Daily Archives: April 8, 2006

AUR#685 Chornobyl Plus 20; Youth Ecology Forum In Slavutych; Chornobyl Exhibitions Kyiv & Houston; Post Election Reality Check

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

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]                             

Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
           –——-  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
                            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
    Exhibition Opening, Honchar Museum, Kyiv, Friday, April 7, 5:00 P.M.
Myron O. Stachiw, Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, April 6, 2006

    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

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

COMMENTARY: By Max Wilkinson
Financial Times, London, United Kingdom, Wed, April 5 2006

David Gow, Brussels, The Guardian, London, UK, March 27, 2006


                       Doctors ‘overwhelmed’ by cancers and mutations
John Vidal, Environmental Editor, The Guardian
                          CHERNOBYL’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, April 5, 2006 


Chernobyl Children’s Project International
New York, New York, Monday, April 3, 2006


                      See & hear the Sights and Sounds presentation
By Richard Stone, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., April, 2006
By Oxana PACHLOWSKA, Rome – Kyiv
The Day Weekly Digest In English, #11, Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, April 4, 2006

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

Irish Independent, Dublin, Ireland, Thursday, Mar 30, 2006

COMMENTARY: By Tammy Lynch

Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine,  Thu, Apr 06 2006

                             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

RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1900 gmt 6 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thursday, April 6, 2006

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
                                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
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]
        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]
    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

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

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

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

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]

U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 4, 2006

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.

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

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

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

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

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]
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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

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

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

"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

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]

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

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

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]

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

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

"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

"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

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
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                       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

"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.

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]

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]
                       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]

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
(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-
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    If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
                          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
                                    Photographer Gerd Ludwig
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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]
Twenty years on and casualty figures from the nuclear disaster still don’t add up
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

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 which are normally only
seen in the elderly; heart disease and respiratory problems in children are
widespread; osteoporosis is seen in small children; in the orphanages there
are many children who do not grow, still looking like toddlers into their
teens; babies are born with missing or twisted limbs; and breast cancer
among young women is a major problem.

Thyroid cancer is the only illness which is indisputably linked to
Chernobyl. There was a great deal of early scepticism, especially from US
scientists, but eventually it could not be denied that the exponential rise
in this normally rare disease could have only one cause.

Last September a report by the International Atomic Energy Authority’s
Chernobyl Forum claimed that, apart from thyroid cancer, there were very few
serious health effects in Belarus and Ukraine. Most of the problems were
caused by psychological distress or radiophobia, it said. As the IAEA’s
primary role is the promotion of nuclear power, playing down the effects of
the world’s worst nuclear disaster is part of its agenda.

On the other hand, if the figures reported by John Vidal were to be
believed, 500,000 deaths in Ukraine would mean that at least as many would
have died in Belarus, which received a greater proportion of the radiation,
with perhaps a further 100,000 in Russia.

This would amount to well over a million deaths in the immediate region, not
to mention the fatalities across Europe in the path of the fallout. These
figures seem almost as unlikely as the derisory "only 51 deaths so far" of
the IAEA-led report.

Many charities in Britain have come together to form a coalition – Remember
Chernobyl – which seeks to raise maximum awareness about the long-term
effects of the fallout, and to appeal for unbiased, independently funded
research. Twenty years on, it is time a determined effort was made to learn
the truth about the real effects of the disaster.

Linda Walker is the national co-ordinator of the Chernobyl Children’s
Project (UK) www.rememberchernobyl.org.

If you wish to respond, at greater length than in a letter, to an article in
which you have featured either directly or indirectly, email
response@guardian.co.uk or write to Response, The Guardian, 119
Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER. We cannot guarantee to publish all
responses, and we reserve the right to edit pieces for both length and content.
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

Irish Independent, Dublin, Ireland, Thursday, Mar 30, 2006

DUBLIN – THE CHILDREN have no hair. They are thin, pasty-faced and

nervous when they arrive here on holidays. They are the cancer victims of
Chernobyl, and a constant reminder that a serious mistake at a nuclear power
plant can prove brutally unforgiving.
One slip, and a legacy of horror lasting generations is created.

Many of these tragic child victims were not born when the Chernobyl nuclear
plant exploded on the morning of April 26, 1986, triggering the worst
environmental catastrophe in history. Their families were not even living in
the Ukraine. More than 70pc of the deadly radiation fell on neighbouring

Twenty years later, the cancers are continuing in their thousands. Thyroid
cancer has gone up by 2,400pc, almost 99pc of Belarus is still contaminated
and its population continues to absorb the radiation through their food,
water and air.

