from Chernobyl, Ukraine
The Sunday Times, London, UK, Sunday, April 23, 2006

CHERNOBYL – PLANS to build an engineering wonder of the world – a

gigantic lbs300m hangar to prevent a second disaster at Chernobyl – have
been stalled by a series of rows between western donors and the
Ukrainian government.

Known to its designers as “the Ark”, the arch-shaped tubular structure,
360ft high and 900ft across, will make safe the site of the world’s worst
nuclear accident when it is finally given the go-ahead.

Scientists and international aid donors who will meet in Kiev, the Ukrainian
capital, this week on the 20th anniversary of the accident were hoping to
announce approval for work to begin on the Ark. But the project has become
embroiled in wrangling between the donors, the French-led engineering
consortium and the Ukrainian authorities over the tendering procedure.

The massive structure, officially called the New Safe Confinement, is
designed to cover the hastily constructed “sarcophagus” that encases the
highly radioactive remains of Number Four reactor. The sarcophagus was built
within months of the disaster, with helicopters lifting slabs of concrete
into place to cover the devastated reactor building. An estimated 200 tons
of radioactive matter lies within the temporary structure but the
sarcophagus and everything within it are contaminated.

The European Union and other international donors have spent tens of
millions of pounds on stabilising the structure, which many had feared would
collapse, releasing its deadly contents in another calamity.

The new shield has been designed to contain the radioactive remains for the
next 100 years. The Ark is intended not only to enclose the site but to
permit work by remote- controlled devices or specially trained teams to
dismantle and store the lethal material safely.

Large prefabricated portions of the arches will be brought to Chernobyl and
assembled in two halves at a distance from the sarcophagus to minimise
workers’ exposure to radiation. The final operation to lock the two parts
together will be performed within 24 hours by sliding them into place on a
specially constructed railway line.

To enable the ruined reactor to be dismantled, the Ark has been designed to
carry four bridge cranes which will be suspended from the arches. Each crane
will be capable of lifting 100 tons. Railway carriages shielded against the
radiation will transport workers deep into the bowels of the new structure.

Ukraine’s political instability since the Orange revolution 15 months ago –
three ministers have been responsible for the scheme in that time – has
added to the air of uncertainty surrounding the Ark project.

The funds for the programme, to total ?600m, are being administered by the
London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Vince

Novak, the director of the bank’s nuclear safety department, said: “It is
disappointing we won’t be able to declare on the 20th anniversary that work
on the new shelter is to commence.” But he predicted the dispute would be
resolved soon. “Hopefully a new government will be in place which will
realise there is no alternative to proceed.”

David Sycamore, a Briton who works for the EU’s delegation in Kiev, said:
“If a similar disaster had happened in Britain the sarcophagus couldn’t have
been built in such a short time because in a democracy you couldn’t have
ordered people into a fatally dangerous zone.

“The new shelter is going to be the eighth wonder of the world – it’s an
amazing piece of engineering which is on the scale of the Egyptians building
the pyramids.”

Ukrainians maintain that tens of thousands of people have died of
radiation-related illnesses. After the disaster the city of Pripyat, which
housed Chernobyl’s workers and their families, was emptied of inhabitants.
Today it has a chilling, post-apocalyptic look to it.

Ragged curtains blow through the broken windows of apartments in deserted
and crumbling high-rise blocks. The streets with their Lenin statues and
fading posters exhorting a march towards a communist paradise are being
reclaimed by vegetation.

The 47 villages in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl were also evacuated,
but scores of mainly elderly people who could not adapt to the cramped city
apartments they were offered, have returned surreptitiously. Eventually the
authorities were forced tacitly to accept their presence. The zone’s
inhabitants can collect their pensions and once every two weeks each village
is visited by a policeman to check that everyone is still alive.

Adam Lahovskiy, an 82-year-old war veteran who lives in a small,
single-storey timber cottage, said: “I was not going to allow the Chernobyl
disaster to drive me out.” His wife Nina said that a van selling bread and
other staples visited once a week and they spent their pension on food and
medicine. They keep chickens and supplement their diet with berries and wild
mushrooms – some of the food most contaminated by radiation. Their son
visits regularly to help out.

Herds of boars are among the wildlife now thriving in the exclusion zone
despite the radiation. Mostly free of human predators, the area provides
sanctuary for moose, rare Przewalski horses and even wolves.

Although most Ukrainians wanted to close down their nuclear industry for
years after the accident, four other power stations – including Europe’s
largest at Zaporizhya – have continued to operate.

Ukraine is dependent for much of its energy, especially gas, on Russia,
which quadrupled prices earlier this year as punishment for Ukraine straying
away from Moscow’s orbit and cultivating closer ties with the EU and Nato.

Developing the country’s nuclear industry has become a priority: Ukraine
wants to build up to 13 more reactors for its own needs and to export
electricity to western Europe. David Corbett from Lancashire, who works for
a private company hired by the EU, said: “We are here to ensure another
Chernobyl can never happen.”                        -30-
—————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,2763-2147667_1,00.html
————————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. LESSONS OF CHERNOBYL – HEEDED AND UNHEEDED 

 
COMMENTARY: Academician Yevgeny Velikhov for RIA Novosti
NIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 17, 2006

MOSCOW – Now that 20 years have passed since the Chernobyl tragedy I

would like to express my opinion on certain things. It is very important to assess
Chernobyl correctly through the prism of real facts and risks.
 
In many cases, its aftermath was exaggerated hundreds and even thousands of
times, and not without a contribution of the press. This had adverse effects
because words are a factor, which seriously affects people’s health. The damage
done to the economy and social life in a whole number of areas was also
associated with the wrong information and misjudgment.

The medical records of the exposed people do not confirm that Chernobyl had
a disastrous effect on their health. Here is an example from the statistics
of the Kurchatov Institute Medical Service: all of its 600 research fellows
who have regularly visited Chernobyl during these twenty years (and some of
whom are still there) have good health records and continue working.

Or take a different aspect: Chernobyl showed that the nation was not ready
for a disaster, although a similar case took place before. An explosion
followed by radioactive emission occurred at the Chelyabinsk Mayak Chemical
Plant in the Urals in 1957. The Soviet authorities instructed to classify
all information concerning the accident, including the analysis and
conclusions made by the best scientists and experts who had been studying
the causes and consequences of the accident at Mayak.

There is one more sad lesson: the priceless Chernobyl experience, which was
not classified, proved to be useless anyway. Nobody in the whole world has
asked for it, or tried to study. This is very bad because this experience
is extremely valuable. It can be used for modeling human conduct in an
emergency, or for special training.

 
Regrettably, it is impossible to completely rule out the risk of technological
accidents at nuclear power plants, although very much has been done to enhance
the safety of atomic power engineering in the years since Chernobyl. Nor can we
ignore today’s political situation with its real threat of terrorism.

Even in Russia we do not keep the Chernobyl experience at hand, which would
be a reasonable thing to do. Only atomic scientists have learnt the
Chernobyl lessons really well. The RBMK reactors (the first type of the
Soviet reactor at nuclear power plants) were immediately upgraded and made
safe. They continue working successfully.

 
Hence, it was possible to make them reliable even before the tragedy, but a
mistake was made. This was the problem rather than the fault of the then
young nuclear power engineering. For lack of experience accidents at the
first nuclear facilities took place in other countries as well, not just here.

Although nothing is completely failsafe, today we guarantee the safety of
reactors. We also guarantee that even if an accident happens by virtue of
some incredible reason, it will not lead to evacuation or have any other
negative effects on the health and prosperity of the people involved.

In the last 10 years Russia has not built a single new nuclear power plant
but the generation of nuclear energy grew from 12% to 17% for this period.
This growth has been achieved by better control, modernization of nuclear
power plants, and a whole number of other factors. Natural resources – oil,
gas and coal — are non-renewable, and the world’s energy requirements are
growing. In this context nuclear power engineering has very good prospects
and no real competitors today. Further progress is simply impossible
without it.

Since the tragic day 20 years ago the physicists have been trying hard to
defeat radio phobia, and prove to the people that atomic power engineering
brings light and heat to their homes. Have they done all they could? The
drawbacks which this industry had, and some of which were revealed by
Chernobyl have been largely overcome. Nuclear power engineering has evolved
incredible safety measures. I’d call some of them even somewhat excessive.

In general, the experience amassed today by the physicists and designers,
and the high safety standards of nuclear power engineering guarantee that
accidents similar to Chernobyl will never repeat.

The likelihood of serious accidents at nuclear power plants is very low; it
is much lower than in mining or the chemical industry, or on regular
transport. Our phobia of nuclear power engineering is largely a prejudice.
————————————————————————————————
Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, Russian Academy of Sciences, President

of the Kurchatov Institute Russian Research Center.
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3. TEXTBOOK “CHERNOBYL LESSONS” PROVOKES DEBATE

By Galina Stolyarova,  Staff Writer, St. Petersburg Times
St Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

As the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster approaches on
April 26, a group of Russian environmentalists has published a school
textbook about the accident and begun nationwide distribution.

Titled “Chernobyl Lessons”, the book, put together by experts from
Ecodefense, Greenpeace Russia and Bellona, describes the disaster and its
consequences in great detail, explaining the dangers of radiation,
analyzing the mistakes that were made and suggesting protection strategies
for similar situations.

The lectures give a critical assessment of nuclear industry in general, and
offer a comparative study of the risks and benefits of nuclear industry
versus renewable energy, such as, for instance, wind energy. The book is
intended to be used during lessons on biology, physics, sociology and
personal safety.

One of the sections contains the testimonies of Chernobyl survivors.

Local teachers have been keen to acquire the book, Rashid Alimov, editor of
environmental portal Bellona.ru, told The St. Petersburg Times on Friday.

“We received orders for over two hundred copies after just the first two
presentations, and the interest is growing,” Alimov said.

In Alimov’s opinion, the book should be of special use in St. Petersburg.
“The Leningrad Nuclear Power Station still exploits the Chernobyl-type
reactors, and the plant is close to the city,” he said. “People need to
read it, if only for safety awareness, and because nobody else seems to be
willing to educate them about it.”

Andrei Ozharovsky, one of the book’s authors and a leading expert with
Moscow-based environmental organization “Ecodefence”, said the general
syllabus in high schools in Russia gives a light-weight superficial
coverage of the world’s largest-ever nuclear catastrophe.

“The teachers, if they touch on the topic at all, tend to present the
Chernobyl disaster as some kind of technical malfunction, without putting
the accident in context with the risks that nuclear industry presents as
such,” Ozharovsky said during the book’s presentation at the Regional Press
Institute on Friday.

The book quotes Lyudmila Ignatenko, the widow of a man who survived

the initial blast. As a firefighter, he was sent to the scene of the accident
without any special protective gear. “He was wearing a shirt, and all his
colleagues were too,” Ignatenko said. “They hadn’t been warned about the
 radiation, they were told it was an ordinary fire.”

The book quotes Belorussian citizen Sergei Gurin, whose child was exposed
to radiation when the radioactive cloud reached their town.

“My little son Yurik and I spent a day in the forest, without any knowledge
of the danger,” he said. “God, could they not have warned us.”

But Vladimir Lebedev of the local information center of the Russian Atomic
Agency (ROSATOM), branded the textbook biased.

“This book is blatant anti-nuclear propaganda, but nuclear energy is the
world’s only future,” Lebedev said. “There is no alternative on a par with
it and there is nothing its critics can do. The authors could have done
better than scaring ordinary people.”

The book says over 600,000 people have been exposed to large doses of
radiation resulting from Chernobyl’s deadly blast.

In Lebedev’s opinion, the textbook’s authors have exaggerated the damage. A
report prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005 claims
that, to date, “fewer than 50 deaths have been directly attributed to
radiation from the disaster.” The IAEA study was limited to those sent in
to liquidate the results of the explosion and didn’t include those who
suffered from the Chernobyl fallout.

A number of Russian and international ecological organizations, including
Greenpeace, have criticized the IAEA report, suggesting the agency
deliberately understated the number of victims and downplayed the negative
consequences of the disaster.

“It is appalling that the IAEA is whitewashing the impacts of one of the
most serious industrial accidents in human history. It is a deliberate
attempt to minimize the risks of nuclear power in order to free the way for
new reactor construction,” said Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace International
nuclear campaigner, after the presentation of the IAEA report in 2005.

Collecting statistics for such research is tricky.

A number of respondents in the new textbook recalled numerous cases of
state experts refusing or being extremely reluctant to connect their or
their relatives’ illnesses with the accident.

“My daughter will never be able to have children; she is disabled, she is a
Chernobyl survivor,” said Larisa Z., quoted in the book. “It took me four
years to finally obtain a medical certificate confirming the connection
between my daughter’s condition and her exposure to radiation.”

The textbook is available in electronic form at: http://www.chernobyl20.ru

Links: http://www.ecodefense.ru, http://www.greenpeace.ru
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
4. CHERNOBYL HERO REMEMBERS MEN WHO SAVED EUROPE

Jeremy Page from Moscow, The Times (UK)
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22, 2006

20 years on, the first firefighter at the scene says the human cost is
being whitewashed, writes Jeremy Page from Moscow

It was 1.40am when Viktor Birkun woke to the sound of his doorbell ringing.

He knew that something serious had happened as soon as he opened the door
and saw one of his colleagues from the fire station. But it was only as
they drove out of his home town of Pripyat, Ukraine, that he realised the
scale of what is still considered the worst man-made disaster in history.

Fourteen minutes earlier, at 1.26am on April 26, 1986 -20 years to the day
on Wednesday -Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant had exploded,
releasing 100 times the radiation of the atomic bomb that had exploded over
Hiroshima.

“There was only the light from the fire -black and red flames and lumps of
molten material everywhere,” Mr Birkun said.

“The reactor’s roof had blown off, throwing asphalt, concrete and graphite
upwards and outwards. Where the graphite landed it turned everything to lava.”

As the plant managers and technicians fled or frantically tried to contact
Moscow, the firefighters rushed straight into the inferno. With only a
cotton uniform to protect him, Mr Birkun drove his fire truck over the
reactor’s metal roof, now lying on the ground, and up to 15m (50ft) from
Reactor 4.

Using his bare hands he lowered the engine’s siphon into the nearest
cooling pool to suck up water for his colleagues as they battled 300 fires
around the complex.

Within seconds he began to feel the effects of the gamma rays that were
bombarding his internal organs.

He started vomiting about every 30 seconds. He grew dizzy and weak. After
two hours he could not stand.

Doctors later gave him a certificate indicating that he had received 260
ber (biological equivalents of roentgen), equivalent to 1,000 years of
background radiation.

But experts estimate that the radiation that he absorbed was even higher,
and enough to cause acute radiation sickness (ARS).

“I’m amazed he survived,” Michael Repacholi, the top radiation expert at
the World Health Organisation, said.

“It was a hugely heroic effort, and I suspect anyone who understood how
much radiation was there would never have gone in.”

Twenty years on Mr Birkun knows he is lucky to be alive and living in
Moscow with his wife, Nadezhda, and his daughters, Lyudmila and Valentina.

Of the 134 “liquidators” with a diagnosis of ARS, 28 died in 1986,
including at least six firefighters. Mr Birkun, now 56, is proud of the
sacrifice that his team made to reduce the cloud of smoke that spread
radioactive particles across Europe and even as far as Japan.

“These were the people who saved Europe,” he said, fingering a
black-and-white photograph of his former colleagues. “If they had not done
what they did, the fire would have spread to Reactors 1, 2 and 3.”

But he and many others among the 600,000 liquidators who cleaned up
Chernobyl are infuriated by what they see as official attempts to whitewash
the human cost of the disaster.

Last year the United Nations issued a report saying that the number of
deaths caused by Chernobyl was fewer than 50 -far lower than previous
estimates. The report by the UN’s Chernobyl Forum said that the eventual
number of radiation- related deaths among the 600,000 liquidators would be
about 4,000.

In the West the report has restarted a bitter debate over the dangers of
the nuclear industry. Greenpeace, the environmental group, accused the UN
this week of whitewashing the disaster.

It issued its own report, based on statistics from Belarus, predicting that
the number of terminal cancer cases caused directly by Chernobyl would be
93,000.

And it extrapolated from demographic statistics that 200,000 people had
already died of radiation-related illnesses in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Nuclear power is now far less controversial in those countries; Russia is
planning to build 40 reactors by 2030.

But the UN report has stimulated debate about how the governments of
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are compensating the victims of Chernobyl.

Liquidators say they were promised cash rewards, free medical care, new
flats and other perks when they finished clearing up the site and encasing
the smouldering reactor core in a concrete “sarcophagus”. But many say that
they lost benefits after the Soviet Union’s disintegration.

Others, like Mr Birkun, were granted some compensation but lost out last
year when the Russian Government replaced free medical care and other
benefits with cash payments.

President Vladimir Putin has paid tribute to the liquidators. This month he
awarded medals to 18 of them. Russian officials, however, argue that the
health problems caused by Chernobyl have been exaggerated.

Igor Lingue, director of Russia’s Institute of Nuclear Problems, said:
“Compared with the radiation caused by Chernobyl, the other factors
triggered by the accident such as psychological stress, the disruption of
their lives and financial losses proved to be greater problems for the
population.”

Leonid Ostapenko, a radiologist who heads the Centre of Medical
Rehabilitation of Chernobyl Invalids, said that it was impossible to tell
if Chernobyl veterans’ illnesses stemmed from the accident. “It’s possible
only to count people who died of ARS. There are many others who had a

small dose of radiation, and their problems are like ordinary illnesses. How
do you tell if someone died from natural illness or radiation?”

Mr Birkun is a case in point. He was rescued by colleagues, taken to a
clinic in Pripyat and flown to Clinical Hospital No 6 in Moscow. He was
released after five months but has checks there twice a year. He has
diabetes, cataracts, heart problems, nervous disorders and dozens of other
ailments.

Now retired, he is entitled to a pension and other state benefits totalling
5,500 roubles (£ 110) a month. He is claiming an extra 10,000 roubles a
month in compensation from his former employer, the Interior Ministry. But
the ministry is disputing his claim.

For Mr Birkun, the consequences of Chernobyl are far from over. “Back then
nobody was thinking about rewards,” he said. “All I could think about was
that my daughters were at home and the town asleep.”
                                  DISASTER BY NUMBERS
300,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area An initial
containment effort used helicopters to drop bags of sand, boron and lead on
to the reactor. These were then covered in a concrete sarcophagus

20 days after the accident the temperature of the core was 270C (518F) Some
Welsh sheep farms are still subjected to meat radiation inspections,
because of the fallout

100,000 Number of years for which the reactor core will remain dangerous.

————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
    Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5. 20 YEARS ON: LIFE AND DEATH IN CHERNOBYL’S SHADOW

 
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Chernobyl, Ukraine, Saturday, April 22, 2006,

Chernobyl – A Geiger counter crackles beneath the sign to the Lenin atomic
power station at Chernobyl. Two decades after the reactor explosion the
grassy spot emits 500 times the normal urban radiation level.

While visitors are alarmed, veterans working here shrug off the
rays as an inconvenience as they maintain one of the world’s most infamous
objects.

“Radiation is a serious matter, but for me its effects are like water of a
duck’s back,” says Russian scientist Eduard Pazukhin, deputy head of the
radiation safety department of the Ukrittya centre which monitors the
devastated site for the Ukrainian government.

The seventy-year-old insists he is in good health despite half a century of
tackling Soviet nuclear disasters, including 20 years in Chernobyl where he
works mainly on the destroyed fourth reactor, which he says he knows “as
well as my own apartment”.

But on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the disaster on April 26, he and
others with experience of this landmark event in history are far from blase
about claims by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the
damage has been exaggerated.

“This is an outrageous point of view. The Chernobyl accident was a huge
tragedy for human life and for civilization as a whole,” Pazukhin adds, his
ready smile vanishing over what many see as a bid to downplay Chernobyl’s
legacy as global demand for nuclear power grows.

The UN forecasts 4,000 eventual deaths from the accident compared with
independent estimates of up to 200,000 deaths in Ukraine, Belarus and
Russia between 1990 and 2004.

Many people are thought to have died prematurely because of the accident,
from cancers but also many illnesses related to reduced immunity and damage
to internal organs and bodily systems.

While the row continues it is business as usual inside the 30-
kilometre-wide dead zone around the now decommissioned plant, which
paradoxically hums with activity. Today some 7,000 people work here, many
engaged in the key task of maintaining the concrete sarcophagus on the
shattered reactor.

Spending only half of each month in the zone to reduce health risks, almost
half are based in Chornobyl, the Ukrainian name for the town located 13
kilometres away from the station.

But its shops, neatly tended flower beds and swept roads can’t hide rows of
crumbling houses abandoned during the evacuation of the 12,000 inhabitants
nine days after the explosion.

More than two million people were displaced in total, 200,000 of them
permanently, as the Soviet government acknowledged the extent of the
disaster. Many were given only a few hours to pack their things.

Lost and often unwelcome in the towns they were moved to, a few thousand
mainly elderly people later returned to their villages in the second zone
outside the inner, 10 kilometre-wide, total exclusion zone. Around 320
remain today.

“I was born here, where else could I go? ” said Maria Shulan, a sprightly
76-year-old from the village of Parishiv, located 17 kilometres southeast
of the plant. She is one of 18 people left from the original 1,000 and
lives on home-grown produce. Convinced the accident was divine punishment
for blighting the land with the station, she dismisses health concerns.

Here the Geiger counter shows the radiation level to be slightly above
normal, reflecting the chequered nature of the contamination. In some
places people are strongly advised to stay off the grass, which absorbs
radioactivity, elsewhere it is clear because changing winds spared the area
20 years ago.

Other returnees include Father Nikolai, the Orthodox priest in Chornobyl
who ministers to the locals and the workers. “During a visit here five
years ago he made a snap decision to come back and restore the church,” his
wife Lyubov Yakushina said. The priest also conducts funerals of former
residents of the zone whose remains are brought here for burial.

A short drive northeast reveals the chimneys of the plant on the horizon.
After another police checkpoint, visitors pass the fifth and six reactor
blocks that were left uncompleted in 1986.

At the fourth block, workers in protective suits hang on ropes and trestles
on the 59-metre-high sarcophagus wall. They perform maintenance that
Pazukhin says could safely extend the shroud’s life for at least 10 years,
ample time for the construction of a planned replacement around 2010.

Technicians constantly monitor the state of the sarcophagus, a giant
construction of girders and concrete that was built in six months after the
accident. They use remote-control robots to gauge conditions inside and to
probe the main mystery, the location of 20 tons missing from the reactor’s
original 200 tons of fuel.

Most set hard in a glassy mass beneath the reactor and the rest flowed
deeper into its foundations or was emitted into the atmosphere. But
Pazukhin’s team believes no more than 4 per cent of the fuel was spewed
from the exploding block and vehemently rejects claims that all 200 tons
were lost.

Such disputes mean little for the town of Pripyat, located three kilometres
from the plant, once home to 46,000 workers and their families before it
was evacuated for ever on day two of the crisis.

It is now a ghost town, looted and decayed, still carrying a giant hammer
and sickle on a central building and painted Communist slogans on house
walls promising a bright future under the party of Lenin.         -30-

————————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================      
6.        GORBACHEV WEIGHS CHERNOBYL LEGACY
       Former leader Mikhail Gorbachev admits some mistakes were made

BBC NEWS, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mikhail Gorbachev had been Soviet leader for only 13 months when the
Chernobyl nuclear accident happened. He describes how the authorities
responded and reflects on the lessons from the disaster.

 I received a call at 0500 on 26 April 1986, informing me that a major
accident, followed by a fire, had just occurred in the fourth block of the
Chernobyl nuclear power station, but that the reactor was still intact.

In those early hours, until the evening of 26 April, we had not yet realised
that the reactor had actually exploded and that there had been a huge
discharge of radioactive materials into the atmosphere.

Nobody had any idea that we were facing a major nuclear disaster. Naturally,
we can regret, today, after the fact, that we did not grasp everything more
quickly.

[At the time], I was astounded: how was such a thing possible? Nuclear
scientists had always assured the country’s leadership that our nuclear
reactors were completely safe.
                                    ‘NOT PANICKING’
Immediately after the accident, the management of the station gave the order
to flood the reactor with water, because they were not aware that the
reactor had exploded and there was nothing left to extinguish. Finally, the
pool under the reactor and some underground locations were filled up with
water.

Scientists were afraid that if the hot mass of nuclear fuel and graphite
were to rupture the bottom of the reactor’s tank and fall into radioactive
water, this would create the conditions for a further nuclear explosion.

We were not panicking… but we urgently needed to pump out this water. This
was completed at the beginning of May. In this way, such an explosion,
however slight its probability, was effectively prevented. There were other
threats that needed to be eliminated with the utmost urgency.

Firstly, there remained the danger that the mass at the heart of the reactor
would rupture its tank and even blast through the foundations of the
building housing the reactor, so coming into contact with the soil and
leading to a major contamination of groundwater.

We also had to prevent the radioactive waste and debris from around the
plant from contaminating the waters of the Dnieper and Desna rivers. This
required operations on a massive scale…

But, of course, our main concern was to evacuate the population from the
most contaminated areas.

On 27 April we performed an exemplary operation: in just three hours the
entire population of Pripyat, located very close to the power station, was
evacuated.

And in the early days of May, we evacuated everybody living within a 30km
radius of the power station, in dozens of localities: a total of 116,000
people.

                                    TOLD THE TRUTH?
Quite simply, in the beginning even the top experts did not realise the
gravity of the situation.

We needed several weeks to obtain precise evaluations and to draw up maps
of the contamination. Certainly, I will not exclude the possibility that
certain functionaries, who were afraid of being accused of not having taken
the correct measures, had a tendency to embellish their reports.

But, for the most part, I believe that I was kept informed in good faith by
my representatives. We did not cancel the May Day parades [in Kiev and
Minsk] because we still did not have information on the full extent of the
disaster.

I confess that we were afraid of panic – you can imagine for yourselves the
consequences of a terrible panic in a town of several million inhabitants. I
admit that it was a grave mistake.

We published the first information on the accident on 28 April, in Pravda,
but to speak to the people, I needed a more substantial and precise
analysis. That is why I waited almost three weeks before speaking on
television.
                                   CORRECT RESPONSE?
Nowadays, experts think that our fears over the possible contamination of
groundwater were exaggerated, and that it was not worth the trouble of
installing a “cushion” [concrete slab] underneath the reactor.

The construction of the sarcophagus, all the measures for aquatic
protection, most of the measures aimed at decontamination – these were good
decisions, even though some of the deactivation did ultimately prove to be
superfluous.

We decontaminated areas which were later evacuated. Nobody knew, for
instance, that Pripyat, that beautiful modern city, would find itself
forever uninhabitable.At first, scientists thought that the population of
Pripyat would be able to return to the city around the end of May or

beginning of June. People left leaving their fridges full of food, without
even unplugging them, since they expected to return quickly.
                                   ENVIRONMENTAL COST
The explosion at Chernobyl showed that we are capable of contaminating the
planet for the long term, and of leaving a terrible legacy for future
generations.

Today, mankind faces a challenge so huge that, by comparison, the Cold

War appears like an incongruous vestige from the past.

Chernobyl clearly demonstrated that each disaster is unique and that no
country can be prepared for every eventuality. That is why we must deploy
the maximum amount of effort to prevent disasters. One must not compromise
on nuclear safety. The social, ecological and economic consequences of these
kind of disasters are much too heavy in every sense of the word.

We can therefore see what enormous responsibility is placed not only on
politicians, but on scientists, engineers and designers – their mistakes
could cost the life and health of millions of people.

The victims of Chernobyl continue to suffer both physically and mentally. It
is our moral duty to help them while continuing to limit the ecological
consequences of this disaster.
————————————————————————————————-
Mikhail Gorbachev was interviewed by Green Cross International, a
non-governmental organisation he founded in the wake of Chernobyl. A

fuller version is appearing in the latest issue of the Optimist magazine.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4918940.stm
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7.     “EVERY TYPE OF REACTOR POSES A THREAT”
 Phasing out atomic energy is the best course of action, according to Hirsch

INTERVIEW: With Helmut Hirsch by Christine Harjes
Deutsche Welle, DW.WORLD.DE, Bonn, Germany, Thu, Mar 20, 2006

The remaining Soviet-era Chernobyl-type nuclear reactors are especially
dangerous but aren’t the only risk when it comes to atomic power plants,
Helmut Hirsch, physicist and consultant on nuclear safety told DW-

WORLD.DE.

DW-WORLD.DE: Since the accident 20 years ago, it seems clear that the
Chernobyl-type RBMK reactors are especially dangerous. Why is that?

Helmut Hirsch: A strengthening of any chain reaction that has begun forms a
build-up in these reactors that cannot be automatically lowered as it can in
most Western reactors. The chain reaction gets stronger and stronger — this
is the so-called bubble co-efficient — and in Chernobyl’s case, led to the
accident. This is a weakness that has been worked on since the accident and
while there have been some improvements, the problem hasn’t completely been
solved. The RBMK also has other disadvantages. The pressure pipes that hold
the fuel elements and containment weaknesses can become brittle.

Bildunterschrift: Technical failures can also affect modern reactors. Would

you say that RBMK reactors are the most dangerous reactors active today?

I think that is correct. There is also a very wide consensus that these
reactors cannot be retrofitted to meet western standards and that they need
to be shut down.

The VVER 440/230 reactors also do not meet Western standards. What

are the problems with these?

This is a different type of reactor that is seen as practically impossible
to retrofit. A major problem is that these reactors have practically no
containment capability. If there were an accident where radioactive steam
inside such a reactor were released, it would simply escape. There have been
a few retrofittings, but this is really just tinkering and doesn’t really
control the problem.

Another problem is that these reactors’ emergency cooling systems are very
weak. There have also been efforts to improve this, but the problem is so
serious that retrofitting is practically impossible.

Can you see a difference with improvements to another type of reactor, the
VVER 440/213?

Definitely. The 213’s are the second generation of VVER reactors and there
were a series of improvements made. The emergency cooling system is
stronger, and they have a better containment structure, although it is still
below Western standards.

The VVER 440/213 does not have so-called full-pressure containment, but a
containment system dependent on pressure release. It’s very complicated and
prone to breaking down. There are also reports of material problems in these
reactors, and there are problems with safety systems. In the case of
external hazards, for example, the danger that several safety systems fail
is especially large. You could say this type of reactor is clearly better
than the first generation, but still has serious weaknesses.

Bildunterschrift: After 20 years, the long-term effects of Chernobyl remain

unknown. The VVER 1000 is comparable with Western reactors from the
1970s. Does that mean they are safe?

No. This reactor has full-pressure containment and its layout is comparable
with Western reactors, so you’d have to say it is an improvement on the 213
series. But the VVER 1000 also has different problems. Protection from
external hazards is considerably worse than modern systems. There are also
reports of material problems in the VVER 1000, especially when looking at
the brittleness of the reactor’s pressure container, which is a key
component.

One specific problem with the VVER 1000 is a construction flaw in the
reactor building, where containment should be able to take place for some
time in the event of an accident. It is especially prone to melting down
from below. This means that if there is an accident in this type of reactor,
the chances of a relatively quick containment malfunction are higher and the
release would be larger than you’d find in a German pressurized-water
reactor

What role does age play in an atomic reactor’s safety?

The aging process plays a large role and we have to assume that safety will
decrease continually after 15 to 25 years of operation due to aging. This
can be partially counteracted when operators make the necessary efforts and
replace parts that have aged. But this doesn’t apply in every case. The
reactor pressure container, for example, cannot be replaced. This kind of
aging management system is also complicated and expensive and there are some
doubts as to whether the necessary measures are being taken, especially in
Eastern Europe.

After how many years do you think a reactor should be closed?

A running time of about 30 years is the maximum, after that there is a clear
deterioration in the level of safety. The risks also increase. I’d say
between 25 and 30 years would be a general guide.

Bildunterschrift: Hirsch said nuclear power plants should be closed after

30 years. What other risks have to be considered when evaluating nuclear
reactors?

Every type of reactor operating today poses a threat of a catastrophic
accident with a major release of radioactivity. The likelihood is especially
high in Eastern Europe’s old reactors, but technical failure or external
influences — like natural earthquakes and floods or malicious acts by
humans — pose a danger to even the most modern reactors.

What should be done to increase security?

I think there are a lot of reasons for the long-term phasing out of atomic
energy. On the one hand nuclear power plants are vulnerable, and they can
cause serious problems should a radioactive release occur. On the other
hand, nuclear technology is of military importance, which does not
necessarily help achieve peaceful development on an international political
level. I think for those reasons, phasing out of nuclear energy is the best
course of action.

In the long-term, the only energy policy that actually meets the standards
required for the survival of humanity will be based on renewable energy
sources and a more rational use of energy.
——————————————————————————————
Dr. Helmut Hirsch is a physicist and scientific consultant for nuclear
safety for a number of organizations including the Austrian federal
government and the environment ministry.
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1974231,00.html
————————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
     NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. CHERNOBYL LEGACY HANGS OVER SWISS ENERGY POLICY

INTERVIEW: With Johann Schneider-Ammann & Rudolf Rechsteiner
Swissinfo Interview by: Urs Maurer and Rita Emch
Swissinfo/Swiss Radio International, Bern, Switzerland, Sunday 23.04.2006

Twenty years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the political fallout is
still reverberating in Switzerland. Two experts from opposing sides analyse
the implications for nuclear energy.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe on April 26, 1986, Swiss voters approved
a moratorium on building new nuclear plants, but in 2003 they backed away
from phasing out nuclear energy altogether.

Johann Schneider-Ammann, president of the Swiss mechanical and electrical
engineering industries (Swissmem), warns that energy needs are likely to
outstrip supply by two-thirds in the next three decades.

Energy specialist, Rudolf Rechsteiner, says nuclear power can be replaced by
alternative sources of energy, such as solar power, biogas and wind
turbines.

SWISSINFO: What did the Chernobyl disaster mean to you at the time?

Johann Schneider-Ammann: Uncertainty, concern. Could something like that
also happen here in Switzerland? But then it led to other, better
technologies. A consequence of Chernobyl was that, worldwide, safety at
nuclear power plants was significantly improved.

Rudolf Rechsteiner: The pressure to build a nuclear power plant near Basel
was lifted. What the Swiss government had always said would not happen –
that a nuclear reactor could explode – had happened. One couldn’t drink milk
anymore and all the vegetable farmers had to destroy their crops. It was the
beginning of the end of nuclear energy.

Those in the energy industry refused to learn any lessons from Chernobyl.

SWISSINFO: What effect did Chernobyl have on a political level in
Switzerland? The Cold War was still a reality then.

J. S-A.: Popular support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy sank to a
very low level. In political terms, it was a big boost for opponents of
nuclear power. At the time of Chernobyl, the Soviet Union was already
starting to crumble, and this had compromised safety in both organisational
and technical terms.

R. R.: The incident was played down, and attributed to “Russian sloppiness”,
and the generation in power at the time, and which is still active in the
electricity industry, stubbornly refused to learn any lessons from it. It’s
only a generation later that new techniques, such as wind power or
cogeneration – combining heat and power, are being considered.

SWISSINFO: What concrete repercussions were there for Swiss energy policy?

J. S-A.: After Chernobyl a moratorium came into force along with pressure to
abandon nuclear energy. Despite the government’s recommendations to reject a
moratorium, the public approved one in a vote on September 23, 1990. Since
then, any talk of building new nuclear power plants in Switzerland has been
taboo.

R. R.: A new plant near Basel was out of the question, and the industry is
still doing everything possible to play down the consequences. The industry
has also tried to buy influence among politicians in Bern. But the main
argument in favour of nuclear power – that it was so cheap, it wasn’t even
worth writing accounts – has been exploded.

Within 25-30 years we will only be able to produce about two-thirds of the
energy we need.

SWISSINFO: In the 20 years since Chernobyl, some countries have decided to
abandon nuclear energy; others are planning or building new nuclear power
plants. What is Switzerland going to do?

J. S-A.: Switzerland must find a way to guarantee its future energy
requirements. If we do nothing, within 25-30 years we will only be able to
produce domestically about two-thirds of the energy we need. The voters will
decide whether we build more nuclear energy plants.

R. R.: Sources of alternative energy, such as wind turbines and solar power,
are growing by 30 to 40 per cent a year. Then there are other possibilities
such as biogas, geothermic energy or heat pumps. Provided the incentives are
in place, they will play an important role in energy production in the
coming decades. Such moves are alreaday underway in other countries.

SWISSINFO: Studies suggest Switzerland will experience energy shortages in
the coming years. Does this mean new nuclear plants will be back on the
agenda?

J. S-A.: Voters made clear in a national ballot on May 18, 2003, that they
wanted to keep open the option of building new plants, when two initiatives
calling for its phasing out were decisively rejected. It is therefore time
to discuss how we are going to replace the energy we get from our own
reactors as well as that we import from French nuclear plants.

R. R.: The energy industry in Switzerland is still totally fixated on
nuclear power. If the market was subject to proper competitive pressures
these dangerous “cathedrals” would lose both support and investment. People
would prefer solar energy panels on their roofs.

SWISSINFO: Are we as a society then ready to accept alternative forms of
energy, given that these would require changes in our way of life?

J. S-A.: Nobody appreciates being told what to do, especially if it is
linked to an ultimatum. But given the freedom to choose, we become willing
to accept responsibility and keen to achieve. We need the right conditions
in place to be able to pursue our common interests with regard to energy,
without imposing limits on what we can achieve.

R. R.: I’m convinced that the electricity industry can’t refuse to invest in
renewable energy resources for ever. It will have to give up its opposition
to new legal conditions. From an economic point of view alternative forms of
energy are superior to nuclear power.
                       CONTEXT: SWISS NUCLEAR ENERGY
April 26 1986: Reactor four at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine
explodes, releasing a cloud of radiation.
May 3 1986: The Swiss authorities publish precautionary measures against
radioactive fallout, advising pregnant women not to drink fresh milk, and to
wash thoroughly all fresh produce.
21 June 1986: Over 20,000 protest against nuclear energy outside a power
plant in Gösgen.
1988: The government shelves plans to build two new reactors, in the face of
growing public opposition.
23 September 1990: Voters approve a ten-year moratorium on the building of
new reactors.
22 October 1998: The government signals it is in favour of a phasing out of
nuclear energy.
18 May 2003: Voters reject a proposal for a new moratorium on building new
plants, as well as an initiative calling for a phasing out of nuclear
energy.
1 February 2005: A revised nuclear energy law comes into force. A referendum
on building new plants is planned.
                KEY FACTS: SWISS NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Switzerland has five nuclear power plants, capable of producing 3.2
Gigawatts of electricity, including: Beznau I und II (operational from

1969, 1972) Mühleberg (1972) Gösgen (1978) Leibstadt (1984) Nuclear
power supplies 38% of Switzerland’s energy (this can rise to 45% in
winter), compared with a European average of 33%.
http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/front/detail/Chernobyl_legacy_hangs_over_Swiss_energy_policy.html?siteSect=105&sid=6648697&cKey=1145779449000
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. GREENPEACE QUESTIONS CHERNOBYL CASUALTY FIGURES
          Children were particularly hit by the high levels of radioactivity

DW-World.de, Deutsche Welle, Bonn Germany, Tuesday, April 18, 2006

BERLIN – In a report released Tuesday, environmental organization Greenpeace
said the consequences of the Chernobyl reactor disaster are being played
down. The number of victims will far surpass official figures, it said.  The
health consequences of the Chernobyl reactor catastrophe 20 years ago are
much more extensive than initially assumed, according to environmental group
Greenpeace.

“No can say for certain how many people will die as a result of Chernobyl,”
said Greenpeace’s nuclear expert Thomas Breuer. “The effects of the
radioactivity are too manifold and the data is insufficient.”

The Chernobyl Forum — a group of specialists, including representatives of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health
Organization (WHO) — last September presented a report on the health
effects of the Chernobyl accident which concluded that 4,000 – 9,000 people
died, or will die, from radiogenic cancer.

“Whoever claims that there were 4,000 victims is denying the gravity of this
disaster and ignoring the suffering of countless people,” Breuer said.
 OFFICIAL FIGURES PAINTED TOO HARMLESS A PICTURE
In a report Greenpeace released in Berlin, Kiev and Amsterdam on Tuesday,
the organization did not disclose casualty figures, which it said was not
possible, as the health consequences would not be able to be assessed for a
long time yet. However, Greenpeace said the figures cited by the Chernobyl
Forum painted too harmless a picture.

The Greenpeace report integrates many studies not considered in the West,
including ones from the Russian-speaking world. The report shows that the
radiation exposure from the catastrophe on April 26, 1986 caused a very wide
spectrum of illnesses.

According to Greenpeace, there is a lot of information on the frequency of
illnesses, in particular cancer. The IAEA figures represented the lower end
of these estimations, the group said.

The latest studies by the Russian Academy of Sciences on the countries
Belarus, Ukraine and Russia estimate 270,000 additional cases of cancer, of
which 93,000 are likely to end in death. Other studies assumed even worse
consequences.
                       THE FIGURES “DON’T ADD UP”
Greenpeace is not alone in doubting the official figures. Radiobiologist
Edmund Lengfelder from the University of Munich estimated the number of

dead “liquidators” — technicians and rescue workers, who cleaned up and
safeguarded the area after the explosion — at 50,000 to 100,000.

“The figures declared by world authorities don’t add up from start to
finish,” Lengfelder said. The organization International Physicians for the
Prevention of Nuclear War also estimates casualty figures of this magnitude.

“Even the IAEA assumes in its estimates more deaths than it publicly
states,” said Greenpeace’s Breuer. “You just have to read the fine print in
its study. What the authority does there is consciously playing down the
worst nuclear accident ever.”