The Sellafield nuclear plant is our very, very close neighbour. It is just
over 160km from the Irish coastline to Cumbria, in the north west of

To put this in perspective, Sellafield is roughly the same distance as
Dublin is to Waterford. Now that’s a terrifying thought.
Scientists are agreed that Sellafield poses a clear and ever present threat
to our population for at least another 150 years, or longer if the plant is
not decommissioned.

The reality is truly frightening. An accident or terrorist attack would
contaminate our food chain. That’s not the biased opinion of an anti-nuke
lobby group or green activists. It is the stark conclusion of the State’s
Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII).

A security report involving UK authorities on Sellafield, warns that an
accident or suicide terrorist attack on the facility, targetting its
controversial high-level liquid waste storage tanks known as HAST, could
cause "hundreds of thousands of cancers" in Ireland. This worst-case
scenario involves just 10pc of the material being released.

There are "chronically inadequate national resources" to deal with a major
emergency at Sellafield, it says. And our own nuclear watchdog is equally
concerned about the impact a cloud of radioactive material blown by wind
across the Irish Sea would have.

"On the basis of the information supplied to the RPII, the potential
contamination levels in Ireland from a serious accident or incident at
Sellafield could be such that the Irish authorities could have to intervene
to reduce contamination in the food chain," the State agency states.

The main health threat comes from radioactive caesium 137 and iodine 131.
These are transmitted from mother to foetus.

As in Belarus, the health effects are passed from generation to generation
and this would undoubtedly happen here if the radioactive cloud quickly
passed over here from Cumbria.

Scientists at the Clonskeagh-based RPII are very concerned over Sellafield
for three main reasons; a potential terrorist attack, significant extra
radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea during reprocessing contracts and
the potential for a catastrophic accident, the biggest threat of them all.

There have been a succession of high-profile campaigns against Sellafield.
Postcards were sent to Prince Charles, Tony Blair and the head of British
Nuclear Fuels. Flotillas of boats sailed on the high seas to try and
intercept deadly cargoes of nuclear fuel being shipped to the Cumbrian

The Government mounted legal challenges to no avail. It now seems that Mr
Blair’s government is planning to increase the reliance on nuclear power to
meet their energy needs. The EU is not going to act on Sellafield. After
all, nuclear plants are part and parcel of many member states.

Environment Minister Dick Roche branded Sellafield management "Homer
Simpsons". Safety records were even falsified.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called Sellafield the biggest single
environmental threat facing this country. And the emergency plan, according
to junior minister Joe Jacob, is to close the windows and hope for the best.

That advice doesn’t seem to have changed and the iodine tablets are probably
lost or out of date. We should be very worried.            -30-

LINK: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

COMMENTARY: By Tammy Lynch,
Kyiv Post, Kyiv, Ukraine,  Thu, Apr 06 2006

It was a difficult week for Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. Following
a far worse showing than he expected for his Our Ukraine bloc in the
parliamentary election, he began weighing the pros and cons of his two
possible coalition partners – both apparently unpalatable to him personally.

His response so far has been to do nothing. But soon, he will need to make a
choice, and that choice will be informed by three fundamental questions.

Does Yushchenko want to continue moving Ukraine westward, or does he want to
turn back to Russia? Does he want to continue to represent the goals of
Maidan, or does he want to maintain the status-quo and the natural stability
that comes with it?

Does he want to serve a second term, or would he be content with one? The
president’s choice of partners will tell much about his answers to those

On one side, there is Viktor Yanukovych, Rinat Akhmetov and the Party of
Regions. The party has gotten good press recently, announcing that it
supports Yushchenko’s Europe-oriented goals for Ukraine. But the party’s
votes in the Rada don’t support this contention.

PR voted with great fanfare in October 2005 against enacting the NATO action
plan, opposed WTO-related bills introduced last year, opposed synchronizing
Ukraine’s customs standards with the EU and fought against free-market
measures that would have increased competition in certain industries. All of
these measures were supported by the president, but many failed to pass
because of opposition from the Party of Regions.

Given the platform of Regions, and judging from years of votes cast, a
coalition with this party would likely mean closer ties with Russia, looser
ties with EU countries and the United States, and an end to attempts to
create an independent energy policy.

It could also mean the official closure of criminal cases surrounding the
deaths of journalists and the 2004 vote rigging, and a drastic slowdown of
EU-modeled economic and democratic reforms.

On the other side of the coalition equation is the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc
(Byut). Tymoshenko and her deputies joined with Yushchenko and Our Ukraine
to vote in favor of the NATO action plan last year. Her bloc either
supported or initiated most WTO-related legislation, new customs regulations
and anti-monopoly measures also supported by Our Ukraine.

On just about every major EU-related bill, Tymoshenko’s bloc voted loudly in
favor, alongside Our Ukraine and in opposition to the Party of Regions. A
coalition with Byut would keep Ukraine enthusiastically on the road to
Europe, with a possibly greater chance than last year to pass needed

It would also mean a recommitment to promises made on Maidan – in
particular, further investigation into who organized the murder of Georgy
Gongadze and other journalists and the possibility of undoing certain murky
privatization deals, although it is notable that Tymoshenko has implied she
may be willing to forgo re-privatizations if "her team" is allowed to ensure
the completion of investigations, such as the Gongadze case.

Finally, a union between Our Ukraine and Byut would accomplish something
important in a democracy: It would respond to the apparent will of the

Byut placed first in 13 of 24 regions, and accomplished the best ever
showing in eastern Ukraine of any West-oriented party. These votes, when
added to Our Ukraine and the partner Socialists, show that a plurality of
Ukrainians support Ukraine’s movement westward and that support for the
Party of Regions has decreased in the last year.

It seems then that if the president wishes to maintain a trajectory toward
Europe, continue reforms promised on Maidan and bolster his political career
by responding to the voters, the natural union would be between Our Ukraine
and Byut. But here is where personalities and politics intrude.

The blunt fact is that President Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko don’t seem
to like each other very much. Their personalities and work habits are worlds
apart. Therefore, a coalition between Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions
appears to be a real possibility.

Such a coalition may mean that Yushchenko must be content with one term,
since it would signify a final break with Tymoshenko and contradict the
reform-oriented will of his supporters. The fact is that in any democracy,
elections are messages to the incumbent. Incumbents who respond to those
messages survive. Those who do not, don’t.                -30-
Tammy Lynch is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Conflict,
Ideology & Policy, Boston University, USA. Prior to this position, she
served as a Senior Program Officer for the National Democratic Institute for
International Affairs in Washington, DC, Interim Director for Russia in
Moscow and an advisor to the European Network of Election Monitoring
Organizations in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution
LINI: http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/l2ed/24201/

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                             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

Since the victory of The Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYUT) over other

"orange" blocs and parties in the 26 March election, debate has begun anew
on the ideologies, past actions and future programs of the leaders of the three
largest parties in the next parliament.  Many of the claims made from all
quarters are either partially or fully suspect.   Therefore, it may be
useful to examine the most often repeated claims.

1. The Party of Regions is pro-NATO, pro-Europe and pro-democracy.
In spite of pro-European statements made in recent days, the parliamentary
votes of the Party of Regions (PR) seem to suggest a decidedly different
story.   In only October of 2005, the party voted loudly and with much
fanfare against moving closer to NATO.

Throughout 2005, Regions voted repeatedly against WTO-related bills
introduced by both the Tymoshenko and Yekhanurov governments, against
measures to synchronize Ukraine’s food health and safety standards with the
EU, against free-market reforms that would have opened up closed industries
to competition, and against reforming customs rules to synchronize them with
Western Europe and decrease smuggling.

During the last week of the election campaign, Regions leader Viktor
Yanukovich appeared on NTN, where he praised Belarusian dictator Alyeksandr
Lukashenka, saying that his victory in the recent presidential election was
not attributable to a rigged election, but to the fact that Belarus was
"developing better than Ukraine."

He suggested that there should be less focus on democratic reform, and that
Ukraine would be better off following Belarus’ form of development.   At the
same time, he criticized Ukraine for tightening its border with
Transnistria, and claimed that smuggling was not a problem in that Moldovan

2.  Yulia Tymoshenko destroyed the economy of Ukraine.
Although the Tymoshenko government made a number of missteps – in particular
by attempting to control prices in some industries – placing blame solely on
Tymshenko for Ukraine’s economic slowdown does not seem to stand up to

The Tymoshenko government inherited from Viktor Yanukovich and the Party of
Regions a $1 billion deficit (over 10% of GDP), created by uncontrolled and
sudden monetary emissions in mid and late 2004.  These emissions were used
to cover a doubling of pensions and large increases in state salaries that
were not included in the budget, and created ballooning inflation.