This provided the nuclear industry with figures more suited to their sector
and the over 440 nuclear power plants worldwide, Breuer said.
        RADIATION SPARKED OTHER ILLNESSES, TOO
For illnesses besides cancer, the Greenpeace study showed a rise in cases in
affected areas in comparison to other regions. It was assumed the
radioactivity attacked people’s immune systems and also changed their
genetic make-up, the group said. The connection to radiation in individual
cases could not be proven, but the figures suggested this suspicion.

Greenpeace called for a worldwide phasing out of nuclear energy.
———————————————————————————————
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1973016,00.html
———————————————————————————————
ENTIRE REPORT: The Chernobyl Catastrophe: Consequences on Human Health
http://www.greenpeace.de/fileadmin/gpd/user_upload/themen/atomkraft/chernobylhealthreport.pdf
—————————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10.      THE LINGERING FALLOUT FROM CHERNOBYL

EDITORIAL
: The Manila Times, Manila, Philippines, Mon, Apr 24, 2006

IT has been two decades since several explosions ripped through a nuclear
plant in Ukraine, at that time still a part of the Soviet Union, instantly
killing at least 60 people and releasing a huge radioactive cloud that
spread through most of Europe and reached even North America.

The meltdown at the Chernobyl plant on April 26, 1986, is the world’s worst
civilian nuclear disaster. Its fallout has been more than just radioactive;
the tragedy hastened the disintegration of the Soviet Union and triggered
debates over just how safe nuclear energy is.

Up until now, blame for the disaster has not been pinned down. What is known
is that power in one of the plant’s reactors had surged 100 times after the
water coolant vaporized.

The death toll is also a source of fierce debate. A 600-page report by seven
United Nations agencies released in September said fewer than 50 deaths can
be directly attributable to radiation during the first months after the
accident, much lower than previously believed. Nine of the 4,000 children
who developed thyroid cancer had died, a survival rate of 99 percent, the
report added.

The Greenpeace environmental group disputed the UN’s findings and accused
the organization of covering up the disaster. In its own report, Greenpeace
estimated that 93,000 more people could die of cancer because of radiation
from Chernobyl.

The cost of preventing radiation from further leaking from the devastated
facility has been high. Ukrainian authorities have encased the reactor in a
concrete sarcophagus, but the covering is showing signs of wear. A new

steel sarcophagus would cost nearly $2 billion, an expense Ukraine cannot
shoulder on its own.
The farms and forests around the facility have been declared an exclusion
zone. No one except scientists and authorized personnel is allowed to
venture into the “hot” areas.

The consequences of the Chernobyl accident resonate even louder today, when
the price of oil in the world market has soared to record heights. Nuclear
energy has long been touted as an efficient and clean alternative power
source to oil and coal. The question is: is it safe?

Here in the Philippines there is a plan to revive the idle nuclear plant in
Morong, Bataan. The facility was built in 1976 after oil-producing Arab
countries imposed an embargo, plunging the world into an oil crisis. The
plant, which was supposed to produce 621 megawatts of electricity, was
finished in 1984 but never went online. Then President Corazon Aquino
refused to open the plant, citing safety issues.

Reopening the plant is a tempting proposition, but authorities should not
rush to judgment. It is true that nuclear plants do not emit greenhouse
gases and the volume of waste produced is small. But there is always the
risk of a major accident.

We cannot afford another Chernobyl.                       -30-

——————————————————————————————————-
http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/apr/24/yehey/opinion/20060424opi1.html
——————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. BELARUS: VILLAGERS RETURN TO CHERNOBYL’S SHADOW

By Maria Danilova, Associated Press Writer, AP
Bartolomeyevka, Belarus, Sunday, April 23, 2006

BARTOLOMEYEVKA, BELARUS –  The map says Bartolomeyevka is off-limits.

A sign at the outskirts displays the international radiation symbol and says “Do
Not Enter.” But smoke rises from the chimneys of wooden houses, dogs bark
and villagers go about their business.

Bartolomeyevka is one of scores of contaminated villages in Belarus that are
being revived 20 years after the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion, nudged
back to life by a government that says the farmland is badly needed, that
the radiation threat is overblown, and that people claiming
radiation-related diseases may simply be seeking a government handout.

Bartolomeyevka suffered such high radiation levels that its several dozen
inhabitants were evacuated. However, over the past decade 10 villagers have
moved back, disregarding the radiation warnings. In neighboring villages –
labeled contaminated but still suitable for living – many others are
returning, along with job-seeking migrants from impoverished ex-Soviet
republics.

On Bartolomeyevka’s surface, it looks like renewal – but resignation is at
the core. “You cannot escape your death,” said 70-year-old Ivan Muzychenko.
“It’s better to die of radiation than of hunger.” As evacuees, he and his
wife, Yelena, lived hand-to-mouth. Here, along with a combined monthly
pension worth about $200, their vegetable garden, 10 geese, a cow and a pig
add desperately needed nutrition.

Muzychenko dismisses warnings that the vegetables and animals are probably
contaminated, and gathers berries and mushrooms in the nearby woods.

A fifth of Belarus’ area was evacuated after the April 26, 1986, explosion
in neighboring Ukraine, and health officials say about 20 percent of the
country’s 10 million people suffer from radiation-linked ailments including
thyroid and circulation problems. Official figures say 1,100 square miles,
less than 1.5 percent of Belarus’ territory, remains too irradiated for
human habitation.

The government of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko – the same
government that put up the warning signs at Bartolomeyevka – is encouraging
resettlement. Activists and doctors complain that it is ignoring radiation
dangers, cheating on illness statistics and refusing to care for ailing
children and adults.

Bartolomeyevka’s neighboring village, Belyayevka, was recently taken off the
list of highly contaminated population centers, stripping its villagers of a
$20 monthly supplement for living there. Mothers say the payment is still
justified because most of the village’s 58 children have health problems and
need healthy food and vitamins.

Belarusian workers who participated in the cleanup at Chernobyl have also
seen their benefits sharply reduced.

Nineteen collective farms in the region have been revived to grow crops
which officials say can be rendered safe with special fertilizers; another
39 farms are awaiting their turn.

Vladimir Tsalko, head of the State Chernobyl Committee, the official agency
for dealing with Chernobyl’s consequences, says the goal is “to teach people
to earn money and invest it into the region.” When asked if economics are
more important than health, he is frank: “Yes. We need those lands. … Who
will feed them?”

Activists say their independent studies find people in contaminated areas
still displaying high radiation doses from locally made food. They say more
should be done to warn returnees of the dangers.

“To take advantage of people’s lack of information and lull them into
believing that it is safe there is the biggest crime there can be,” said
Valentina Smolnikova, of the Children of Chernobyl group.

Smolnikova said the radiation effects have been devastating. She said her
group’s study of one district in the contamination zone showed cases of
congenital anomalies have increased fourfold, the number of cancers have
doubled and the number of heart attacks is seven times higher than before
the accident.

She said she is struggling to get foreign funding to monitor and treat
children’s contamination levels because the state shows little interest and
minimizes the numbers. The government denies it.

Victims also complain the government is reluctant to link radiation to
health problems such as heart disease, cancerous growths and diabetes. Yakov
Kenigsberg, the Chernobyl State Committee’s top medical expert, says only
thyroid cancer is internationally recognized as directly caused by radiation
contamination and calls attempts to link other diseases with the Chernobyl
accident “stupidity,” suggesting the motive often is monetary compensation.

But, Tamara Kurbatova, a 40-year-old unemployed mother of three in the town
of Buda-Koshelevo, sharply disagrees. Her 4-year-old son, Pavel, is being
treated for eye cancer, and after years of struggle, she has won official
recognition that it’s the result of his mother’s radiation levels while he
was in the womb. That entitles the boy to financial aid.

“It is a miracle he is still alive,” Kurbatova said. “But what awaits him I
don’t know.”                                     -30-
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

    If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12.  TRIP TO CHERNOBYL: THE REMAINS OF THE DAY
Twenty years ago Chernobyl power plant exploded. Now a tourist attraction. 
    Joins a group for what must be the most unusual day-trip in the world.

By Bernice Davison, Travel.Telegraph.com
Telegraph, London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 22, 2006

The soldier in his padded blue-and-grey winter jacket and traditional
sheepskin ushanka hat read my passport very slowly, struggling to identify
the Western-alphabet surname so he could check it against the Cyrillic list
on his clipboard. He finally found me and lifted the road barrier to let us
through, with just the hint of a smile of amused curiosity for these mad
foreigners arriving in the depths of the Ukrainian winter.

I was taking what must be one of the strangest day trips in the world. The
minibus – old, battered and with a tidemark of salt-rimmed dirt – had picked
us up from our upmarket Kiev hotel and joined the traffic, heavy with
Hummers and black-windowed Mercs, on the multi-lane highway out of town.

The endless apartment blocks gave way on the outskirts of the Ukrainian
capital to small scatterings of low-rise homes, some of them detached, with

gardens and parking spaces.

For two hours we drove north-east towards the Belarus border, through flat
open fields – the famed Ukrainian “black earth”, from which the collective
farms produced wheat for Mother Russia. Snow muffled sound and added

to a sense of the unreal as we approached our destination, the place the
Ukrainians call Chornobyl.

We know it as Chernobyl, the power plant where, on April 26, 1986, the
world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred. A red-and-white striped barrier
across the road marked the beginning of the 18-mile exclusion zone around
the nuclear reactors.

For the last few miles before we reached it, small settlements of
single-storey dachas and concrete beet-processing plants lay deserted and

derelict by the roadside. You need permission to enter both the exclusion
zone and the three-mile inner “dead zone” at the heart of the area.

Twenty years on from the accident that changed the world’s attitudes towards
nuclear power, permission does not seem to be hard to get; companies
offering day trips from Kiev are becoming as widespread as the city’s
Ukrainian brides’ agencies.

I wonder just how much regret the men of the reactor crew at Chernobyl-4
had to live with (if, indeed, they survived), following their decision to
test how long the turbines would continue to supply power after the main
electrical supply failed. These older-style reactors were known to be
unstable at low power settings.

The resulting disaster – the explosion, fire and release into the atmosphere
of tons of radioactive material and gases – became infamous. But on April
26, 1986, no one was aware of the unfolding catastrophe, not even the
45,000 workers and their families living in Pripyat, the so-called “workers’
paradise” city with its new apartments, schools and hospitals.

We drove through Pripyat’s almost completely deserted streets after a
briefing at the Chernobyl City Visitor’s Centre, where explanations of
roentgens (units of exposure to radiation) and statistics about radiation
and pollution were sobering. But they did not have the same impact as
standing in the disintegrating remains of a Pripyat school, staring at
photographs of children proudly smiling for the camera at a gymnastics
display.

The fading pictures were still pinned to the noticeboard outside that very
gym. Birch saplings were growing through the ruptured block flooring; snow
was falling through the gaping roof. I wondered how many of the children
were still alive and well. The town was not evacuated until days after the
explosion.

The Mary Celeste theme is repeated throughout Pripyat. Apartments still
contain the families’ possessions: they could take nothing except some
photographs and money. Everything was, and remains, contaminated. But this
hasn’t deterred scavengers. A rusting Ferris wheel and dodgems stood in the
playground, ready for the 1986 May Day holiday, which was never observed.
Every dodgem car’s electric motor has been removed.

Like the fields full of disintegrating “hot” vehicles – helicopters, tanks,
trucks, concrete mixers, bicycles and wheelbarrows – the zone is a surreal
picture of abandonment. It is said to be safe to visit for a few hours (even
hotspots have roentgen counts of only about 22), as long as you touch
nothing, especially metal, and take care where you walk, as the buildings
and even the drains beneath your feet are beginning to collapse.

It’s hard to tease apart fact and fiction about the consequences of the
Chernobyl disaster. Millions of people were probably irradiated. Leukemia
and thyroid cancer rates (especially in children) in countries across
eastern and northern Europe increased, yet official figures put the
accident’s death toll merely in double figures.

The tens of thousands of Soviet citizens conscripted to help the clean-up,
and who must have been badly affected, do not seem to be counted among
the official victims. International furore over the incident – and
especially the secrecy surrounding it – accelerated the disintegration of the

Soviet Union.

At the No 4 reactor, we stood across the roadway in the double-glazed
observation room, watching the roentgen counter clock tick happily away
between 12 and 14 (a perfectly normal count for most cities, we were
assured). I stared at the intimidating bulk of the huge reactor, with its
surrounding “sarcophagus” of concrete, built to shield the lethal contents,
and listened to an explanation of why 28 countries are donating billions of
dollars and limitless expertise to building a further new overcoat for this
troublesome building.

I had expected the reactor to be cordoned off and abandoned, but workers
were being disgorged from buses outside, preparing to cross the road for
their next shift. Hundreds of people – electricians, carpenters, doctors,
hydrologists, miners, meteorologists, scientists, cooks and cleaners – work
each day in the heart of the dead zone, still trying to contain and clean up
the reactor. “We can work in Chernobyl city for 15 days at a stretch,” Oleg
Maxim, our guide, explained. “But then we have to leave the exclusion zone
completely and go back to the city for at least 15 days.”

Those working inside the reactor, even protectively clothed and with
respirators, can stay for only five minutes. The earlier jokes about
returning from this day trip glowing in the dark started to sound more than
a little trite.

We checked our radiation levels by gripping the bars of an ancient dosimeter
(it looks like a Soviet-style speak-your-weight machine), before being
served the lunch provided on the all-inclusive tour. Our rad levels were all
fine, but none of us had any appetite.

It could have been the brassica-heavy menu (cabbage salad, cabbage borscht,
chicken with cabbage dumplings) or perhaps it was wariness, despite the
assurances that the food, like everything else consumed in Chernobyl city,
is brought in from outside the zone.

But how far outside the zone is far enough? After two decades, British farms
are still deemed to be contaminated. The Department of Health last month
admitted that more than 200,000 sheep are grazing on land contaminated by
fallout from the explosion.

Appetite loss lasts only so long in the Ukrainian winter. By the time we had
made the return journey to Kiev, our six-strong group was ready for dinner
at a traditional restaurant, where over Russian beer and Ukrainian vodka we
talked over the day’s outing. It was, we agreed, the most sobering and
bizarrely memorable day out we had ever taken.            -30-
———————————————————————————————–
                          UKRAINE AND BELARUS BASICS
The ‘Winter Belarus and Ukraine’ seven-day adventure break with Explore
costs lbs749, including Austrian Airlines fights (via Vienna) to Minsk,
returning from Kiev, five nights’ hotel b&b, and overnight sleeper train
from Minsk to Kiev. A further local payment of US$150 must be made,

in cash, on arrival. The Chernobyl day trip costs between lbs20 and lbs50,
depending on group size.
Explore’s adventure breaks include wolf tracking in Poland, whale spotting
off Norway and joining the Silk Road in Armenia. For availability and online
booking see www.explore.co.uk/adventure breaks or call 0870 333 4001.

When travelling in eastern Europe in winter, dress in layers of thermal
clothing, winter walking boots and well-insulated hats and gloves. January
average temperatures are -8C to -10 C, but this year dropped to -28C. The
high humidity level chills to the bone.

You will need a visa for Belarus; to apply you need an invitation to visit,
or confirmation of your accommodation bookings. Explore uses the visa
specialist Travcour UK (www.travcour.com).

Take mint-condition US dollars or euros. Change all local money back before
you leave; its worthless elsewhere. The cities have some ATM machines. Be
sure you have inside pockets big enough to keep your camera warm; it could
freeze if carried outside. Take plenty of batteries. Always carry your
passport: you may be asked for ID anywhere, especially in Minsk, if you take
photographs. Keep well away from political demonstrations, which can quickly

become violent. [This may be true for Belarus but certainly not for Ukraine.
AUR EDITOR]
————————————————————————————————–
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/travel/2006/04/22/etchernobyl22.xml&sSheet=/travel/2006/04/22/ixtrvhome.ht
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
             Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13.  CANADA: MYCHAILO RYNDZAK OF OTTAWA FEELS WHAT HE
           ENDURED AT CHERNOBYL IN 1986 WAS A GENOCIDE

Andrew McLeod, Ottawa Sun, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Sat, Apr 22, 2006

OTTAWA – TWENTY years ago, while a 19-year-old soldier in the Soviet Red
Army, Mychailo Ryndzak thought he would be sent to fight in the war in
Afghanistan where, according to him, troops from the Ukraine often ended up.
“Most Soviet troops in Afghanistan were from the Ukraine,” Ryndzak said.
“Russia feared Ukrainian nationalism.”

Instead, he ended up being assigned to a war zone of a different kind, one
equally as life-threatening and which would eventually be remembered as the
worst nuclear accident in history.  Deployed to the Chornobyl nuclear
reactor disaster in 1986, Ryndzak was placed in a dangerous situation and
the effects still impact his life today.

“I was still in college and can remember the panic,” he said. “We only found
out (about the accident) three days (after it occurred). I was told that I
was going to Chornobyl to serve my country. I didn’t know what radiation
meant.” Ryndzak arrived in the Chornobyl area around the middle of June
1986, about two months after the April 26 disaster.
                                            DEVASTATION
“I was based near the nuclear plant, not exactly on it,” he said. He was
assigned to work as a projectionist, showing movies to soldiers coming back
from cleanup work at the disaster site to keep their spirits up. Throughout
that year, he witnessed the effects that large amounts of radiation can have
upon nature and human society. “Gradually, I began to notice leaves and pine
needles turning orange in the middle of summer,” he said. “The apples on the
trees turned colour from orange to green to yellow.”

Entire cities were affected by the radiation. “The city of Prypjat once had
a population of 50,000. When I went there it looked like a war zone. It was
completely abandoned,” Ryndzak said. “There used to be collective farms in
the area and they were all abandoned. Cows were walking aimlessly down the
road.”

As disturbing as this was for Ryndzak, his personal exposure to the
radiation has had the most devastating impact on him. Due to the local
administrator of the military not allowing him any vacation time, Ryndzak
ended up being exposed to radiation for 36 days, which ended up affecting
his health.

“I went home in the spring of 1987, by which time my clothes were
contaminated with radioactive dust. A doctor told me that I had a 3.1
hemoglobin when I left the Chernobyl plant. He said that if it had been 3.0,
I would have been dead. It still isn’t back to normal, but is improving.”

Ryndzak moved to Canada in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed. Two
years ago, a tragic incident led to the discovery that his exposure to
radiation has resulted in his being unable to have children.

“After looking through a microscope, it was discovered that my sperm was
deformed and dead and that there was some type of mutation. I’m left with
the question of whether to possibly have a mutant child or no child at all.”

Ryndzak remains angry about what happened 20 years ago saying some of the
most fertile land in Europe was devastated. “What idiot would build a
nuclear station in the middle of a breadbasket? Now the land in that area
can’t be used for 50,000 years. People had to relocate and build new
settlements. There are still people there today who are getting cancer,” he
said. “In a way, it’s a form of genocide as those people (with similar
symptoms to his) can never reproduce.”

Ryndzak believes the Ukraine should sue Russia for the damage caused to its
environment and population. “This (disaster) happened because of the curse
of the politics of the Soviet Union. Safety issues were neglected. They
didn’t care about the environment,” he said.

Ryndzak said he is concerned about the growing popularity of nuclear power.
“I see the advert on the TV about ‘nuclear being clear.’ To me, it isn’t
clear, but dangerous,” he said. “Yes, we need energy, but what if it goes
out of control? Are we prepared?” (andrew.mcleod@ott.sunpub.com)
————————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/National/2006/04/22/1545012-sun.html
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14.                THE LONG SHADOW OF CHERNOBYL
                                                 
Michele Mandel, Toronto Sun, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Sun, Apr 23, 2006

For her daughter Zoya’s 12th birthday, Raissa Galechko was hosting a picnic
in the woods of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.  The infamous date was April
26, 1986. “It was a beautiful day,” recalls Galechko, 60, as she pores over
old photos in her Mississauga home. “We were in bikinis taking suntans. The
mothers were picking sorrel and the kids were playing ball and climbing
trees.”

She shakes her head at all they did not know then, and all that still lay
ahead. “And at the same time the reactor was on fire and we didn’t know
anything. Heavy radiation was spreading over the sorrel we were picking and
over the trees our kids were playing in and nobody knew.”

That just 90 km away, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor had exploded and their
lives would never be the same. For 10 days the fire raged, expelling 172
tonnes of toxic materials into the atmosphere, clouds of which drifted
across northern Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and more than 14 European
countries. It wasn’t until alarm bells went off at a Swedish power station
that the world learned of the disaster the Soviets had tried to hide.

The USSR waited almost three long days before it confirmed the “minor
accident” with a terse statement read by a Moscow broadcaster. Still, they
gave no warning of the poison that had been unleashed.

Galechko was a well-known journalist at the state-run Ukraine magazine when
she heard rumours that all communist party officials had suddenly moved
their families out of Kiev. “Even if I’d seen the fire at Chernobyl I
wouldn’t have known what it meant,” she explains.

“But when you’re a mother you have this security trigger inside. You know
nothing, but you have the intuition that something is very wrong and my
first thought was my daughter, my daughter.” The single mother hastily made
plans for them to spend the next few months by the Azov Sea thousands of
kilometres away. But for her daughter Zoya, it may have already been too
late.

Those living within 30 km of the power plant were evacuated within days. But
there was nowhere to hide from the cloud of radiation that drifted over the
former USSR.

Nadia Zastavna remembers it as the most glorious spring. On May Day, the
biggest Soviet holiday, she and her children joined thousands in her
Ukrainian town of Ternopil to celebrate with a traditional parade.
“Everybody was outside, my oldest son and my youngest — he had just been
born that January,” recalls Zastavna, now the senior administrator of the
Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund. “The weather was gorgeous. Your skin
got red but we thought it was from the sun. But it wasn’t.”

Just a few days later came the terrifying edicts: Wash your clothes, stay
indoors, close your windows, don’t drink the water. “Everybody was furious
and scared to death,” she says. “Mentally, it was very difficult.”

Her baby would grow to become such a sickly child that doctors feared it
might have leukemia. “You can’t say it was from radiation 100%, but he was
born a very healthy child and after he was constantly sick.”

High incidences of childhood thyroid cancer, sudden premature deaths. Two
decades have passed and the great debate still rages: To what degree is
Chernobyl responsible for the health problems that seemed to follow in its
wake?

“There’s no real consensus on the effects yet,” notes Dr. David Marples, a
professor of history at the University of Alberta who has written
extensively on Chernobyl. “There’s so much controversy over the health
effects, the number of casualties, the number of long-term illnesses and
what we might expect in the future.”
                                  JUST 50 DIRECT VICTIMS
The answers tend to depend on a group’s views on the nuclear debate. At one
end of the spectrum is the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy
Agency report last fall, which suggested health effects had been largely
exaggerated and that most of the problems were actually psychological. The
IAEA report argued there were only 50 direct victims of the Chernobyl
disaster and no more than 4,000 will eventually die because of radiation
exposure.

Countering that view is a recent Greenpeace study that claims the atomic
agency grossly underestimated the effects. “The IAEA has a vested interest
in minimizing the impact of Chernobyl,” argues Shawn-Patrick Stensil, of
Greenpeace Canada, which launched a haunting photo exhibit of Chernobyl
victims commissioned for the anniversary.

The Greenpeace report predicts 93,000 will die of fatal cancers linked to
Chernobyl radiation and more than 200,000 in all will eventually die from
the disaster. But then, they are hardly objective themselves — the
environmental group has a decidedly anti-nuclear agenda.

“There’s no middle ground on Chernobyl,” says Marples, who tends to lean
more towards the Greenpeace version. “The secrecy that occurred in the
Soviet period was really one of the biggest problems because that’s why
we’re in such doubt today about what really happened. All that data was
officially classified.”

Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj doesn’t care about warring statistics; she knows what
she has seen. When she adopted her daughter from Ukraine in 1993, the
orphanages were crowded with children who had been born with deformities or
left by parents who had suddenly died young.

The Toronto realtor was so shaken by what she saw that she founded Help us
Help the Children, a project of the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund that
has assisted thousands of orphan victims with summer camps, medicines and
scholarships.
                               ‘CALLED THE SILENT KILLER’
“All you have to do is travel through Ukraine,” she says. “It’s called the
silent killer. It’s a horrible thing to come into a town and see that half
of the people in their 40s are dead.”

To this day, Raissa Galechko doesn’t know if her daughter’s brush with
cancer was caused by the nuclear disaster. No one can prove that it was. No
one can prove that it wasn’t. All she does know is that it opened her eyes
to seeking a new life.

Zoya had always had moles, but they suddenly began to change during the year
after the Chernobyl explosion. When one turned bloody, her mother rushed her
to the local cancer hospital. She will never forget the doctor’s advice
after he diagnosed melanoma and said her daughter needed immediate surgery:
“After the operation, leave for a clean zone.”

Escape suddenly became her goal. “When this happened to Zoya, I knew where
my clean zone was — Canada,” she says. “Chernobyl was the turning point. It
pushed me to leave.” When she arrived here in 1989, penniless and unknown,
the journalist refused advice to seek charity as a victim of Chernobyl.

“I couldn’t show my daughter like a bear in a circus — look at her scars,
give me money,” says the publisher of the satirical Ukrainian monthly
Bcecmix (Laughter). “So many abuse the term ‘victim.’ We are survivors.”

Unlike Galechko, Mychailo “Mike” Ryndzak has no doubt that Chernobyl is
directly responsible for his suffering. It was just two months after the
explosion when the 19-year-old military conscript was ordered to report to
the nuclear plant and run evening films and other propoganda for the
“liquidators” who spent their days cleaning the disaster zone.

“To me, radiation and death were synonyms. I was preparing myself to die,”
he recalls from his home in Ottawa. “According to the officials, everything
was calm, under control and beautiful. But as you know and we learned from
western media sources, obviously it was not under control.”

He could see the mutated plants that surrounded Chernobyl and how all the
surrounding grass and leaves had turned the colour of metal. “I didn’t have
any protection at all. I didn’t have any training at all,” he says bitterly.
“What was happening inside us? Radiation is something invisible but it has
such severe power to change who you are.”
                                            5 WEEKS ‘HOT’
Yet the only time he was issued a respirator was when Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev arrived for a few hours to survey the damage. “And after that, it
was taken away.” Due to the high levels of radiation, crews were replaced
every 10 days. But there was a scarcity of projectionists, so Ryndzak was
left in the hot zone for five weeks.

His body would never be the same. In 1989, after his arrival in Canada, his
teeth suddenly began to crumble. Blood tests revealed an almost fatally low
red cell count. But he believes his time in the radioactive zone left him
with a far more crushing legacy.  “It affected my fertility,” the
39-year-old says softly. “I will never have children.”

So he cannot forget Chernobyl on its 20th anniversary, not when its shadow
haunts him to this day. “This is a tragedy that is ongoing,” Ryndzak warns.
“God knows what consequences are waiting in the future.”     -30-

———————————————————————————————-
http://torontosun.com/News/World/2006/04/23/1546692-sun.html
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15.    CHERNOBYL STILL POISONS BODIES AND MINDS
        20 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, millions have sunk
         into an apathy that lets them eat yields of land they know is tainted

By Alex Rodriguez, Tribune foreign correspondent
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, April 23, 2006

STRELECHEVO, Belarus – Long ago, this sleepy farm hamlet ringed by

vast stands of birch and pine near the Ukrainian border stopped fighting back.

After the April 26, 1986, explosion that blew the roof off Reactor 4 at
Chernobyl in what now is northern Ukraine, Strelechevo and hundreds of
villages like it dutifully steeled themselves from the fallout of history’s
worst nuclear accident.

Villagers routinely scrubbed outside walls and roofs, and had their milk,
wheat and potatoes checked for radioactive contamination. They skimmed off
contaminated topsoil around schools and relied on radiation maps to discern
where mushroom-picking in nearby woodlands was ill-advised.

But as years passed, their resolve wore away and resignation took root. Many
in the region refer to the small stipends they receive from their respective
governments as “funeral money.” The crops, milk and meat yielded by their
farms is tainted with radioactive cesium, but they still put it on their
dinner tables.

“We know this food is contaminated–we simply have no other choice,” said
Svetlana Gretchenko, 35, a milkmaid at Strelechevo’s collective farm and a
mother of three. “At night when I go to bed, I thank God and ask him to give
me and my children the chance to wake up in the morning.”

The malaise that shrouds Strelechevo reflects what many researchers say is
the biggest challenge facing communities coping with the fallout of
Chernobyl 20 years later: the psychological damage wrought by disaster on 5
million Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians.

“The psychological impact is now considered to be Chernobyl’s biggest health
consequence,” said Louisa Vinton, a senior project manager for the United
Nations Development Program, which helped produce a comprehensive study
of the accident’s impact. “People have been led to think of themselves as
victims over the years, and are therefore more apt to take a passive
approach toward their future rather than developing a system of
self-sufficiency.

“There’s a sense of waiting for rescue from a rescuer that never comes,”
Vinton said. “It’s a real impediment to people being able to take charge of
their lives again.”

The breadth of Chernobyl’s impact is vast. Radioactive fallout carried by
the wind appeared in reindeer meat in Sweden and in rain in the Pacific
Northwest. Regions in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine can expect to remain
contaminated with cesium-137 for decades. Economically, the disaster cost
the former Soviet Union hundreds of billions of dollars.

The toll on physical health remains a fiercely debated topic. A study by
eight UN organizations, including the UNDP and the International Atomic
Energy Agency, concluded that past estimates of a death toll in the tens of
thousands were grossly exaggerated. Instead, the September 2005 study put
the number of past and future deaths that can be attributed Chernobyl at
4,000.
                        GREENPEACE: TOLL MUCH HIGHER
That figure have been hotly disputed by Greenpeace and other organizations,
which estimate that as many 93,000 people may die of cancer and other
illnesses associated with Chernobyl. Greenpeace, which opposes nuclear
power, accused the UN study of “whitewashing” Chernobyl’s health impact.

However, even critics of the UN study agree that dealing with the
psychological, social and economic toll Chernobyl took on millions of
Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians is a priority that until now has gone
largely ignored.

That toll is readily seen in Belarus, which absorbed 70 percent of the
disaster’s fallout and is home to more than 2.5 million people living on
contaminated land. A host of factors–fear of radiation illness, the
production and consumption of contaminated food, government
neglect–combined to embitter many Belarusians and impede recovery.

“Their emotions have deteriorated into an advanced form of apathy,” said
Tamara Belookaya, director of a Belarusian non-governmental organization
called Children of Chernobyl. “They don’t trust their government or each
other, and they don’t consider themselves a community.”

The seed for that distrust was planted within hours after a botched
experiment led to a huge explosion at 1:23 a.m. April 26, 1986, at the
Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet authorities hushed up the accident as
best they could, saying nothing about it on state television and radio and
waiting three days before beginning to evacuate nearby populations.

For 10 days, more than 50 tons of radioactive gases and nuclear fuel
particles spewed from the rubble of the reactor. Thousands of workers known
as “liquidators” were dispatched to the site to join plant employees in
cleanup work. Vilya Prokopov, then a 46-year-old engineer at the plant, had
the task of helping disconnect all of the wiring in the plant’s control
center. He worked without protective gear, wearing only the white jumpsuit
assigned to Chernobyl workers.

By the second day, his throat was raw from radioactive iodine in the air.
“My throat was burned,” said Prokopov, 66, who now lives in Slavutych, a
small city in northern Ukraine built for Chernobyl liquidators. “I couldn’t
speak. I just whispered.”

Radioactive iodine-131 from the explosion was responsible for a sharp rise
in thyroid cancer in the region. The UN study put the number of
Chernobyl-related thyroid cancer cases at 4,000; Greenpeace’s report,
released earlier this month, predicted as many as 60,000 such cases linked
to the disaster. However, iodine-131’s short half-life, eight days, made it
less of a long-term threat than other contaminants released in the
explosion, such as cesium-137 and strontium-90, which have half-lives that
last decades.
                             CREATING DEPENDENCY?
After the accident, Soviet authorities resettled more than 350,000 people
outside the region’s most heavily contaminated areas. They also established
an extensive system of social and medical benefits that included 7 million
people. The UN study argued that the system cast too wide a net, creating a
culture of dependency that hampered the region’s recovery.

“The number of people claiming Chernobyl-related benefits soared over time,
rather than declined,” the report stated. “As the economic crisis of the
1990s deepened, registration as a victim of Chernobyl became for many the
only means of access to an income, and to vital aspects of health provision,
including medicines.”

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, ambitious rehabilitation projects in
contaminated areas, such as the construction of new gas pipelines to farming
communities in Belarus, were abandoned. Younger Belarusians and villagers
with a trade or profession moved away, depleting the labor force in their
communities and skewing the balance between each village’s birth and death
rates.

“In many villages, up to 60 percent of the population is made up of
pensioners,” said Vasily Nesterenko, director of the Belrad Radiation Safety
and Protection Institute in Minsk, Belarus’ capital. “In most of these
villages, the number of people able to work is two or three times lower than
normal.”

Though cesium-137 from the explosion poisoned roughly a fourth of Belarus’
farmland, President Alexander Lukashenko’s administration has pushed hard to
renew farming in contaminated areas.

At some collective farms, the Belarusian government has tried to minimize
the risk of producing tainted crops and fodder, instituting steps such as
soil tilling to bury radioactive particles beyond the reach of crop roots.
However, most farms have yet to adopt such measures, said Children of
Chernobyl’s Belookaya.

Villagers are all too aware that they are tending contaminated crops and
livestock and consuming tainted food. “Where can we buy clean food?
Nowhere,” said Maria Bordak, 70, a field worker at Strelechevo’s collective
farm. “So we have to eat this. What is destined to happen, will happen to
us.”

That kind of fatalism worries researchers who have studied Chernobyl’s
impact. “That’s where we think public policy should be directed,” said
UNDP’s Vinton. “Let’s help people get back their own fates and destinies.
You don’t have to sit there and say, `We’re doomed because of radiation.'”
———————————————————————————————-
Alex Rodriguez, ajrodriguez@tribune.com
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0604230376apr23,1,6770857.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed
—————————————————————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16.                 SURVIVORS REMEMBER CHERNOBYL

By Jonathan Gorvett in Pripyat, Ukraine
Aljazeera.net, Doha, Qatar, Saturday 22 April 2006

PRIPYAT, UKRAINE – As the world marks the 20th anniversary of the

world’s worst nuclear disaster in the northern Ukrainian town of Chernobyl,
survivors still grapple with the memories – and fallout – of the radioactive
disaster. “I remember looking back at the plant after the explosion,”
recalls Valentina Prokopivna, then the chief librarian in the nearby town of
Pripyat. “It was like looking into a furnace.”

In the hours and days that followed the explosion on April 26, 1986, the
burning reactor sent clouds of radioactive dust into the atmosphere, which
then scattered across the world. Along this path of radioactivity, many have
since developed cancers and other diseases – although the number of
casualties is still the subject of contention.

Official estimates from the three former Soviet countries affected –
Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – say around 25,000 had died by 2005. But 20
years after the accident, many of the survivor’s descendants are still
suffering the effects of the nuclear fallout.
                                        CHILD VICTIMS
Irradiated parents have also passed on problems to their offspring. Out of
the 3 million people officially recognised as victims of Chernobyl by the
Ukrainian government, 642,000 are children.

“It’s a problem now,” continues Prokopivna, who now runs the Chernobyl
Union’s Children’s Fund, a charity for child victims of the disaster.
“Ukraine has never fully stressed that this is not a problem of the past,
but of the present,” she says.

“That night, you could also see this shining light going up into the sky
from the burning reactor,” Prokopivna told Aljazeera.net. “It was this
strange colour. Later, my 5-year-old son developed spots on his neck that
were the same colour as that light.”
                                         NOT LEAVING
Nevertheless, many families have continued to live in the Chernobyl zone,
despite the fact that the soil and water for 30km around the plant is still
heavily irradiated. They face the likelihood of throat cancer and serious
damage to their neurological systems.

Some families in the zone have taken to selling their apartments to pay for
treatment for their children, but they often succumb to their ailments.
“We try to help the children who live in the zone,” says Prokopivna. “A
partial solution is that we have a programme to send 350-500 of them abroad,
to Italy or Germany, for two months of the year.

“There they can live somewhere healthy and the change in them is dramatic.
We are always thanking God or Allah for this help – as there is only one god
for this. But we need more help. What we can do is such a small drop.”
                                      FATEFUL DECISION
On the night of April 26, Soviet-era plant managers were conducting an
experiment to boost electricity output by heating up Chernobyl’s Reactor
No.4 beyond its normal limits.

Yuri, who was working in the plant control room that night, says he is
haunted with questions of what he personally should – or could – have done.
“We were ordered to do certain things – the plant boss wanted to win a
medal, as these were very popular in those days.

“So he ordered us to do things to the reactor which we knew were dangerous
and which we should have stopped,” he says, unwilling to disclose his
surname.

“But how can you disobey orders, how can you do the right thing, when the
consequence of doing the right thing is that nothing happens – there is no
disaster, and there is no reason apparent then for having ignored the
orders?”

Yuri was lucky to have escaped. Ordered to go upstairs from the main control
room to check water levels, he took the elevator to the 18th floor, took
four steps forward when the doors opened and then “the reactor exploded. I
turned round to see the elevator crushed, smoke everywhere”.

After desperately trying to switch the plant’s computers – shut down by the
explosion – back on, Yuri finally realised the extent of the disaster when
he looked out the window. “There was something hypnotic about it. There was
a light, a neon light glowing around the reactor in the darkness – this was
in the middle of the night. “I remember looking at this light and then deep
down inside me something told me to get out of there, to go – that this
light was going to kill me.”
                                      RADIOACTIVE DUST
By the time he reached his home in Pripyat, 1km away, he was already
suffering severe radiation sickness and fell into a coma. Two days later,
the entire town of 40,000 people was evacuated.

Prokopivna, the former librarian, says: “I first got a glimpse of the scale
of the disaster when I was standing outside the police station in Pripyat,
at about 11pm the night after the explosion.

“I saw a whole lot of young conscript soldiers in these plastic suits come
out of the police station to go up to the reactor and they were so young,
all of them, and looking so scared. A man next to me said ‘they’re not
coming back’.” By this stage, the town had become covered in radioactive
dust, yet the authorities made no official announcement of an explosion.

Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers, police and firemen had been drafted in to
try and contain the reactor fire by pouring sand and cement over the core,
which was pulsing out massive doses of radiation.

Vladimir Mashenko, at the time an army helicopter pilot, told Aljazeera.net:
“We must have flown hundreds of sorties over the reactor. “In my helicopter,
we had a squad of conscripts who were pouring stuff out the back onto what
was left of the reactor roof. Then there was my crew. I was the only one
still alive five years later.”
                                        RANDOM DEATHS
The radiation claims its victims with an eerie randomness. Like cancers from
smoking, exceptions may live to be a 100, while others die very much
younger.

It has also claimed the life of a town – Pripyat, which is still deserted
today and contains pockets of high radiation. Chernobyl plant worker Yuri,
who has been in and out of hospital ever since, recalled how Pripyat
residents were allowed back in September 1986 to collect their belongings.

“It was a terrible situation – to walk through my town and the only things I
could hear were my own footsteps and the wind. It was a feeling I would not
wish on anyone. “You are walking across your native city and it is dead and
it is playing with you and you’re wondering if it will take you with it.”

————————————————————————————————————–
http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C5FA4FBD-9151-479A-9C7A-7902F944E16D.htm
—————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17.          CHERNOBYL’S GENERATIONS OF SUFFERING

Juliette Jowit, Reporting for The Observer
Observer, Guardian Unlimited, London, UK, Sunday, April 23 2006

“It is 20 years this week since the world’s worst nuclear accident shot huge
amounts of radiation into the Ukraine sky. Now hospital wards there, in
Belarus and in Russia are filled with sick youngsters who are the latest,
but not the last, casualties of the disaster. Juliette Jowit, reporting for
The Observer, visited the victims and the region, where only the wildlife is
still flourishing. Her report follows:

Vitali Prokopenko is cradling his 10-year-old daughter Sasha in his arms as
he opens the door of his flat. He ushers guests into the small living area
so he can sit more comfortably with Sasha in an armchair. As he talks, his
muscular hands are constantly fretting, smoothing the trousers on her
withered legs, shifting her enlarged head to ease the pressure.

Early in the morning of Saturday, April 26, 1986, the world’s worst nuclear
disaster at Chernobyl jettisoned 100 times as much radiation into the
atmosphere as the atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. Most fell on the now
independent republics of Belarus, Ukraine, and in western Russia.

In 1996 Sasha was born prematurely at the main hospital in Gomel, Belarus’s
second city. She weighed only 3.7 lbs., but developed well in the first
weeks. Then, at seven months, Vitali and his wife Tanya noticed her head
“becoming bigger and bigger”. The hospital reassured them that children’s
bodies grew at different rates.

Soon afterwards, Sasha developed an infection and was sent to hospital in
the capital Minsk, where doctors found she had hydrocephalus, a condition in
which cerebrospinal fluid builds up, putting pressure on the brain and
swelling the unfixed skulls of small children.

Today Sasha’s head weighs 17.6 lbs., in distorted contrast to her
undeveloped, almost immobile body. The weight gives her pressure sores and
chafing. Vitali does most of the caring, while Tanya, who grew up in the
contamination zone, works as an accountant. Sasha can hear well but cannot
respond easily, says Vitali, but he understands that when she fidgets her
legs she’s hungry, wants a nappy changed or is bored. “I get support from
Sasha,” says Vitali. “I don’t know how I’d live without her.”