The government also inherited state coffers that held far fewer revenues
than were on record, and an economy that had been virtually halted by a

Within one month of coming into office, the Tymoshenko government overhauled
the budget to reduce the deficit to below two percent of GDP.  Budget
revenues also more than doubled during the Tymoshenko government – a figure
confirmed even by one of the former prime minister’s fiercest critics,
Anders Aslund.

Taxes decreased, although not nearly as much as had been hoped.  Inflation
was kept in check, another fact praised by Aslund.  In order to improve the
business climate, over 2,500 bureaucratic procedures were removed from the
books and another 2,500 were identified for removal through parliamentary or
presidential action.

Although growth dropped significantly from February-August, by September, it
had begun to rebound.  The figures for September – the month Tymoshenko was
fired — showed a growth of 3 percent.  Given the lag time associated with
economic data, and the fact that the Yekhanurov government was not confirmed
until the third week of the month, the figures cannot be attributable to
political causes.  Instead, it is clear that the economy was turning the

3. The Party of Regions is better suited to create economic growth.
In 2004, official Ukrainian figures suggest that the economy grew by around
12%.  Although the figures are slightly suspect, there is no doubt that
there was significant GDP growth during this time.

However, the economy of 2006 is nothing like the economy that existed in
2004.  In 2004, the country’s engine of growth – its metallurgical
industry – benefited not only from high world prices for its products, but
also from massive government subsidies on a number of levels.

Gas and oil was provided nearly for free to most large factories, contracts
for goods were based on old barter-style, not free-market, principles.
Taxes were unnaturally low, non-existent, or simply unpaid.

In short, it cost much less to produce in 2004 than it ever will again.
But, the state budget paid the price.  Despite overall economic growth,
budget revenue was stagnant, and the government was unable to translate this
GDP growth into programs benefiting the long-term advancement of the

Even if the Party of Regions takes the economic helm again, they will no
longer have the mechanisms provided by a managed, non-free-market economy

to create growth in certain sectors.  And they will be required to demonstrate
that whatever growth occurs will benefit the average Ukrainian, and not only
big business – something they could not do previously.

4. Yulia Tymoshenko planned to reprivatize 3,000 companies.
During the revolution, Viktor Yushchenko stated more than once, "What was
stolen from the people will be returned to them."  In February of 2005,
Tymoshenko responded to a reporter’s question about this issue by suggesting
that there had been 3,000 complaints over the last ten years about improper
privatization procedures.

The government would "look at" these complaints, she said.  She did not say
they would reprivatize all of the companies concerned.

There is no doubt that Tymoshenko wanted to reprivatize far more than one
company – Krivorizhstal.  Her statements on the issue often exacerbated the
issue and frightened investors, and she would have been wiser to moderate
her rhetoric.

But in reality, 3,000 reprivatizations were never an issue.  In April,
Viktor Yushchenko stated that "around a dozen" companies would be
reprivatized, and it seemed that this issue had been settled with that

5.  A coalition between Our Ukraine and Party of Regions will

unite the country.
While some members (although certainly not all) of both OU and PR may
welcome the move, supporters of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which placed
first in 14 out of Ukraine’s 24 regions, would not.    Far from uniting
Ukraine, an OU-PR union runs the risk of disillusioning and angering the
majority of "orange" voters who chose Tymoshenko.

It further runs the risk of dooming President Yushchenko’s political career,
as orange voters move further away from him, and "blue" voters remain with

Even more, the Tymoshenko Bloc handily won in Kirovohrad Oblast (33%), a
historically Eastern-leaning region and generally the dividing line between
"western-oriented" and "eastern-oriented" voters.  The victory shifts this
line eastward.

Additionally, BYUT placed second with over 15% of votes in Eastern Ukraine’s
Dnipropotrovsk region, and earned over 10% and second place finishes in two
other Eastern regions, Kharkiv and Zaporizhia.

It is the strongest showing in Eastern Ukraine ever of a Western-oriented
political bloc during a parliamentary election.  These figures should not be
dismissed, and may represent the first slight thawing of the regional divide
in the country.

There are, of course, many more claims being made by all sides in the
coalition talks.  And undoubtedly more will emerge.  It will be the job of
the political forces involved in the negotiations to sort through the
rhetoric and find a compromise honoring the votes cast on 26 March. 