A girl of 10 with an enlarged head and small body who loves peach and
passionfruit yoghurt could never be a statistic. Nor is Sasha – nor any of
the other children and families supported by Gomel’s hospice – a certain
victim of Chernobyl, just over the border in Ukraine.

Only two people were killed in the explosion, but the lethal legacy of the
accident could scarcely be grasped at the time. Within a few months 31
emergency workers – the “liquidators” – had died. Two decades later,
Chernobyl is blamed for thousands of deaths and has blighted the health,
economic prosperity and social fabric of millions of people, especially in
Belarus.

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and seven other United
Nations bodies estimated 4,000 people would die as a result of Chernobyl.
The report was greeted by relief and disbelief. Many studies from the World
Health Organization, independent scientists and campaign groups had
predicted a far more catastrophic impact.

In response, a group of disbelievers, led by the European Green party,
commissioned their own study, “The Other Chernobyl Report”, or Torch, which
estimated a toll of between 30,000 and 60,000 premature deaths. Last week
the international Greenpeace campaign group released another study by 50
scientists claiming 200,000 lives would be lost, nearly half from cancers.

In southern Belarus, the evidence of experts and families supports the
scientists who claim Chernobyl’s impact is much worse than the IAEA
forecast. A senior doctor at Gomel children’s hospital claims that as few as
one in four babies born in the region is healthy. The reasons expert
opinions differ so widely range from data collection problems to corruption
and a tangled web of cause and effect in a society dealing with the
explosion’s legacy – the mass evacuations and the devastation.

Radiation would be found almost everywhere in the northern hemisphere, from
the U.S. to Japan, and on hill farms in Wales, some of which are still too
contaminated to sell their produce. The greatest part of the pollution fell
on the three countries nearest the reactor: more than 150,000 square
kilometers – an area the size of England, Wales and Northern Ireland – in
Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia were contaminated; between five million
and nine million people were affected.

Belarus suffered most: according to the World Bank, 70 per cent of the
radioactive fallout landed there, affecting more than 3,600 towns and
villages, 2.5 million people and a quarter of farmland and forests. A
quarter of Belarus still has some contamination. Most of the problem was and
is in the Gomel region.

In early spring the vast birch and pine forests in the 30 kilometer
“exclusion” zone around Chernobyl are still carpeted with thick snow. But
employees who ignore bans on entering or hunting here report the area is
thick with wild mushrooms and berries, animals such as wild boar, elk, wild
goats, wolves, hares and deer are thriving, and fish in the rivers are
bigger than ever. Scientists from the U.S. and Ukraine found nature has
blossomed in the absence of almost any humans.

“In a way it [the radiation] is good for the wildlife … the Ukrainian
government has to make a decision whether to make it a preserved area,” says
one of the official Chernobyl guides, Sergei. But this quiet, beguiling
beauty belies the evil of the silent, invisible, deadly radiation that is
everywhere, immediately around Chernobyl and far beyond in Belarus.

Travelling around Belarus, it is striking how many people know more than
one, sometimes several, friends and relatives who have health problems:
school friends with cancer, a grandson or sister with thyroid problems.

Luba Tagai, a nurse sponsored by the Irish charity Chernobyl Children’s
Project International at the Vesnovo Children’s Asylum, a few hours’ drive
south of Minsk, was eight and living 50 kilometers from Chernobyl in 1986.
She is one of 4,000 children of the town recorded as having thyroid cancer.

Her sister has had the cancer and she regularly gets news of friends falling
ill. “There are lots of young people with different cancers, lung cancer,
thyroid glands removed, leukemia. When I was leaving the region there was a
new cemetery; now it’s full.”

Luba’s story is supported by health and community workers. Vesnovo’s
director, Vecheslav Klimovich, says that, despite a declining birthrate in
Belarus, as many children as ever need beds at the “orphanage”, suffering
from both physical and mental problems. At the day care center in Yelsk,
Andrei Luzan has seen the same trend. At Gomel children’s hospital, the
story is depressingly familiar.

“Before 1985, the common number of kids being born in Gomel region was
28,000 a year and the hospital had 350 beds,” says Olga Pushchenka, the
hospital’s deputy chief doctor. “Now the number of kids being born is about
14,000 and the number of beds is the same and we don’t have spare beds. The
kids suffer more often, and diseases are more severe.”

The most common illnesses are respiratory and rheumatic diseases, heart and
blood problems. Pushchenka says it’s not right to say all these are caused
by Chernobyl; social and environmental problems are also to blame. But, she
adds, “you can see the numbers”.

Later Iryna Kalmanovich, a senior doctor in the hospital’s intensive care
unit, tours the wards, where she says they have daily evidence of a huge
increase in premature children. In several cots are unmoving babies who,
like Sasha, have hydrocephalus. One two-day-old boy is trembling due to a
problem with his nervous system. Many of the tiny bodies are hooked to
ventilators and drips.

“We can give life, but not quality of life,” says Dr. Kalmanovich, standing
in the drab corridor, echoing with children’s chatter. “The number of
absolutely healthy newborns is around 25 per cent, maybe 30 to 40.”

She says the hospital is full of fallout from Chernobyl: “Young women who
were girls then, now they are becoming mothers and the health of those young
women is not really good.”

In a small flat in another grey apartment block in the border town of Yelsk,
Valentina and Victor Panfilenka live with their children, Anna, 13, Anton,
12, and seven-year-old Zenya, who has cerebral palsy. After Anton and Anna
have played the Beatles’ “Yesterday” on accordion and flute and Zenya has
shown off her exercise books, and tea has been served, the Panfilenkas offer
an insight into why official statistics and local opinions differ.

As everyone whose illness is Chernobyl-related qualifies for extra state
benefits, a bill which already costs 1 per cent of the economy, the
authorities have a reason to play down problems. “A few doctors said ‘give
us $2,000 and we’ll get the papers saying her illness is because of
Chernobyl’,” says Valentina Panfilenka. “But we’re tired of proving [it], we
just don’t want to think about it now.”

Other impacts are indirect. The IAEA’s report talks of a “paralyzing
fatalism … negative self-assessments of health, belief in shortened life
expectancy, lack of initiative and dependency on assistance from the state.”
The post-explosion evacuation of 350,000 people scattered communities

across the region and led to escalating rates of divorce, alcoholism and
unemployment.

Belarus’s incarceration rate is the third highest in the world and nearly
one in five people lives below the poverty line. People survive by growing
small crops and keeping a cow or chickens, all feeding off contaminated
land.

The costs of Chernobyl are in the strain of caring for Sasha on Vitali and
Tanya’s marriage, in the tears of the parents of a girl with a brain tumour
called Ann Pesenko, children with rheumatism spending spring afternoons in
hospital.

The IAEA concerns itself with deaths among an estimated 600,000 emergency
workers and residents of the contaminated areas at the time; it has no
intention of looking at their children. A report to be published this week
by British scientists picked up on this theme. It repeats the IAEA’s finding
that only thyroid cancer has increased, but adds: “Most radiation-related
solid [tumour] cancers continue to occur decades after exposure.”

The scientists found unexpected increases in thyroid cancer in children born
after the isotopes of iodine believed responsible for it would have ceased
to be a danger. “It is still very early days in terms of evaluating the full
radiological impact.”

In a small room in the almost abandoned town of Chernobyl, filled with the
stench and scratching of hundreds of mice, such uncertainty will not be a
big surprise. Viktor Krasnov, head of this radiobiological lab, also says
research has focused on the relatively misunderstood impacts of long-term
exposure to low radiation levels and found it can cause harm. “The effect is
definitely here,” he says.                                   -30-
————————————————————————————————
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1759370,00.html
PHOTOS: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/gallery/0,,1756958,00.html
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
     If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.

          Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.    
       You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
         “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
                Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only
                                  Additional readers are welcome.
========================================================
          SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
                 “SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”
 
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.
 
All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
 
You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
               “UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
========================================================
   UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
========================================================
              ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
                              Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
                  Holodomor Commemorative Exhibition Collection
          “Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1.  THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
   Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Chairperson; Vera M. Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4.  ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX  77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM– Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
17. VADIM GORBACH, Consultant, Washington, D.C.
========================================================
 TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,
and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net.  If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected. 
========================================================
                          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
mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com; www.SigmaBleyzer.com
========================================================
        Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. 
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#687 Chornobyl & Soviet Union Collapse; Nuclear, A Green Makes Case; That Night Personnel Could Not Care A Damn; Holiday In Hell

=========================================================
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

CHORNOBYL +20 – PART II

April 26, 2006, 20th Anniversary of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
(Chornobyl +20 – Part I, AUR #685, Friday, April 7, 2006)
THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION
“The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl this month 20 years ago, even more
than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse
of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe
was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and
there is the very different era that has followed.” Mikhail S Gorbachev

ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 687
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
WASHINGTON, D.C., MONDAY, APRIL 24, 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. TURNING POINT AT CHERNOBYL
VIEWPOINT
: By Mikhail S Gorbachev
Daily Times, Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, April 17, 2006

2. GOING NUCLEAR: A GREEN MAKES THE CASE
COMMENTARY: By Patrick Moore, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 16, 2006; Page B01

3. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS OF CHERNOBYL –
THEY MAY BE MAKING THE CASE FOR NUCLEAR POWER
COMMENTARY: By Dominic Lawson, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Friday, Apr 07, 2006

4. THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF CHERNOBYL’S LOW-LEVEL
RADIATION ARE SERIOUS
Letter-to-the-Editor: By Linda Walker, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 12, 2006

5. CHORNOBYL – 20 YEARS LATER, NUCLEAR POWER IS STILL TOO
DANGEROUS, EXPENSIVE, AND ENVIRONMENTALLY HAZARDOUS
Ukraine and the USA now have far better options to meet
energy needs and address climate change
Ukrainian-American Environmental Association
Rivne, Ukraine, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 17, 2006

6. “SECRET LIFE OF CHERNOBYL”
“On that night the personnel could not care a damn, pardon my language.”
NTV Mir, Moscow, Russia, in Russian 1600 gmt 16 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, April 16, 2006

7. HEALTH RISK ONLY FROM A FEW RUSSIAN AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTS NOW DUE TO CHERNYBYL
ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1126 gmt 4 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006

8. UKRAINE: CHERNOBYL, THE HOLIDAY IN HELL
By Mike Duff, Financial Times Weekend Magazine
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 7 2006

9. DIFFERENT CLOUD LINGERS OVER CHERNOBYL
Sense of victimhood and fatalism does more damage than radiation
By Erika Niedowski, Sun foreign reporter
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday, April 9, 2006

10. CHERNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS THREATENED WITH COLLAPSE
ddp news agency, Berlin, in German 1356 gmt 12 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service. UK, in English, Thursday, April 13, 2006

11. FEW REASSURED OVER CHERNOBYL’S IMPACT
Mara D. Bellaby, Associated Press Writer, AP
Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 17, 2006

12. CHERNOBYL: HUMAN FALLOUT

First of a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan
By Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Sat, Apr 08, 2006
13. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY
Second of a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan
Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

14. IS IT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN?
Third in a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan
By Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Tue, Apr 11, 2006

15. CHORNOBYL+20: REMEMBRANCE FOR THE FUTURE
An International Conference in Kyiv (Ukraine), April 23-25, 2006
Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, Leiter Referatsgruppe Europa, Nordamerika
Berlin, Germany, Friday, April 7, 2006

========================================================
1
. TURNING POINT AT CHERNOBYL

VIEWPOINT: By Mikhail S Gorbachev
Daily Times, Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, April 17, 2006

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl this month 20 years ago, even more than
my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the
Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an
historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is
the very different era that has followed.

The very morning of the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear station on April
26, 1986, the Politburo met to discuss the situation, and then organised a
government commission to deal with the consequences. The commission was
to control the situation, and to ensure that serious measures were taken,
particularly in regard to people’s health in the disaster zone. Moreover,
the Academy of Science established a group of leading scientists, who were
immediately dispatched to the Chernobyl region.

The Politburo did not immediately have appropriate and complete information
that would have reflected the situation after the explosion. Nevertheless,
it was the general consensus of the Politburo that we should openly deliver
the information upon receiving it. This would be in the spirit of the
glasnost policy that was by then already established in the Soviet Union.

Thus, claims that the Politburo engaged in concealment of information about
the disaster is far from the truth. One reason I believe that there was no
deliberate deception is that, when the governmental commission visited the
scene right after the disaster and stayed overnight in Polesie, near
Chernobyl, its members all had dinner with regular food and water, and they
moved about without respirators, like everybody else who worked there. If
the local administration or the scientists knew the real impact of the
disaster, they would not have risked doing this.

In fact, nobody knew the truth, and that is why all our attempts to receive
full information about the extent of the catastrophe were in vain. We
initially believed that the main impact of the explosion would be in
Ukraine, but Belarus, to the northwest, was hit even worse, and then Poland
and Sweden suffered the consequences.

Of course, the world first learnt of the Chernobyl disaster from Swedish
scientists, creating the impression that we were hiding something. But in
truth we had nothing to hide, as we simply had no information for a day and
a half. Only a few days later, we learnt that what happened was not a simple
accident, but a genuine nuclear catastrophe – an explosion of Chernobyl’s
fourth reactor.

Although the first report on Chernobyl appeared in Pravda on April 28, the
situation was far from clear. For example, when the reactor blew up, the
fire was immediately put out with water, which only worsened the situation
as nuclear particles began spreading through the atmosphere.

Meanwhile we were still able to take measures to help people in the disaster
zone; they were evacuated, and more than 200 medical organisations were
involved in testing the population for radiation poisoning.

There was a serious danger that the contents of the nuclear reactor would
seep into the soil, and then leak into the Dnepr river, thus endangering the
population of Kiev and other cities along the riverbanks. Therefore, we
started the job of protecting the river banks, initiating a total
deactivation of the Chernobyl plant. The resources of a huge country were
mobilised to control the devastation, including work to prepare the
sarcophagus that would encase the fourth reactor.

The Chernobyl disaster, more than anything else, opened the possibility of
much greater freedom of expression, to the point that the system as we knew
it could no longer continue. It made absolutely clear how important it was
to continue the policy of glasnost, and I must say that I started to think
about time in terms of pre-Chernobyl and post-Chernobyl.

The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human
terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects
the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the
economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as I
could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.

This is wrong. My declaration of January 15, 1986, is well known around the
world. I addressed arms reduction, including nuclear arms, and I proposed
that by the year 2000 no country should have atomic weapons. I personally
felt a moral responsibility to end the arms race.

Chernobyl opened my eyes like nothing else: it showed the horrible
consequences of nuclear power, even when it is used for non-military
purposes. One could now imagine much more clearly what might happen if a
nuclear bomb exploded. According to scientific experts, one SS-18 rocket
could contain 100 Chernobyls.

Unfortunately, the problem of nuclear arms is still very serious today.
Countries that have them – the members of the so-called “nuclear club” – are
in no hurry to get rid of them. On the contrary, they continue to refine
their arsenals, while countries without nuclear weapons want them, believing
that the nuclear club’s monopoly is a threat to the world peace.

The 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe reminds us that we should
not forget the horrible lesson taught to the world in 1986. We should do
everything in our power to make all nuclear facilities safe and secure. We
should also start seriously working on the production of the alternative
sources of energy.

The fact that world leaders now increasingly talk about this imperative
suggests that the lesson of Chernobyl is finally being understood.
————————————————————————————————-
Mikhail Gorbachev, last president of the USSR, chairman of the Gorbachev

Foundation in Moscow and the head of the International Green Cross
—————————————————————————————————
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C04%5C17%5Cstory_17-4-2006_pg3_6
————————————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. GOING NUCLEAR: A GREEN MAKES THE CASE

COMMENTARY: By Patrick Moore, The Washington Post
Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 16, 2006; Page B01

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear
energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my
compatriots.

That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the
spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen
bombs in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental
movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be
the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster:
catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United
States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions — or nearly 10 percent of
global emissions — of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for
climate change.

Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that
can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for
power. And these days it can do so safely.

I say that guardedly, of course, just days after Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad announced that his country had enriched uranium. “The nuclear
technology is only for the purpose of peace and nothing else,” he said. But
there is widespread speculation that, even though the process is ostensibly
dedicated to producing electricity, it is in fact a cover for building
nuclear weapons.

And although I don’t want to underestimate the very real dangers of nuclear
technology in the hands of rogue states, we cannot simply ban every
technology that is dangerous. That was the all-or-nothing mentality at the
height of the Cold War, when anything nuclear seemed to spell doom for
humanity and the environment.

In 1979, Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon produced a frisson of fear with their
starring roles in “The China Syndrome,” a fictional evocation of nuclear
disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city’s survival. Less than
two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at
Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very
real anguish throughout the country.

What nobody noticed at the time, though, was that Three Mile Island was in
fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did just what it
was designed to do — prevent radiation from escaping into the environment.
And although the reactor itself was crippled, there was no injury or death
among nuclear workers or nearby residents.

Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear
energy generation in the United States, but it was enough to scare us away
from further developing the technology: There hasn’t been a nuclear plant
ordered up since then.

Today, there are 103 nuclear reactors quietly delivering just 20 percent of
America’s electricity. Eighty percent of the people living within 10 miles
of these plants approve of them (that’s not including the nuclear workers).
Although I don’t live near a nuclear plant, I am now squarely in their camp.

And I am not alone among seasoned environmental activists in changing my
mind on this subject. British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father
of the Gaia theory, believes that nuclear energy is the only way to avoid
catastrophic climate change.

Stewart Brand, founder of the “Whole Earth Catalog,” says the environmental
movement must embrace nuclear energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.

On occasion, such opinions have been met with excommunication from the
anti-nuclear priesthood: The late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder
and director of Friends of the Earth, was forced to resign from the group’s
board after he wrote a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.

There are signs of a new willingness to listen, though, even among the
staunchest anti-nuclear campaigners. When I attended the Kyoto climate
meeting in Montreal last December, I spoke to a packed house on the question
of a sustainable energy future.

I argued that the only way to reduce fossil fuel emissions from electrical
production is through an aggressive program of renewable energy sources
(hydroelectric, geothermal heat pumps, wind, etc.) plus nuclear.

The Greenpeace spokesperson was first at the mike for the question period,
and I expected a tongue-lashing. Instead, he began by saying he agreed with
much of what I said — not the nuclear bit, of course, but there was a clear
feeling that all options must be explored.

Here’s why: Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are
intermittent and unpredictable they simply can’t replace big baseload plants
such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric.

Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is too expensive already, and its price is too
volatile to risk building big baseload plants. Given that hydroelectric
resources are built pretty much to capacity, nuclear is, by elimination, the
only viable substitute for coal. It’s that simple.

That’s not to say that there aren’t real problems — as well as various
myths — associated with nuclear energy. Each concern deserves careful
consideration:

[1] Nuclear energy is expensive. It is in fact one of the least expensive
energy sources. In 2004, the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the
United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with
coal and hydroelectric. Advances in technology will bring the cost down
further in the future.

[2] Nuclear plants are not safe. Although Three Mile Island was a
success story, the accident at Chernobyl, 20 years ago this month, was not.
But Chernobyl was an accident waiting to happen. This early model of
Soviet reactor had no containment vessel, was an inherently bad design and
its operators literally blew it up.

The multi-agency U.N. Chernobyl Forum reported last year that 56 deaths
could be directly attributed to the accident, most of those from radiation
or burns suffered while fighting the fire. Tragic as those deaths were, they
pale in comparison to the more than 5,000 coal-mining deaths that occur
worldwide every year.

No one has died of a radiation-related accident in the history of the U.S.
civilian nuclear reactor program. (And although hundreds of uranium mine
workers did die from radiation exposure underground in the early years of
that industry, that problem was long ago corrected.)

[3] Nuclear waste will be dangerous for thousands of years. Within
40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had
when it was removed from the reactor. And it is incorrect to call it waste,
because 95 percent of the potential energy is still contained in the used fuel
after the first cycle.

Now that the United States has removed the ban on recycling used fuel, it
will be possible to use that energy and to greatly reduce the amount of
waste that needs treatment and disposal. Last month, Japan joined France,
Britain and Russia in the nuclear-fuel-recycling business. The United States
will not be far behind.

[4] Nuclear reactors are vulnerable to terrorist attack. The six-feet-
thick reinforced concrete containment vessel protects the contents from the
outside as well as the inside. And even if a jumbo jet did crash into a
reactor and breach the containment, the reactor would not explode. There
are many types of facilities that are far more vulnerable, including liquid
natural gas plants, chemical plants and numerous political targets.

[5] Nuclear fuel can be diverted to make nuclear weapons. This is the
most serious issue associated with nuclear energy and the most difficult to
address, as the example of Iran shows. But just because nuclear technology
can be put to evil purposes is not an argument to ban its use.

Over the past 20 years, one of the simplest tools — the machete — has been
used to kill more than a million people in Africa, far more than were killed
in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings combined.

What are car bombs made of? Diesel oil, fertilizer and cars. If we banned
everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed
fire.

The only practical approach to the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation is
to put it higher on the international agenda and to use diplomacy and, where
necessary, force to prevent countries or terrorists from using nuclear
materials for destructive ends.

And new technologies such as the reprocessing system recently introduced in
Japan (in which the plutonium is never separated from the uranium) can make
it much more difficult for terrorists or rogue states to use civilian
materials to manufacture weapons.

The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2annually —
the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles. In
addition, the Clean Air Council reports that coal plants are responsible for
64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33
percent of mercury emissions.

These pollutants are eroding the health of our environment, producing acid
rain, smog, respiratory illness and mercury contamination.

Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively
avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2emissions annually — the
equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100 million automobiles. Imagine if
the ratio of coal to nuclear were reversed so that only 20 percent of our
electricity was generated from coal and 60 percent from nuclear.

This would go a long way toward cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that
direction. (pmoore@greenspirit.com) -30-
———————————————————————————————-
Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, is chairman and chief scientist of
Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. He and Christine Todd Whitman are co-chairs of a
new industry-funded initiative, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which
supports increased use of nuclear energy.
————————————————————————————————
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/14/AR2006041401209.html
——————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS OF CHERNOBYL –
THEY MAY BE MAKING THE CASE FOR NUCLEAR POWER

COMMENTARY: By Dominic Lawson, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Friday, Apr 07, 2006

Of all the articles written to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s
greatest nuclear disaster, at Chernobyl, the most significant appeared in
Wednesday’s Independent.

Andrew Osborn had travelled to the site of the explosion and revealed that
it had become an unplanned nature reserve. Animals have returned of their
own accord, including 7,000 wild boar and a similar number of elk’ it is
now the home of 280 species of birds, many of them rare and endangered.

Even the cooling ponds of the power station are teeming with fish. One of
the former inhabitants who has returned, Maria Shaparenko, said: “It’s very
nice here in summer, everything blooms. In fact nothing is wrong here, it’s
just that people have been scared off by the radiation.”

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, 375 British farmers are not allowed to
take their lambs to market without first notifying the Food Standards
Agency, whose officials consider the land still to be “dirty” as a result of
fallout from Chernobyl. The farmers had originally been told, back in 1986,
that they would be free to sell their produce within six months.

The guiding principle of all bureaucracies, alas, is that their work is
never done. But who is right in this case: 82-year-old Maria Shaparenko, or
our very own Dame Deirdre Hutton, head of the FSA?

Scientific opinion seems increasingly to favour Maria over Deirdre. Studies
of survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombs show that those not near
the epicentre of those two dreadful blasts, and who therefore endured
relatively low amounts of radiation, have enjoyed a life expectancy no less
high than among Japanese of the same age who were not living in the affected
areas.

A less gruesome experimental finding is demonstrated by the inhabitants of
the Iranian town of Ramsar, whose rivers and streams have an extraordinarily
high concentration of radium, and who endure a background radiation level
more than 5,000 times the safety level recommended by the American
Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, ex-chairman of a UN committee
on radiation effects, “there are many generations living in homes in Ramsar and
we found no evidence of any harm”. Indeed, Doctor John Cameron of
Wisconsin-Madison goes further: “Ifs been known for some time that radiation
stimulates the immune system. Studies show that animals live longer with an
increase of radiation. There’s no doubt in my mind that radiation at
moderate levels is beneficial.”

The point seems to be that whereas the official safety level here and in
America is based on the idea that the effects of radiation are linear in
nature, the facts show that the true risk ratio follows a J-shape: radiation
is either harmless or beneficial up to surprisingly high levels, and then
suddenly, as soon as the dose becomes truly massive, it becomes very
dangerous indeed.

This presumably explains why the actual number of deaths directly
attributable to Chernobyl was so much lower than almost everyone expected.
But it’s not surprising that those expectations were so high. It was a
contrived nuclear disaster of a sort which a terrorist might have thought
over-ambitious.

In a bizarre experiment, the Chernobyl Reactor Number Four was made to run
at a dangerously low level, the emergency cooling unit was disconnected and
the emergency safety mechanism was switched off.

Not surprisingly, the 1,000-tonne concrete reactor shield was blown clean
away in a mighty explosion, instantly killing 31 plant workers. Iodine-131
and Caesium-137 rained down upon the populations of Belarus and Ukraine.

Yet although the Western media for many years claimed 100,000 people had
died as a result, it appears that only 134 people are known to have received
dangerously high doses of radiation, of whom 14 have since died (though
several of those deaths were attributed to unrelated causes).

The official UN report concluded that the radiation from Chernobyl caused no
measurable increase in birth defects and no rise in the “background rate” of
leukaemia.

These facts have taken on more than merely scientific interest, now that the
political leaders of western Europe are beginning to realise that a return
to a civil nuclear power station building programme is necessary if they are
to meet the commitments demanded of them by the Kyoto treaty. Necessary,
that is, if they do not want the lights to go out.

The Finns, who take the Kyoto Treaty particularly seriously, are now
constructing their fifth nuclear reactor and the fascinating thing is that
this project was originally planned back in the 1980s but scuppered by the
political fallout from Chernobyl.

Ifs also interesting that, like us, the Finns get about a quarter of their
energy from nuclear power, and also like us, are nervous about over-reliance
on gas pipelines controlled by Mr Putin.

The French lead the way in nuclear self-sufficiency: three-quarters of their
electricity needs come from close to 50 indigenous nuclear power stations.
By the way, do you know any anti-nuclear campaigners who refuse to take
their families on holiday to France on health and safety grounds?

It is becoming increasingly clear that this is the issue that will divide
the environmentalist movement. I’ve written before about how James Lovelock,
the creator of the Gaia theory, has broken away from many of his former
colleagues in the movement by insisting that only nuclear power can combine
carbon-emission reduction with maintenance of our current standard of
living.

In 2004 he was joined by the former Anglican Bishop of Birmingham, Hugh
Montefiore, who had been a fundraiser for Friends of the Earth for more than
20 years, but who was asked to resign over his pro-nuclear stance.

He declared in response: “The future of the planet is more important than
membership of Friends of the Earth.” In a gracious statement following
Montefiore’s death last year, Tony Juniper, the executive director of FoE,
said: “He was a tireless campaigner for the environment, who was never
afraid of challenging conventional wisdom.”

Organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, originally
outspoken challengers to conventional wisdom, now represent it, at least
among the well-to-do British middle classes. This is a victory for their
propaganda and campaigning skills, but intellectually they now appear more
like conservative defenders of the status quo, too rigid in their thoughts
to cope with internal dissent.

When Hollywood joins the movement you know it’s reached its high-water mark:
I was amused to see that Michael Douglas has been co-opted, declaring that
“I will never be able to safely take my children to my father’s hometown in
Belarus because of what happened there.” Yes, you will, Michael. Listen to
the birds of Chernobyl.

Animals have returned and the cooling ponds of the power station are
teeming with fish. -30-
—————————————————————————————
Contact: Dominic Lawson, d.lawson@independent.co.uk
————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
4. THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF CHERNOBYL’S LOW-LEVEL
RADIATION ARE SERIOUS

Letter-to-the-Editor: By Linda Walker, The Independent
London, United Kingdom, Wed, Apr 12, 2006

Sir: So, a little radiation every day is just what the doctor ordered, if
Dominic Lawson is to be believed (“Listen to the birds of Chernobyl”, 7
April). Mr Lawson quotes selectively from the article by Andrew Osborn.

Maria Sharapenkos’ quote, “In fact nothing is wrong here. It’s just that
people have been scared off by the radiation” was followed in Mr Osborn’s
article by, “But a few doors away, Roman Yushchenko, an old man riddled
with cancer, is turning black beside a chamber pot of his own blood-red
urine”. Mr Yushchenko added: “Chernobyl may have turned into a sanctuary
for flora and fauna. For human beings it remains less welcoming.”

Animals seldom live long enough to be affected by low-level radiation.
Natural selection allows them to flourish, especially with few humans and
no hunting.

To claim that “scientific opinion favours Maria’s case” is wrong. The
Chernobyl Forum report of September last year, predicted at least 4,000
excess cancer deaths. This body is headed by the International Atomic
Energy Agency, whose chief role is the promotion of nuclear power, so this
report is widely believed to have downplayed the effects. A report by the
Greens in the European Parliament puts the figure between 30,000 and
60,000.

Mr. Lawson’s argument that a revival of nuclear power is necessary if
western leaders “do not want the lights to go out” is spurious. At present,
25 per cent of our energy needs are met by electricity, less than a quarter
of this generated by nuclear power. If Britain were to build 20 nuclear
stations, this would reduce our total carbon emissions by 8 per cent.

A far greater contribution to our Kyoto commitment could be made through
energy conservation and renewable energy which would not provide terrorist
targets or cause a waste-disposal problem lasting thousands of years.

It is not possible to say with certainty the extent of the health effects
from Chernobyl. Apart from the well-documented explosion in thyroid cancer,
there are no reliable statistics about other cancers, genetic defects, heart
disease, blood disorders and diabetes. But there is sufficient anecdotal
evidence to indicate there may have been a significant rise in these
disorders.

The Chernobyl charities in Britain have combined to commemorate the 20th
anniversary of the disaster and launched an appeal for independent research
into the health effects caused by low-level radiation in Belarus, Russia and
Ukraine.

CHERNOBYL CHILDREN’S PROJECT (UK) GLOSSOP, DERBYSHIRE
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5. CHORNOBYL – 20 YEARS LATER, NUCLEAR POWER IS STILL TOO
DANGEROUS, EXPENSIVE, AND ENVIRONMENTALLY HAZARDOUS
Ukraine and the USA now have far better options to meet
energy needs and address climate change

Ukrainian-American Environmental Association
Rivne, Ukraine, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 17, 2006

RIVNE, UKRAINE/WASHINGTON DC — Twenty years ago, on April
26, 1986, the world experienced the worst commercial nuclear accident in
history when the Chornobyl reactor near Kyiv, Ukraine exploded.

Today, the nuclear industry is attempting to revive itself – ostensibly
as a solution to climate change. Notwithstanding Chornobyl’s heavy
toll on the health of its citizens and the local environment, Ukrainian
officials are contemplating the construction of 11 new reactors.

In addition, 12 new reactors have been publicly proposed for the United
States. A new reactor is now under construction in Finland while India,
China, Bulgaria, Russia and other countries are building or actively
considering building new reactors.

Government leaders in Ukraine, the United States, and other countries
who advocate a return to nuclear power have failed to learn the lessons
of Chornobyl.

Twenty years later, nuclear power remains a highly dangerous
technology, whose safety depends heavily on the absence of human error
and the certainty that plants can be protected against terrorist attack
and nuclear materials against theft.

Twenty years later, nuclear power remains the most expensive energy
technology available and one that cannot compete in the marketplace
unless heavily subsidized by the government and shielded from the
responsibility for the costs associated with insurance,
decommissioning, and waste disposal.

Twenty years later, neither Ukraine, the United States, nor any other
nation has developed the technology, or the sites, to permanently
isolate lethal, long-lived radioactive waste from the environment.

Yet, twenty years later, one thing has changed.

Today, renewable energy and energy efficient technologies have matured
to the point that they not only obviate any need for new nuclear
construction but also can enable the phase-out of existing plants and
sharp reductions in the use of fossil fuels.

Energy efficiency alone could reduce energy use in the United States by
at least 20 percent and arguably up to 40 percent or more (compared to
the eight percent of total energy supply provided by nuclear power).

In Ukraine, which now consumes more than four times as much energy
per unit of national product as does the U.S., efficiency measures could
curb consumption by at least 60 percent (compared to the 12 percent now
provided by nuclear power).

Renewable energy sources (e.g., biomass/biofuels, geothermal,
hydropower, solar, wind) which now provide seven percent of U.S. energy
needs and three percent of Ukrainian energy needs are technically and
economically capable of at least tripling their contribution in both
countries within the next 15-20 years.

Coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs, they could meet the
bulk of both countries’ energy needs by mid-century while simultaneously
reducing reliance on fossil fuels and energy imports as well as slashing
greenhouse gas emissions.

Twenty years after Chornobyl, the lesson for both Ukraine and the
United States remains: A nuclear future is dangerous, expensive, and
environmentally destructive. Moreover, it is not necessary. There are
safer, cleaner, cheaper, and more socially acceptable alternatives
available now.
——————————————————————————————-
UKRAINIAN-AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATION:
The Ukrainian-American Environmental Association is a private,
non-governmental organization founded in 2004 and chartered in both
the United States and Ukraine. It is a network of 500+ Ukrainian and
American NGOs, academic researchers, businesses, and government
officials to facilitate the exchange of information on a broad array of
environmental issues including, but not limited to, energy policy,
climate change, air and water pollution, toxic wastes, soil conservation,
sustainable agriculture, and wildlife and wilderness protection.
———————————————————————————-
CONTACT: Taras Lychuk +38 (067) 750-51-92, Ken Bossong
+1 (301) 588-4741 (through till April 20). U.S.A. Mailing Address:
8606 Greenwood Avenue, #2; Takoma Park, MD 20912
Ukraine Address: 11 Strutynska Street, #18; Rivne, Ukraine 33003
e-mail: ua_ea@yahoo.com; URL: http://www.ua-ea.org.
———————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
6. “SECRET LIFE OF CHERNOBYL”
On that night the personnel could not care a damn, pardon my language.”

NTV Mir, Moscow, Russia, in Russian 1600 gmt 16 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Sunday, April 16, 2006

The makers of the “Secret Life of Chernobyl” documentary on Russian NTV
Mir channel visited the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years after
the event, which happened on 26 April 1986.

Many villagers, who were evacuated at the time, later returned to their
homes. There are no shops, no electricity or running water. People survive
by using produce from their vegetable gardens. They claim it is safe despite
the fact that the radiation level in the affected area is eight times above
the norm, the film said. Local farmers grow potatoes. “We send our produce
to Moscow and St Petersburg,” a farmer said.

For the past 20 years professor of genetics Vyacheslav Konovalov has been
collecting genetically modified species in areas in Ukraine and Belarus
affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Foreign journalists offered him a lot of
money to show his collection, “but I did not agree”, Konovalov said.

The collection includes a calf with two heads and three ears. According to
Konovalov, when a photograph of “a foal with eight legs” from his collection
was shown to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, the latter’s response was:
“But this is simply not possible.”

Aleksandr Kovalenko, deputy director of the Chernobyl nuclear power station,
“had access to all the secrets of the Chernobyl disaster”. He kept as a
memento the red emergency button from the station’s control room – by
pressing it, the operator caused the explosion of the nuclear reactor.

“On the day in question the personnel of generating unit No 4 were carrying
out some tests. Engineers wanted to make sure that the reactor could cool
down in the event of an accident,” the commentary said.

Kovalenko takes over the story. “On that night the personnel could not care
a damn, pardon my language. The lads came from different places, some even
came all the way from Kharkiv in order to carry out the tests. By tradition,
all tests always ended with a party to mark the occasion. So the table was
already laid. There were also three weddings taking place that that night
that one could attend if one had time.”

“Later the investigation established that, due to operational error, the
power of the reactor fell almost to zero. Under regulations, the reactor had
to be shut down for eight hours and after that the tests could start anew.

But nobody wanted to wait. In order to increase the power of the reactor,
the station’s personnel switched off the four levels of automatic
protection,” the commentary said.

“Of course, they wanted to finish the tests as soon as possible,” Kovalenko
explained. “The lads wanted to go home, it was weekend, some had to go
back all the way to Kharkiv, plus these three weddings.”

“The reactor got out of control. The operator was too late to press the
button of automatic protection No 5. An explosion followed,” the

commentary said.

Kovalenko kept that button of automatic protection. Looking at the
red button in his hands, he noted: “By one wrong move, we messed
up half of Europe, Ukraine, part of Russia and Belarus.”

Specialists are still arguing about who is to blame for the Chernobyl
disaster: the station’s personnel or the design of the reactor?

“Aleksandr Kovalenko made a sensational admission: mistakes in eliminating
the aftermath of the disaster increased the radioactive pollution of
Belarus. In order to cool down the burning hot reactor, liquefied nitrogen
was poured under it that produced the effect of a stove and the fallout from
the reactor only increased,” the commentary said.

“The Soviet Union spent enormous amounts to eliminate the aftermath of the
disaster but people’s lives are most precious. The liquidators gave their
lives free in order to save the world,” the film said. Archive footage
showed soldiers clearing the roof of the generating unit of radioactive fuel
with their bare hands. Two of these soldiers were shown later in the film:
one crippled, the other dying in agony.

The documentary included archive footage of 1986 showing the scene of the
disaster, the town of Prypyat, bus loads taking residents of Prypyat away,
pop singers giving a concert in Prypyat, locals, exhibits from geneticist’s
collection.
———————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7. HEALTH RISK ONLY FROM A FEW RUSSIAN AGRICULTURAL
PRODUCTS NOW DUE TO CHERNOBYL

ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1126 gmt 4 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006

MOSCOW – Two decades on from the Chernobyl [nuclear power station]
accident, only a few local agricultural products from the contaminated areas
present a health risk for the people of Bryansk Region, Leonid Ilyin, a member
of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and director of the Scientific
Research Centre Institute of Biophysics, told a news conference at ITAR-
TASS news agency today.

“Radiation levels remain high in places where the land has not been
treated,” he said, explaining that “radioactive contamination after the
accident affected 2,955,000 hectares of agricultural land in Russia”. The
member of the academy said that “airborne radiation over inhabited areas has
returned to background levels”.

According to Ilyin, “natural processes and the countermeasures put in place
have reduced the level of contamination in agricultural produce many times
over”. However, the problem of rehabilitation of fodder fields in
water-meadows is still not finally resolved.

“These fields are the main source of fodder for many holdings in dry years,”
he explained. However, thanks to contamination reduction measures, “the
concentration of radiation present in milk, meat and some food products of
plant origin is now coming down and reaching safe levels”.

Admitting that “we are seeing increased mortality rates and depopulation in
the areas affected by the accident”, Anatoliy Tsyb, director of the Medical
Radiological Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences,
explained that this demographic situation arises only because “only elderly
people live in this area, so the birth rate is virtually nil”. -30-

——————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. UKRAINE: CHERNOBYL, THE HOLIDAY IN HELL

By Mike Duff, Financial Times Weekend Magazine
London, United Kingdom, Friday, April 7 2006

Paris is wonderful in the springtime, obviously. So are Venice and Barcelona
and Prague. But for a really impressive weekend away, one guaranteed to
trump any dinner party travel conversation, why not consider Chernobyl?

Twenty years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the determined
adventure tourist can now visit the infamous Ukranian reactor site, and the
30km “exclusion zone” around it, and catch a haunting glimpse of the former
Soviet Union’s brutal lack of regard for human life.

Long regarded as a shameful secret, Ukraine’s increasingly pro-European
government is beginning to acknowledge Chernobyl’s unlikely potential as
a tourist destination. And the trip is surprisingly easy. There are direct
flights from London to Kiev, which is about a three-hour drive from the
plant. Several operators in Kiev now offer day trips to Chernobyl on an
officially guided tour for about $100 per person.

It is also possible to hire a personal guide in Kiev (normally an
out-of-work nuclear scientist) who can negotiate a private visit.

Photographer Tom Salt and I paid $280 for a day with one personal guide
and a second, official guide in the exclusion zone, which gave us freedom to
roam pretty much where we wanted. Both spoke excellent English and both,
confusingly, were named Maxim.

We spent another $20 on what is locally known as “honey” – bottles of
spirits and boxes of chocolates to ease the way through the several
checkpoints on the way to the site.

Safety is obviously a concern for the casual visitor. According to the
International Atomic Energy Agency there are still elevated levels of
radiation around the reactor, but exposure levels are “tolerable for limited
periods of time”. According to the Maxim who was our official guide, who
works a 15-days-on, 15-days-off shift, we would be exposed to about as
much radiation “as [on] an eight-hour flight”.

Common sense is still necessary. Maxim warned us not to touch anything, to
keep away from dusty areas and – more surprisingly – to steer clear of any
vegetation. Plants and trees are often highly contaminated because they
absorb large doses of radiation from groundwater.

The official tour parties are given boiler suits to wear over their
clothing, though our guides seemed to think this offered more reassurance
than actual extra protection. Everybody entering or leaving the exclusion
zone also has to step on to a special machine that checks hands and feet for
radiation.

The town of Chernobyl itself is about 15km from the former power station of
the same name. Although dilapidated, it is still the base for hundreds of
workers who are decommissioning Chernobyl’s other reactors and constructing
a new EU-funded shield over the remains of Reactor Four, which exploded
after a failed safety test on April 26 1986.

The town also contains a memorial to the firefighters and “liquidators” who
died during, and after, the clean-up operation.

Hundreds of soldiers, miners and firemen were sent into the reactor to clear
debris and build the protective sarcophagus over its smouldering remains in
the weeks following the accident. (They were known, chillingly, as
“bio-robots” by the managers and bosses who sent them in, in lieu of any
actual robots.)