Should they do so, Ukraine will take one more step toward successfully
consolidating its democracy.                   -30-
LINK: http://www.unian.net/eng/news/news-151233.html
[ return to index] Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1900 gmt 6 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thursday, April 6, 2006

In a selection of reports on Ukraine, Yuliya Tymoshenko came under attack in
Russia TV’s "Vesti-Plyus" news and analysis programme on 6 April. In
contrast, there was praise for Viktor Yanukovych as the "real victor" in the
election. The text of the short report is reproduced in full below:

"[Presenter Dmitriy Kiselev] In Kiev, Yuliya Tymoshenko has presented
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko with an ultimatum.

"It boils down to this: Either the pro-presidential party, Our Ukraine,
capitulates and accepts an orange coalition, with the result that Tymoshenko
once again becomes prime minister, or that exalted populist female goes into

"As her ally, Yuliya has chosen Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz, alongside
whom she gave a news conference today. At it, the way she spoke about the
pro-presidential camp was familiarity itself, while her general intonation
was, like a woman’s, impatient.

"Accused of using delaying tactics, Viktor Yushchenko also decided to appear
before journalists today. He was thoughtful. He recalled that, a mere nine
months ago, the orange coalition was a reality but then fell apart. Today,
he, Viktor Yushchenko, is at a crossroads. His question was: Have lessons
been learnt? Yushchenko, however, has no answer, hence his delaying tactics.

"Meanwhile, the real victor in the general election, Viktor Yanukovych, has
warned the president against repeating a mistake and bringing the Maydan
team back to life. In his view, a catastrophe is inevitable in Ukraine if
its political elites fail to put the country’s interests above their career
ambitions and narrow prejudices.

"The next experiment on the people of Ukraine along the lines of Maydan may
be the last one, Yanukovych underlines."

Next in the programme, in an interview from Kiev by Kiselev, Yevhen
Kushnaryov, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions campaign chief, warned of the
danger of "socioeconomic catastrophe" and a split in Ukraine’s society. He
blamed Tymoshenko, Ukraine’s PM Yuriy Yekhanurov and Yushchenko.

"We are half a step away from a large-scale socioeconomic catastrophe, which
we are now staring in the face as the result of actions by the governments
of Tymoshenko, Yekhanurov and, effectively, of President Yushchenko’s course
of action. The second factor is a deep split in Ukraine’s society, which
since the orange revolution not only has not been overcome but, objectively,
today has also intensified," Kushnaryov said.

To Kiselev’s suggestion that an orange coalition was in the pipeline,
Kushnaryov’s response was ironic: "I cannot help but smile when I talk about
this. The situation here is like a vaudeville. The orange partners here get
married in the morning and get divorced at lunch time. So we are the
opposition in the morning but a potential participant in the ruling
coalition after lunch."

The "Vesti-Plyus" Ukraine segment was rounded off with a report on what it
saw as the parlous state of Ukraine’s armed forces, symbolized by the
proposed sale of their one and only submarine.

"In a symbolic event for the Ukrainian navy, its one and only submarine,
which has not submerged with a Ukrainian crew a single time, is up for sale.
The long-suffering naval asset is called the Zaporizhzhya," ran the report.

From the moment it was handed over to Ukraine’s navy in 1997, the "submarine
has been rusting away". "It had rusted away to the extent that it had,
symbolically, become orange in colour, which later became politically
fashionable but is now going out of fashion. It was decided to repaint the
submarine – it is now tragic black – and put it up for sale," the TV said.
It added it could be sold to Libya.

"Ukraine’s forces, with provision per serviceman there less than a dollar a
day, need money. Meanwhile, the transition to NATO standards that has

begun is quite expensive, so the Zaporizhzhya will come in useful," Kiselev
summed up.                                        -30-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

NTN, Kiev, in Ukrainian 1600 gmt 6 Apr 06
BBC Monitoring Service, UK, in English, Thu, Date: April 6, 2006

KYIV – Opposition Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych has called for

a "universal" coalition embracing his party as the main winner in the 26 March
parliamentary election amid coalition talks led by the other three election
winners and former allies in the propresidential Orange coalition.

In a televized address on Ukrainian TV today, Yanukovych warned against
forming an Orange coalition and insisted on his party’s right to form the
government and a parliamentary majority. Yanukovych said the party would be
committed to Ukraine’s European integration aspirations but would also
strive to join an economic alliance with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The following is the text of Yanukovych’s address broadcast by the Ukrainian
television NTN on 6 April; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

[Presenter] Viktor Yanukovych today commented on the political situation in
the country. Here is his address.