Officially, 56 people have died so far as a result of the failure, but the
effects are still being felt. The World Health Organisation estimates that a
further 4,000 people will eventually die prematurely of cancer caused by
exposure to radiation.

For their sacrifice, the liquidators received the thanks of the Soviet
people and a small medal that shows a drop of blood splitting the atom.
Later, I find one of these medals on eBay for $5.

It wasn’t just people who were contaminated, of course. Another of
Chernobyl’s “must-sees” is the radioactive scrapyard where hundreds of
vehicles used in the clean-up were parked in neat rows and then abandoned.

They are still there, ranging in size from basic Lada saloons to gigantic
“Hook” and “Hind” helicopters which were used to drop lead, sand and
boric acid directly into the blazing reactor core. All are still dangerously
radioactive, although many have been stripped for parts by looters oblivious
to the risks.

Despite the radiation, the vast forests within the exclusion zone teem with
wildlife: everything from wolves and wild boar to rare types of eagle, and
even the descendants of the domestic pets that were abandoned in the
evacuation.

People have proved to be surprisingly resilient, too. After the disaster
many local peasants spurned attempts to relocate them and returned to their
land. A decade ago there were 1,200 of them, now their numbers have
dropped to fewer than 300 and the survivors are in their late sixties or
older.

Despite eating contaminated food for nearly two decades, the 70-year-old
husband and wife that we briefly met appeared to be very healthy. We asked
whether they worried about the effects of radiation. Did they drink water
brought from outside the zone? “No.” Did they understand why people told
them to move? “No.”

“What have we to be afraid of?” the wife said. “We are old, we have lived
here all our lives. This is a good place.” With fresh milk from two cows and
a roaring fire in their tiny cottage, one could almost see their point.

Reactor Four itself comes as a shock. The scale of the sheer-sided
sarcophagus that surrounds it becomes scarily apparent as you draw near,
as does the rust and corrosion that’s seeping from it.

Erected after the disaster in just three months, it has already exceeded
life expectations and is now cracking and unstable. If it were to collapse,
there is a good chance it would eject more radioactive debris into the
atmosphere than the original explosion.

Our guides carry dosimeters rather than Geiger counters. These make the same
ticking noise when they detect radiation, but measure cumulative exposure
rather than instant levels. In Kiev, they measured about 9 microroentgens an
hour – normal background radiation.

Standing in the shadow of the reactor this rose to 530, and official guide
Maxim warned that if it wasn’t for the snow on the ground during our visit
it could be anything up to 900.

What’s the maximum amount of time we can spend here if we still want to be
able to have children, I ask. “About five minutes,” says Maxim, deadpan.
We’ve fallen victim to an old Chernobyl joke: it turns out that workers next to
the reactor are allowed to work there for up to two hours at a time.

Before we leave, we stop to see the abandoned city of Pripyat, barely 5km
from Reactor Four. It was founded in 1970 as a model Soviet city (think
Milton Keynes) and was still being built at the time of the disaster. Its
evacuation was delayed by an attempt by local party officials to cover up
the true scale of the disaster. Nearly 50,000 residents left in a convoy of
buses a full two days after the reactor failure. Relatively few have been
back since.

It’s not quite the unblemished 1986 Soviet microcosm that you might expect.
In the past two decades it has been comprehensively looted of anything of
value. Window frames have been prised from concrete and pipes chiselled out
of walls for scrap metal. But there are still plenty of hammer-and-sickles
on display, plus reams of ideologically approved communist books in the
collapsing libraries.

The city feels full of ghosts. Faded photographs of former inhabitants are
still pinned to apartment walls, unread letters sit in mailboxes. Not only
did most of the power plant’s victims live here, but many of the city’s more
curious inhabitants also exposed themselves to massive doses of gamma-ray
radiation as they stood on roofs and bridges to watch the reactor burn.

The city’s most famous feature is its never-used fairground, complete with
corroded Ferris wheels and forlorn dodgem cars. It was completed in April
1986 and was due to open for the May Day celebrations five days after the
disaster.

Trips to Pripyat will not be possible for ever. Ukraine’s searing summers
and deep-frozen winters are speeding up the dilapidation of the all-concrete
buildings. Three have already collapsed, many more are clearly close to
doing so.

But so far, it is still possible to visit this mute but cautionary monument
to what happens when nuclear power generation goes terribly, terribly wrong.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. DIFFERENT CLOUD LINGERS OVER CHERNOBYL
Sense of victimhood and fatalism does more damage than radiation

By Erika Niedowski, Sun foreign reporter
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday, April 9, 2006

CHECHERSK, Belarus — The aims are decidedly modest: to mow
overgrown grass in front of weathered, long-abandoned houses; open
a bakery to provide fresh bread to children at village schools; plant
small gardens to yield fruit and vegetables free of radiation.

Those small steps are part of the latest chapter of the long recovery
effort in this part of the former Soviet Union 20 years after an explosion
at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, the deadliest accident in the
history of nuclear power.

The accident occurred 120 miles to the southeast, across the border in
Ukraine. Thousands of workers labor at the site to maintain the protective
concrete shell around the plant’s destroyed reactor No. 4 and to remove
radioactive material from its three other reactors.

But in this rural district of scattered villages and lonely roads, the
recovery effort focuses on a different, debilitating problem: the
psychological toll the accident has taken on people here.

In a report released last fall, an international team of experts concluded
that the population’s sense of fatalism had done more than
radiation-induced cancers and the contamination of farmland to put the
future of communities in doubt.

Nadezhda Kiryushkina struggles to describe how Chernobyl changed her
village in the Chechersk district in Belarus. It’s as if she finds the
question itself somehow strange.

People have houses, she says, and jobs. She has to have her milk and
produce checked periodically for radiation. But not that often, she says.
She wishes she could go into the forest to collect birch sap and berries
the way she once did.

The tens of thousands of deaths some researchers initially forecast have
not occurred. As of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly
attributed to radiation exposure, most of them among emergency workers who
participated in the cleanup, according to the Chernobyl Forum, a group of
100 doctors, scientists and economists from eight United Nations agencies
and representatives from the governments of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

More than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer have developed – the majority in
children who drank milk from cows grazing on contaminated grass – but
most of the people affected could have a normal life span.

Scientists say that so far there is no convincing evidence that the rates
of other cancers have risen. They also point to a lack of statistical
evidence for an increase in birth defects or a decrease in fertility caused
by Chernobyl.

But traditional medicine has no simple measures or remedies for the impact
on mental health.

The Chernobyl Forum described the population’s “paralyzing fatalism,”
showing up as dependence on government, apathy about poor living
conditions and people’s belief that the situation here can’t, and even
shouldn’t, become better.

“If we continue to treat them like victims, they feel like victims,” Zoya
I. Trafimchik, coordinator for a U.N. effort to encourage economic
development, said of people in the affected areas of Belarus.

Many people seem willing to settle merely for survival, trapping them in
what the Chernobyl Forum called a “downward spiral” of isolation, poor
health and poverty. That is the mentality that experts say must change.

“Don’t wait for the state’s help,” Tatyana Novak, head of the Chechersk
Rural Council, urges residents. “You should start caring about your land
and your health.”

Projects supported by the United Nations in the affected areas of Belarus
include master classes to help revive such industries as beekeeping,
devastated by the accident. A new sheep farm will provide mutton and wool
socks to children and their families. With U.N. help, residents are seeding
flower beds and building greenhouses.

They are, in short, working to reclaim control over their lives.
WORST ACCIDENT
The explosion at Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 began in the early morning of
April 26, 1986, because of engineers’ errors, mistakes fatally compounded
by design flaws in the reactor. Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, and
for two days the Soviet government made no acknowledgment that an accident
had occurred. Only after Sweden detected higher-than-normal radiation over
its territory did Soviet officials disclose the disaster.

About 116,000 people were evacuated that spring and summer. Authorities
later moved an additional 220,000. Twenty-eight workers died in the first
months from radiation poisoning, according to the Chernobyl Forum. Nineteen
others died between 1987 and 2004, though not all from radiation. Thyroid
cancer has killed 15 more.

Belarus, not Ukraine, bore the brunt of the damage. Seventy percent of the
radioactive fallout from Chernobyl landed here. In a nation roughly the
size of Kansas with a population of about 10 million people, 1.6 million
live in zones deemed “contaminated” by the government.

Studies find that people living in areas with high contamination suffered
anxiety levels twice as high as those in unaffected areas. Those residents
are also three to four times more likely to report physical problems that
have no medical explanation.

Many of the residents have what physicians believe are exaggerated fears
about their health and the well-being of their children; some are unsure
whether having children is safe.

Others live cavalierly, with little regard for safety precautions. A mother
told Dr. Tamara V. Belookaya, head of the Children of Chernobyl committee,
of another dilemma: She said she preferred giving her child contaminated
berries rather than not be able to provide any nourishment at all.

People who do suffer illnesses, such as heart disease, often blame
radiation rather than poor diet, excessive drinking or other factors.

“It might sound strange, but the population does not have a full, complete
picture of the consequences of Chernobyl and the impact it has on their
health,” said Dr. Sergei S. Korsak, head physician at the regional hospital
in Chechersk.
PROBLEM OF APATHY
Part of the problem is apathy. At community meetings, Korsak outlines ways
to live safely in contaminated areas, including avoiding burning yard waste.

“I make speeches and people are nodding,” he said, “but come spring,
they’ll be burning leaves and the whole city will be in smoke. How can you
make a person healthy when he doesn’t want to be? How can you make a
person free if he doesn’t want to be?”

Labels have only reinforced the situation. Called “Chernobyl victims” by
the government and the news media, many residents adopted a victim’s
mentality and have been reluctant to let it go.

“People blame Chernobyl for problems that have nothing to do with
radiation,” said Belookaya. “Today there’s no panic. There’s a feeling of
helplessness.”

No one is allowed to live within a 6-mile radius of the Chernobyl reactors,
and that area is an unintended monument to the scale of the disaster. It’s
hard to picture what life was like in Pripyat, a planned city for workers
and their families built in the plant’s shadow, when its population was
50,000. It now is just a grim curiosity for occasional visitors who poke
around the abandoned high-rises and stare up at a long-motionless Ferris
wheel.

Residents were evacuated hurriedly and without full explanation. They
expected to return within days but never did. Laundry stayed for years on
clothes lines strung across apartment balconies, as if people were about to
come home.

There are 337 people living as permanent “squatters” within 19 miles of the
plant, Ukrainian officials say. Most of those living in that exclusion
zone, marked by a government checkpoint, were already well past middle age
when the disaster occurred.

Their lives are built around constancy and monotony. They receive pensions,
care for their chickens and know on which days a shuttle will arrive to
deliver groceries or take them to town to pick up supplies.

Save for five cats, Maria Shaparenko, 82, lives alone in the otherwise
abandoned village of Illintsi in a modest house decorated with colorful
wall hangings, family photographs and framed needlepoints of smiling
wildlife. Like everyone else in the village, she and her husband, now dead,
were evacuated after the accident, but they sneaked back within two weeks:
They wanted to tend to their livestock.
‘I’M HAPPY’ HERE
Shaparenko was born here and has every intention of dying here. She
doesn’t know the radiation level in her yard, or in her home, where she
does laundry by hand in big metal buckets.

“Health is not an issue of concern,” she said. “It’s when you’re young you
should be concerned about your health.” If that is fatalism, she seems at
peace with it.

“I’m happy,” she said. “Somewhere else I would not be happy. This is all
very native and dear to me. This is the best place in the world.”

In the Chechersk district in Belarus, the population fell by more than 40
percent after the accident. A towering monument lists the names of the 43
evacuated communities and the number of houses abandoned in each.

Nadezhda Kiryushkina lives in a one-story brick house – once abandoned –
with her husband and two children in a village of 178 people. It is among
those targeted by a program that aims to reseed 50 acres of land, establish
regular household waste pickup and persuade residents to dispose safely of
the grass and weeds mowed around abandoned dwellings and the homes of
pensioners living alone.

Kiryushkina busies herself as a cleaning woman and with fixing up her
house, which was bought from the state for $400. She grows cucumbers,
cabbage and potatoes behind a crooked fence. She helps her mother, who
lives in a neighboring settlement, with the realities of owning two cows.

She describes her situation with half a shrug. “I can’t really say what’s
the difference,” she said. “For us, it’s just normal.” -30-
——————————————————————————————
Contact Erika Niedowski: erika.niedowski@baltsun.com
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.chernobyl09apr09,0,2537877.story?coll=bal-home-headlines
———————————————————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
===========================================================
10. CHERNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS THREATENED WITH COLLAPSE

ddp news agency, Berlin, in German 1356 gmt 12 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service. UK, in English, Thursday, April 13, 2006

HAMBURG – According to Greenpeace, the so-called sarcophagus over the
accident reactor of Chernobyl is threatened with collapse. “In the last 20
years, much too little has been done to secure the region from the exploding
reactor,” said Greenpeace nuclear expert Thomas Breuer in Hamburg on
Wednesday.

The construction above the reactor is unstable, and radioactive dust is
getting outside through holes in the protective covering. The new
international plan – to repair the damage and to shove a large protective
cover over the reactor – is also only an “interim solution.” “Thereby we
leave the problems of Chernobyl to the coming generations, because no-one
is in a position to resolve the consequences of the catastrophe even
approximately,” said Breuer.

Reactor No 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded on
26 April 1986 after a nuclear chain reaction. To shield against the released
radiation, a few months after the greatest foreseeable accident (GAU), a
sarcophagus was erected over the reactor ruin. -30-
————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. FEW REASURED OVER CHERNOBYL’S IMPACT

Mara D. Bellaby, Associated Press Writer, AP
Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, April 17, 2006

KIEV – With every cough and sore throat, every ache and pain,
Valentyna Stanyuk feels Chernobyl stalking her.

“It’s only a matter of time,” she said as she waited for a thyroid
test at a mobile Red Cross clinic in her village of Bystrichy, 150
miles west of Chernobyl.

The tests came back clean, but that’s little reassurance to this
54-year-old or to millions of others who live in parts of Ukraine,
Belarus and Russia that were heavily irradiated when the nuclear
reactor exploded 20 years ago, spewing radioactive clouds over
Ukraine and much of Europe for 10 days.

The April 26, 1986, disaster forced the evacuation of large swaths of
some of the Soviet Union’s best farmland and forests. The radiation
spread far enough to be detected in reindeer meat in Norway and
rainfall in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

It shocked most European countries into a generation-long freeze on
building nuclear plants. In so starkly exposing the failings of the
communist system, the world’s worst nuclear accident may even have
hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.

And the effect on the health of the people exposed to its invisible
poisons? That is the most heatedly debated legacy of Chernobyl.

“There is so much that we still don’t know,” said Dr. Volodymyr Sert,
head of a team of Red Cross doctors who canvass Ukraine’s rural
Zhytomyr region in search of thyroid abnormalities – one of the few
health problems that all scientists agree is linked to Chernobyl’s
fallout.

“The most important thing we can do is reassure people that they
aren’t being forgotten,” he said.

After the explosion about 116,000 residents were evacuated from a
20-mile zone around the plant. Some 5 million others in areas that got
significant fallout were not evacuated.

Over the years, reports and rumors have spoken of thousands of these
especially vulnerable people dying from radiation. But a September
report by a group of United Nations agencies concluded that the
accident wasn’t nearly as deadly as feared.

Fewer than 50 deaths have been directly linked to radiation exposure
as of mid-2005, the report said. A total of 4,000 of the 600,000
“liquidators” – workers who were hastily mobilized to clean up the
accident site – are likely to die from radiation-related cancers and
leukemia, it predicted. That’s far below the tens of thousands many
claimed were fatally stricken.

The researchers found that thyroid cancer rates have skyrocketed among
people who were under 18 at the time of the accident, but noted more
than 99 percent survive after treatment.

It said there was no convincing evidence of birth defects or reduced
fertility, and most of the general population suffered such low
radiation doses that the scientists decided not to make predictions
about deaths, except to say that some increase – less than 1 percent
or about 5,000 – might be expected.

Venyamin Khudolei, director of the Center for Independent Ecological
Expertise at the government-founded Russian Academy of Science,
disagrees with the findings.

In the part of Russia most heavily hit by the fallout, mortality rates
have risen nearly 4 percent since the explosion, indicating the
Chernobyl toll in Russia alone could be calculated at 67,000 people,
he said. His findings are cited by the environmental watchdog group
Greenpeace, which on Tuesday (April 18) is to issue a report on
Chernobyl’s consequences.

A spokesman for Greenpeace International’s main office in Amsterdam,
Omer ElNaiem, said the report will use data from various sources, some
hitherto unpublished, which “will indicate a rise” over the U.N.
report’s casualty estimates.

Other experts point to studies which show increases in everything from
schizophrenia among the traumatized liquidators to breast cancer.

The U.N. report suggested that people in heavily affected areas were
gripped by “paralyzing fatalism” that induced them to see themselves
as victims and blame Chernobyl for every ailment, even those caused by
smoking or drinking.

That outraged Ukrainian officials. “I am speechless that we can allow this
blasphemy in front of the graves of those who died,” said lawmaker Borys
Oliynyk.

Researchers trying to determine death tolls – and predict deaths still
to come – don’t have an easy task. Soviet-era attempts to cover up the
chaotic and often inhumane response made it difficult to track down
victims. Lists were incomplete, and Soviet authorities later forbade
doctors to cite “radiation” on death certificates.

The rural regions affected are impoverished and unemployment is high.
Alcohol abuse is rampant, diets poor. It’s hard to distinguish
Chernobyl-related health problems from a more general post-Soviet
malaise, scientists said.

“I’m sure we’ll see claims of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds
of thousands, millions of deaths, but again we checked, we checked all
the research, all the files,” Didier Louvat, a radiation waste expert
with the International Atomic Energy Agency, said by telephone from
Vienna.

“The explosion was very concentrated around the facility and the
fallout was spread in great plumes that went high into the atmosphere
and crossed Europe, diffusing the concentration … It could have been
much worse.”

About 1,000 people – plant personnel, military conscripts,
firefighters from the Kiev region, emergency workers – bore the brunt
of the inferno, and 134 were officially confirmed as suffering from
acute radiation syndrome.

One person died during the explosion and his body has never been
recovered. The U.N. report says that another 28 died from radiation
sickness in 1986, and 19 of those suffering from radiation syndrome
died between 1987-2004 but not all the deaths were necessarily caused
by radiation. The rest remain alive.

Wearing no masks or protective suits, dozens of firefighters were
deployed. While the bosses sheltered underground, plant workers
recall, people stood around awaiting instructions, breathing poisoned
air as they watched smoke burst from the reactor’s exposed core.

The disregard for human life persisted. Natalya Lopatyuk, the widow of
a plant worker, said that as she was being evacuated, she saw groups
of young conscripts sunbathing while waiting for orders.

Radiation burns “tear at the skin and look something like a volcano
erupting on the body,” said Oleksandr Zelentsov, head of the
Kiev-based International Organization for People with Radiation
Disease. The victims’ bodies were considered so radioactive that
family members were told not to touch them and they were buried in
double-layered lead coffins.

Such high radiation doses, however, were short-lived. The last people
diagnosed with acute radiation syndrome – three firefighters
extinguishing a cable fire – fell ill at the end May 1986, Zelentsov
said. One is dead, one suffered a heart attack and is in serious
condition and the third is healthy, Zelentsov said.

The Chernobyl plant now is a cracked hulk in the eerie “dead zone.”
The last of its four reactors was taken out of service in 2000 and the
main activity is to shore up the concrete-and-steel “sarcophagus” that
covers the destroyed reactor.

But radiation infects a vast stretch of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia –
in the soil, in the berries and mushrooms, in the firewood needed to
heat homes.

Oleksandr Nabok, 21, has never been near the nuclear station, some 60
miles from his village, but he was recently diagnosed with thyroid
cancer. “I never thought about Chernobyl until I got this news,” he
said in a Kiev hospital as he awaited surgery.

He is one of more than 5 million people who live in areas deemed
contaminated but habitable, far removed from the villages circling the
plant that were considered so irradiated that they were bulldozed
under grave-like mounds of dirt. There, isotopes with half-lives of
24,390 years came to rest.

In Nabok’s village, experts say, the biggest concern was radioactive
iodine.

People suffer from a lack of iodine in this region, so when the
radioactive iodine was released, their thyroids gobbled it up;
children’s thyroid glands work most actively, putting them at greatest
risk. Many ingested the iodine in milk from cows that had grazed on
radiated fields.

Accounts vary, but experts agree that between 4,000 and 5,000 people,
children when the explosion happened, have been diagnosed with thyroid
cancer in Ukraine and Belarus – making it the single biggest
Chernobyl-related medical problem. At least nine have died. Before the
accident, the illness was so rare that in most years only about 10
children were diagnosed with it.

The numbers keep growing. The main spurt was expected to come around
this time, but no one knows whether this is the beginning of the peak
or its end.

“We cannot tell a patient that after a certain time, cancer will not
appear,” said Halyna Terehova, an endocrinologist with the Kiev
Institute of Endocrinology.

The U.N. report found that the high anxiety levels persist and even
appear to be growing among people such as Stanyuk who live in zones
affected by contamination. “It is scary, you try not to worry about
it,” said Valentyna Yanduk, whose face brightened into a smile after
the Red Cross doctors gave her 12-year-old son Ihor’s thyroid the
all-clear. Technically he’s not considered part of the risk group – he
wasn’t even born at the time of the explosion – but his mother worries.

“For 20 years, these people have been living as victims instead of
survivors,” Louvat, the IAEA radiation expert, said. “We need to be
telling them: ‘Look, you survived this.'” -30-
——————————————————————————————-
Associated Press correspondent Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to
this report.
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us. ========================================================
12. CHERNOBYL: HUMAN FALLOUT

First of a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan

By Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Sat, Apr 08, 2006

The huge devastated area around the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear

reactor will never again be fit for human habitation, yet thousands of
people are still working there. Kathy Sheridan enters the ‘zone of alienation’.

In Chernobyl, nature has re-asserted her dominion. Free of man’s
interference for 20 years, wolves, bison, lynx and moose roam the fields and
forests around the decommissioned reactors. Massive wild boar lumber along
the roadside and sometimes on to the streets of Chernobyl town, excavating
the orchards of empty homes. Families of elk wander the empty, rutted roads.

Sergei, our guide, remarks that spring here is very beautiful. “Nature
thrives,” he says. “There is so much greenery . . . so many berries and
mushrooms and wild flowers.”

He talks about the fabulous size of the fish in the river and how the eagles
have returned, “huge eagles, with wings spanning a metre to a metre and a
half in the air”. Later we hear that birds even nest inside the sarcophagus
of the wrecked reactor.

But like a dark fairy tale, nothing here is as it seems. The bountiful
berries and mushrooms are poisoned, soaked in radiation. Only a fool would
eat the fat fish shimmering in the Pripyat River. The wild boar use their
snouts as a hoe in the contaminated soil, making them the most radioactive
of animals, shot and eaten at the poachers’ peril. The wolves prey on the
sickest animals, feeding on radiation.

Viktor, a former militia man once responsible for controlling entry into the
so-called Exclusion Zone, tells us that when he and his mates found animal
corpses in the forests, they used to perform “little experiments”. “When we
cut them open, you’d find the liver was almost gone,” he says.

The name of the zone, literally translated from Ukrainian, is “zone of
alienation”. About the size of Greater London, it is unfit for human
habitation and will remain so forever.

Given a choice, Sergei himself would not be here. Like many of the 3,800
workers who earn a living in and around the reactor, he was forced here by
high unemployment. Here, there is not only a job but a 20 per cent wage
premium, commonly referred to as “coffin money”.

For others, such as Julia Marusych, head of information in the visitors’
centre, the attraction was the ready availability of an apartment in
Slavutych, the company town built 50km away from Chernobyl after the
catastrophe. A special train brings workers three times a day from
Slavutych, crossing into Belarus and back into Ukraine.

This train has no stops, no customs, no radiation checks, in sharp contrast
to the interminable searches and questioning endured by ordinary visitors at
Belarussian border crossings.

Marusych probably has one of the most unattractive roles in PR history. A
former teacher, her job is to interpret the Chernobyl disaster for
punch-drunk visitors fresh from stumbling through the eerily empty
boulevards of Pripyat, Slavutych’s predecessor, less than a kilometre away,
the town abruptly abandoned by nearly 50,000 souls 20 years before; or from
seeing how Chernobyl town, an ancient, once-lovely settlement, has been
reduced to a radioactive research laboratory closed to all but a few
scientists, shift-workers and wildlife.

But she pulls no punches. In a small viewing room overlooking the destroyed
reactor, the only exhibit is a large model of No 4, which opens up like a
sinister doll’s house to reveal what lies inside the gunmetal grey monolith
next door.

The detail is precise, down to the tiny figurines of workers and piles of
debris. The central, and largest, component, resembling a circular hairbrush
with a deep handle, is the upper reactor plate, what Marusych calls “the
technological channels”.

“It weighed 2,000 tons, now it stands almost vertically,” she says,
demonstrating how it was lifted and turned on its side by the explosion.
“Its position is not stable.”

In fact, there is little that is stable in No 4. Where the model’s
floor-to-ceiling columns seem to be buckling, this is an alarmingly precise
representation of what is happening inside the reactor. Shifts in metal
plates mean that even the undamaged western wall is no longer stable.

“There is a threat of local collapse,” Marusych says. Meanwhile, the immense
“elephant’s foot” of melted radioactive fuel below is cracking, emitting
tonnes of radioactive dust. “The chance of a spontaneous chain reaction
inside is very low,” Marusych adds, “but it is not zero.”

For many of the workers in Chernobyl, the task is to maintain the other
three decommissioned Chernobyl reactors, still with their nuclear fuel in
place, still with their safety and cooling systems in operation, despite the
closure of the last one in 2000. This process could take anything up to 150
years. The question of where to store the spent fuel will remain long beyond
that.

But even more challenging is the task of stabilising reactor No 4. The
desperate and heroic mission of the “stabilisation teams” is to prevent an
even greater disaster than 1986. Ninety-seven per cent of the reactor’s
radioactive material remains inside the wreckage.

To put that in context, the 3 per cent that escaped 20 years ago was enough
to make a wasteland of parts of northern Ukraine and to contaminate 70 per
cent of Belarus, a country with no nuclear plant of its own. Even now, 20
years on, no one knows for sure what secrets lie within the reactor.
According to Marusych, only 25 per cent of the “inner rooms” are accessible;
in the other 75 per cent, there is either restricted access or none.

The southern spent-fuel pool emits about 3,400 roentgens (units of ionizing
radiation) per hour. “It has no water inside . . . It is one of the most
hazardous and least investigated rooms,” says Marusych. Some 200 tonnes of
fuel lie under the reactor rooms, “and they are the most hazardous and most
inaccessible”. At the core, radiation levels are 300 million times greater
than normal safety margins.

For workers in No 4, the daily “permitted” radiation dose is around 10 times
the norm. Ordinary Ukrainian tradesmen such as welders and builders,
contracted to work inside the reactor, sign agreements to work in “intense
radiation”. They wear special overalls, carry respirators and dosimeters and
undergo medical tests before and after every 15-day spell of work. As well
as radiation training, they undergo “psychological training”.

“Not everyone is prepared for this kind of work,” says a clearly sympathetic
Marusych. “Conditions inside are very risky. People work in very small
areas. The worker is given only 10 minutes to do his welding activity and is
then replaced by another who has to be ready and psychologically prepared
to carry out his activity in just 10 minutes.”

Given the levels of radiation, a man might complete only one or two such
sessions before reaching his maximum permitted daily radiation dose.

For workers on the roof of the so-called “sarcophagus”, the allotted time is
a minute. They must run. When the sarcophagus was built in 1986 to bury
No 4 and contain its radiation, experts said it would have to outlast the
Pyramids of Egypt, such was No 4’s monstrous potency. Instead, massive
openings have appeared in the roof, gaps that extend to about 100sq m,
according to Marusych.

Rain floods in, damaging and corroding the concrete and metal inside,
dropping on to irradiated fuel, before evaporating and rising again in the
form of radioactive dust, coughing its lethal cloud on to prevailing winds.
No one can say that Chernobyl is “over”.

The story of what happened here 20 years ago is told on the centre’s video.
It ends with the message: “The Chernobyl problem is still unresolved.”

A new shelter is finally on the drawing board, after years of argument about
design and money. “It’s only a concept design,” says Marusych.

It cannot even begin until the stabilisation phase is complete. Whenever it
materialises – which could be 15 years – it will be the largest movable
structure in the world at 100m high by 250m wide, assembled 200m from
No 4 and slid into place. It should last for 100 years, they say.

What then? The message is clear. Man currently does not know enough to
make this nuclear plant safe. The cream of international expertise can only
try to make it sufficiently safe until our children or grandchildren find a
solution. Maybe there is no solution. Maybe by then they will have learned
to equal the vision of the pharaohs.

In the viewing room, it is difficult to tear one’s eyes from the forbidding
grey building next door. The flickering red numbers on the digital panel
outside the viewing room window record the radiation levels around us.

At between 1.1 and 1.2 milli-roentgens, we should hardly be worried, should
we, someone asks tentatively. There are no false assurances. It’s still
about 100 times more than the average natural level of background radiation,

says Marusych, who has been working in the plant since 1997.

Does she worry about her own health? She lowers her head for a long moment
before answering slowly and carefully: “What I believe is that everybody
should know exactly what the situation is where he works . . . especially
those inside the sarcophagus.”

At 4.30pm, workers stream out of the building and board the waiting buses
for the station and the train home to Slavutych. Nearby stands an
incongruous monumental sculpture of a beautiful youth, holding what we are
told is a symbol of flame and energy. It was transplanted here from the town
of Pripyat.

Ours is the only car on the road as we drive towards Pripyat, a kilometre
away. “Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pripyat was conquered by the atom,”
said the narrator in the video.

Some compare it to an atomic-era Pompeii. But Pripyat was only 16 years
standing when nuclear fallout forced its sudden abandonment – and not before
nearly 50,000 men, women and children had been criminally exposed by Soviet
authorities more intent on saving face than saving lives.

In Kiev’s Chernobyl Museum, a video shows one of the six weddings that took
place in Pripyat on Saturday, April 26th, hours after the explosion.

The rusting hulk of a huge, yellow Ferris wheel still dominates the great
square. It was due its inaugural spin a few days later on May Day 1986. The
nursery school still has its little bed-frames lining the walls, small
shoes, dolls, a class photograph album.

Books are scattered on the library floor, some stamped April 26th, 1986.
Rain now streams through the roof of the vast, marbled Palace of Culture
while, backstage, enormous paintings of mighty political leaders and
military men still wait to be raised in triumph in the great May Day parade.

We climb to the top of a 16-storey apartment block, where evidence of
ordinary lives remains: piles of shoes, an old sofa, peeling murals. On the
roof, a large wall-painting of a menacing male figure is as vibrant and
disturbing as the day it was executed: cruel features, sinister eyes, mouth
cast in shadow, dark jacket, red shirt and tie.

Above each block, crowning the buildings around the square, stand immense,
electrified hammer-and-sickle signs, bringing to mind Shelley’s lines : “My
name is Ozymandias, king of kings/ Look on my works, ye Mighty, and tremble
. . .” Now the only ones who tremble are the television crews. Some arrive
dressed, head to toe, in full anti-nuclear/biological/chemical regalia, all
the better to impress the folks back home.

Fifteen kilometres away, through silver birch and pine forests, past large
snow- covered mounds signifying hurriedly buried homes, farm buildings and
villages and a series of signs warning of radiation hot-spots, we reach the
ancient town of Chernobyl.

Its lovely old painted wooden houses are derelict or, in a few cases, used
for radiation experiments. Local administration buildings have been put to
use as hostels for shift workers, mostly male, who pass the evenings in the
gym or playing table tennis, missing girls and normality.

Alex Pyzhovsky, a 21-year-old physics student from Kiev is here to work on
research involving mice and low-dose radiation. On his videophone, he grins
boyishly at pictures of grossly deformed animals and foetuses. “I never want
to see a mouse again when I finish here,” he says firmly. He wants to open a
shop.

Chernobyl’s beautiful old synagogue, acquired long before 1986 by the Soviet
police, still stands, a poignant place of pilgrimage for visiting Jews from
Canada and the US. It is said that Jews were massacred here in Chernobyl,
many of them buried alive.

Further along, the 500-year-old Orthodox Church of St Ilya has been
gloriously restored, in an astonishing burst of hope, turquoise and gold. A
locally born priest makes the 160km trip from Kiev every Saturday to conduct
services.

At the edge of the virtually deserted town, near the war memorial to those
who fell recapturing the town from the Germans in 1944, stands another more
recent concrete monolith, dedicated “To Those Who Saved the World”.

It is a monument to the heroic “liquidators”, the firefighters, miners and
ordinary working men who died or risked their lives in the battle to tame
the raging reactor. By the end, they numbered around 600,000.

In a design unloved by some, it nonetheless tries to convey the fragility of
the earth and the awesome destructiveness of nuclear power, and carries the
names of fallen liquidators, including those who had died by 1996, followed
by another 200 in 2001. A large, empty space has been left for the many more
to come.

A few kilometres away in Rozsokha village, a “nuclear graveyard” stands as
another kind of memorial to the liquidators. This is where some 10,000
fiercely radioactive vehicles, including helicopters, fire engines, armoured
personnel carriers, oil tankers and buses, were neatly parked and abandoned
after the battle. Now parts are being removed for “recycling”, according to
our guide.

Meanwhile, poisoned cargo ships and boats, used to carry sand and cement
from Belarus during the battle, lie rotting at Chernobyl port, several miles
from town on the Pripyat River. Their radiation levels remain too high to be
considered for recycling. They should be buried, but the challenge for
Ukraine is finding new burial sites where groundwater will not be
contaminated.

Anyway, there are other priorities. Twenty years on, more than 500 (more
than half) of the burial sites used hurriedly for radioactive waste have
still to be found, still less analysed. God alone knows what is entering the
groundwater already.

That night, we stay at the state-run Chernobyl Hotel in the town, a
cream-coloured pre-fab imported from Finland 20 years ago. A radiation
dosimeter inside the door checks us out and declares us clean. The hotel is
basic but clean and warm, and the welcome hot food is said to be “safe” (ie,
brought in from Kiev).

The bread rolls are even wittily disguised as porcupines, complete with
peppercorns for eyes. There is no alcohol on offer despite the widespread
belief that vodka is good for combatting radiation.

Upstairs, we pass a black-banded picture of Rima Kiselitsa, a 49-year-old
mother and a popular, well-respected Chernobyl guide. Underneath is a spray
of flowers and the message “we will never forget you”. Rima died suddenly
two weeks ago from a brain haemorrhage.

Like so much else, her untimely death may have nothing or everything to do
with Chernobyl. Her daughter and colleagues doubtless find little
reassurance or consolation there.
CHERNOBYL FACTFILE
At 1.23am on April 26th, 1986, in nuclear reactor No 4 in the Chernobyl
complex, 80 miles north of Kiev, a series of control-room errors and safety
violations, allied to fundamental design flaws, triggered several
catastrophic hydrogen explosions, which exposed the core, blew the
1,000-tonne cover off the top of the reactor and killed 31 people instantly.
The 800 tonnes of graphite in the core burned for 10 days in a radiological
inferno.

Some 70 per cent of the radiation fell on neighbouring Belarus, a country
with no nuclear power plants. Contaminants, including plutonium isotopes
with a half-life of 24,360 years, were blown across the globe, depositing
cloud-borne radioactive material in the lakes of Japan and the hill farms of
Wales and Ireland. It was the greatest man-made disaster – the equivalent of
500 Hiroshima bombs.

Twenty years on, the level of fallout in human suffering is still debated.
The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organisation
say that only 50 deaths can be attributed to the disaster, that 4,000 people
at most may eventually die from it, and that most of the illnesses among the
five million people contaminated are down to poverty and lifestyle.

However, new research commissioned by European parliamentary groups,
Greenpeace International and medical foundations suggest that half a million
people have already died, that infant mortality has increased by 20 to 30
per cent and that among the 600,000 who took part in the clean-up, the rate
of cancer deaths was nearly three times higher than the norm. -30-
———————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.ireland.com/

———————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
=========================================================
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
=========================================================
13. NEGLECTED INHERITORS OF A TOXIC LEGACY
Second of a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan

Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Monday, Apr 10, 2006

The extent of the genetic damage caused by radiation can be seen in the
suffering of children throughout the region, writes Kathy Sheridan in
Chernobyl, in the second of a three-part series

Vyacheslav Klimovich is the director of what Belarussians call a “children’s
mental asylum”, a place that, to many volunteers working for Adi Roche’s
Chernobyl charity, resonates with both horror and triumph. The radical
renovation work, teacher training and modern equipment funded by the
Children of Chernobyl Project International (CCPI) are slowly turning
Vesnovo into a bright, enlightened haven.

But for The Irish Times, on a tight schedule, it’s fair to admit that it is
no more than a stop on the long road between Minsk and Chernobyl, and

the interview with the director no more than a courtesy call.

Then a casual question elicits the information that the dignified Klimovich
was once a physics teacher. He knows enough about what lies in the soil
around highly contaminated Vetka, his wife’s birthplace, and around Gomel,
their subsequent home in southern Belarus, to fear it.

He has a son aged 13, a child with no particular disease, he says slowly,
“but he hasn’t good health either. He is very weak and gets tired very
quickly. He runs temperatures for no reason. We try to give him clean food
and vitamins . . .”

Klimovich is so fearful of radiation that the couple have decided not to
have a second child.

According to many Belarussian doctors and ordinary families to whom we

talk, his description of his son’s health and reasons for having an only child
could apply to nearly every family in the Gomel region.

Klimovich’s case is not dramatic, and his son’s unexplained lethargy and
temperature spikes will not feature in any statistic. But it’s one reason
why an eastern European cry of rage greeted last September’s Chernobyl

Forum report from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It stated that only 50 deaths could be directly attributed to the disaster,
that 4,000 at most would eventually die from it and that the majority of
illnesses among the estimated five million contaminated in the former Soviet
Union are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles.

Dr Michael Repacholi, manager of the WHO Radiation Programme, is

quoted in the summary: “The sum total of the Chernobyl Forum is a
reassuring message.”

Another series of reports, however, are on the way, according to the
Guardian newspaper, which will tell a radically different story. These are
also from leading scientists and doctors and take into account 50 published
scientific studies in estimates from researchers commissioned by European
parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International, and medical foundations in
Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere.

The forthcoming estimates will suggest that at least 30,000 people are
expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe radiation exposure in
1986 and that up to 500,000 may have already died in Ukraine alone.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s National Commission for Radiation Protection
says: “We have found that infant mortality increased 20 to 30 per cent
because of chronic exposure after the accident. All this information has
been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year

and again in June. They’ve not said why they haven’t accepted it.”

The IAEA report has attracted much criticism for its tendency to concentrate
on numbers of deaths while virtually ignoring the incidence of morbidity,
such as chronic illness and the ongoing suffering of those who have managed
to survive life-threatening disease.

For example, the report states that nine children have died from thyroid
cancer and that 4,000 have been found to be affected, but notes that the
survival rate is around 99 per cent. The livid “Belarus necklace”, the scar
which marks such victims for life, and their lifelong dependence on
medication, rates no mention.

AE Okeanov, head of the cancer registry in Belarus for many years and now
working at the Clinical Institute of Radiation Medicine and Endocrinology
Research in Minsk, published work in the Swiss Medical Weekly in 2004,
showing that cancerous “affections” (women undergoing mastectomies, for
example) had increased by about 52 per cent in the Gomel region.

The rate for the whole of Belarus was up by 40 per cent. His study also
showed that the peak incidence rates of breast cancer had shifted to younger
women between 45 and 49 years of age.

IN THE RIVNE region of Ukraine, 310 miles west of Chernobyl, doctors are
also reporting an unusual rate of cancers and mutations.

“In the 30 hospitals of our region we find that up to 30 per cent of people
who were in highly radiated areas have physical disorders, including heart
and blood diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases,” says Alexander
Vewremchuk, of the Special Hospital for the Radiological Protection of the
Population in Vilne. “Nearly one in three of all the newborn babies have
deformities, mostly internal.”

In Belarus, Dr Vyacheslav Izhakovsky, the chief doctor at the Gomel Regional
Children’s Hospital, which treats 12,000 children a year, says that,
factoring in the plummeting birthrate, the hospital has seen the rate of
genetic damage in newborns increase by 16 times since 1985.

“We’re at a time when women who were aged between one and three in 1986

are giving birth . . . No more than 16 to 17 per cent of all newborn babies are
completely healthy,” he says. “The cause behind 60 per cent of these is the
mother’s sickness during pregnancy.

Twenty years after Chernobyl, you have to take into consideration
radiological problems. I and many doctors believe that 50 per cent of
illness is rooted in ecological problems. But we can’t prove it because we
have no time to do research. I can tell you though, that the problems are
only starting . . .”

Dr Irina Kolmanovich, the paediatrician who runs the newborns’ intensive
care unit, points to several babies with genetic problems. They include
eight- month-old Vlad, who was born with damage to his muscle and nervous
system. He can still move his legs and hands but no one is prepared to give
a prognosis. Vlad lies opposite three-year-old Masha, who was born with a
similar condition and mobility, but has been deteriorating steadily during
her short life.

Vlad’s mother is in the bracket of girls who were aged between one and three
in 1986. “It’s all genetic,” says Dr Kolmanovich, “You can read it when the

damage is ecological.”

In Gomel, in particular, people like Vyacheslav Klimovich drew their own
conclusions by not risking a second child. Quite apart from a “demographic
doomsday” being discussed by some researchers, the result can be unspeakably
tragic. Lena Pogorelova, a maths teacher in Gomel, took the “risk” of having
a child five years ago.

She had always worried about what is called the “Chernobyl effect” and had
heard about the low number of healthy newborns. She gave birth to Diana, now
aged five, who seemed normal but slowly manifested enough symptoms to fill
three handwritten pages, the main ones of which are cerebral palsy, a heart
defect, eye problems and anaemia.

Diana is now confined to a special chair, is subject to terrifying
convulsions and seizures, and is almost impossible to calm at any time. The
only saviours for Pogorelova are her mother-in-law, who acts as carer while
Pogorelova goes to work, and the hospice nurses of the CCPI.

Pogorelova’s husband, a plasterer, finds work where he can, in a region
where jobs are scarce, so Pogorelova’s income is vital. But she can hardly
find a minute even to prepare her lessons.

Diana remains the Pogorelovas’ only child. Her mother sees no hope, no
future.

She will not attribute Diana’s condition to Chernobyl. She blames herself
for being an “old” mother (35 when Diana was born). But she does believe
that there is a sickness in the population. Many of her female teaching
colleagues have unexplained spinal problems, for example. She observes that
children are much “weaker” now than before, that they get tired far more
easily and that even psychologically there are changes.

“Radiation doesn’t only affect the liver,” she says.”It affects different
systems in the body and changes them, and we never know where it’s going to
strike.”

THE OTHER CATEGORY which rails against the IAEA’s Chernobyl Forum

report is the “liquidators”, the 600,000 heroes of the Soviet Union who battled
the radioactive inferno in 1986, working in radioactive hot spots, clearing up
the debris around the plant, disposing of vehicles, suppressing dust,
demolishing villages and controlling the populations.

The forum summary asserts that “as of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths had
been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being
highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident
but others who died as late as 2004″.

Contrast this with what the deputy head of the National Commission for
Radiation Protection in Ukraine told the Guardian: “[ Studies show] that
34,449 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the
years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was
nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.”

Few dismiss out of the hand the forum’s assertion that some illnesses in the
population are attributable to growing poverty and unhealthy lifestyles or
that under-reporting in previous years might be a factor in percentage
increases.

“Of course there is some truth in this,” says Dr Izhakovsky of Gomel
Regional Children’s Hospital. “We accept there has been a certain percentage
of under-reporting but believe it is minor. And of course we have social
problems now. But there is no huge gap between living conditions then and
now, other than a small percentage.

“The disaster was a difficult situation for any republic, although Belarus
was left facing all the problems and hadn’t enough money. You can say it’s
just a socio-economic problem, but on the other hand we didn’t have the
money to deal with it. Go to Vetka and see what people are eating there,
where radiation is three times higher than it should be.

Traditionally, Belarussians go to the woods for food, and that food is not
being checked for radiation. Fifty per cent of all the effects are
environmental – you cannot get away from that.”

“WHERE DID THE IAEA do its research?” he adds angrily, pointing out that no
one consulted him, although he has been a doctor here since 1982. “Why don’t
they do some real research work?”

He castigates those responsible for keeping the people in ignorance in 1986,
for not evacuating people quickly enough, for failing to give out iodine.

The politicians thought they were gods, he says, but they couldn’t “influence
the chemical processes”. And as for the academics who helped to hide
information at the time and are now handing it over when it’s too late:
“Where were you back then?” (http://www.ireland.com)

—————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
=========================================================
14. IS IT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN?
Third in a three-part series by Kathy Sheridan

By Kathy Sheridan, Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland, Tue, Apr 11, 2006

With Belarus planning a new nuclear plant just 25 miles from the zone
contaminated by Chernobyl, Kathy Sheridan , in the last of a three-part
series, looks at the ‘nuclear renaissance’ and, below, hears the views of a
Belarussian scientist who refused to be silenced

Chernobyl is over. That is basically the message of the International Atomic
Energy Agency’s Chernobyl Forum, the British nuclear industry and the
Belarussian government. People died, but not many; the industry made
mistakes, but it’s all part of the “historical legacy” which the industry
has bravely put behind it – so the message goes.

And the whole affair has given the Belarussian government such insights into
nuclear power that it plans to build its own plant just 25 miles from the
contaminated zone, a plan which has attracted surprisingly little comment
from western democracies. Belarus, after all, is “the last dictatorship in
Europe”, according to Condoleezza Rice, a place where independent voices
have systematically been silenced.

If Iran is suspect, why not Belarus? Belarus is simply tapping into what is
being called a “nuclear renaissance”, an apt term given that it is being led
by France, a country with 59 reactors rolling out nearly 80 per cent of its
electricity.

Its slick marketing and expertise has been given weight by prominent
environmentalists such as Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, and James
Lovelock, who have switched sides in the belief that nuclear plants could
help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while satisfying voracious energy
demands.

Finland is building the first new reactor in western Europe since 1991.
Italy and the Netherlands are talking about the option. With memories fading
of the near-catastrophic partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in
Pennsylvania 27 years ago, the Bush administration has also felt able to
make a pitch for nuclear energy.

Across the world, some 25 reactors are under construction according to
Associated Press, adding to the network of 440 commercial nuclear power
plants, spread out over 31 countries, that supply 16 per cent of the world’s
total electricity.

By contrast, Sweden and Germany are choosing to shut down their nuclear
options. But just across the Irish Sea, the handsome 82 billion to be forked
out by the British taxpayer, merely to write off the British nuclear
industry’s liabilities, has failed to dampen official ardour for nuclear
power. With the last of Britain’s nuclear power stations due for closure in
2035, Tony Blair has clearly signalled his wish to build a new generation of
them.

In a scathing piece in this newspaper in February, the Minister for the
Environment, Dick Roche, recalled that Sellafield (aka Windscale) was the
site of the world’s first significant nuclear accident. The 1957 fire
“marked an early example of the nuclear industry’s reluctance to make
information available to the public and to deal with issues in an open and
transparent manner”.

Between 1950 and 1976, there were 177 incidents grave enough to warrant
investigation. In 1980, the UK safety regulator determined that safety at
the site had deteriorated to a level which “should not have been allowed to
develop, nor should it be permitted to occur again”. In 1999, there was the
notorious falsification of data at Sellafield’s MOX Demonstration Facility.

Last year, at the Thorp plant, there was a leak of 83,000 litres of highly
radioactive liquid from a tank into a concrete containment cell. A report on
the incident referred to a failure by staff to act appropriately; a culture
of complacency; failure to act on information; a prioritising of production
over planned inspections; and ambiguous operating instructions.

It is worth remembering that the Soviet authorities only admitted to the
Chernobyl disaster after the radiation was detected in Sweden.

The industry has still to produce a credible, environmentally sustainable
solution to the problem of radioactive waste, which must be nursed for
thousands of years.

MEANWHILE, THERE ARE many who question the current benign thinking
on the effects of low-level radiation. Michael Meacher, the British MP who set
up the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters, has pointed
out that such thinking is based on “the known effects of external bomb-blast
radiation [ie, Hiroshima], not on the less well- studied effects of
swallowing radionuclides which then discharge radioactivity into key body
organs”.

As well as its own home-grown problems, Britain is still coping with the
after-shock of Chernobyl. Emergency orders imposed in 1986 still apply to
375 farms in the UK, 355 of them in Wales. The British Department of Health
has admitted that more than 200,000 sheep graze on land still poisoned by
the fallout. No sheep can be moved out of these areas without a special
licence.

Those showing higher than permitted levels of radioactive caesium are marked
with a special indelible dye and must spend months grazing on uncontaminated
grass before they are declared fit for market.

David Ellwood, a Cumbrian farmer, told Britain’s Independent that before
taking sheep to auction, they take them off the fells and put them in the
fields for a couple of weeks, “so readings are usually low. But the odd one
gets a high reading if it comes straight in off the fell, and has to be
slaughtered”.

In the Republic, a spokesman for the Radiological Protection Institute
(RPII) says that no farms are now or were ever restricted here, because our
“management practices” are different from those in the UK. Here, sheep from
the contaminated uplands are brought down to the lowlands for grazing before
being sold and “as caesium-137 has a biological half-life of 10 days, the
sheep excreted all this before going to the mart”. In England, the spokesman
says, “all sheep are sold straight from the uplands”.

He also points out that sheep here are monitored in the marts rather than on
the farms, so there is no need to restrict the farms. Now, Department of
Agriculture vets use in vivo monitors on one sheep in every 10 going to
marts.

There have been cases where flocks have failed the test and been returned to
the lowlands “for maybe 10 days, but it would be a long time ago since that
happened,” he adds.

It’s the RPII’s view that the British “made a mistake of bringing in the
restrictions”. Farmers such as David Ellwood in Cumbria were told the
emergency order could last about three weeks, but the agriculture officials
were only guessing. According to the RPII, the UK is now “artificially
stuck” with restriction orders and is unable to release the farms.

DATA FROM THE institute show that the two biggest contaminants in Irish
foodstuffs in 1986 were iodine-131 and C137. While virtually all of the
iodine had disappeared by the end of May that year, the C137 lingered much
longer. During the first two weeks of May, the mean C137 concentration in
milk was 120 becquerels per litre; it was September before this had declined
to two becquerels per litre.

According to the RPII, Ireland, “in line with most other European countries,
adopted an intervention level for foodstuffs of 1,000 becquerels per
kilogram as the level of contamination at which control measures would be
considered.

During the six months following the accident, this was only exceeded in one
sample and so it was considered unnecessary to restrict the sale or
consumption of foodstuffs produced within Ireland”.

The institute estimates that Chernobyl resulted in “an approximate 3 per
cent increase in radiation exposure to the average Irish person” in the
following 12 months. It also estimates that in the 70 years following 1986,
“approximately 18 fatal cancers are likely to occur in Ireland as a result
of the accident. These cancer deaths will, however, be indistinguishable
among the 450,000 cancers caused by other agents in the same period”.
———————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.ireland.com
———————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
=========================================================
15. CHORNOBYL+20: REMEMBRANCE FOR THE FUTURE
An International Conference in Kyiv (Ukraine), April 23-25, 2006

Sascha Mueller-Kraenner
Leiter Referatsgruppe Europa, Nordamerika
Berlin, Germany, Friday, April 7, 2006

KYIV – On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear
disaster, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Berlin), Ecoclub (Rivne, Ukraine), The
Greens/EFA in the European Parliament, the Nuclear Information and Resource
Service (Washington, DC), the World Information Service on Energy
(Amsterdam), IPPNW (Germany) and Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN (Germany)
are inviting independent scientists, environmentalists, non- governmental
organizations and sustainable energy experts from all over the world for the
international conference “Chornobyl+20 – Remembrance for the Future”

The international conference will take place on Sunday, April 23 through
Tuesday, April 25 at the Teachers House in Kyiv.

The conference will focus on three areas:
FIRST, the ongoing catastrophe of Chornobyl and its continuing
consequences, including the release of a new study which reviews and
analyzes the recently published report of the IAEA and WHO;
SECOND, the continuing safety, economic, proliferation
and other problems posed by nuclear power generally; and
THIRD, the development of a roadmap to a sustainable energy future.

It is the aim of the conference to bring analysts and activists and a broad
public audience together for a new examination of the 1986 Chornobyl
accident’s continuing health, social and economic consequences and to draw
new attention to the promise and need to implement sustainable energy
technologies.

Bemerkung Organisers:
Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Berlin, Germany); Heinrich Böll Foundation-Warsaw
(Poland); The European Greens – European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA);
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) (Washington, DC);
World Information Service on Energy (WISE Amsterdam); Ecoclub (Rivne,
Ukraine); Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Germany); IPPNW Germany

Contact: Tetyana Murza, Ecoclub; E-mail: tanyam@nirs.org
Phone: +380 – 362 – 237024; Further Information: http://www.ch20.org

Veranstalter Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Berlin
Veranstaltungsort Budynok Vchytelya (Haus des Lehrers)
Addressee 01009 Kiew, Volodymyrska Str. 57
Dauer (Datum) von Sonntag, 23. 4. 2006, 15:00 Uhr
bis Dienstag, 25. 4. 2006, 18:00 Uhr

Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Leiter Referatsgruppe Europa, Nordamerika
Heinrich Böll Stiftung; Rosenthalerstrasse 40/41
10178 Berlin; tel +49 30 285 34-380; fax +49 30 285 34-308
cellular +49 160 365 77 18; sascha@boell.de.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
=========================================================
16. CONGRESSIONAL UKRAINIAN CAUCUS ORGANIZING EVENTS
TO COMMEMORATE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHORNOBYL

The Washington Group, Washington, D.C., Thu, April 13, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Congressional Ukrainian Caucus is organizing a
series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Chornobyl:

[1] April 26, Wed, 10:00 AM, Rayburn House Office Building Foyer:

Members of Congress to open a one-day photo exhibit entitled
“Chornobyl-20”. The exhibition will include photographs by some
prominent artists illuminating the human stories behind the Chornobyl
catastrophe and highlighting the dignity and hope of its survivors.

[2] April 27, Thu, 2:00 – 6:00 PM, U.S. Capitol Building, Room HC6
(Independence Avenue entrance):

A Congressional Briefing will feature expert testimony on Chornobyl issues,
including radiation and health, agriculture and food, environment, economic
development, U.S. assistance and the containment of the 4th unit reactor.

The ambassadors of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will provide brief remarks
to inform of the current situation with respect to Chornobyl in their
countries.

Please RSVP for the briefing by email: andre.kravchenko@mail.house.gov.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
==========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
==========================================================
“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
Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only

Additional readers are welcome.
==========================================================
SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
“SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”

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.

All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
LINK: http://www.sigmableyzer.com/index.php?action=publications

You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
“UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
=========================================================

UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
==========================================================

“WELCOME TO UKRAINE”- “NARODNE MYSTETSTVO”

(Folk Art) and ContempoARTukraine MAGAZINES
For information on how to subscribe to the “Welcome to Ukraine” magazine
in English, Ukrainian Folk Art magazine “Narodne Mystetstvo” in Ukrainian,
or ContempoARTukraine in English please send an e-mail to
ArtUkraine.com@starpower.net. Complete information can be found at
=========================================================
ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Holodomor Commemorative Exhibition Collection
“Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1. THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Chairperson; Vera M. Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4. ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX 77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM– Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
17. VADIM GORBACH, Consultant, Washington, D.C.
=========================================================
TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,

and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net. If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected.
=========================================================
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
=========================================================
Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
=========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]=========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#686 Macroeconomic Situation Update By SigmaBleyzer; Bank Growth; Nuclear Storage; How Not To Step On The Rake; Easter Eggs Taken/Customs

=========================================================
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

U.S. CUSTOMS AGENTS CONFISCATING UKRAINIAN

EASTER EGGS AT DULLES AIRPORT NEAR WASHINGTON
[Article 22]

ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 686
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor
PUBLISHED FROM KYIV, UKRAINE, MONDAY, APRIL 10, 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-MACROECONOMIC SITUATION-MARCH 2006
REPORT & ANALYSIS: By Olena Bilan and Edilberto Segura
SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 10, 2006

2. GERMAN COMPANY CONTEMPLATING TO SET UP CHAIN
OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL SHOPS IN UKRAINE
Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 6, 2006

3. UKRAINE: INTERNATIONAL BANKS DO NOT PAY TOO
MUCH ATTENTION TO POLITICAL RISKS
ANALYSIS: Roman Bryl, Ukraine Analyst
IntelliNews-Ukraine This Week, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 4, 2006

4. POLISH AND UKRAINIAN BANKING SECTOR LAGS BEHIND
REGIONAL COMPETITORS SAYS AUSTRIAN ERSTE BANK’S REPORT
Ukraine’s banking sector growing the fastest, but still the most underdeveloped
Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Thu, Apr 06, 2006

5. UKRAINE SLAPS LIMITS ON BLACK SEA BALLAST
CAN a ship pollute an already polluted stretch of water?
Lloyds List, London, United Kingdom, Thu, Apr 06, 2006

6. SOFTLINE MODERNIZES UKRAINE’S FUEL & ENERGY
MINISTRY’S INTERNET WEBSITE
Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thur, April 6, 2006

7. SEVASTOPOL SEAPORT TAKES TIDE OF CAPITAL INFLOW
Ukrainian Times, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006

8. FINANCIAL SITUATION OF UKRAINE’S STATE-OWNED OIL
AND GAS MONOPOLY TO BE PROBED BY CABINET OF MINISTERS
NTN, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1400 gmt 5 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Wed, Apr 05, 2006

9. UKRAINE’S GAS CHIEF OLEKSIY IVCHENKO UPBEAT ON
HIS COMPANY’S FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Said driving the most prestigious & most expensive Mercedes
car paid for by state-owned gas company is just normal
NTN, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian 1400 gmt 8 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, April 8, 2006

10. U.S. NETCRACER TECHNOLOGY CORP OPENS REGIONAL
REP OFFICE IN UKRAINE, WILL HIRE UP TO 100 PEOPLE
Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, April 6, 2006

11. UZHGOROD REGION ABUZZ WITH INVESTMENT ACTIVITY
Ukrainian Times, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006

12. AGRARIAN CONFEDERATION CONSIDERS DELAY IN LIFTING
RUSSIA’S BAN ON UKRAINIAN DAIRY PRODUCTS UNJUSTIFIED
Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, April 5, 2006

13. RUSSIA UNCORKS ANOTHER TRADE DISPUTE
Wine From Georgia & Moldova Banned as Ex-Soviet States Anger Moscow
By Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service
Washington, D.C., Friday, April 7, 2006; Page A16

14. AES UTILITIES CORP FOURTH-QUARTER PROFIT ROSE 75%
Major international investor in two electric plants in Ukraine
By Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Wed, April 5, 2006; Page A18

15. UKRAINE: EBRD GRANTS USD 200 MILLION LOAN TO MITTAL
STEEL KRYVYI RIH TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, April 5, 2006

16. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CALLS ON EUROPEAN COMMISSION
TO START TALKS WITH UKRAINE ON ASSOCIATED MEMBERSHIP
Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, April 6, 2006

17. BRUSSELS SET TO ALLOW ROMANIA INTO THE EU
By George Parker in Bucharest, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 6 2006

18. UKRAINE: BUILDING NUCLEAR STORAGE FACILITY IS GOOD
BUT THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO MAKE THAT CLEAR
COMMENT: Viktor Chumak, Chief Specialist, Defense & Security Issues
International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS), Kyiv, Ukraine, March 7, 2006

19. UKRAINE/2006 COALITION: HOW NOT TO STEP ON THE RAKE
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Vira Nanivska, ICPS Director
International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS)
Newsletter #12 (316), Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 3, 2006

20. SQUABBLES HINDER UKRAINE’S ATTEMPTS TO FORM COALITION
By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 8 2006

21. U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER FRIST WILL VISIT UKRAINE
Senator’s Frist, Burr & Gregg to visit Poland, Ukraine, Russia & Georgia
Associated Press (AP), WNCT Channel 9
Washington, North Carolina, Friday, Apr 7, 2006

22. U.S. CUSTOMS AGENTS CONFISCATING FAMOUS UKRAINIAN
EASTER EGGS AT DULLES AIRPORT NEAR WASHINGTON
LETTER-TO-THE EDITOR: By Cliff Downen
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #686, Article 22
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 10, 2006

23. EGGS AS ART: ORNATE UKRAINIAN EASTER EGGS PYSANKY
Joanne Staroschak shares her passion for an art form that was
repressed by the country’s communist government
.
By Kellie B. Gormly, Tribune-Review
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Saturday, April 1, 2006

24. FAMED “UKRAINIAN EASTER EGGS” PYSANKY HAVE A
RICH RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL HISTORY
Second-generation Ukrainian-Canadian artist and illustrator Olga Lang
By Sheila Potter, Oak Bay News
Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada, Wed, Mar 29 2006

25. SPIELBERG FOUNDATION & VIKTOR PINCHUK CO-PRODUCE
HOLOCAUST FILM: BABI YAR MASSACRE IN 1941 IN UKRAINE
By Yulianna Vilkos, JTA, New York, NY, Sunday, April 9, 2006
========================================================
1
. UKRAINE-MACROECONOMIC SITUATION-MARCH 2006

REPORT & ANALYSIS: By Olena Bilan and Edilberto Segura
SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 10, 2006

SUMMARY
[1] Over the first two months of the year, real GDP grew by 1.5% yoy (up
from 0.9% yoy in January), signaling the revival of economic activity in the
country.

[2] Inflation accelerated slightly in February driven by a temporary
imbalance on the domestic sugar market.

[3] In February, growth of the money supply decelerated to 46.0% yoy
partially reflecting the sluggish inflow of household deposits before the
parliamentary elections.

[4] In 2005, the current account balance remained positive at $2.5 billion
(3.1% of GDP), while the financial account surplus reached an impressive
$7.7 billion (9.4% of GDP) driven by long-term corporate borrowings and
record high FDI inflow.

[5] On March 26th, Ukraine held elections for parliament, regional and
district councils, as well as city mayors. The preliminary results of the
voting suggest that five political blocs and parties will enter the
Verkhovna Rada.

[6] Ukraine and the Unites States signed a bilateral protocol on accession
to goods and services markets in the framework of Ukraine’s WTO
accession, which marks a milestone in the country’s WTO negotiations.

ECONOMIC GROWTH
February real sector data signaled the revival of economic activity in the
country. Real GDP grew by 1.5% yoy during the first two months of the year,
up significantly from 0.9% yoy in January. Economic growth was primarily led
by an increase in value added in transport, which grew by 5.9% yoy.

Growth of value added in distribution of electricity, gas, and water
(utilities) decelerated to 9.0% yoy, down from 13.2% yoy in January, but
remained the second largest contributor to GDP growth.

On an encouraging note, construction and industry improved their
performance, albeit not substantially. The reduction of value added in
construction shrank to -0.2% yoy, a significant improvement from -8.1% yoy
in January.

The same trend was observed in manufacturing, which posted a lower reduction
in value added compared to the first month of the year: -1.8% yoy in
January-February versus -4.6% in January. Following the increased demand for
domestic energy materials, the extractive industry showed a 2.5% yoy
increase in value added, compared to a 1% yoy reduction a month before.

The improvement in industrial performance was led by two sectors:
food-processing and machine-building. Food-processing showed a 8.0% yoy
increase in output over the first two months of the year stimulated by
robust consumption demand. Machine-building went up by 8.6% yoy, driven
mainly by production of vehicles and vehicle equipment.

At the same time, metallurgy and coke and oil-refinery industries showed
only slight improvement compared to January, still significantly
contributing to a decline in industrial output. Metallurgy has still not
recovered from an increase in gas prices and reduction of world steel
prices. Output of metals and metal products posted a 1.0% yoy reduction
in January-February.

Accordingly, lower demand on the side of metallurgical enterprises
contributed to lower production of coke. The oil-refinery industry suffers
from outdated technologies that do not allow for the production of high
quality gasoline. The reduction of import tariffs on oil products introduced
in 2005 stimulated imports of higher-quality gasoline to the country.

In addition, introduction of seasonal export quotas on oil products
discouraged production of diesel and black oils. As a result, the two
largest oil refineries were closed in 2005 and volumes of processed oil
declined to 2.3 million tons in January-February 2006, compared to 3.2
million tons in the same period last year.

However, industrial production may recover in the coming months. According
to the Ministry of Economy, industrial output will increase by 1-1.5% yoy in
the first half of the year driven by sectors oriented towards domestic
demand (food processing, light industry) as well as by machine-building.
Also, there will be a reduced statistical base effect stemming from
deceleration of industrial output throughout 2005.

FISCAL POLICY
In January-February, consolidated budget revenues increased by a nominal 33%
yoy to UAH 20.6 billion ($4.1 billion), down from 36% yoy in January. At the
same time, budget expenditures grew by 36% yoy to UAH 18.2 billion ($3.6
billion), compared to 28% yoy a month before; this shows better execution of
planned expenditures, which traditionally takes place throughout the fiscal
year.

The resulting budget balance constituted UAH 2.4 billion ($0.5 billion)
remaining virtually unchanged in nominal terms compared to January, but
declining in relation to period GDP to 4.0%, down from 8.4%.

According to the State Treasury information, revenues of the general fund of
the central budget were 4.1% above target. Collection of tax revenues, which
account for almost three quarters of all state budget revenues, was fully in
line with the target, while non-tax revenues were overexecuted by 25%. At
the same time, the execution rate of major taxes differed substantially.

The enterprise profit tax (EPT) was almost 20% below the target, reflecting
deterioration in performance of enterprises. In January, profits before
taxes of Ukrainian enterprises were 37% less than in the same period of
2005, mostly on account of industrial enterprises (primarily metallurgy) and
firms operating in the trade sector.

But another major tax, the value added tax (VAT), was overexecuted by 20%,
more than offsetting the shortfall in EPT collection. VAT from both domestic
and imported products was above the plan. In addition, there is no evidence
of accumulation of VAT refund arrears, as VAT refunds were almost in line
with the target.

Since VAT is essentially a tax on consumers, its overexecution may indicate
that private consumption is growing at a higher pace than expected, even by
the rather optimistic macroeconomic forecast envisaged in the budget. This
gives additional grounds to expect further revival of economic growth later
this year. However, the recovery is not going to be strong since growth of
domestic demand will be partially satisfied by imports.

Execution of budget expenditures improved in February. Expenditures of the
general fund of state budget were 15% below the target, compared to almost
20% in January. This trend is very likely to continue, with the budget
surplus turning to deficit by year-end.

MONETARY POLICY
In February, consumer prices grew by 10.7% yoy, up from 9.8% yoy a month
before. Acceleration of inflation was primarily attributable to an increase
in prices on food products, the major component of the consumer price index
(CPI). Food product prices sped up to 11.4% yoy from 9.9% in January,
explaining more than two-thirds of CPI growth.

At the same time, non-food product prices were on a moderate track posting a
4.4% yoy rise. Services tariffs preserved their high growth rate reaching
15.8% yoy in February, but contributed to the inflation rate moderately due
to the low share of this group in the consumption basket.

A rapid increase in sugar prices (which surged by 25% month-over-month
(mom), or 56.6% yoy, in February) was among the major causes of the higher
growth of food prices and the whole price index. The domestic sugar market
was indirectly affected by an increase in world prices of white and raw
sugar.

Although domestic sugar prices exceed world prices due to prohibitive import
tariffs, sugar prices in Russia surged far above the world average at the
beginning of 2006 thereby stimulating supply of sugar to Russia from CIS
countries, including Ukraine. Thus, higher external demand for domestically
produced products drove up prices in Ukraine.

However, domestic sugar prices are likely to go down soon thanks to
licensing of sugar exports introduced by Ukrainian authorities in February
as well as cooling of the overheated Russian market, which already started
in mid-March.

In February, growth of the monetary base and money supply decelerated to
36.4% yoy and 46.0% yoy respectively (down from 39.4% and 50.1% yoy in
January), reflecting the slowdown of deposits to the banking system.
According to the NBU, total bank deposits grew by 50% yoy, compared to
54.5% yoy a month before.

On the one hand, this reflects the increasing statistical base effect
related to the resumption of deposits inflow in early 2005, after the
presidential election turmoil. On the other hand, the inflow of deposits was
rather sluggish at the beginning of 2006, since households tried to stay on
the safe side before the parliamentary elections, reorienting part of their
savings from bank deposits to foreign currency cash holdings.

At the same time, the demand for bank credit remained robust, as banks
continued to disburse credit at an accelerating pace. In February, bank
credit grew by 66.2% yoy, up from 64.8% yoy a month before.

Overall, monetary policy remained quite loose in February. The interest rate
on interbank credit, which serves as the closest indicator of banks’
liquidity and monetary stance, stood at a low 3.0% per annum. By the end of
February, the estimated excess liquidity of the banking system rose by 17.7%
mom to UAH 5.7 billion. This is despite the NBU’s sterilization operations,
which amounted to UAH 2.2 billion in gross volume.

Still, the NBU considered it worthwhile to ease monetary policy further
through its fine-tuning instruments. Starting March 1, the daily requirement
for the amount of bank funds to be kept on the correspondent account within
the NBU was reduced from 90% to 70% of the previous month’s obligatory
reserves.

According to our estimates, this will add about UAH 1.7 billion to banks’
excess liquidity. Most likely, the NBU’s decision is motivated by the
possibility of higher political risks following the parliamentary elections
at the end of March. A weaker reserve requirement will give banks more
flexibility to manage their flow of funds in case of unexpected
difficulties.

In February, the foreign exchange market was almost balanced and the NBU
sold only $179 million of its international reserves, compared to $939
million in January. Although sale interventions by the NBU are likely to
continue in March, the reduction of central bank reserves shall not raise
serious concerns.

By the end of February, the total amount of reserves constituted $18.3
billion, which is sufficient enough to allow the NBU to compensate for
temporary imbalances on the foreign exchange market.

Furthermore, the inflow of foreign currency is likely to resume in the
coming months after stabilization of the political situation. By the end of
2006, the NBU’s international reserves are expected to post a moderate
increase compared to 2005 thanks to a positive financial account balance,
which will cover the small current account deficit expected this year.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND CAPITAL
According to preliminary NBU data, the current account surplus stood at $2.5
billion or 3.1% of GDP in 2005, while the financial account surplus
(analytical presentation) reached an impressive $7.7 billion or 9.4% of GDP.
As a result, the NBU’s international reserves more than doubled and
constituted $19.4 billion, which corresponds to 4.9 months of prospective
imports of goods and services.

The decline in the current account surplus from a remarkable $6.8 billion
(10.5% of GDP) in 2004 was mainly because of merchandise trade balance
deterioration. Contraction of external demand, an increase in production
costs, the real appreciation of the hryvnia with respect to the US dollar
and the euro, and liberalization of import tariffs were among the major
factors that contributed to reversal of the merchandise trade balance from a
high surplus in 2004 to a moderate deficit in 2005.

On a positive note, the services trade surplus that stood at $1.8 billion
(2.2% of GDP) was high enough to compensate for the $1.1 billion (1.4% of
GDP) of goods trade deficit (FOB/FOB). Along with the net inflow of current
transfers that reached $2.8 billion (3.5% of GDP), this ensured a positive
current account balance.

The impressive improvement in the financial account, which reversed from a
sizable deficit of $4.5 billion (7% of GDP) in 2004 to the present surplus,
was primarily due to record high growth of net foreign direct investment
(FDI) and intensification of private borrowings from abroad.

By the end of the year, net inflow of foreign investment reached $7.5
billion, which almost equals the total amount of FDI attracted since
independence. The bulk of this sum, $4.2 billion, was received thanks to the
successful re-privatization of the country’s largest metallurgical plant
Kryvorizhstal to the German subsidiary of world leader Mittal Steel. The
acquisition of Aval Bank, one of the biggest local banks, by Austrian
Raiffeisen International brought another $1 billion of FDI.

These acquisitions will bring new know-how and management technologies to
Ukrainian metallurgy and the banking system, thereby increasing the
competitiveness of these sectors and the economy as a whole.

External borrowings also grew considerably in 2005, mostly on account of
private sector debt. The country’s gross external debt increased by $8.2
billion, out of which about $7 billion was expansion of private debt. Both
the banking system and the non-bank corporate sector were active in
attracting funding from abroad.

The continuing expansion of domestic demand gave impetus to banks to look
for longer and cheaper resources compared to household deposits, which for a
long time were the major source of bank credits. At the same time, the high
fragmentation and low capitalization of the domestic banking system impeded
development of large-scale and long-term lending, forcing corporate firms to
seek resources abroad as well.

The 2005 trends in Ukraine’s balance of payments are expected to continue in
the nearest future. In particular, the merchandise trade deficit will keep
on widening throughout 2006. Merchandise imports are likely to grow at a
double-digit rate stimulated by the ongoing increase in consumption demand
and the revival of investment demand expected in the second half of 2006.

The increase in prices for imported gas will also have a direct effect on
imports, raising nominal volumes. Merchandise exports will be adversely
affected first of all by an increase in gas prices, which substantially
raises the production costs in metallurgy and chemistry, the two major
export-oriented industries.

In addition, metallurgy will face a certain reduction of output prices due
to increasing competition on the world metal markets. These expectations
have already been confirmed by January merchandise trade statistics.
According to the State Statistics Committee, the monthly goods trade balance
remained at a negative $0.37 billion, which translates into 6.3% of period
GDP.

Nevertheless, Ukraine’s external position will remain rather strong in 2006.
The merchandise trade deficit will be partially compensated for by the
services trade surplus and net current transfers, which are expected to
increase moderately. Although the current account is very likely to turn to
small deficit, it is expected to be securely covered by the financial
account surplus.

The latter will be primarily based on a further increase in long-term
private debt and the relatively high net inflow of FDI anticipated at around
$3 billion. As a result, the gross international reserves are likely to grow
moderately in 2006 and stay at rather comfortable levels in terms of import
coverage.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS AND REFORMS AFFECTING
THE INVESTMENT CLIMATE
On March 26th, Ukraine elected the national parliament (the Verkhovna Rada),
as well as regional and district councils and city mayors. International
observes (OSCE, International Republican Institute, etc.) concluded that the
parliamentary elections met international standards and were carried out in
accordance with Ukrainian election law.

According to preliminary information from the Central Election Commission,
five political blocs and parties passed the 3% threshold to the Verkhovna
Rada. The Party of Regions, headed by Viktor Yanukovich (the main opponent
of current President Viktor Yuschenko during the 2004 presidential
elections) led the race with 32.12% of the vote. Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc was
in second place with 22.27%. Pro-presidential Our Ukraine secured 13.94% of
the vote.

The Socialist Party of Ukraine enters the Verkhovna Rada with 5.67% and the
Communist Party with 3.66%. After official results of the voting are
announced, the newly elected parliamentary factions will have to form a
coalition that will appoint the Prime Minister.

Ukraine and the Unites States signed a bilateral protocol on access to goods
and services markets in the framework of Ukraine’s WTO accession.
Endorsement of the protocol marks significant progress in Ukraine’s trade
relationship with the US and paves the way for Ukraine to complete other
bilateral WTO negotiations.

As of the end of March, Ukraine also finalized negotiations with Egypt,
Morocco and Romania. Among the remaining countries, negotiations with
Australia are expected to be quite tough due to a strong disagreement
between Ukrainian and Australian authorities regarding protection of
Ukraine’s agricultural market.

Some progress in negotiations with Australia has been made recently. In
particular, according to the Ministry of Economy, Ukraine and Australia
agreed on the main principles of distribution of the import tariff quota on
raw cane-sugar during the unofficial Working Party meeting in Geneva.

To become a WTO member, Ukraine also needs to adopt several laws, including
those envisaging reduction of export duties on live cattle, hide and metal
scrap. These issues are politically sensitive as they reduce protection of
certain industries. Provided the laws are enacted by the new Parliament soon
after elections, Ukraine has a good chance of entering the WTO by the end of
2006.

In March, the US repealed Ukraine from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the
US Trade Act of 1974. The respective bill was passed by Congress and signed
by President Bush in late March. The amendment links US trade relations with
former communist countries to the rights of their citizens to emigrate
freely.

Termination of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Ukraine is not likely to
substantially influence trade flows between the countries, since an annual
waiver from the amendment was issued for Ukraine on a regular basis. But the
decision will play an important role in improving Ukraine’s international
image and clear the way for the two countries to apply the WTO Agreement
when Ukraine becomes a WTO member. -30-
————————————————————————————————–
NOTE: To see the entire SigmaBleyzer Ukraine Macroeconomic Situation
report for March 2006 in a PDF format, including several color charts
and graphics click on the following link:

http://www.sigmableyzer.com/files/Ukr-Monthly_Ec_Report_03_06.pdf
————————————————————————————————–
CONTACT: Olena Bilan, Economist, The Bleyzer Foundation,
Kyiv, OBilan@SigmaBleyzer.com.ua, www.SigmaBleyzer.com
———————————————————————————————-

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. GERMAN COMPANY CONTEMPLATING TO SET UP CHAIN
OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL SHOPS IN UKRAINE

Ukrinform, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 6, 2006

KYIV – The company Praktiker Bau and Heimwerkermarkte Holding AG,
which operates one of the world’s biggest chains of construction material
supermarkets and is an element of the Metro Group, is contemplating to
set up a chain of Praktiker shops in Ukraine.

The company has opened its office in Kyiv, with a view of becoming a
major player on the Ukrainian market of construction materials, including
those in the do-it-yourself format.

The Metro Group runs a chain of Metro Cash & Carry supermarkets in
Ukraine. By 2007 the chain is to incorporate a score of trading outlets.
Presently its chain numbers eight supermarkets. -30-
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3. UKRAINE: INTERNATIONAL BANKS DO NOT PAY TOO
MUCH ATTENTION TO POLITICAL RISKS

ANALYSIS: Roman Bryl, Ukraine Analyst
IntelliNews-Ukraine This Week, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Political risks that were expected to increase due to the March
parliamentary elections did not exert too much influence on the main trends
of the banking sector. The latest information about the purchase by French
Credit Agricole S.A. of medium-sized Index-Bank proves that foreign banks
continue entering the local market.

Credit Agricole made its announcement on buying the bank just when the
election campaign was at its peak and it was not clear what exactly result
the political fight would produce. The political factor became of minor
importance for foreign financial institutions that started to reshape the
banking system in late 2005 and early 2006. We witnessed sales of large
domestic banks and entrance of new major players.

They are Raiffeisen that bought Aval Bank for USD 1.03bn; BNP Paribas that
purchased UkrSibbank, and Intesa that became the owner of Ukrsotsbank. The
banks purchased belonged to the group of the biggest banks. Also there were
some sales of smaller banks (e.g. Mriya bank bought by Russian
Vneshtorgbank, or Kharkiv Megabank planning to sell its stake to a foreign
investor).

Foreign banks entering local market starts renovating acquired
banks which negatively influences clients —–

But as far as entrance of foreign banks became a common trend, the situation
within the system started to change. Purchases of local banks first of all
influenced the quality of servicing corporate clients.

Lack of attention from the management of sold banks is the biggest obstacle
corporate clients are facing. For obvious reasons, banks’ purchases are
focused more on transition of new standards of internal management and
activities. Some managers thus pay less attention to their previous
priority – improving service quality.

Thus, banks concentrate on boosting financial results, and this process
involves not only sold banks but Ukrainian ones. The tougher competition
forces banks to beef up balance sheets – either to become more attractive
for potential foreign buyers or to simply survive.

Confirming information we obtained from well-informed local sources, several
large and medium-sized banks announced the increase of their charter
capital. State-owned Ukreximbank boosted capital by UAH 300mn to UAH
744mn (USD 147.2mn), following a UAH 76mn increase in Oct 2005.

Another state-held bank Oschadbank increased capital by UAH 300mn to
UAH 703mn. The bank also decided to become the first participant of the
first national credit bureau.

Creditprombank raised capital by UAH 200mn to UAH 449mn via an additional
share issue. Among planned capital increases, Privatbank intends to lift its
capital to UAH 1.582mn from current UAH 1.13bn. Ukrsibbank has opted to
enlarge capital by UAH 500mn to UAH 1.25mn. 50% in the bank was recently
contracted to BNP Paribas.

Brokbusinessbank revealed plans to increase regulatory capital by 52% to UAH
726mn this year. Small-sized TAS-Invest Bank plans to increase capital by
UAH 60mn to UAH 187.24mn.

Clients start withdrawing funds from one bank – in most cases a
large one – taking them to another more focused on clients —–

Focusing on these aspects, major banks have started to lose their clients.
When depositors understand that banks are busy with their own
transformation, they just take their money from one bank to another.

First we see the reapportion of clients’ deposits. For instance, only in
February Brockbusinessbank lost about UAH 130mn (USD 26mn) of
individuals deposits. On the whole, Brockbusinessbank, UkrSibbank and
Ukrsotsbank lost UAH 250mn such deposits during the month.

At the same, PrivatBank and state-held Oschadbank attracted together more
than UAH 600mn of deposits. The reapportion is caused mainly by banks that
were bought by foreign financial institutions lowering interest and deposit
rates.

In some cases rates are lowered by 5-7pps. Loan rates in some banks are
lower than deposit rates in others. In other words, banks that are foreign-owned
received access to cheap credit resources, having also the possibility to provide
long-term policy.

Ukrsotsbank attracted USD 125mn at 8.25% interest rate and plans to attract
this year another USD 600-650mn at 7-8%.

Small banks try to use situation, offering higher rates —–

But at the same time, some smaller banks use the situation to increase
deposit rates to attract more clients. Very often small banks attract
deposits at 17% rates, while large banks extend loans at 15-16%. A strange
situation appeared when banks acquire funds at higher cost when others
provide funds at cheaper prices.

This creates larger risk for them and banking system as a whole —–

This can be explained by the fact medium and small-sized banks that do not
at the moment plan to sell their stakes to foreign investors try to get
short-term competitive advantages. For instance, by accumulating more funds
to increase their size. But by doing this, they play a more risky game that
has already resulted in collapse of several medium and small sized banks.

For example, on Mar 10 NBU recalled the license of small Premierbank
(Dnipropetrivsk) and started the procedure of its liquidation. In mid 2004
NBU tried to save the bank giving it a UAH 28mn stabilization credit, but
this did not help.

The bank served only the clients and partners of its owner – a Rada MP. It
served as a classic example of a so called “pocket” bank servicing only
selected clients.

Also, in the beginning of March the procedure of liquidation of Garant bank
began. It was said that the bank accumulated a critical amount of problem
credits two or three years ago, but its owner assured that the bank did not
have any problems. NBU did not apply any measures until 2005, when
shareholders of Garant were changed. It appeared that the bank gave
uncovered credits. The loans were collateralized by false promissory notes.
It was the same illegal schemes that lead to the collapse of Premierbank,
mentioned above.

NBU’s reaction to rising number of problematic banks inadequate —–

Over the past year liquidation procedures were started at 3 domestic banks.
In two other banks (Intercontinentbank and Kyiv Universal bank)
temporary state management was introduced. In total about 20 banks are
under liquidation now. It can be expected that the list of such banks will
expand significantly, taking into consideration the large number of “pocket”
banks.

On one hand, liquidating such banks will clear up the sector from morbid
financial institutions. But on the other, additional banks collapses can
further lower the population’s still weak trust in the system. It can result
in massive outflow of individual deposits and provoke a banking crisis.

In this light, NBU’s attitude is rather strange. The regulator refuses to
see the rising number of troubled banks as a threat to the system saying
depositors should blame themselves for choosing such weak banks.

Of course, since the bankruptcy of major Ukraina Bank in the mid-1990s
there have been no cases of large collapses of financial institutions. That
might have relaxed NBU’s officials that are responsible for supervision
of financial institutions.

Reshaping of retail market is next step of transformation of
domestic banking system ———–

In the next several years the bank headcount can by decreased 1.5-2-fold.
The liquidation of weak banks will be one of the reasons. We also expect a
start of the process of consolidation of medium-sized banks that will be
courageous enough to withstand large foreign banks. The M&A process
will be boosted by further entrance of foreign financial institutions.

According to our information, we should expect the entry of 5-6 new banks
this year. These processes will deepen the trend we are starting to see
today – the redistribution of clients. We expect that after corporate
clients starting to change their banks, individual clients will follow suit.

On the whole, individuals are more promising than corporate clients. Let us
present some official figures. According to NBU, individuals’ funds
increased by 46.1% y/y to USD 24.6bn in Jan-Nov 2005. The relevant figure
for corporate sector showed 37.2% y/y increase to USD 11.3bn. As on Mar
2006, corporate funds in banks made up USD 11.76bn versus USD 15.03bn
retail deposits.

At present there are not many examples when a bank offers deposit rates of
8-10% in UAH and 3-5% in USD. It can be only a foreign bank. But such rates
will become the norm for the market in a year, many bankers predict. This
can hurt individual depositors that do not have a high banking culture. It
can even sever the process of their deposits turning into long term credits,
which can keep the rates at the current level.

In our opinion, people would prefer to withdraw funds from banks with lower
rates in favor of those with higher rates. The exodus of funds will begin
soon or maybe it has just begun already. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
4. POLISH AND UKRAINIAN BANKING SECTOR LAGS BEHIND
REGIONAL COMPETITORS SAYS AUSTRIAN ERSTE BANK’S REPORT
Ukraine’s banking sector growing the fastest, but yet the most underdeveloped

Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Thu, Apr 06, 2006

WARSAW – The development of the banking sector in Central and Eastern
Europe will be marked by quick growth facilitating catching up with Western
Europe and further consolidation, says the most recent report prepared by
the Austrian Erste Bank.
———————————————————————————————
TABLE. Most developed banking sectors in Central and Eastern Europe
(percent of the GDP)
Euro zone 229; Croatia 115.1; Slovenia 103.1; Czech Republic 99.5;
Slovakia 97.7; Hungary 93.0; Bulgaria 80.0; Poland 67.4; Romania 46.2;
Russia 43.3; Ukraine 34.0. (source: Parkiet)
——————————————————————————————–
Statistically the banking sector in Croatia and Slovenia are the closest to
the desired target. According to data from their central banks, in only
these two countries from the region the banking sector’s assets have
exceeded the 100 percent of the GDP threshold.

The Czech Republic and Hungary are not far behind, though. Meanwhile
Poland is lagging behind – the assets of the Polish banking sector represent
only two thirds of the GDP. For all countries in the region, the asset level in
the euro zone will still be unattainable for a long time, as the value of
Western banks’ assets are over twice as high as Euroland’s GDP (227
percent). Reaching this level will most probably last at least a dozen
years.
———————————————————————————————–
TABLE. Table. Largest banking sectors in Central and Eastern Europe
(value of assets in billion euro)
Euro zone 17,852.2; Russia 275.9; Poland 170.5; Czech Republic 99.5;
Hungary 80.6; Slovakia 37.1; Romania 35.2; Croatia 34.5; Slovenia 28.6;
Ukraine 24.0; Bulgaria 16.7. (source: Parkiet)
———————————————————————————————–
If last year’s dynamic is maintained, the assets in Polish banks will reach
the value of the GDP in seven years. While the GDP went up by 3.3 percent,
the banks’ assets grew at a rate of 9.3 percent, that is almost three times
as fast. Erste Bank’s analysts indicate that the expected acceleration in
the economy does not necessarily have to contribute to a faster development
of the banking sector.

Last year cash loans (22 percent increase) and mortgage loans (41 percent
surge) were the sector’s motor for growth. Soaring sales of the latter, mainly
granted in foreign currencies, might be hindered by the introduction of
limitations by the banking supervision.

Another factor impeding the market’s development are the companies, which
do not want to incur debts in banks – last year the loan portfolio went up by a
mere 2.1 percent, because the firms are able to finance their investments
from their own financial surpluses. A similar situation does not exist in
any country from the region.
———————————————————————————————–
TABLE. Fastest developing banking sectors in Central and Eastern Europe
(annual asset growth in percent)
Ukraine 61.9; Romania 42.9; Russia 31.8; Bulgaria 31.6; Slovakia 20.9;
Slovenia 20.6; Hungary 19.0; Euro zone 13.6; Croatia 13.2
Czech Republic 10.4 Poland 9.3. (source: Parkiet)
———————————————————————————————–
PARADISE FOR BANKS
Hungary is a paradise for banks, say Erste Bank’s analysts. The players on
the Hungarian market are not burdened by pressure on lowering margins. The
overall assets of the Hungarian banking sector went up by 19 percent last
year, that is by around twice as much as in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The mortgage loan segment is dynamically growing – last year the value of
loans granted in domestic currency went up by 19.5 percent and the value of
foreign currency loans increased by almost 40 percent. A two-digit dynamic
is also noted in loans for companies.

Hungary is only threatened by the risk connected with the country’s fiscal
condition, which might prove difficult to improve, because the two largest
parties getting prepared for elections do not have reliable programmes of
budget deficit reduction. –
CONSOLIDATION? TRY HARDER
According to analysts from the Austrian institution, the banking sector in
the region can expect further consolidations. This tendency will mainly
concern such countries as Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. Mergers and
acquisitions of only smaller institutions are likely in Hungary and the
Czech Republic.

Although in Poland the government controls majority shares in the first and
the tenth bank on the market (PKO BP and BGZ), the current composition
of the political scene suggests increasing, rather than limiting state
involvement.

The streets are no longer paved with acquisition targets, reads the report.
That is why there are quite a lot of institutions interested in takeovers
and competition is strong.
————————————————————————————————
TABLE. Largest banks in Central and Eastern Europe (million euro,
percent) Bank 2005 profit
BACA 964; Raiffeisen Int 371; FHB 32; OTP 595; Komercni banka 313;
Pekao 392; Bank BPH 262; PKO BP 449; BZWBK 13. (source: Parkiet)
————————————————————————————————
WHAT CAN BE BOUGHT?
Currently two large entities in the region are for sale. UniCredito had to
sell the Croatian Splitska banka, which belonged to the HVB group, because
it would have a too high market share. Its assets amount to EUR2.8bn, which
represents 9.2 percent of all banking assets in Croatia.

According to Erste Bank, the takeover of Splitska would require engaging at
least EUR800m. The second bank for sale is the Serbian national Vojvodjanska
banka, the fifth largest bank on that market. With assets being worth almost
EUR460m it has an almost 6 percent market share.

Both banks will most probably find new owners before or during the summer
holidays. PKO BP is attempting to buy them, but leaks from local press
suggest that it is likely to lose against rivals from Western Europe.

It is characteristic of the region’s banking sector that only Western
investors participate in its largest transactions. Among the two largest
banks in the region, that is PKO BP and Hungary’s OTP, only the latter
managed to expand outside the domestic market, but not through headline
acquisitions. The Hungarian bank is an investor is Bulgaria, Slovakia,
Croatia, Romania an Serbia. These markets enjoyed a 10.5 percent share in
the group’s last year’s profits.

Erste Bank analysts indicate the possibility of consolidation between
Western European banks which are present on markets from the region, such
as in the case of UniCredito and HVB last year. The merger of Pekao and
Bank BPH is to be the consequence of the transaction.

According to Erste Bank and contrary to what the Polish government is
saying, this operation does not pose any threats as the new institution will
have a 19 percent market share, that is not too much taking into account the
regional standards. The largest banks in the Czech Republic and in Hungary
control over one fifth of their markets.
HOW TO MAKE MONEY ON BANKS?
According to the Austrian analysts, the good prospects for the banking
sector in Poland can be a good opportunity for stock market investors. The
Austrians closely examined nine institutions ? two Austrian ones (Raiffeisen
and Bank Austria Creditanstalt, which records half of its incomes and
profits in Central and Eastern Europe), two Hungarian ones (the market
leader OTP and the mortgage bank FHB), one Czech bank (Komercni banka,
the Czech market’s third largest player) and four Polish institutions (Bank BPH,
Pekao, BZWBK and PKO BP).

The analysis proved that the shares of Polish banks are rather expensive in
relation to “a group of peers” comprising 15 entities. Erste Bank
recommended to keep BPH, Pekao and PKO BP equities and reduce
involvement in BZWBK shares.
POLES WANT TO BORROW LIKE THE ENGLISH
In a research ordered by the European Credit Research Institute concerning
the European consumer loan market, Poland found itself among 21 examined
countries. The authors from the London consulting company Mercer Oliver
Wyman indicate that besides Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Portugal,
Hungary, Spain and Italy, Poland belongs to the most dynamically developing
markets. The quick growth results from high level of innovations, increasing
competition and liberal legal regulations.

Banks from Great Britain, Norway and Sweden are the ones with the highest
number of clients using debit accounts, car loans and cash loans. These
liabilities reach 11 to 16 percent of those countries GDPs. What is
interesting, a similar mechanism of incurring debts has been observed in
Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey, that is countries with
relatively low salaries, yet a large potential for economic growth.

Poles were taking out loans amounting to 5 percent of the GDP and exceeded
the Dutch, Italians and the Swiss. “We have low salaries and aroused
consumption needs at the same time. The disproportion of needs and
possibilities paves way for quick cash and instalment loans. Of course, the
dynamic of the GDP contributes to in increase in loan granting as well,”
said Maciej Kossowski from Expander financial advisors. – Half a Card per
Capita

Poland is doing much worse taking into account the number of payment cards
per 1,000 citizens. It is placed last among the researched countries.
Statistically only half a card falls on one Pole. The average British
citizen carries 2,5 cards in his wallet. The Portuguese, Spaniards,
Norwegians and Belgians carry two. Czechs and Hungarians are also far better
than Poles as there are more or less 1,000 cards per 1,000 people there.

Despite the huge growth of the mortgage loan market, Poland is still the
European Cinderella, similarly to the Czechs. Poland’s share in mortgage
loans amounts to 5 percent of the GDP, while in Hungary the ratio works out
at 10 percent. – Banking Is Not Mass Service Yet

Mariusz Wojcik from the Xelion advising company says that the consumer loan
market is developing rapidly in Poland and it looks like the tendency will
be maintained in the next few years. “Interest rates are falling, but it is
worth indicating that the interest on consumer loans is still high ? around
15-20 percent.

On the other hand the small number of payment cards results from the low
level of affluence in the Polish society. Banking services still are not
mass services, especially in case of clients living outside cities. Only 70
percent of Polish households has bank accounts. This figure is still much
lower than in other European countries,” he said
ESTABLISHING GIANT NATIONAL BUSINESS ENTITY LIKELY?
“Both the representatives of Law and Justice (PiS), the Polish Peasants’
Party (PSL) and Self-Defence (Samoobrona) have the idea of establishing a
banking-services-industrial-insurance institution,” admitted Krystyna
Skowronska, a Civic Platform (PO) MP. The PKO BP would be included in
it, while the BGZ bank is also mentioned as potential part of the giant.

Meanwhile the PKO BP bank and the Poczta Polska post office are preparing
themselves for tightening cooperation. Bank Pocztowy is to be the link
between the two companies as PKO BP holds shares in the institution
controlled by Poczta. Is this the beginning of realising the concept the PO
MP spoke of?

Slawomir Skrzypek, the CEO at PKO BP, is ambiguous on the issue. “I would
not like to talk about long-term, strategic plans of Bank Pocztowy, but I
can admit that it will play an important role on the Polish market. It might
be totally different from what everyone is expecting,” he said.

By creating a national giant comprising of banks, telecoms, insurance firms,
energy companies, mines and shipyards, Poland would enter the path that
other EU countries have already blazed. It is enough to mention the French
EDF and France Telecom, the Italian UniCredit Group, the Swedish Vattenfall,
Telia and Nordea.

These companies operate on the European market often by entering other
countries and by taking over privatised state-owned companies. Establishing
such an institution in Poland would facilitate competing on the European
markets for domestic capital. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5. UKRAINE SLAPS LIMITS ON BLACK SEA BALLAST
CAN a ship pollute an already polluted stretch of water?

Lloyds List, London, United Kingdom, Thu, Apr 06, 2006

LONDON – Ukraine says enough is enough, and has begun to impose
heavy fines on ships exceeding permissible levels of contamination during
scheduled deballasting, writes James Brewer.

The country’s stringent official limits for vessels are lower than the level
of contaminants already in the Black Sea, according to protection and
indemnity insurance experts.

Several P’I clubs, including Britannia and Swedish Club, have issued
warnings to owners that they face penalties of $15,000, and potentially even
more, but it seems shipowners have little leeway. Britannia has told its
members that the ports of Odessa, Yuzhny and Ilyichevsk are particularly
affected.

State ecological inspection authorities take samples of ballast and where
levels are above the limit, ships are only allowed to discharge the ballast
on payment of a penalty. The penalty consists of tariff compensation for
damage to the environment, plus an administrative fine.

Ship-owners can avoid the penalty by deballasting outside the 12-mile
territorial sea zone, but ‘the costs and practicalities of this usually make
the penalty the more commercial option’, admitted Britannia in its Risk
Watch newsletter.

According to Legat Co, the Odessa-based correspondent for the Swedish
Club, ballast must be changed when entering the Black Sea, but this does not
release a vessel from liability.

In one case, P’I interests are challenging a fine, saying that a laboratory
number from an earlier test was discovered on the label.
Leaving the ballast on board is an unattractive option, as it will cost the
owner freight space. Advice includes keeping the ballast to a minimum, and
arranging for a P’I surveyor to watch the sampling. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
6. SOFTLINE MODERNIZES UKRAINE’S FUEL & ENERGY
MINISTRY’S INTERNET WEBSITE

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thur, April 6, 2006

KYIV – Softline, a Kyiv-based software manufacturer, has modernized the
Internet website of the Fuel and Energy Ministry (http://mpe.energy.gov.ua)
that was developed in 2003. The press service of Softline disclosed this to
Ukrainian News.

According to the press service, the ministry’s Internet portal has the
interface that is standard for the websites of all government agencies, an
information update system, a search tool, and certain services and
technologies. This allowed integration of the ministry’s website into the
web portal of executive government agencies.

The web portal is part of the so-called Data Center system that unites the
websites of several central organs of the executive branch of government.

Visitors to the website can obtain information about tenders invited by
enterprises of the Fuel and Energy Ministry, the volumes of purchase of
major goods, the information resources of the Ukrainian fuel and energy
complex, the Ukrainian Coal program. And other information.

Specialists with Softline developed the modernized website on the basis of
Megapolis Portal Manager, a portal management system. This multifunctional
system allows employees of the Fuel and Energy Ministry to fully administer
the ministry’s Internet resources: update information and manage the
portal’s services.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Softline recently modernized the website
of the State Committee for Land Resources. Softline was founded in 1995.
It is a business automation software developer and system integrator. The
SigmaBleyzer international [private equity] investment company [through
the Ukrainian Growth Funds (UGF)] controls Softline. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.ukranews.com/eng/index_high.html
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7. SEVASTOPOL SEAPORT TAKES TIDE OF CAPITAL INFLOW

Ukrainian Times, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006

KYIV – The influx of foreign capital into the economy of Sevastopol
increased fivefold last year, compared with 2004. Specifically, the
increase made up more than 19% that is six times the average rate in
Ukraine.

Presently, petroleum and grain terminals are under construction in the
Crimean seaport, and the Ukrainian-Turkish investment of setting up a ferry
service between Sevastopol and Samsun is carried out. Work is well under-
way upon 10 large-scale projects, including tourist and recreation enterprises.

Also, special attention is paid to the question of attracting investments to
the tune of no less than $200 million and $30 million in construction of the
airport Belbek and a water park in the village of Lyubimovka respectively.

Further, to renovate a hotel and expand the sphere of services, the tourist
and health-improvement complex Krym needs investment in the amount of $7
million. The Sevastopol-based complex is the subsidiary of the company
KrymTur.

Located in downtown Sevastopol, the 14-story building of Krym has 235
rooms designed to accommodate 500 guests. The tourist complex occupies
the area of 0.99 hectare. Reportedly, Krym can be sold for $6 million. -30-
—————————————————————————————————-
Additional information: E-mail: adm@tourism.gov.ua
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. FINANCIAL SITUATION OF UKRAINE’S STATE-OWNED OIL
AND GAS MONOPOLY TO BE PROBED BY CABINET OF MINISTERS

NTN, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1400 gmt 5 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Wed, Apr 05, 2006

KYIV – [Presenter] The Ukrainian cabinet convened today at the government
building on 12/2 Hrushevskhoho street [in Kiev] for the first time after the
[26 March parliamentary] election. They discussed 70 points on the meeting’s
agenda, most of which focused on economic matters, for more than three
hours. [Passage omitted: repetition]

[Correspondent] Economics Minister [Arseniy Yatsenyuk] said that a probe
into the activities of the country’s gas monopoly [state oil and gas company
Naftohaz Ukrayiny] will be launched this Saturday [8 April].

[On 29 March, Finance Minister Viktor Pynzenyk accused Naftohaz Ukrayiny of
failing to pay VAT worth of 120m dollars in January-March this year, see
“Ukrainian government concerned over decline in budget payments”, NTN, Kiev,
in Ukrainian, 1600 gmt 29 Mar 06.]

[Yatsenyuk] We have formed an ad hoc group which comprises representatives
of the Economics and Finance ministries and will seek to extremely
scrupulously analyse the financial situation of the National Joint Stock
Company Naftohaz Ukrayiny. Prime Minister [Yuriy Yekhanurov] is going to
hold a meeting dedicated to the issue on Saturday.

[Passage omitted: Justice Minister Serhiy Holovatyy says at the meeting that
the current cabinet will continue working until newly-elected MPs are sworn
in.] -30-
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9. UKRAINE’S GAS CHIEF OLEKSIY IVCHENKO UPBEAT ON
HIS COMPANY’S FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Said driving the most prestigious & most expensive Mercedes
car paid for by state-owned gas company is just normal

NTN, Kiev, Ukraine, in Ukrainian 1400 gmt 8 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Saturday, April 8, 2006

KYIV – [Presenter] The cabinet was expected to meet today to analyse the
financial performance of the national gas company Naftohaz Ukrayiny.
Yesterday a deputy head of Naftohaz said that the company has suffered
losses amounting to over 3.5bn hryvnyas in the first quarter this year.

However, no fuss could be noticed near the cabinet building early today. The
prime minister was also nowhere to be seen. However, Naftohaz chief Oleksiy
Ivchenko has made his own contribution to the story. He came to report to
cabinet experts on a brand new Mercedes of the latest design.

[Correspondent] Economics Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said earlier this week
that Naftohaz would have to pass a rigorous test.

[Yatsenyuk] A working group has been set up, involving representatives of
the Economics Ministry and Finance Ministry, to check Naftohaz’s financial
condition thoroughly. The prime minister will hold a meeting on this subject
on Saturday [today].

[Correspondent] They conferred to discuss Naftohaz’s financial figures in a
top secret atmosphere. Neither the cabinet’s press service nor Naftohaz
officials dared to tell journalists where and when the meeting would be
held. A former finance minister explained this secrecy in simple terms.

[Former Finance Minister Serhiy Teryokhin] Even if they have serious
structural problems, and they do have them, which any economist can tell
you, this will be explained away as some shortcomings which should be
corrected, but otherwise everything is good and so on. To be honest, if I
were the prime minister or the president I would never have allowed the
information to be leaked that something has gone wrong in this monopoly.

[Correspondent] Two and a half hours of journalistic persistence were
rewarded with a double appearance. Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov
and [Naftohaz chief] Oleksiy Ivchenko came out of the cabinet building
according to their seniority. Rightaway, they denied that any commissions
had existed.

[Plachkov] Which commission? There has been no commission.

[Correspondent] In a while, Plachkov leaves Ivchenko one-to-one with
journalists. Mr Ivchenko says that an ordinary working meeting has been
held, and that it has been called at his own initiative. As for the billions
of hryvnyas of which Naftohaz is short of, this is a normal situation,
Ivchenko says.

[Ivchenko] This is a normal situation, this is a normal loss-making
situation, which I talked of earlier. Since last January we have been buying
gas at 95 dollars and selling it at 40 or 50 dollars. I have always been
and, I believe, will be trusted.

[Correspondent] However, some distant but well-informed economists
disagree and say that, of course, Naftohaz is not bankrupt but there are
other indicators of the company’s financial health.

[Teryokhin] This activity is not positive. This is the activity of, you
know, classical trust, when liabilities exceed assets.

[Correspondent] Indirect proof that everything is fine with Naftohaz is
Ivchenko’s decision to change a company car.

Ivchenko currently uses for business purposes his limousine Mercedes
500 S class, which appeared in Ukraine just a few months ago. It turned
out that Mercedes is a long-standing passion of the country’s chief
nationalist [Ivchenko heads the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists].

[Ivchenko] As the head of Naftohaz, whom I am now, I have been using
Mercedeses of the latest design since 1992. I change my car every second
year. This has happened for the past 15 years. I will not change my habits.

I believe that the head of such a company should drive the most prestigious
and most expensive car. [Passage omitted: Ivchenko gives journalist a ride
in his new car] This does not affect Naftohaz’s financial condition. It is
like a drop in the ocean, if we talk of influence on Naftohaz’s financial
condition.

[Correspondent] Ivchenko also said that the issue of Naftohaz’s financial
condition has not been resolved yet. Experts in energy issues will next meet
with the prime minister on Tuesday [11 April]. -30-
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10. U.S. NETCRACER TECHNOLOGY CORP OPENS REGIONAL
REP OFFICE IN UKRAINE, WILL HIRE UP TO 100 PEOPLE

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, April 6, 2006

KYIV – The US Netcracer Technology corporation opened a regional office
in Kyiv thus having created its mission in Ukraine. Yen Rost, Netcracer vice
president for production management, announced this at a press conference.
The office opened in March, he said.

Rost noted that the main objective of the office will be the creation of a
technology center for service support of Netcracer clients in Ukraine and
European countries. In his words, the office is planning to develop active
cooperation with Ukrainian colleges for the creation on their base of
educational centers to train experts for Netcracer.

According to Serhii Kuzmenko, executive manager of the company’s Kyiv-
based office, the office cannot be called a full-value mission, because it will
not deal with production sale, just provide technical support and prepare
personnel for the company.

In his words, the company is planning to employ in its regional office up to
100 people before the end of the year. Earlier Netcracer offices were situated
in four cities: headquarters in Waltham (US), Melbourne (Australia), Moscow
and Samara (Russia).

As Ukrainian News reported, the UMC mobile communications operator and
Netcracker Technology concluded a contract on introduction of the Netcracker
operations support system (OSS) at the UMC by 2007.

Netcracker Technology is a leading developer of solutions that allow
telecommunication companies to effectively manage sets of complex integrated
multimedia structures. The company was founded in 1993 and headquartered in
the state of Massachusetts (United States). -30-
————————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.ukranews.com/eng/index_high.html
————————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. UZHGOROD REGION ABUZZ WITH INVESTMENT ACTIVITY

Ukrainian Times, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006

KYIV – The Uzhgorod region is seen by foreign investors as one of the most
attractive parts of the Transcarpathian oblast that can be explained by its
vicinity to the state border, developed infrastructure and skilled manpower.
Of 20 entities of the free economic zone Zakarpattya 15 are implementing
their investment projects in the Uzhgorod region.

In 2005 alone 1,845 jobs were created after commissioning facilities at the
close joint-stock company Eurocar and Yazaki-Ukraine Ltd., among others.
As expected, 4,597 new jobs will be created in the near future. It must be
noted that on the average enterprises, which are based in the free economic
zone, pay a monthly wage in the amount of 840 hryvnias.

Today deductions made by these enterprises for the coffers exceed 50% of
all regional budget revenues. Reportedly, a fruit cannery will be among the
very first to enter service this year at the expense of invested capital.

Incidentally, the Uzhgorod company GTK Zakarpattya invites investors to
participate in the project of renovation of the hotel complex Inturist-
Zakarpatye. The project is valued at $500,000.

Investment can be made either in cash or by delivering new equipment or
through the formation of a joint venture. Ownership capital of the hotel
complex, which employs 240 persons, amounts to $698,000.Additional
information: Tel.: (03122) 32572, 36210. -30-
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12. AGRARIAN CONFEDERATION CONSIDERS DELAY IN LIFTING
RUSSIA’S BAN ON UKRAINIAN DAIRY PRODUCTS UNJUSTIFIED

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, April 5, 2006

KYIV – The Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation considers the delay in lifting
Russia’s ban on importation of Ukrainian dairy products into Russia
unjustified. The press service of the confederation announced this to
Ukrainian News.

“The UAC believes that a situation in which the best enterprises in the milk
processing industry have still not been granted permission to sell their
products on the Russian market for unknown reasons is unacceptable,” the
press service said.

According to the press service, specialists with the confederation are
convinced that not only the six enterprises that Russian experts have
allowed to export dairy products to Russia, but most of the producers of
dairy goods in Ukraine, have the relevant technologies and can guarantee
the necessary product quality.

At the same time, officials at the confederation expressed surprise at the
inaction of the relevant Ukrainian services in resolving this issue. “Of
recent, no information has been received about the dynamics of resolution
of this issue. One gets the impression that the interests of the dairy
industry, just like those of milk producers, are no longer a priority for
Ukrainian rulers,” the press service said.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the Russian federal service for
veterinary and phytosanitary supervision has authorized importation of dairy
products from the Baltskii baby food cannery (Odesa region), the Hadiachsyr
company (Poltava region), the Khmelnytska Maslosyrbaza company
(Khmelnytskyi), the Romny dairy plant (Sumy region), the Menskyi Syr
enterprise (Chernihiv region), and the Pyriatyn cheese plant (Poltava
region) into Russia.

Russia banned the import of all types of livestock products from Ukraine
on January 20, as a result of which several producers of dairy goods
significantly lowered the purchase prices of milk. Experts predict possible
monthly losses of USD 50-60 million in the dairy sector and USD 12-15
million in meat sector as a result of the import ban. -30-
———————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.ukranews.com/eng/index_high.html
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13. RUSSIA UNCORKS ANOTHER TRADE DISPUTE
Wine From Georgia & Moldova Banned as Ex-Soviet States Anger Moscow

By Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service
Washington, D.C., Friday, April 7, 2006; Page A16

MOSCOW – In major Russian supermarkets, Georgian and Moldovan wine is
being pulled from the shelves. At warehouses across the country, millions of
bottles from the two countries are in lockdown. And hundreds of train cars
and trucks laden with wine are stopped on Russia’s borders, blocked from
entering by customs officials.

Just a few months ago, Russia settled its war over natural gas prices with
Ukraine. Now it has opened another trade battle with two other former Soviet
republics that officials here see as recalcitrant for drifting away from
Moscow’s influence.

Late last month the Russian consumer protection agency banned the import
of Georgian and Moldovan wine and ordered a halt to all sales of existing
stock, claiming the wines were contaminated with pesticides and heavy
metals. Officials in the two countries dismiss the allegation as nonsense.

Together, Georgia and Moldova provide nearly 43 percent of all wine sold in
Russia, according to Snezhana Ravlyuk, senior analyst at Business Analytica
in Moscow. The ban is having a punishing effect on an industry that
stretches from Black Sea vineyards to the Moscow warehouses of Russian
wholesalers.

“It’s very clear this was a political, illegal and unfriendly decision,”
said Georgia’s prime minister, Zurab Nogaideli, in a telephone interview
from Tbilisi, the capital. “It’s absolutely absurd and ridiculous. If our
wine goes to European Union markets and North America and has no
problems, why is it not able to go to the Russian market?”

The Russian action followed suggestions by Georgian and Moldovan officials
that they might block Russia’s attempt to join the World Trade Organization,
a major goal of President Vladimir Putin. He has also complained recently
that the United States was holding up Russia’s membership.

Both Georgia and Moldova contain breakaway regions that are supported by
Russia. The two governments hoped to use Russia’s desire to join the WTO as
leverage in negotiations with the Kremlin about those regions, analysts here
said.

Georgia and Moldova have had strained relations with Moscow since
Western-oriented governments came to power. They say the wine ban
exemplifies Russia’s willingness to use its economic clout for political
purposes. Such moves are generally illegal under WTO rules.

A similar accusation was leveled when Russia’s state-owned Gazprom switched
off the flow of natural gas to Ukraine for a few days at the beginning of
January. Russian officials said at the time that the cutoff resulted from a
need to charge market prices and end what amounted to a massive subsidy of
the Ukrainian government.

This time, the Russians say, it’s all about bad wine.

“Our results show that more than 60 percent of wine and wine materials from
Moldova and the Republic of Georgia do not comply with sanitation and
epidemiological regulations,” Russia’s Federal Inspectorate for Consumer
Protection said in a letter to the Russian Customs Service. Officials at the
consumer agency were not available for comment, a spokeswoman said.

The decision followed what the consumer agency said were routine checks of
Georgian and Moldovan wines on store shelves. Whether the checked wine was
even from Georgia is open to question; in Russia there is large-scale
counterfeiting of Georgian wine, which is very popular for both its quality
and cost.

In any case, it was a devastating decision for both countries. Russia buys
more than 80 percent of all exported Georgian wine, or 9 percent of all
exports from the Black Sea country. To Moldova, the trade accounts for
nearly 75 percent of total wine exports and 19 percent of all exports.

“Of course we are going to suffer losses, but it’s also clear we have to
reorient our exports,” Valery Lazar, Moldova’s economy and trade minister,
said in a phone interview from the capital, Chisinau.

Moldovan officials flew to Moscow on March 28, but were forced to cool their
heels for a week, the minister said. “They finally met some officials” on
Tuesday, Lazar continued, “but the Russian side failed to produce any
concrete results. And they can’t. The quality of our wine is excellent.”

Lazar said he suspects that another factor in the ban may be business
figures who for their own interests “are trying to discredit the quality of
Moldovan wine.”

Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking, a company that owns vineyards in southern
Georgia and produces 1 million bottles of wine annually, has lost 70 percent
of its sales. “Our business has stopped,” Natalia Yanchuk, the company’s
marketing director, said in a telephone interview. “The situation must be
solved.”

At the warehouse of Group Dionis on the edge of Moscow, 3 million bottles of
wine are gathering dust. The company, which has nearly 1,000 employees in
Russia, Georgia and Moldova, has begun laying off workers. The Russian
National Alcohol Association estimates potential losses in the hundreds of
millions of dollars.

“I don’t want to talk about politics, but it’s clear this action is
punishing Russians,” said Sergei Dyuzhinov, development director for Dionis,
one of Russia’s largest wine importers.

Many Georgian restaurants dot the Russian capital, and managers said they
had enough Georgian wine in their cellars for their customers, even if
serving it now appears to be illegal. They are dreading a protracted
blockade. “In a month,” said Iveri Dzhikiya, manager of the Tiflis
restaurant in Moscow, “I may have to serve French wine.” -30-
——————————————————————————————————
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/06/AR2006040601894.html?nav=rss_world
—————————————————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14. AES UTILITIES CORP FOURTH-QUARTER PROFIT ROSE 75%
Major international investor in two electric plants in Ukraine

By Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Wed, April 5, 2006; Page A18

AES Corp. announced a 75% jump in profit for the fourth quarter of 2005,
and the global power seller said its latest financial restatement would reduce
earnings for 2003 by $17 million and boost 2004 results by $6 million.

The latest earnings restatement, announced Monday, was the third since
March 2005 by the Arlington, Va., owner of utilities and generating plants in
25 countries. Deloitte & Touche LLP is the company’s accounting firm.

AES said the restatement corrected past errors that concerned minority
interest expense and tax expense related to withholding taxes at
subsidiaries in Brazil and El Salvador, as well as accounting for four
derivative instruments. The company said the errors were unintentional.

The restatements put AES in default on two credit facilities, but the
company said it had resolved the default on the largest, a $600 million
facility arranged by Merrill Lynch & Co., on Monday.

Investors appeared to shrug off the most recent restatement and AES’s
stock yesterday rose 45 cents, or 2.7%, to $17.13 in 4 p.m. composite
trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

“People are willing to look the other way because AES has come out of a
position of complete disaster,” said Soam Goel, a partner at Enersights, a
New Jersey consulting firm focused on energy companies.

AES said fourth-quarter net income jumped to $177 million, or 27 cents a
share, from $101 million, or 16 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.
Revenue increased 18% to $2.97 billion from $2.52 billion. The company
attributed the improvement in the latest period to a lower tax rate, rising
gross margins and fewer impairment charges.

It said its deregulated electricity business boosted revenue in the fourth
quarter by 20% to $318 million because of higher prices in New York,
Panama and Argentina. A gross margin of $108 million was 89% higher
than the fourth quarter of 2004 as a result of higher electricity prices.

Among AES’s largest investments are three vertically integrated utilities,
including Ipalco Enterprises Inc. in Indiana, EDC in Venezuela and Sonel in
Cameroon, West Africa. Its distribution utilities include AES Eletropaulo in
São Paulo, Brazil, and other delivery utilities in Argentina, El Salvador
and Ukraine, as well as numerous generating plants including wind-, coal-
and gas-fired units in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia.

————————————————————————————————–
Write to Rebecca Smith at rebecca.smith@wsj.com; www.wsj.com
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
15. UKRAINE: EBRD GRANTS USD 200 MILLION LOAN TO
MITTAL STEEL KRYVYI RIH TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Wed, April 5, 2006

KYIV – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has
decided to grant the Mittal Steel Kryvyi Rih ore mining and metallurgical plant
(Dnipropetrovsk region) a USD 200 million loan. EBRD representative
disclosed this to Ukrainian News.

According to him, this decision the directorate council of EBRD made on
April 4. The loan is intended for increment of company’s productivity and
effective energy consumption at the enterprise. EBRD decided to grant USD
200 million, while the total cost of the projects needs USD 500 million. As
Ukrainian News earlier reported, Mittal Steel Kryvyi Rih intends to invest
USD 1.2 billion in modernization of production by 2009.

According to Choderi, the program for modernization of the plant’s
production involves reconstruction of its blast furnaces Nos. 5, 6, and 8,
construction of a new converter workshop instead of an open-hearth furnace,
introduction of a technology for production of steel slabs and sheets, and
investment in ore mining and ore enrichment with the aim of enabling the
plant to be self-sufficient ore.

Moreover, one of the goals of the investment program is optimization of
energy consumption and reduction of the volume of natural gas it uses by
increasing the use of coal.

The net revenues of the plant rose by 34.1% or UAH 2,566.913 million to
UAH 10,099.849 million in 2004, compared with 2003.

Mittal Steel Kryvyi Rih is the largest producer of rolled steel in Ukraine.
It specializes in the production of elongated rolled products, including
steel reinforcing bars and iron rods.

Mittal Steel Germany GmbH, which is part of the Mittal Steel international
holding that is the world’s largest steel producer, owns 93.02% of the
shares in Mittal Steel Kryvyi Rih. -30-
———————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.ukranews.com/eng/index_high.html
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CALLS ON EUROPEAN COMMISSION
TO START TALKS WITH UKRAINE ON ASSOCIATED MEMBERSHIP


Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thu, April 6, 2006

KYIV – The European Parliament has called on the European Commission
to start talks with Ukraine on associate membership. This is stated on the
official website of the European Parliament.

According to the relevant resolution adopted by the European Parliament,
despite noting the shortcomings of the recent elections in Ukraine, European
Parliament congratulates the people of Ukraine on their commitment to the
democratic process in their country.

In the resolution, the European Parliament calls on the European Commission
to advance its support for further democratic development of Ukraine and to
begin “to negotiate an Association Agreement between the European
Communities and Ukraine” in view of the expiration of the current agreement
in 2008.

The European Parliament also calls on member states of the European Union
to “provide concrete support, contributing to a continuation of the
democratization and reform process” in Ukraine and calls on neighboring
states to “refrain from any economic or other pressure to change the
democratically decided further political, social and economic development of
the country.”

The European Parliament looks forward to increased cooperation with the
Ukrainian parliament as well as to a visa-facilitation agreement between the
European Union and Ukraine with the final goal of a non-visa regime.

The resolution expresses the hope that Ukraine can make progress in its
attempt to become a full member of the World Trade Organization.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Ukraine is aiming to conclude an
agreement on associate membership with the European Union in 2008, with
a view to becoming a member of the union in the future. -30-
———————————————————————————————
LINK: http://www.ukranews.com/eng/index_high.html
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17. BRUSSELS SET TO ALLOW ROMANIA INTO THE EU
Bulgaria has slipped in its reforms in late 2004 and the first part of 2005

By George Parker in Bucharest, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, April 6 2006

BUCHAREST – Romania was shown an open door on Thursday to join
the European Union in January 2007 after Olli Rehn, the EU’s enlargement
commissioner, praised the country’s judicial reforms and its crackdown on
corruption. Although Mr Rehn said Romania was “not there yet”, he said
that Bucharest had taken big strides towards meeting European concerns
about its legal system.

Mr Rehn was speaking on his final fact-finding trip to Romania, ahead of
presenting a report on May 16 on whether the Black Sea state can join the
Union on January 1 next year. “It’s already clear today that Romania has
made considerable progress over the past year,” he said, after meeting Calin
Popescu Tariceanu, prime minister.

However, the commissioner was much more critical of reforms in another EU
candidate country – Bulgaria – which he accused of “losing time” in carrying
out required judicial reforms.

Mr Rehn must recommend on May 16 whether either country should be made
to wait a year before joining, to allow them to carry out further reforms. Such
a delay would be humiliating for Bucharest or Sofia. But Mr Rehn is under
pressure from some European states to slow the pace of EU expansion in
response to “enlargement fatigue”.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Rehn said he wanted “concrete results”
from Romania to confirm its entry into the Union, including proof that
judicial reforms were “irreversible”. “Romania has to ensure it has a
credible track record in tackling corruption and organised crime, and that
will be the focus of our remaining examinations,” he said.

However, he said Bucharest had taken seriously warnings on the issue last
year and already had a limited track record in bringing prosecutions. He
also praised Romania’s efforts to secure its external borders.

In the case of Bulgaria, he said the country had slipped in its reforms in
late 2004 and the first part of 2005, and that Brussels was working with
Sofia to improve its constitutional law.

However, there is little appetite within the European Commission for making
either country wait a year. “What would be gained?” asked one senior
official in Brussels. “What leverage would we have then?”

Although Romania and Bulgaria are guaranteed EU membership and Croatia is
likely to become the Union’s 28th member within the next five years, the
prospect for future enlargements is becoming less clear.

Wolfgang Schüssel, Austria’s chancellor who holds the rotating EU
presidency, said that some western European countries had a “psychological”
problem with extending the Union.

Peter Mandelson, EU trade commissioner yesterday urged countries in
south-east Europe to develop a free trade area to prepare for EU membership,
and insisted that Turkey, and even Ukraine, should look forward to joining
the 25-member club. -30- LINK: http://www.ft.com
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
18. UKRAINE: BUILDING NUCLEAR STORAGE FACILITY IS GOOD
BUT THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO MAKE THAT CLEAR

COMMENT: Viktor Chumak, Chief Specialist, Defense & Security Issues
International Center for Policy Studies (ICPS), Kyiv, Ukraine, March 7, 2006

The signing of a Government contract with US-based Holtec International to
build a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel is appropriate and timely,
says Viktor Chumak, ICPS’s chief specialist on defense and security issues.
But this move created a considerable uproar in the country’s media and the
opposition were quick to use it as a weapon in the election campaign.

The main message in this negative PR campaign was, “Ukraine will become the
trash heap for radioactive waste from all of Europe and America.” Meanwhile,
the Government neglected to inform the public and the press of the reasoning
behind this decision.

The media campaign that opposition parties and blocs are waging against this
project has the sole purpose of increasing voter support by playing on the
issue of environmental safety, which is a painful one for Ukrainians. Here,
again, the inability of the Ukrainian Government to run an effective public
awareness campaign to gain support for critical state projects is very
evident.

ICPS analysts say this contract is quite beneficial for Ukraine and, indeed,
makes it possible for the country to increase its energy independence. First
of all, the planned facility is not a burial ground for spent nuclear fuel
but temporary storage for spent fuel rods from Ukrainian atomic energy
stations (AESs) before being transported for further reprocessing.

Clearly, any country using atomic energy should also have its own industry
for recycling the resulting radioactive wastes if it does not wish to be
captive politically and economically to another country.

Finally, the Ukrainian facility for spent fuel rods will be the more
environmentally-friendly “dry” type rather than wet, that is, the container
will not be in water, which carries a high risk of corrosion.

This same type of container is widely used in the US and, according to its
specifications, can withstand the most severe external shocks, such as
hurricanes, tsunami, falling flying objects, and even terrorist attacks.

Holtec International has all the necessary permits and certifications, and
has, moreover, carried out projects in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan,
Great Britain, Spain, Canada, the US, and Brazil.

The most appropriate site for building this container of the three proposed
locations-two in the Chornobyl Zone and one on the territory of the
Khmelnytskiy AES-is probably the one inside the isolated Chornobyl Zone.
This area will remain closed to the general public for living purposes and
has the necessary infrastructure and scientific institutions that deal with
nuclear issues. -30-
———————————————————————————————–
LINK: http://www.icps.kiev.ua/eng/comment.html?id=182

———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
19. UKRAINE/2006 COALITION: HOW NOT TO STEP ON THE RAKE

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Vira Nanivska, ICPS Director
International Centre for Policy Studies (ICPS)
Newsletter #12 (316), Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 3, 2006

In an article for the Kyiv based weekly “Korrespondent,” ICPS Director
Vira Nanivska outlines the four principles for building a parliamentary
coalition.

These principles, based on the experience of EU countries, include placing
the issue of government posts at the end, focusing on discussing a common
program and resolving controversial issues, a rational distribution of key
Government posts, and the establishment of a body responsible for political
coordination among the participants in the coalition. Unless these basic
principles are followed, the future coalition risks being as short-lived as
the previous one.

THE 2006 COALITION: HOW NOT TO STEP ON THE RAKE
Putting together a coalition in the Verkhovna Rada and forming a
Government based on it as the result of democratic elections is a first for
our country. The risk of doing something wrong is quite high.

Let’s remember the short lived union of Nasha Ukraina with the Bloc of
Yulia Tymoshenko and the Socialists after Viktor Yushchenko’s victory
in the presidential election. How can the new coalition be protected against
old mistakes? Do our politicians understand where these mistakes were
made?

Their latest moves seem to indicate that this is not the case. The president
has been insisting on the need to put together the “common principles”
along which the new coalition might be built.

BYT is determined not to participate in a coalition unless Yulia Tymoshenko
is given the premiership. But wait. Didn’t we have common values among
the “Orange team” before? And wasn’t Ms. Tymoshenko the premier then?

Apparently, Ukraine’s politicians still haven’t learned how to put together
a stable coalition and have little idea of what the basis for one might be.

Yet where we are about to tread, many Europeans have trod before. In
Europe, coalitions can even be formed by parties who were the main rivals
during an election campaign. They can also be formed of minor parties,
generally 4-5 in order to gain a majority in the legislature.

Finland, for instance, surprised everybody in 1995 when it cobbled together
a coalition of five political parties with fairly divergent ideologies-and
it proved to be one of the most stable coalitions in the country’s history.

In Germany today, the Social Democrats have joined in a coalition with
their main opponents, the Christian Democrats. Ideological differences and
difficult personal relations are no barrier to establishing a stable
coalition in Europe.

So, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to learn something from this experience and
our own failures? Ukrainian politicians are concerned to a person about the
proper principles for building a coalition. What kinds of principles operate
in countries with a successful history of coalition building?

Posts come last on the agenda. This is a principle that is very hard for
most politicians to swallow. The members of a coalition should be
represented in the Government in proportion to their success in the
elections. This general principle does not need negotiating.

Still, detailed discussions about who will take what post have no room at
the starting phase. They will only complicate the negotiation process and
quite possibly lead to the collapse of talks.

The main thing is to put together a common program and resolve key
differences. In most coalition talks, once the parties have confirmed their
interest in joining, the main focus of discussion is a common Plan of
Action.

First and foremost, representatives of potential participants need to
clearly determine the range of controversial issues that are likely to
lead to conflict among them and to try to resolve them. Conflicts can
be about overall state policy, or about personal and personnel
expectations.

For instance, after the elections to the Swedish Parliament in 1991, four
parties indicated their interest in forming a coalition. It turned out that
they had different views on a total of 147 policy issues! These ranged from
building a bridge to Denmark to how to punish underage lawbreakers.

To resolve these issues, mini groups were formed on the basis of one
representative from each party. Together, these groups were able to find
and agree to compromises on 140 of the issues. At a higher level, in an
“executive” group that included the first secretary of each of the parties,
they were able to reach a compromise on the remaining 7 issues.

The presence of a common Plan of Action removes the grounds for
political conflict in the future, as all the parties have committed up front
to carrying it out.

Have a rational approach to giving out posts. When it’s clear what this or
that minister will be doing and the obligations of the post are set down in
writing, it is not that scary to give a portfolio into the hands of another
party.

When posts in the Government are being given out, the important points are
that the ministers need to be people who understand the particular area and
that each party receives a number of posts that reflects its base in the
legislature.

Set up a coordination mechanism. There needs to be a body within the
Government that professionally handles ongoing negotiations among the
partners in the coalition. Over time, new political issues will arise and
the coalition needs to be able to agree to a position on them.

The main thing is that this body include representatives of all the parties
in the coalition and that it also have enough authority within the
Government. The latter is usually achieved by making sure that the premier
and other key politicians are part of the group.

Basing the negotiations for a coalition on these principles has obvious
advantages.

[1] Firstly, it reduces the influence of personalities and offers the
opportunity for unexpected players to be included in the negotiating
process: negotiations are led, not so much by the leaders as by the teams,
and the discussion is not about their eventual portfolios but about their
future activities.

[2] Secondly, a coalition that is formed on the basis of a common Plan of
Action and is able to eliminate conflicts and controversial issues among its
partners at the start has a far better chance of surviving. For one thing,
there will be few things for its partners to squabble over. -30-
——————————————————————————————–
ICPS newsletter is a weekly publication of the International Centre for
Policy Studies, delivered by electronic mail. To be included in the
distribution list, contact the ICPS publications department at
marketing@icps.kiev.ua or call (380-44) 484-4400.

ICPS newsletter editor Yevhen Shush (shulha@icps.kiev.ua). Phone:
(380 44) 484-4400. English text editor L.A. Wolanskyj.
LINK: http://newsletter.icps.kiev.ua
LINK: http://www.icps.com.ua/doc/nl_eng_20060403_0316.pdf
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
20. SQUABBLES HINDER UKRAINE’S ATTEMPTS TO FORM COALITION

By Tom Warner in Kiev, Financial Times
London, United Kingdom, Saturday, April 8 2006

The world may be congratulating Ukraine on its first “free and fair”
elections, but not all of its newly elected legislators are happy. Many are
considering asking the president to dissolve the new parliament and try
again.

The vote two weeks ago, in which a divided pro-western “Orange” camp won a
narrow victory over “Blue” pro-Russian forces, has led to a stand-off in
coalition talks that some say could be a stalemate.

The outcome depends mainly on whether the two “Orange” leaders – Viktor
Yushchenko, the president, and Yulia Tymoshenko, who was his prime minister
until they fell out and he sacked her – can be reconciled.

The trouble for Mr Yushchenko is that Ms Tymoshenko’s bloc won the biggest
share of the “Orange” vote, which she says gives her a mandate to return as
prime minister. If Mr Yushchen-ko’s bloc disagrees, there will not be any
coalition, she says.

Mr Yushchenko argues that the “Orange” camp should commit to a coalition but
put off the decision about a prime minister.

He wants signed promises from the Tymoshenko bloc and the third prospective
partner, the Socialists, that the coalition would carry out a programme in
line with the president’s vision – including quick entry to the World Trade
Organisation, a free-trade agreement with the European Union, and no
revision of past privatisations, one of the issues Mr Yushchenko and Ms
Tymoshenko quarrelled over.

But, privately, Our Ukraine insiders say the real obstacle to a coalition is
the animosity that exists between Ms Tymoshenko and leading Our Ukraine
members, including several whom she has accused of corruption. At a
closed-doors meeting this week where Our Ukraine leaders voted on a draft
coalition agreement, many opposed giving her the premiership.

A group around Petro Poroshenko, a businessman and Ms Tymoshenko’s leading
opponent within Our Ukraine, proposed a draft that would have invited
pro-Russian “Blue” parties to join the coalition talks, which was voted down
by a three-to-two majority.

Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the pro-Russian Regions party, which came first
in the elections with 32 per cent of the vote, is calling for a “universal”
coalition embracing all five parliamentary parties.

Most Our Ukraine members say their bloc would prefer new elections to an
“Orange-Blue” coalition. But they say the stand-off is likely to continue
until June or even July. Parliament is expected to open session in the
second week of May. If it fails to appoint a cabinet within 60 days, the
president can call new elections.

Mykola Katerynchuk, an Our Ukraine leader, says Ms Tymoshenko will be able
to get herself nominated as prime minister, but she may not win confirmation
as only 18 supporters would have to defect to undermine her bid.

The uncertainty is testing investors’ nerves. The central bank released data
this week showing it spent $1.8bn (Euro1.5bn, £1bn) of reserves defending
the currency during the three months before the elections. Analysts say a
coalition failure could precipitate a currency crisis.

But Mr Katerynchuk says the threat of new elections will force a compromise.
“There’s a lot of ‘he doesn’t like her’ and ‘she doesn’t like him’ and ‘he
doesn’t like him’ around. We need to put all that behind us.”
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR
========================================================
21. U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER FRIST WILL VISIT UKRAINE
Senator’s Frist, Burr & Gregg to visit Poland, Ukraine, Russia & Georgia

Associated Press (AP), WNCT Channel 9
Washington, North Carolina, Friday, Apr 7, 2006

WASHINGTON, N.C. – North Carolina’s Richard Burr is on a spring road
trip with some of his colleagues in the Senate.

The Republican is accompanying Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on a trip
to Russia and Eastern Europe, starting today and lasting through next week.
They’re being joined by New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg.

Frist’s office says the three will meet with scholars, journalists and
others in Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. They’ll also talk to experts
on avian flu to see what the region is doing to fight the virus. -30-
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
22. U.S. CUSTOMS AGENTS CONFISCATING FAMOUS UKRAINIAN
EASTER EGGS AT DULLES AIRPORT NEAR WASHINGTON

LETTER-TO-THE EDITOR: By Cliff Downen
The Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #686, Article 22
Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 10, 2006

Morgan: Just a little heads up: U.S. Customs is on the look out for
travelers from Ukraine bringing back the famous pysanky [decorated
eggs]. I had bought some in Kyiv for my Mom’s birthday but Dulles
Airport Customs Agents [near Washington, D.C.] confiscated them
because of bird flu, they said.

I found no warning on the U.S. Embassy website about taking them out.
Since the Embassy has not bothered to warn Americans about buying
pysanky, perhaps we should get the word out.

Cliff Downen, Arlington, Virginia, cdownen01@comcast.net
———————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
23. EGGS AS ART: ORNATE UKRAINIAN EASTER EGGS PYSANKY
Joanne Staroschak shares her passion for an art form that was
repressed by the country’s communist government.

By Kellie B. Gormly, Tribune-Review
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Saturday, April 1, 2006

PITTSBURG – After spending a good portion of her life in the former
Soviet Union, Joanne Staroschak has spent five decades in the United
States reclaiming and sharing her passion for an art form that was
repressed by the country’s communist government.

Staroschak, a native of Ukraine and resident of Stowe, creates ornate
Ukrainian Easter eggs — also known as pysanky. Starting on Tuesday, she
will bring her work to PPG Place — Staroschak’s annual ritual for about 20
years — for a 10-day sale.

“It’s such a beautiful art, and the people should know about it,” says
Staroschak, who moved to the United States in 1948. “It used to be such
a big secret.”

Because of the religious symbolism, pysanky — made of actual chicken,
goose and even ostrich eggs with the yolks blown out — were not allowed
under communism.

Mothers often painted eggs and secretly passed them down to their daughters.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early ’90s, Staroschak visited her
native Ukraine and taught hundreds of children how to make pysanky.

Since then, she has traveled to other areas, including Brazil, to spread
knowledge of the art, which has ancient roots. She also has taught at
numerous Pittsburgh-area high schools and colleges, and hosted many
workshops — including some at her church, St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox
Church in McKees Rocks — over the years.

Making pysanky takes skill, a steady hand, and intense attention to
intricate detail, Staroschak says. Creating a single egg can take two to six
hours, and the process includes creating a design on the empty egg shell,
and then coating parts of the design with melted wax before dipping it into
dye.

The parts of the egg that are coated with wax aren’t affected by the dye.
After many wax applications and dye baths, all the wax is melted off and
the final design emerges.

Complicated as the process may be, Staroschak says anyone can learn how
to make pysanky. “You don’t have to be an artist, but you have to have
patience and time,” she says.

Staroschak — who, with her late husband, Metro, has two grown children and
two grandchildren — anticipates that this might be her last year at PPG
Place, because carpal tunnel syndrome has inhibited her ability to continue
creating the eggs. However, Staroschak says she plans to keep teaching
others how to make pysanky.

Anita Falce — marketing and events manager for Grubb & Ellis, which manages
PPG Place — says that Staroschak has become an Easter-season fixture at PPG
Place. “People seem to look for her every year. People call and ask about
her,” Falce says. “It astounds me,” she says about Staroschak’s eggs. “The
details are so fine and so close together.” -30-
————————————————————————————————-
Kellie B. Gormly can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7824.
LINK with photos: http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/s_438932.html
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
24. FAMED “UKRAINIAN EASTER EGGS” PYSANKY HAVE A
RICH RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL HISTORY
Second-generation Ukrainian-Canadian artist and illustrator Olga Lang

By Sheila Potter, Oak Bay News
Oak Bay, British Columbia, Canada, Wed, Mar 29 2006

OAK BAY – Lent, the Christian season of soul-searching and fasting in
preparation for Easter, is two-thirds past. That may be a comfort to those
faithful that give up a creature comfort for Lent in imitation of Jesus’
withdrawal into the wilderness for 40 days.

But, for Ukrainian-Canadians, Lent is also the time for meditation while
creating Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter eggs. Olga Lang is a second-generation
Ukrainian-Canadian artist and illustrator that has a passion for pysanky.
During Lent, she teaches the ancient technique.

While most people are familiar with the intricate, colourful eggs made
through a batik-like process with dyes and beeswax, few realize the
pysanky’s history of spiritual meditation. The practice far predates
Christianity which only took solid root in the Ukraine region in the 10th
century.

Lang teaches her pupils that archeologists have discovered evidence of egg
dying dating from the Trypillian culture that flourished in Central Europe
from 4,500 BC to 3,000 BC.

The eggs are considered an early form of writing, and even the word pysanka
(singular for pysanky) comes from the Ukrainian word pysaty which means
“to write.” Or perhaps, said Lang, the word for writing comes from the eggs,
which came first. The eggs were sort of like greeting cards in the days
before Hallmark.

People gave eggs to each other at times of celebration or mourning. There
are get-well-soon eggs and wishing-you-were-here eggs. Every symbol, even
every colour, has a specific meaning: blue for good health, black for
respect and remembrance, red for love.

“My grandfather’s generation would have known how to read a pysanka,”
said Lang. “It was not really lost until communism.” Communists distrusted
the art because of its Christian connections. The art went underground and
was maintained in the West.

“Unfortunately in the West, it was somewhat disconnected and also people
introduced higher technology,” said Lang. People started using electric
kistkas, the tools used to paint melted beeswax onto the eggs. Formerly
kistkas were a simple stick with a heated copper funnel for melted wax.

“The lines got more thin, more even, the designs more intricate, more
geometric” she said. “Unfortunately what happened is that the design became
more important and the idea that it was a message of love was lost.”

For Lang, the process of creating the egg is more important than the final
outcome. Lang likens the process to Tibetan sand paintings, where monks
meditate and pray for peace while they work. “They spend hours and hours
making intricate, beautiful designs, all with prayers,” she said.

“While you are doing a pysanka, you are in a state of love. And that is
really tough, because this thing is not easy to do. And it is also easy to
be hard on yourself, or be critical or disappointed – all these bad things
are just not allowed. You have to like life and acknowledge that (bad
feelings) are coming to affect you and just not let it happen.”

A simple design may take four hours – a challenging amount of time to have
only accepting, grateful, peaceful and loving thoughts, Lang said. It’s
probably a good idea that the practice is contained to just Lent, she said,
given its time-consuming nature.

Lang said the altruistic meditative aspect of the eggs probably predates
Christianity, but it was a symbol that was easily adopted by Christians and
the practice suited the season of Lent, with its emphasis on withdrawal from
the day-to-day world. People have the eggs blessed at Easter, but will hand
them out to people throughout the year.

Lang will teach a pysanka class at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre on April 9,
one week before Easter. To register, call the Ukrainian Cultural Centre at
475-2585.

Olga Lang made this egg for staff photographer Sharon Tiffin (complete with
an image of a camera) as an example of the types of symbols one can put on
an pysanka:

periwinkle: everlasting love; spider: patience, happiness; flower: wisdom and
beauty in life; birds: messenger of good news, often spring; dove: love;
butterfly: transformation; tree: good health

Some symbols, such as the rooster, have been found on fragments of pottery
south of Kiev from 3,000 years ago. Archeologists have discovered ceramic
pysanky in Ukraine dating back to 1,300 BC, and suspect they were made in
honour of the spring equinox. -30-
—————————————————————————————————————-
http://www.oakbaynews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=23&cat=23&id=617863&more
—————————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
25. SPIELBERG FOUNDATION & VIKTOR PINCHUK CO-PRODUCE
HOLOCAUST FILM: BABI YAR MASSACRE IN 1941 IN UKRAINE

By Yulianna Vilkos, JTA, New York, NY, Sunday, April 9, 2006

KIEV, Ukraine – There’s a lot of Holocaust documentaries, but not many
that have been filmed in Ukraine. Add one to the list. A new documentary,
co-produced by the Los Angeles-based Shoah Foundation, is shooting in
Ukraine.

The film should be completed by September, in time for the 65th anniversary
of the Babi Yar massacre. The 70-minute documentary will focus on Babi Yar,
the infamous ravine just outside Kiev where some 33,000 Jews were
slaughtered in the last few days of September 1941.

It also will deal with the larger history of the Holocaust in Ukraine,
according to the Shoah Foundation’s president and chief executive officer,
Douglas Greenberg.

Greenberg told Ukrainian reporters last week that the bulk of the film’s
material will come from the video archives of the USC Shoah Foundation
Institute for Visual History and Education, created by filmmaker Steven
Spielberg after he finished his 1994 Oscar award-winning “Schindler’s List.”

The foundation has so far collected 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust
survivors in 56 countries, speaking in 32 languages, including 3,200
interviews from Ukrainian survivors. Both Greenberg and Spielberg have
family roots in Ukraine.

According to Greenberg, the foundation’s mission now is to bring these
testimonies back to the countries they were collected in order to educate
the local populations about the Holocaust.

Greenberg said he hopes the film will eventually be distributed in Ukrainian
schools. Work is under way to create a teacher’s guide so Ukrainian teachers
can use the film in their Holocaust lessons.

Approximately one-fifth of the film will be new material shot in Ukraine
this past year, Greenberg said. Interviews with Ukrainian Jews remembering
the country’s prewar Jewish community will make up much of this material.

The documentary is co-produced by Ukrainian Jewish oligarch Viktor Pinchuk,
a son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and a major donor
to the Jewish community in his native Dnepropetrovsk. Budget figures have
not been disclosed.

Greenberg says Spielberg and Pinchuk were introduced to each other by a
mutual friend a year and a half ago. “We’ve always wanted to make a
documentary film about the Holocaust in Ukraine, because it’s such an
important chapter” in the overall history of the Holocaust, Greenberg said.
“And there was Mr. Pinchuk, who was also interested in the subject.”

Pinchuk’s spokesman, Thomas Eymond-Laritaz, described his boss’s
participation in the project as “a tribute to the Jewish community he was
brought up in” as well as his “desire to participate in something that would
eventually benefit the wider world community.”

Film director Sergey Bukovsky, a 20-year veteran of the local film industry,
said that the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to much “creative
directing,” but said he would try to make it as engaging as possible.

“We looked for other solutions to avoid having just ‘talking heads,’ “
Bukovsky said. “There will be Jewish artifacts and scenes from the old
Jewish towns in western Ukraine in the film.”

Bukovsky, who is not Jewish, said he had to resist the temptation to
editorialize. “The biggest challenge for me has been finding a balance
between educating and moralizing in the film,” he said.

One thing that makes the Ukrainian project stand out from similar
documentaries produced by the Shoah Foundation in other countries,
Greenberg said, is that it will include the testimony of Ukrainians who
helped Jews during World War II.

Distribution plans have yet to be finalized, but Greenberg said he expects
the film will be shown on Ukrainian television, and he hopes for a
theatrical release in Ukraine as well. The film will be released in both
Ukrainian and Russian, Ukraine’s two official languages, and will be
subtitled in English for the United States, Europe and Israel.

“This is a story that isn’t Ukrainian or American, Polish or German,”
Greenberg said. “It’s a human story, and from this point of view, the fact
that it’s going to be told about Ukrainians and in the languages that
Ukrainians speak makes it very important.” -30-
————————————————————————————————-
http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=16509&intcategoryid=2
————————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
Please contact us if you no longer wish to receive the AUR.
You are welcome to send us names for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
“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
Academic, Discussion and Personal Purposes Only

Additional readers are welcome.
========================================================
SigmaBleyzer/The Bleyzer Foundation Economic Reports
“SigmaBleyzer – Where Opportunities Emerge”

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.

All publications are grouped by categories: Marketing; Economic Country
Reports; Presentations; Ukrainian Equity Guide; Monthly Macroeconomic
Situation Reports (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine).
LINK: http://www.sigmableyzer.com/index.php?action=publications

You can be on an e-mail distribution list to receive automatically, on a
monthly basis, any or all of the Macroeconomic Situation Reports (Romania,
Bulgaria, Ukraine) by sending an e-mail to mwilliams@SigmaBleyzer.com.
“UKRAINE – A COUNTRY OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES”
========================================================

UKRAINE INFORMATION WEBSITE: http://www.ArtUkraine.com
========================================================

“WELCOME TO UKRAINE”- “NARODNE MYSTETSTVO”

(Folk Art) and ContempoARTukraine MAGAZINES
For information on how to subscribe to the “Welcome to Ukraine” magazine
in English, Ukrainian Folk Art magazine “Narodne Mystetstvo” in Ukrainian,
or ContempoARTukraine in English please send an e-mail to
ArtUkraine.com@starpower.net. Complete information can be found at
========================================================
ACTION UKRAINE PROGRAM – SPONSORS
Action Ukraine Report (AUR)
Holodomor Art and Graphics Collection & Exhibitions
“Working to Secure & Enhance Ukraine’s Democratic Future”

1. THE BLEYZER FOUNDATION, Dr. Edilberto Segura, Chairman;
Victor Gekker, Executive Director, Kyiv, Ukraine; Washington, D.C.,
http://www.bleyzerfoundation.com.
Additional supporting sponsors for the Action Ukraine Program are:
2. UKRAINIAN FEDERATION OF AMERICA (UFA), Zenia Chernyk,
Chairperson; Vera M. Andryczyk, President; Huntingdon Valley,
Pennsylvania
3. KIEV-ATLANTIC GROUP, David and Tamara Sweere, Daniel
Sweere, Kyiv and Myronivka, Ukraine, 380 44 298 7275 in Kyiv,
kau@ukrnet.net
4. ESTRON CORPORATION, Grain Export Terminal Facility &
Oilseed Crushing Plant, Ilvichevsk, Ukraine
5. Law firm UKRAINIAN LEGAL GROUP, Irina Paliashvili, President;
Kiev and Washington, general@rulg.com, www.rulg.com.
6. BAHRIANY FOUNDATION, INC., Dr. Anatol Lysyj, Chairman,
Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. VOLIA SOFTWARE, Software to Fit Your Business, Source your
IT work in Ukraine. Contact: Yuriy Sivitsky, Vice President, Marketing,
Kyiv, Ukraine, yuriy.sivitsky@softline.kiev.ua; Volia Software website:
http://www.volia-software.com/ or Bill Hunter, CEO Volia Software,
Houston, TX 77024; bill.hunter@volia-software.com.
8. ODUM– Association of American Youth of Ukrainian Descent,
Minnesota Chapter, Natalia Yarr, Chairperson
9. UKRAINE-U.S. BUSINESS COUNCIL, Washington, D.C.,
Dr. Susanne Lotarski, President/CEO; E. Morgan Williams,
SigmaBleyzer, Chairman, Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
John Stephens, Cape Point Capital, Secretary/Treasurer
10. UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA, South
Brown Brook, New Jersey, http://www.uocofusa.org
11. UKRAINIAN AMERICAN COORDINATING COUNCIL (UACC),
Ihor Gawdiak, President, Washington, D.C., New York, New York
12. U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION (USUF), Nadia Komarnyckyj
McConnell, President; John Kun, Vice President/COO; Vera
Andruskiw, CPP Wash Project Director, Washington, D.C.; Markian
Bilynskyj, VP/Director of Field Operations; Marta Kolomayets, CPP
Kyiv Project Director, Kyiv, Ukraine. Web: http://www.USUkraine.org
13. WJ GROUP of Ag Companies, Kyiv, Ukraine, David Holpert, Chief
Financial Officer, Chicago, IL; http://www.wjgrain.com/en/links/index.html
14. EUGENIA SAKEVYCH DALLAS, Author, “One Woman, Five
Lives, Five Countries,” ‘Her life’s journey begins with the 1932-1933
genocidal famine in Ukraine.’ Hollywood, CA, www.eugeniadallas.com.
15. ALEX AND HELEN WOSKOB, College Station, Pennsylvania
16. SWIFT FOUNDATION, San Luis Obispo, California
========================================================
TO BE ON OR OFF THE FREE AUR DISTRIBUTION LIST
If you would like to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT- AUR,
around five times a week, please send your name, country of residence,

and e-mail contact information to morganw@patriot.net. Information about
your occupation and your interest in Ukraine is also appreciated. If you do
not wish to read the ACTION UKRAINE REPORT please contact us
immediately by e-mail to morganw@patriot.net. If you are receiving more
than one copy please let us know so this can be corrected.
========================================================
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
========================================================
Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
========================================================
return to index [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

AUR#685 Chornobyl Plus 20; Youth Ecology Forum In Slavutych; Chornobyl Exhibitions Kyiv & Houston; Post Election Reality Check

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

 
CHORNOBYL +20   
April 26, 2006, 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
The slow-motion catastrophe continues to unfold.             
 
Twenty years ago this month, life in Pripyat [Ukraine] came to a shuddering
end. Before dawn on April 26, 1986, less than two miles (three kilometers)
south of what was then a city of 50,000, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant’s number four reactor exploded. Thirty people died in the blast and
fire or were exposed to lethal radiation.

The destroyed hulk burned for ten days, contaminating tens of thousands of
square miles in northern Ukraine, southern Belarus, and Russia’s Bryansk
region. It was the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen.

The fallout, 400 times more radioactivity than was released at Hiroshima,
drove a third of a million people from their homes and triggered an epidemic
of thyroid cancer in children. Over the years, the economic losses-health
and cleanup costs, compensation, lost productivity-have mounted into the
hundreds of billions of dollars.

As evidence of government bungling and secrecy emerged in its wake,
Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, as it is now known in independent Ukraine) even
sped the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Today the fiercely radioactive remnants of reactor four continue to smolder
beneath the so-called sarcophagus, a decaying concrete-and-steel crypt,
hastily built after the accident, that now threatens to collapse.

Work is about to get under way on a replacement: an arched structure, the
size of a stadium, that will slide over the sarcophagus and seal it off.

With its completion the destroyed reactor will be out of sight. But for the
region’s people it will never be out of mind, as a slow-motion catastrophe
continues to unfold. [Article 12, National Geographic magazine]                             

                        
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 685
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
REPORTING FROM SLAVUTYCH, UKRAINE, THE NEW CITY
BUILT AFTER CHORNOBYL DISASTER, FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 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: 1ST INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ECOLOGY FORUM
                            Slavutych, Ukraine, April 4-7, 2006
By Morgan Williams, Director Government Affairs, Washington
SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #685, Article 1
Slavutych, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006
2CHORNOBYL +20: THIS IS OUR LAND: WE STILL LIVE HERE"
    Exhibition Opening, Honchar Museum, Kyiv, Friday, April 7, 5:00 P.M.
Myron O. Stachiw, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 6, 2006

3.                  CHORNOBYL – A SOLO ART EXHIBITION
    Art Gallery, Univ of Houston-Clear Lake, Texas, April 1- May 31, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #685, Article 3

Washington, D.C., Friday, April 7, 2006

4. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: CHORNOBYL RESOLUTION
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 4, 2006

5.                            LIFE RETURNS TO CHERNOBYL
Andrew Osborn, The Independent, London, UK, Wed, Apr 05, 2006

6. EMBRACE NUCLEAR POWER AND STOP TILTING AT WINDMILLS
COMMENTARY: By Max Wilkinson
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Wed, April 5 2006

7.       MOST EU LEADERS BACK REVIVING NUCLEAR POWER 
David Gow, Brussels, The Guardian, London, UK, March 27, 2006

8.    UN ACCUSED OF IGNORING 500,000 CHERNOBYL DEATHS

                       Doctors ‘overwhelmed’ by cancers and mutations
John Vidal, Environmental Editor, The Guardian
                          CHERNOBYL’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, April 5, 2006 

11CHERNOBYL 20th ANNIVERSARY MEDICAL & HUMANITARIAN
               AID CONVOY HEADED FOR BELARUS THIS MONTH 

Chernobyl Children’s Project International
New York, New York, Monday, April 3, 2006

12.     LONG SHADOW OF CHERNOBYL: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

                      See & hear the Sights and Sounds presentation
By Richard Stone, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., April, 2006
13.                  CHORNOBYL’S WAY OF THE CROSS IN ITALY
By Oxana PACHLOWSKA, Rome – Kyiv
The Day Weekly Digest In English, #11, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 4, 2006

14. WE NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT CHERNOBYL FALLOUT:
Twenty years on and casualty figures from the nuclear disaster still don’t add up

RESPONSE: By Linda Walker 
The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Friday, Mar 31, 2006

15 CHERNOBYL: ONE TRAGIC SLIP LED TO A LEGACY OF HORROR
Irish Independent, Dublin, Ireland, Thursday, Mar 30, 2006

16 YUSHCHENKO’S CHOICE WILL ANSWER CRUCIAL QUESTIONS
COMMENTARY: By Tammy Lynch

Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine,  Thu, Apr 06 2006

17.        SORTING THROUGH THE POST-ELECTION RHETORIC:
                             IT’S TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK

COMMENTARY: By Tammy Lynch, Senior Fellow
Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology & Policy
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
UNIAN, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2006

18
RUSSIAN TV SCATHING ABOUT UKRAINE’S TYMOSHENKO 
RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1900 gmt 6 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thursday, April 6, 2006

19 . UKRAINE OPPOSITION PARTY OF REGIONS LEADER VIKTOR
           YANUKOVYCH CALLS FOR "UNIVERSAL" COALITION
NTN, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1600 gmt 6 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Date: April 6, 2006

20 .                       A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Boris Kagarlitsky
Director, Institute for Globalization Studies
Moscow Times, Moscow, Russia, Thu, April 6, 2006
 
========================================================
1
UKRAINE: 1ST INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ECOLOGY FORUM
                                Slavutych, Ukraine, April 4-7, 2006

By Morgan Williams, Director Government Affairs, Washington
SigmaBleyzer Emerging Markets Private Equity Investment Group
Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #685, Article 1
Slavutych, Ukraine, Friday, April 7, 2006
 
SLAVUTYCH  –  The first annual International Youth Ecological Forum was
held in Slavutych, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine on April 5-7, 2006. Slavutych is the
new city of around 30,000 people built quickly by the Soviet Union after the
Chornobyl nuclear disaster to take the place of Prypjat. The new city of
Prypjat was built very close to the Chornobyl Nuclear Power station during
the construction of the facility but had to be closed soon immediately after
the disaster.
 
The Forum was held as a commemoration plan of the 20th anniversary of
the Chornobyl tragedy and to allow young Ukrainian students who are
involved in community development and social action programs to exchange
ideas and to visit the Chornobyl Nuclear Power station, the ‘dead’ city of
Pripyat and the village of Chornobyl. 
I was invited to represent the United States and Ukrainian business
community at the Forum by the US-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) who was
one of the sponsors of the event. This was my first opportunity to see
the Chornobyl Power Station and the surrounding area. 
 
The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation (USUF) has been working closely with
the city of Slavutych for almost 10 years. Slavutych is a participant in the
CPP/Community Partnerships Project developed and managed by USUF
and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
USUF brought young people to the Forum from all of the Ukrainian cities
that participate in the CPP. 
 
Ludmyla Dudnyk and Christina Redko, special project coordinators in
the USUF Kyiv office played a key role in the Forum and were
responsible for bringing the twenty young people sponsored by USUF
who attended the Forum.
 
During the Forum there were several speakers who presented up-to-day
information about the issues and problems presented today by the
Chornobyl tragedy. "Radioecological problems of the exclusion zone"
was the topic of a presentation by Yuriy Oleksandrovych Ivanov – Ph.D.
in biology, Chief Expert, International Radiological Laboratory of the
Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radiation and Radiology.

The subject of the "Medical aspects of the Chornobyl catastrophe" was

handled by Volodymyr Hryhorovych Bebeshko, Ph.D. in medicine,
professor, General Director of the Research Center for Radiological
Medicine, member and correspondent for the Academy of Medical
Sciences of Ukraine

Oleksandr Yevhenovych Novikov – Deputy Technical Director for
Nuclear Safety at the Chornobyl Power Station, spoke about the " Chornobyl

Nuclear Power Station – trial years." "Rehabilitation of radioactive territories"
was the title of a presentation by Anatoliy Volodymyrovych Nosovsky, Ph.D.
in technical sciences, professor, Director of the Slavutych Training Center at
the Chernihiv State Institute for Economics and Management, Director of the
Slavutych branch of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

"Techno-eco-polis Slavutych – effective socioeconomic rehabilitation," was

the title of a very interesting presentation by Volodymyr Petrovych
Udovychenko, Ph.D. in economics, winner of the State Prize of Ukraine in
Science and Technology, member of the Ukrainian Ecological Academy of
Science, member of the Congress of Local and Regional Governments of
Europe. 
 
The Forum broke up into seven round-table discussion groups after the
major topics were covered by the speakers.

On Thursday the Forum attendees boarded a train in Slavutych which

went through Belarus on the way to the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station.
The group then went to the dead city of Prypjat, then through the so-called
30-km zone on the way the city of Chornobyl where they had a late lunch.
The train, on the way back to Slavutych, was filled to capacity, as the first
group of workers at the Station had just completed their seven hour day. 
 
There are still around 3,000 people employed at the Power Station which is
a huge maintenance cost considering all the nuclear reactors at the Station
are shut done.  There does not seem to be any end to the huge economic
cost of this accident.
At the time of the disaster on April 26, 1986 four nuclear reactors were fully
operating, one more was 60% built, the sixth one was around 25% completed
and five more where being planned for future construction.  The goal of the
Soviet Union was to build at Chornobyl the world’s largest nuclear power
station.  All construction at Chornobyl was stopped as a result of the
nuclear disaster. All of the remaining nuclear reactors at Chornobyl were
finally shut down in the year 2000. 
———————————————————————————————
NOTE:  For more information about the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and
their programs in Ukraine click on http://www.usukraine.org.
———————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
2. CHORNOBYL +20: THIS IS OUR LAND: WE STILL LIVE HERE"
        Exhibition Opening, Honchar Museum, Kyiv, Friday, April 7, 5:00 P.M.

Myron O. Stachiw, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 6, 2006

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I request the pleasure of your company at the opening of the exhibition
"Chornobyl + 20: This is our land, we still live here," on Friday April 7 at
5:00 PM at the Ukrainian Centre of Folk Culture and Ivan Honchar Museum
in Kyiv, vul. Sichnevohyo Povstaniya 29 (044 92 68).

The exhibition of photographs and video film was created by my colleague,
Serhij Mykolajovych Marchenko, and I to commemorate the 20th anniversary
of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.  I hope that you will be able to attend
the event or to see the exhibition before it closes on April 30.

Best regards, Myron Oleh Stachiw, Kyiv, Ukraine
———————————————————————————————

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
3.                 CHORNOBYL – A SOLO ART EXHIBITION
    Art Gallery, Univ of Houston-Clear Lake, Texas, April 1- May 31, 2006
 

Action Ukraine Report (AUR), #685, Article 3

Washington, D.C., Friday, April 7, 2006

WASHINGTON – April 26, 2006 marks the 20-year anniversary of the
nuclear plant explosion in Chornobyl, Ukraine. Ten years ago, Lydia
Bodnar-Balahutrak visited the Chornobyl Zone, northwest of Kyiv, the
capital of Ukraine.

That fall of 1996, the artist and a Ukrainian radio-oncologist embarked on
an officially sanctioned one-day visit of the radiation-saturated fenced
40-mile wide circle called the Zone, including the abandoned town of
Pripyat.

What she saw and experienced, along with much material gathered and
documented since 1986, is at the heart of the selection of artwork in her
University of Houston-Clear Lake solo exhibition, titled Chornobyl.

The exhibition features mixed media paintings that combine seemingly
contradictory and disparate materials and processes – such as lead and gold,
organic and inert materials, hand embroidery and torching. The thirteen
works on canvas, wood, and paper, selected from several series begun after
1986 and continuing through 2005, evoke the Chornobyl cataclysm in its
many manifestations.

Accompanying the exhibit is the artist’s essay, recounting her impressions
of the Zone and reflecting on ways it influenced her ensuing artwork. (see
essay at the end of this article)

The contemplative nature of the exhibition is enhanced within the gallery
with soft lighting and the sounds of Requeim for the Victims of Chornobyl,
a moving choral work composed by Canadian Roman Hurko. Just outside
the Art Gallery glass wall, a display case holds magazines, books, excerpted
writings and images of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

Here the artist has also included her photogravure print "Reflected
Innocence", and information about her Special Project to raise funds for
the Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund.

In commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear
disaster, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak and the Texas Print Collaborative in
Houston initiated a fundraising Special Project that will continue through
the duration of the exhibition.

An edition and a limited number of proofs of the photogravure print
"Reflected Innocence" are available for purchase through the Collaborative
or the artist through May 31, 2006, with proceeds benefiting the Children of
Chornobyl Relief Fund ( www.childrenofchornobyl.org).

Those interested in supporting this Special Project are invited to click
onto the designated site ( http://www.texasprint.net/SpecialProjects.html)
for more information, to view the print image and place an order.

Funds raised are earmarked for the purchase of medical equipment – such
as a pulse oximeter – for the neonatal intensive care unit of the Chernihiv
City Maternity Center hospital.

Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak’s solo exhibition Chornobyl is on view from April 1
through May 31, 2006 in the Art Gallery of the University of Houston-Clear
Lake, the Bayou Building, Atrium I, First Level, located at 2700 Bay Area
Blvd., Houston, Texas 77058.

Gallery hours are 8 AM – 6 PM Monday through Thursday, 8 AM – 12 noon
on Friday, or by prior arrangement.  Visitor parking is provided in front of
the Bayou Building. For further information, please call UH/CL at
281-283-3446.

April 21 will provide a special opportunity to view the Chornobyl exhibition
as well as Byron Brauchli’s show of photographs, Bicycle Pilgrimages – part
of Houston Fotofest 2006 – and award-winning VASE student work.

University of Houston-ClearLake invites everyone of all ages to join in
celebrating the arts and meeting with the artists on Friday evening, April
21, 7 – 9 PM at UH/CL, in the Bayou Building, Atrium I, Level 2.
Refreshments and music by the Manicans will be provided. For more
information, please call 281-283-3446. (Attachment: Art Party invitation)

On Tuesday evening, April 25, beginning at 6 PM, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak
will give a gallery talk in the Art Gallery, Bayou Building, Atrium I, Level
1.  This presentation about her show Chornobyl is free and open to the
public. More information about the artist’s work can be gleaned from her
website:  www.LydiaBodnarBalahutrak.com. Contact BBLydia@aol.com
———————————————————————————————
                                    CHORNOBYL

ARTIST’S ESSAY : By Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, Houston, TX, Apr 2006

April 26, 1986 unleashed a cataclysmic moment of unparalleled unbridled
energy.  It continues to awe and humble in its divine display of horror and
tragedy as well as beauty and grace.

On a misty autumn day, 10 years ago, a Ukrainian radio-oncologist and I
embarked on an officially sanctioned visit to the Chornobyl Zone. The
Chornobyl nuclear power complex is situated 65 miles northwest of Kyiv,

the capital of Ukraine.  It is ground zero, saturated with radioactive dust, a
fenced 40-mile wide circle called the Zone of Estrangement.

At the first designated checkpoint, we were shown to changing rooms and
issued gauze-like shoes, pants, jacket, gloves, and a mask to filter outside
radioactive particles.  After we donned our protective gear, our affable
guide herded us into his car, and our tour began.

The air was laden with moisture, a continuous sprinkling of rain.  It was
eerily quiet.  The silence permeated the vast open spaces and shrouded the
nearby forest of charred trees. There were no sounds of birdsong, no buzzing
of insects, no fluttering of wings.

Passing vast stretches of flat land and sheared forests, we drove toward a
cluster of block-like Soviet-style structures – the town of Pripyat.

Stopping, we wandered through the wildly overgrown buildings and grounds.
I felt I was inside an enchanted tale. Apple trees were weighed down with
scores of golden ripe fruit.  Here was the story of the poisoned apple, the
allure of deceptive beauty.

Left untamed, nature was resolutely reclaiming herself, regenerating life
and spreading her healing mantle over the dust and decay. Tree limbs were
forging their way in through broken windows, saplings were breaking

through concrete floors and taking root.

Inside the crumbling, condemned buildings, it looked like people left in a
hurry, intending to return. The children’s daycare center still had neatly
lined up shoes and slippers, rows of tiny metal frame beds readied for
naptime, painted murals peeling off the walls, toys and dolls strewn
everywhere.   I picked up some children’s drawings and scrawled bits of
notepaper scattered on the floor.

"You can take those with you," our guide informed me," but they’ll need to
go through the decontamination process."  I followed his directives. Those
saved bits and pieces of child’s play were later woven into my work.

As we drove back to the orientation center, I gazed out into the distance
and followed the tall gray silhouette of the sarcophagus shielding the
remnants of nuclear reactor No.4.  It jutted out against the sky, this
memorial to the desperate nightmare after the 1986 explosion.

I thought of all the cleanup workers, now interred with other victims of
radiation, all the tons of lead and sand dropped by helicopter through the
reactor’s roof to quench the fire, all the steel and concrete poured to
encase the melting core.

It was the recollection of all that accumulated human effort and trauma, of
all the building up and layering of organic and inert material to contain
the "beast", that later informed my mixed media artwork.

Indeed this was at the heart of my compulsion to combine seemingly

disparate materials and processes, like lead and cloth, gold-leafing and
torching.

Our official tour ended inside the power station.  I stood in the control
room of a reactor virtually identical to that of the destroyed No. 4. The
graph bars and squiggles flashing on the monitors were mesmerizing,
strangely familiar and alluring. In their visual patterning and color they
mimicked the twists and turns of embroidery threads deftly worked into
scraps of cloth.

The women at the facility had gifted me with embroidered mementoes – works
of their hands. I came to regard these remarkable women as Chornobyl’s grace
notes and later incorporated their handiwork into my art.

The control room provided the coda. I was riveted by the monitor screens.
Sensors were continuously relaying the temperature and other information in
vivid traffic-signal colors. I imagined the screen lighting up with yellow,
then orange, then red — the flickering lights signaling condition red, a
release of too much heat and radiation, an impending meltdown.

Chornobyl continues to impact the lives of people who suffer from all manner
of serious illness. For me, that experienced by children is most
heartrending.  In some measure, through the artwork, through words, and

with related special projects, I address this, our human condition.  I cannot
save the world, but I can hopefully point in the direction of respectful
vigilance, reverence, and compassion.                  -30-
——————————————————————————————–
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
=========================================================
4. U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: CHORNOBYL RESOLUTION

U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 4, 2006

HRES 703 IH. 109th CONGRESS
2d Session. H. RES. 703

Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and
supporting continued efforts to control radiation and mitigate the adverse
health consequences related to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 1, 2006

Mr. GALLEGLY (for himself, Mr. HYDE, Mr. LANTOS, and Mr.

WEXLER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the
Committee on International Relations

RESOLUTION
Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and
supporting continued efforts to control radiation and mitigate the adverse
health consequences related to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Whereas April 26, 2006, marks the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear
disaster;

Whereas serious radiological, health, and socioeconomic consequences for the
populations of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, as well as for the populations
of other affected areas, have been identified since the disaster;

Whereas the Chernobyl Forum, an initiative launched by the International
Atomic Energy Agency and supported by the World Health Organization, the
United Nations Development Program, and other United Nations agencies, as
well as by the governments of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, examined the
scientific evidence of the human health affects and the environmental impact
of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster;

Whereas the findings of the Chernobyl Forum, issued in September 2005,
significantly added to the understanding of the health consequences and
economic impact caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster;

Whereas the Chernobyl Forum found that approximately 5,000,000 people

live in areas of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia that were contaminated by
radioactivity;

Whereas the populations of the affected areas who were exposed as children
have experienced significant increases in thyroid cancer;

Whereas the lives and health of people in the affected areas continue to be
heavily burdened by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster;

Whereas numerous charitable, humanitarian, and environmental organizations
from the United States and the international community are committed to
overcoming the extensive consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster;

Whereas the United States has sought to help the people of the affected
areas through various forms of assistance;

Whereas humanitarian assistance and public health research into the
consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster will continue to be needed in
the coming decades when a large number of latent health effects are expected
to emerge;

Whereas the United States strongly supports improving nuclear safety in
Ukraine;

Whereas, in 1997, the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine
developed the Shelter Implementation Plan for the purpose of protecting
people and the environment from the dangers of the large quantity of highly
radioactive material contained in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant;

Whereas as the United States is the largest single country donor to the
Chernobyl Shelter Fund, which was created with the purpose of funding the
Shelter Implementation Plan, having pledged a total of $203,000,000; and

Whereas the most critical component of the Shelter Implementation Plan will
be the construction of a new shelter designed to better protect people and
the environment from the radioactive remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power
plant: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and
expresses sympathy for the ongoing effects of the disaster, including
adverse health consequences and deaths;

(2) calls upon national and international health organizations to focus
their research into the public health consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear
disaster into areas identified by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, so that the
global community can benefit from the findings of such research;

(3) supports continued United States assistance to the Chernobyl Shelter
Fund, the Shelter Implementation Plan, construction of a facility to store
spent nuclear fuel, and other efforts to mitigate the consequences of the
Chernobyl nuclear disaster; and

(4) urges other countries and the European Union to continue to provide
assistance to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, the Shelter Implementation Plan,
construction of a facility to store spent nuclear fuel, and other efforts to
mitigate the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.     -30-
——————————————————————————————–

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
    Send in names and e-mail addresses for the AUR distribution list.
========================================================
5.                          LIFE RETURNS TO CHERNOBYL

Andrew Osborn, The Independent, London, UK, Wed, Apr 5, 2006

Less than a mile from what is left of Chernobyl’s ill-fated fourth reactor,
a pair of elks is grazing nonchalantly on land irradiated by the world’s
worst nuclear accident. In nearby Pripyat, an eerie husk of a town where
50,000 people used to live before they were forced to flee on a terrifying
afternoon in 1986, a Soviet urban landscape is rapidly giving way to wild
European woodland.

Radiation levels remain far too high for human habitation but the abandoned
town is filled with birdsong and the gurgling of streams forged by melting
snow. Nobody thought it possible at the time but 20 years after the reactor
exploded on 26 April 1986, during an ill-conceived "routine" Soviet
experiment, Chernobyl’s radiation-soaked "dead zone" is not looking so dead
after all.

The zone – an area with a radius of 18 miles in modern-day Ukraine – lives
on in the popular imagination as a post-apocalyptic wasteland irreparably
poisoned with strontium and caesium that would make a perfect setting for
the next Mad Max movie. It is a corner of Europe associated with death and
alarming yet nebulous stories of genetic mutation, a post-nuclear badland
that shows what happens when mankind gets atomic energy wrong.

The reality, at least on the surface, is starkly different from the
mythology, however. The almost complete absence of human activity in large
swaths of the zone during the past two decades has given the area’s flora
and fauna a chance to first recover and then – against all the odds – to
flourish.

It is a paradox that has disturbed opponents of nuclear power who point to
the appalling, still unknown, human cost of the tragedy and the terrifying
invisible pollution that looks likely to blight the area for centuries.

That something remotely good could come of something so obviously awful

does not fit with orthodox thinking about nuclear power and its all too apparent
risks. The picture is further complicated by the fact that the true human
cost of the tragedy and the damage wreaked on people’s health by the
radioactive cloud emitted after the explosion may never be fully known.

Estimates of human fatalities, both direct and indirect, vary wildly, from
41 in the immediate aftermath to tens of thousands in the years that
followed. It is estimated that five million people were exposed to radiation
in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and that the radiation fallout – equivalent
to 400 Hiroshimas – triggered an epidemic of thyroid cancer that has yet to
abate.

Doctors claim convincingly that cancer rates are far higher than they were
before 1986 and that thousands of Ukrainians and people in neighbouring
Belarus (worse affected than Ukraine because of the wind direction at the
time) may have died prematurely as a result.

In the dead zone’s so-called Red Forest, a pine forest that took the brunt
of the radioactive explosion, radiation levels today can be as high as one
roentgen, more than 50,000 times normal background levels.

Elsewhere, however, levels are much lower – to the point where large animals
such as elks, wild horses and wild boars appear to be enjoying normal life
spans. It is an unlikely scenario that has begotten another improbable
development – the arrival of a trickle of intrepid eco-tourists who come to
marvel at an area that some, controversially, claim is one of Europe’s most
promising wildlife havens.

Astonishingly, most of the animals, with the exception of the herds of wild
Przewalski’s horses brought in to gnaw on radioactive grass to guard against
forest fires, appear to have returned to the zone of their own accord.

The most recent count by the authorities showed that the zone (including a
larger contaminated area in neighbouring Belarus) is home to 66 different
species of mammals, including 7,000 wild boar, 600 wolves, 3,000 deer, 1,500
beavers, 1,200 foxes, 15 lynx and several thousand elks.

The area was also estimated to be home to 280 species of birds, many of them
rare and endangered. Breeding birds include the rare green crane, black
stork, white-tailed sea eagle and fish hawk. Wild dogs are also in evidence,
though they are prime targets for wolves, a detail that prompted the
American thriller writer Martin Cruz Smith to call his latest novel, which
is partly set in the zone, Wolves Eat Dogs.

The only animal that appears not to have made a comeback is the bear. But
ecologists say the return of large predators such as wolves is a sure sign
that things are moving in the right direction.

Sergey Franchuk, a guide and local expert who has been associated with the
area since 1982, says he believes the radiation has purified the soil in an
inexplicable way. "We think that the land has been cleansed," he says,
pointing up a long, straight road flanked with pine forests that later give
way to silver birch forests straight from the pages of Boris Pasternak’s Dr
Zhivago.

"Nature is flourishing here, even more so than it was before the accident.
When Viktor Yushchenko [the Ukrainian President] came here last year, he
even suggested turning the area into a nature reserve. That gives you an
idea of what is happening here."

What Sergey doesn’t mention is that Mr Yushchenko simultaneously floated the
idea of turning the exclusion zone into a dump for foreign nuclear waste.

Anywhere else, such a plan would have ecologists up in arms but here some
nature-lovers – who seem to regard radiation much in the same way as keen
gardeners in the West regard manure – think it is nothing to fret about.
"(If it happened) it would not take up a huge amount of territory," says
Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest, a book that describes itself as a
natural history of Chernobyl.

Ms Mycio, an American foreign correspondent in the area, and a biologist,
was one of the first people to begin cataloguing nature’s unlikely comeback
in Chernobyl and has made 24 different trips to the dead zone.

"On the surface," she says, "radiation is very good for wildlife because it
forces people to leave the contaminated area. They removed 135,000 people
froman area twice the size of Luxembourg. The people there now carry out
very localised activities and in vast regions of the zone there are no
people. It is a radioactive wilderness and it is thriving."

Hunting and fishing in the dead zone is prohibited for obvious reasons and
according to Mr Franchuk there are only 337 squatters – people who
obstinately refused to be resettled – living in the zone. The vast majority
of these settlers are elderly and though many of them talk about radiation
as if it were about as harmful as rain, none of them lives in the heart of
the dead zone, a six-mile exclusion area that even they dare not inhabit.

A small army of about 6,500 nuclear workers comes in and out of the zone on
temporary assignments to try to patch up the cracked sarcophagus that covers
the stricken reactor, but none of them is a permanent resident. Their impact
on the environment is so minimal that even the cooling ponds of the power
station are said to teem with fish.

Ms Mycio argues that something good has come out of something bad. "The
sight of wild horses here is moving. I saw a wolf in broad daylight once,
and the bird-watching is excellent." She admits, however, that some
scientists question what is happening to flora and fauna at a cellular and
genetic level.

The few studies that have been done have exposed minor genetic changes in
small animals and birds such as mice and barn swallows, including depressed
fertility. But Ms Mycio argues that animals are adapting to living with
radiation and are even building up a resistance to it. She insists there is
no serious evidence of animals mutating in the zone.

"Nature’s law is the survival of the fittest. In the wild, mutants die. And
if they do survive, they are like the partly albino swallows that appeared
in the early years after the disaster. They were not considered attractive
and found it hard to mate, so their mutations didn’t pass on to future
generations."

Sergey Franchuk, a self-confessed optimist, is among the many who believe
that animals sense whether the land they live on is poisoned or not. He sees
their return to Chernobyl as evidence that the eco-system is rapidly
cleansing itself, a state of affairs he believes could see people moving
back to parts of the zone within 15 years.

Others think that it will be centuries and warn that if humans do return to
the zone in significant numbers, the area’s unique flora and fauna will be
put at risk.

In the aftermath of the accident, many trees and plants were killed outright
by radiation and it seemed as if nothing would grow again in their place.
But the abandoned settlements of Chernobyl appear to have become the site of
an unlikely renaissance.

The town of Pripyat, just two miles from reactor number four, is a case in
point. Before the accident it was a model Soviet town populated by
power-station workers, its shiny concrete tower blocks, crowned by giant
steel Soviet emblems, symbolic of a bright atomic future. Its creches,
shops, and apartments were regarded as the best the USSR could offer. Now
its central Lenin Square is a shadow of its former self.

Trees encroach on its public spaces, steps are carpeted in grass and moss.
As the winter snow melts, the paving stones become a shallow river bed, as
water runs into a drainage system that has long since ceased to be serviced.
And as the concrete cracks, nature advances.

In one of the eerie children’s play areas, the only sound is cheerful
birdsong. Branches spread across what used to be an enclosure for bumper
cars, a giant Ferris wheel stands idle, and trees and weeds press in on
every side. In another 20 years it may be hard to discern the town’s
features at all.

In the village of Illintsi, Maria Shaparenko,82, one of the stubborn
resettlers, claims Chernobyl was always a beautiful area and that nothing
has really changed. "It’s very nice here in summer, everything blooms. In
fact nothing is wrong here, it’s just that people have been scared off by
the radiation." Outside in her yard a cockerel crows, and for a minute, it
seems like Chernobyl really is like anywhere else.

But a few doors away, Roman Yushchenko, an old man riddled with cancer,

is turning black beside a chamber pot of his own blood-red urine.

Chernobyl may have turned into a sanctuary for flora and fauna. For human
beings it remains less welcoming.                 -30-
——————————————————————————————–

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================      
6. EMBRACE NUCLEAR POWER AND STOP TILTING AT WINDMILLS

COMMENTARY: By Max Wilkinson
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Wed, April 5 2006

Nuclear power still inspires nameless terrors and, until recently, few
western politicians dared to discuss it. They preferred to tilt at windmills
or peddle visions of backyard power stations running on refuse.

Useful as alternative energy systems – and conservation – may be at the
margin, they cannot replace the need for big new power stations. As Sir
David King, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, insists, that must
include nuclear.

This view­ reflects a global revival of interest in nuclear power, including
in the US, where a nuclear moratorium has lasted almost three decades. Some
24 new reactors are now being built worldwide, mostly in Asia and eastern
Europe. A further 41 are planned or on order, and another 113 are under
consideration. In total, this would equal 40 per cent of the world’s present
nuclear capacity.

Anxieties about global warming have converted even some prominent
environmentalists. Sir James Lovelock, the green prophet, has said: "We have
no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilization is in
imminent danger and has to use nuclear – the one safe, available energy
source."

But the danger of climate change is only one of four reasons why the nuclear
option is looking more attractive.

FIRST, existing plants have become more reliable and much cheaper to run
than once seemed possible. The 104 reactors in the US can now operate for
more than 90 per cent of the time, as ­compared with only 60 per cent in the
mid-1980s.

Greater availability and big economies in fuel consumption have brought
running costs far below those of fossil plants, even when the costs of
decommissioning and nuclear waste disposal are included. The latter
represent a much smaller part of the total cost of nuclear electricity than
is widely assumed.

SECOND, safety has greatly improved since the accident at Three Mile

Island in Pennsylvania 27 years ago (where nobody was harmed). Several
studies have shown that if mining and other accidents are taken into account,
nuclear power is much safer than other mainstream sources of electricity. Even
the estimated figure of 2,500 deaths caused by the meltdown at Chernobyl in
Ukraine in 1986 is small compared with the cumulative total from mines,
smoke pollution, gas explosions and dam bursts.

THIRD, an era of cheap oil and gas has ended. The oil price is now only 20
per cent below its 1979 peak (in today’s money). Gas prices have risen in
sympathy. And three-quarters of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in
Russia and the Middle East. Coal is still plentiful, but the costs of
removing emissions of smoke and carbon dioxide are high.

FOURTH, new designs for "Generation III" nuclear plants are expected

to be inherently safer, simpler, cheaper and quicker to build than their
predecessors. They also use less fuel and produce less waste.

One is already operating in Japan and another is being built in Finland.
Even if uranium fuel and waste disposal turn out to be more expensive than
expected, Generation III nuclear electricity is likely to be cheaper than
any rival.

Last year, the International Energy Agency estimated that nuclear power
would cost 20 per cent to 40 per cent less than energy from coal and gas,
depending on assumptions – and that was before recent gas price rises. Power
from windmills is about twice the price of that from nuclear, when the cost
of standby plants is included.

If the IEA is right, one new nuclear power reactor in the UK could save the
country £40m to £80m a year compared with natural gas plants of equivalent
power. That equals the cost of a medium-sized hospital. Ten nuclear reactors
could save more than £20bn over their lifetimes.

But what is the UK’s response? It is building gas plants. By 2020, it has
been estimated that 65 per cent of UK power could be dependent on this
expensive and increasingly imported fuel.

So can windmills save the planet? Some 10,000 would be needed to match the
output of 10 reactors. They would spread across 120,000 acres of countryside
and the extra cost of electricity might be about £1bn a year.

The assumptions behind these figures may be questioned, of course. But a
range of international studies has come to similar conclusions and it would
be gross folly to dismiss them.
———————————————————————————————-
A fuller version of this article appears in the April 1 issue of Financial
World magazine. The writer is a former natural resources editor and chief
leader writer of the Financial Times
——————————————————————————————-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
7.  MOST EU LEADERS BACK REVIVING NUCLEAR POWER 

David Gow, Brussels, The Guardian, London, UK, March 27, 2006

The overwhelming majority of leaders at last week’s European Union summit,
including Tony Blair, strongly backed a revival of nuclear power as the
answer to Europe’s growing dependence on overseas supplies and to combat
climate change.

Only Germany and Austria explicitly rejected the nuclear option in secret
summit talks, according to senior German diplomats, who pointed out that
Angela Merkel, the chancellor and a trained physicist, favoured it
personally but was bound by her Social Democrat coalition partners to reject
it.

Andris Piebalgs, EU energy commissioner and author of this month’s green
paper on a common energy policy, made it plain in an interview that a
revival of atomic power was not the "silver bullet" for meeting Europe’s
triple objectives of security of supply, sustainable development and
competitiveness.

"There are no silver bullets and you cannot believe that, if you build new
nuclear power stations, that will solve everything," he told the Guardian.
"Countries with expertise are well placed to replace existing plants or
build new stations but we should not say that nuclear energy will meet all
three objectives cheaply and efficiently. It has huge costs and lots of
complications, including the issue of waste and final storage."

Mr Piebalgs, a Latvian, said countries pursuing the nuclear option needed to
emulate Finland, which is building Europe’s first new nuclear plant since
the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago (a French-designed pressurised-water
reactor).

"Finland’s decision was based on a thorough analysis of the nuclear option
and a political debate, including about safe final storage, so each citizen
knows that he is not condemning his children to a dangerous future," he
said, adding: "The only genuine silver bullet is energy efficiency and
conservation."

Last week’s summit endorsed the notion of an EU action plan designed to save
20% of energy consumption by 2020 and plans to raise the 6% of energy
provided by renewables to 20% by the same date.

But EU leaders rejected Mr Piebalgs’ call for a European energy regulator to
police the market and provide the framework to invest in common gas and
electricity grids that, with new power plants, could cost euros 1,000bn
(pounds 700bn) by 2030. By then the EU will import 70% of its energy, mainly
gas from Russia, Algeria and Norway, as North Sea reserves run out.

Mr Piebalgs, who also favours the use of clean coal, carbon sequestration
and biomass, indicated that a critical answer to Europe’s long-term supply
needs was to increase the market for liquefied natural gas (LNG), which
could be imported from several countries. He suggested that LNG should
provide 20%-25% of European energy within the next 25 years.

——————————————————————————————–
LINK: www.guardian.co.uk/nuclear
——————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
     NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8 . UN ACCUSED OF IGNORING 500,000 CHERNOBYL DEATHS
                       Doctors ‘overwhelmed’ by cancers and mutations

John Vidal, Environmental Editor, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, March 25, 2006

United Nations nuclear and health watchdogs have ignored evidence of deaths,
cancers, mutations and other conditions after the Chernobyl accident,
leading scientists and doctors have claimed in the run-up to the nuclear
disaster’s 20th anniversary next month.

In a series of reports about to be published, they will suggest that at
least 30,000 people are expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe
radiation exposure in 1986 and up to 500,000 people may have already died as
a result of the world’s worst environmental catastrophe.

But the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health
Organisation say that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the
disaster, and that, at most, 4,000 people may eventually die from the
accident on April 26 1986.

They say only nine children have died of thyroid cancers in 20 years and
that the majority of illnesses among the estimated 5 million people
contaminated in the former Soviet Union are attributable to growing poverty
and unhealthy lifestyles.

An IAEA spokesman said he was confident the UN figures were correct. "We
have a wide scientific consensus of 100 leading scientists. When we see or
hear of very high mortalities we can only lean back and question the
legitimacy of the figures. Do they have qualified people? Are they
responsible? If they have data that they think are excluded then they should
send it."

The new estimates have been collated by researchers commissioned by Euro
pean parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International and medical foundations
in Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere. They take into
account more than 50 published scientific studies.

"At least 500,000 people – perhaps more – have already died out of the 2
million people who were officially classed as victims of Chernobyl in
Ukraine," said Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission
for Radiation Protection in Ukraine.

"[Studies show] that 34,499 people who took part in the clean-up of
Chernobyl have died in the years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these
people from cancers was nearly three times as high as in the rest of the
population.

"We have found that infant mortality increased 20% to 30% because of chronic
exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been
ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again
in June. They’ve not said why they haven’t accepted it."

Evgenia Stepanova, of the Ukrainian government’s Scientific Centre for
Radiation Medicine, said: "We’re overwhelmed by thyroid cancers, leukaemias
and genetic mutations that are not recorded in the WHO data and which were
practically unknown 20 years ago."

The IAEA and WHO, however, say that apart from an increase in thyroid cancer
in children there is no evidence of a large-scale impact on public health.
"No increases in overall cancer incidence or mortality that could be
associated with radiation exposure have been observed," said the agencies’
report in September.

In the Rivne region of Ukraine, 310 miles west of Chernobyl, doctors say
they are coming across an unusual rate of cancers and mutations. "In the 30
hospitals of our region we find that up to 30% of people who were in highly
radiated areas have physical disorders, including heart and blood diseases,
cancers and respiratory diseases. Nearly one in three of all the newborn
babies have deformities, mostly internal," said Alexander Vewremchuk, of the
Special Hospital for the Radiological Protection of the Population in Vilne.

Figures on the health effects of Chernobyl have always been disputed. Soviet
authorities covered up many of the details at the time. The largest
radiation doses were received by the 600,000 people involved in the
clean-up, many drawn from army conscripts all over the Soviet Union.

BACKSTORY
The worst nuclear accident in history took place on April 26 1986 when one
of the four reactors at the Chernobyl complex 80 miles north of Kiev in
Ukraine began to fail. Operators shut down the system, but a large chemical
explosion followed a power surge and the 1,000-tonne cover blew off the top
of the reactor. Design flaws in the cooling system were blamed for the
accident, in which 31 people were killed immediately.

The worst-affected area was Belarus , which took the brunt of the 4% of the
190 tonnes of uranium dioxide in the plant that escaped. Ukraine was also
contaminated. Some 600,000 workers (mainly volunteers) who took part in
recovery and clean-up operations were exposed to high levels of radiation.

The Soviet government first suppressed news of the incident, but evacuated
local people within a few days. Five million people were exposed to
radiation in Belarus , Ukraine and Russia, and there was a dramatic increase
in thyroid cancer among children living there.             -30-

——————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
9.      UKRAINE CABINET ENDORSES PROCEDURE FOR FUNDS TO
MAINTAIN SAFETY OF CHERNOBYL REACTORS, SHELTER FACILITY 

Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 4, 2006

KYIV – The Cabinet of Ministers has endorsed the procedure for the use of
the funds envisaged in the budget to maintain the safety of reactors and the
Shelter facility at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in 2006. Ukrainian
News learned this from Cabinet resolution #407 of March 30.

The budget funds will be provided in keeping with the work plan endorsed by
the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Protection of Population from
Chornobyl Accident Consequences.

According to the resolution, the ministry will channel funds for the
maintenance in a safe condition of the operated reactors (servicing and
repair of some parts and elements), the first storage of spent nuclear fuel
and other technological facilities; withdrawal of potentially dangerous
highly inflammable and chemical materials from systems, equipment and
pipelines of power units; final de-energizing of separate systems and
elements of power units, as well as reconstruction of operating units in
order to cut operational costs.

Apart from this, funds will be channeled for examination of premises,
equipment and pipelines of power units; settlements in the creation of a
list and determination of volumes of the radioactive wastes forming in the
course of closure of the reactors; the drafting of documents required to get
a permit for holding work at the first stage of closure of reactors and
scientific technology support for the effort.

The 2006 budget envisages UAH 283.400 million for maintenance in a safe
condition of the reactors and the Shelter. As Ukrainian News reported,
explosion at reactor 4 of the Chornobyl NPP in April 1986 caused the

world’s biggest man-made accident.                -30-
——————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10.  UKRAINE GOVERNMENT PLEDGES $4 MILLION TO MARK
                       CHERNOBYL’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY

Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, April 5, 2006 

KIEV – Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov Wednesday pledged 20
million hryvna ($4 million, EUR3.3 million) to mark the 20th anniversary of
the deadly explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the world’s worst
ever nuclear accident.

The money would be spent on awards for those involved in combatting the
consequences of the explosion, buying 1,000 cars for Chernobyl invalids, to
build two health centers and to increase pensions for those who helped
respond to the disaster, government spokesman Valery Olefir said.

The money will also be used to fund requiems on the anniversary of the
explosion, print commemorative coins, publish books, organize exhibitions
and upgrade the Chernobyl museum in the capital, Kiev.

On April 26, Ukraine will mark 20 years after the deadly explosion in
Reactor No. 4, which released a radioactive cloud. About 600,000 people

were mobilized to fight the effects of the explosion, and more than 116,000
evacuated from their homes.

The ex-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia are stilling coping
with the aftermath of the accident today, from skyrocketing rates of thyroid
cancer to a marked increase in health concerns among the 5 million people
whose land was dusted with radioactive particles.
 

——————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. CHERNOBYL 20th ANNIVERSARY MEDICAL & HUMANITARIAN
              AID CONVOY HEADED FOR BELARUS THIS MONTH 

Chernobyl Children’s Project International
New York, New York, Monday, April 3, 2006

NEW YORK – Chernobyl Children’s Project International to deliver $3.5

million in aid to hospitals and orphanages in Belarus, and a mobile thyroid
cancer monitoring unit to the to the International Red Cross. Convoy arrival
coincides with life saving pediatric cardiac surgery mission.

Chernobyl Children’s Project International will mark the 20th anniversary of
the Chernobyl nuclear accident this month with a humanitarian and medical
aid convoy worth $3.5 million dollars. The convoy will leave Ireland on
April 9, and travel overland 3,000 miles through 9 countries en route to
Belarus, a country severely impacted by the Chernobyl disaster. The convoy
will arrive in Belarus on April 15.

The aid convoy – the 27th for Chernobyl Children’s Project International
(CCPI) – will consist of fifteen artic trucks carrying food, clothing, and
medical supplies, and 27 ambulances. Chernobyl Children’s Project
International will donate the ambulances to hospitals, clinics, and
orphanages in the most needy communities of Belarus, and volunteers will
distribute the aid throughout the country.

A mobile thyroid monitoring unit will be donated to the International Red
Cross in Belarus on April 19. Long time CCPI patron and volunteer Ali
Hewson, who is co-creator of the EDUN socially conscious clothing line

and wife of U2’s Bono, will perform the hand-over.

The arrival of the aid convoy will coincide with CCPI’s life saving
children’s cardiac surgery program, which is organized in partnership with
the International Children’s Heart Foundation. CCPI provides funding for the
International Children’s Heart Foundation to go to Belarus three times per
year to operate on children at Minsk’s children’s cardiovascular surgery
center.
    CHERNOBYL CHILDREN’S PROJECT INTERNATIONAL
(http://www.chernobyl-international.org) is an international development,
medical and humanitarian organization that works with children, families and
communities who continue to be affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

of 1986.

They have delivered over $72 million in aid to Chernobyl affected regions of
Belarus via overland convoy. The organization was founded in Ireland 15
years ago, and expanded into the United States in 2001.

CCPI’s work was featured in the Academy Award winning documentary

"Chernobyl Heart."Chernobyl Children’s Project International Kathy Ryan,
202-342-7667 kathyr@aol.com.                    -30-
——————————————————————————————-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
    If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
========================================================
12.  LONG SHADOW OF CHERNOBYL: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
                          See & hear the Sights and Sounds presentation
 
By Richard Stone, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., April, 2006
 
WASHINGTON – Twenty years after a nuclear reactor exploded, blanketing
thousands of square miles with radiation, the catastrophe isn’t over.

Get a taste of what awaits you in print from this compelling excerpt from

the April edition of the National Geographic.

Twenty years ago this month, life in Pripyat came to a shuddering end.
Before dawn on April 26, 1986, less than two miles (three kilometers) south
of what was then a city of 50,000, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s
number four reactor exploded. Thirty people died in the blast and fire or
were exposed to lethal radiation.

The destroyed hulk burned for ten days, contaminating tens of thousands of
square miles in northern Ukraine, southern Belarus, and Russia’s Bryansk
region. It was the worst nuclear accident the world has ever seen.

The fallout, 400 times more radioactivity than was released at Hiroshima,
drove a third of a million people from their homes and triggered an epidemic
of thyroid cancer in children. Over the years, the economic losses-health
and cleanup costs, compensation, lost productivity-have mounted into the
hundreds of billions of dollars.

As evidence of government bungling and secrecy emerged in its wake,
Chernobyl (or Chornobyl, as it is now known in independent Ukraine) even
sped the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Today the fiercely radioactive remnants of reactor four continue to smolder
beneath the so-called sarcophagus, a decaying concrete-and-steel crypt,
hastily built after the accident, that now threatens to collapse.

Work is about to get under way on a replacement: an arched structure, the
size of a stadium, that will slide over the sarcophagus and seal it off.

With its completion the destroyed reactor will be out of sight. But for the
region’s people it will never be out of mind, as a slow-motion catastrophe
continues to unfold.                                 -30-
———————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0604/feature1/index.html
———————————————————————————————–
                                  Long Shadow of Chernobyl
      SIGHTS AND SOUNDS PRESENTATION:
                                    Photographer Gerd Ludwig
———————————————————————————————–
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
             Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
13.             CHORNOBYL’S WAY OF THE CROSS IN ITALY

By Oxana PACHLOWSKA, Rome – Kyiv
The Day Weekly Digest In English, #11, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 4, 2006

You enter the park of an Italian Renaissance villa, and your heart suddenly
stops beating: you see Chornobyl’s Way of the Cross along the alley – two
rows of fourteen crosses with black and white mourning ribbons tied to them.

The crosses bear the names of Chornobyl’s extinct villages: Poliske,
Chystohalivka, Kruta Hora, Zymovyshche, Opachychi, and Krasne. Candles
are lit here at night. Bowing to Ukraine’s Stations of the Cross are
Renaissance-style stone angels, their wings cropped by time.

There is an old magnolia tree, also tied with a white ribbon. It is a
wounded tree, with photos of adults and children blown off the earth by the
winds of Chornobyl scattered over the grass.

The Ukrainian tragedy is concentrated in the space of Absolute Esthetics,
concrete topoi of the disaster and timeless tranquility of Renaissance
frescoes. Every detail explodes, wounds, and cries out. At the same time,
the tragedy’s immersion into this centuries-old solidified space of beauty
discloses the eschatological dimension of Chornobyl.

On March 10-12 Vicenza (Italy) hosted perhaps the world’s first
international forum dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the disaster. The
forum was organized to reflect three mutually complementary aspects.

The first is an exhibit called "1986-2006: Remembering Chornobyl;" the
second is the Italian-Ukrainian scholarly conference "Wounded Humanity: 20
Years after Chornobyl;" and the third is "An Overture to Apocalypse," a
series of evenings devoted to the poetry of Lina Kostenko. Chornobyl was
thus discussed in the language of art, scholarship, and poetry.

The forum was organized by the Vicenza-based Institute of Social and
Religious History Research – the coordinator of an international Holodomor
congress held in Italy a few years ago – the Il Ponte-Mist Association,
which works with Chornobyl children, the Kyiv Museum of Chornobyl, and
the municipalities of Caldogno and Marostica.

It was held under the patronage of the Ukrainian Embassy in Italy, the
Foreign Ministry of Italy, the Region of Veneto, and the Province of
Vicenza.

The Vicenza institute has been studying Central-Eastern Europe, including
Ukraine, for the past several years. This field of interest was launched by
Gabriele De Rosa, the institute’s president and senator for life of the
Italian Republic, who is regarded as the patriarch of Italy’s history
studies. Today it is spearheaded by the institute’s secretary-general
Giorgio Cracco, a medieval specialist.

But the organizational and scholarly engine of this institute is the
scholarly secretary Francesca Lomastro, a historian and the "mother" of
Chornobyl children. This slender woman seems to burn with love for Ukraine.
Do we really need to ask why?

Two years ago, in the fall of 2004, Francesca organized "Toward a Space
of Light," an exhibit of works by such late 19th and early 20th-century
Ukrainian painters as Murashko, Bohomazov and Exter, at the same villa.
Today, it is Chornobyl, a space of darkness.

Ukraine was represented at this conference by the historian Yuriy Shapoval,
Chornobyl zone researcher Natalia Baranovska, and the writer and former
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Yuriy Shcherbak. Shapoval
spoke about the criminal informational policy of the Soviet leadership and
the KGB during the disaster.

Shcherbak delivered a paper entitled "The Legacy of the Chornobyl Disaster
for the 21st Century." Baranovska analyzed the government and society of
Ukraine after the disaster, raising ideological and cultural issues:
Chornobyl as the ashes of an anti-utopia.

The Italian side featured papers presented by anthropologist Elisa Geremia
(Venice Ca’ Foscari University), Silvia Bertazzo, a specialist on the legal
aspects of technological disasters (University of Trento), energy expert
Andrea Gasparella (Vicenza Energy Center), and other speakers.

Also taking part in the conference was Mario Petrucci, a British physicist,
poet, and film director of Italian origin, who showed a clip from the film
Heavy Water, a laconic but dramatically and visually lavish screen version
of Svetlana Aleksiyevych’s book on Chornobyl.

The "nerve" of the scholarly forum was an exhibit created by Anatoliy
Haidamaka. I am certain nothing of the kind could have been organized in
any other cultural space. Serving as the stage was the villa of Renaissance
genius Andrea Palladio whose work had the greatest impact on the
development of modern architecture.

Palladio is the quintessence of High Renaissance, a symbol of its
unattainable harmony. The steps to Villa Palladio are covered with
black-embroidered towels that bear the meanders of ashen patterns that used
to be colored.

A medieval wall is bedecked with photographs of deserted Ukrainian houses
from whose windows you can see a doll looking out, a plush rabbit with a
bent ear, or a teddy bear leaning against the weather-stripped window frame.
At the foot of the stairs is a homemade little boat festooned with
children’s drawings. It stands motionless on the stone steps, for there is no

place to sail to.

There is a crossed-out Chornobyl road sign at the entrance to the villa. In
the middle is an Orthodox iconostasis. An almost phosphorescent statue of a
member of a Chornobyl clean-up brigade stands beside the altar.

Here and there the spaces between the frescoes are filled with embroidered
Ukrainian shirts. This is not an attribute of folklore: the nation’s body
was blown out of these shirts. Spreading wide their empty sleeves, the
shirts are flying through time.

A girl’s silvery voice is heard singing an enchanted note. The note breaks
up from time to time, and the reedy voice keeps trying to catch up with it,
fluttering in time broken asunder, in split space.

The frescoes show the warm marble of columns kissed by the setting sun.
Smiling people are relaxing, and ladies are talking to gentlemen. A woman’s
figure is frozen in dance. Children run about, dressed in satin clothing.
Wine-filled glasses and grapes stand on the table, the sunny peace of art
that does not fade.

But you see all this through gigantic transparent photos of the Chornobyl
disaster. The sarcophagus has caved in over the realm of tranquility and
beauty. A gas mask is lying amid Renaissance-era silver vessels. A clean-up
worker’s outfit shines through a knight’s armor. The inscription
"Contaminated" covers the ancient world. The Christ Pantocrator is plunging
headlong into a nuclear conflagration. Roman columns surround the Chornobyl
cemetery.

The mad ravings of communism about conquering nature turned the clock back
to primeval times. High above the painted capitals soars a spiritualistic
black bird whose transparent body shows entangled pictures of Lenin, Stalin,
and the people they turned into phantoms.

There are two dates: 1933 and 1986, the first and the second genocides of
Ukraine.

In the last hall the wall on the right shows frescoes depicting slaves being
beaten by Roman soldiers, and the one on the left shows the same soldiers
brutalizing women. The one in the center features a square full of people
and the flags of the Orange Revolution raised high in the Maidan’s night
sky.

In the adjacent hall, 16th-century girls are donning flower wreaths in a
blooming meadow: they seem to be talking with mannequins of Ukrainian girls,
who are wearing embroidered blouses and flower garlands, like their Italian
sisters in the frescoes: different blouses, different traditions of Ukraine,
dance movements, the voices of springtime.

An old woman smiled at you at the exit. She must have come from the other
world, the world of antiquity. A little girl also smiles, adjusting on her
head a big ruffled wreath of grass, flowers, and everything that grows and
blooms.

Then you leave Villa Palladio to enter a World War II bunker filled with
photographs by Ihor Kostin, sparsely scattered throughout its compartments,
where there is water on the floor and the rusted doors do not open even into
Nowhere; humanity’s last refuge after a nuclear war.

The lopsided, washed-down walls show scenes of death. A skeleton-like youth,
until very recently an athlete, is lying on his death bed. The only thing
that remains of him is his eyes. Homeless women are crying, abandoned on a
rain-slurred road, with bundles in hand and loneliness in their heart. A
dosimetrist is monitoring the radiation level of dead fish on a river bank.

There is a picture of an eight-legged horse. Kostin sent photos of these
mutants to Mikhail Gorbachev but received no answer. A man wearing a gas
mask is pushing a baby carriage, but there are no gas masks for babies.
There is a picture of the August 1989 protest march. National flags are
flying. A placard reads, "We demand a Chornobyl Nuremberg trial!"

A few months later both the communist system and the Sarcophagus of Death
collapsed. But radiation will continue to seep through – yesterday, today –
for centuries and millennia to come.

You are pursued by the buzzing of a Geiger counter that echoes in the
bunker’s corridors. As you leave the bunker, you see the words of Lina

Kostenko on a rugged concrete wall: "Oh, buried Chornobyl woods! Do not
forget our  voices."

Is this Ukraine’s lesson to the world? To whom is the testament of humankind
addressed?

You are back at the Renaissance villa’s ancient garden. Tiny violets have
sprouted beneath an enormous plane-tree. If ever there was in-depth contact
between two cultures, it happened in this place. Here you can read Italy
through Ukraine and Ukraine through Italy. You read the future through the
past.

The Chornobyl exhibit is a metaphor of modern times. Renaissance man has
brought the laws of harmony down to earth from outer space. Modern man is
producing chaos and is transporting it from earth to outer space.

It is also a warning: those who did not succeed in staging a Nuremberg trial
for 1933 are doomed to that of 1986. It is a catharsis: a fresco shows a
mother’s hand on her child’s head, shining through the past and future ruins
of the world.                                       -30-

————————————————————————————————
LINK to photograph and article: http://www.day.kiev.ua/160364/.
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
14.  WE NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT CHERNOBYL FALLOUT:
Twenty years on and casualty figures from the nuclear disaster still don’t add up
RESPONSE: By LINDA WALKER
The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Supporters of the nuclear industry will be apoplectic about the report on
the Chernobyl legacy by John Vidal (UN accused of ignoring 500,000 deaths,
March 25). And even those of us who believe the effects of the nuclear
disaster to be widespread, serious and long term, will be disappointed to
read of what must surely be a gross over-estimate of the real casualty
figures.

It is notoriously difficult to gather real statistics – there has been
little serious research, and many of those involved have an axe to grind.

The charity I represent has been working in Belarus for 11 years, delivering
humanitarian aid, training orphanage staff and foster families, and bringing
children to the UK for recuperative holidays.

Regular visitors to Belarus cannot fail to be aware of the many health
problems which, even today, seem to be more acute in the contaminated parts
of the country. Twenty years on, young parents are giving birth to babies
with disabilities or genetic disorders, or who develop serious diseases in
their early months. But as far as we know, no research is being conducted
into these issues.

Haematologists speak of blood disorders in children whic