[Yanukovych, in Russian] On behalf of the millions of people who backed the
Party of Regions in the [26 March parliamentary] election, I would like to
warn the authorities yet another time that the revival of the team of Maydan
[Kiev’s Independence Square, venue of the Orange Revolution] means repeating
the mistake of 2005 in its worst form.
Hasn’t the bitter experience of this team’s rule, which has been a heavy
burden for the entire country, taught anything those at the top? That is
why, before making statements about readiness to form a government,
President [Viktor] Yushchenko should primarily raise the question of who
specifically will bear responsibility for the country’s future.

We must now move towards forming a viable parliamentary majority. One

should get rid of the Maydan anachronisms. Ukraine will be facing a
catastrophe if its political elites fail to put the country’s interests above their
career ambitions and narrow prejudices.

Regrettably, the latest events show that the progovernment party [Our
Ukraine People’s Union] has failed to learn anything at all in the past
year. They continue to think in terms of Maydan but not in terms of the
country as a whole.

The Party of Regions deems it possible to overcome the existing economic
crisis as early as 2006. We confirm our readiness to stop the economic
decline by the end of this year, put the country back on the path of
economic growth afterwards and ensure that pensions, wages and stipends

rise quicker than the inflation rate.

In foreign policy, we will invariably stick to Ukraine’s international
commitments and continue its course towards European integration and our
country’s participation in creating the Single Economic Space [economic
alliance between Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan].

Here are the principles on the basis of which a coalition should be formed.
They exist in all European countries. The political party that mustered the
majority of votes in the 26 March election [Party of Regions] receives the
right to form a parliamentary majority and a government.

The Party of Regions is only interested in leading posts in the government
and parliament to the extent to which correct personnel selection will
facilitate the strategy of Ukraine’s quick economic growth.

Otherwise, we will simply not take part in creating a coalition, as our
presence in it, without any guarantees of delivering on election promises,
is an unacceptable condition for us.

Naturally, we are also willing to work in opposition, all the more so that
the experience needed has been accumulated. But it will not be easy to
explain this to society, because the voters brought the most numerous
faction into parliament in the hope for real changes in Ukraine’s foreign
and domestic policies.

They will hardly be satisfied with explanations that this will only be done
if the former Orange team alone joins forces. This argument will fail to
convince the millions of citizens who cast their votes in our favour.

It is good that President Yushchenko has recalled this by saying that it is
necessary to take into account that a third of Ukrainian citizens voted for
the Party of Regions, and that the Orange coalition had already existed. It
fell apart and lessons were learnt from this.
We remain convinced, even after the progovernment party has made a

statement that it is willing to create an Orange coalition, that it is necessary
to move towards forming a universal coalition, that is, a coalition that will
take into account the prevailing mood in society to the greatest extent
possible and that will be able, to put it literally, to embrace the whole of
its configuration.

History knows cases when yesterday’s staunch political opponents have

united in the face of the threat to lose independence. Ukraine is exactly in
this state at present.

Having found itself on the crossroads of the fight for influence in eastern
Europe and in the entire Eurasian space between the major centres on the
planet, it has found itself involved in a big geopolitical game. This has
led to big economic losses and a split in society.

The main task at present is to put the country back on the road of economic
development. It is here that the main goal of a future coalition should be
seen. He who has failed to understand this, has failed to understand the
main thing that their political future is too short, and that the next
Maydan experiment on the Ukrainian people may prove to be the last one.
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
20.                           A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Boris Kagarlitsky
Director, Institute for Globalization Studies
Moscow Times, Moscow, Russia, Thu, April 6, 2006

None of the parties that contested last month’s election in Ukraine can be
entirely satisfied with the result. Viktor Yanukovych would seem to have
the most cause for celebration. His Party of the Regions came away with
32.12 percent, outstripping its rivals by a wide margin. The party failed
to win a majority, however, and received a far smaller share of the vote
than Yanukovych did when he lost the presidential election to Viktor
Yushchenko in 2004. All of the party’s allies fell short of the 3 percent
barrier to enter parliament. In other words, the success of Yanukovych’s
party was bought at the price of consigning the other members of the
so-called Blue coalition to oblivion.

The Orange camp didn’t have much to cheer about either. Taken together, the
members of the Orange coalition won the day, but by the time the election
rolled around the coalition had long since ceased to exist. Former allies
in the Orange Revolution split into rival groups and advanced incompatible
programs. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s bloc received 22.27
percent of the vote to place second, while Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party
came in a disappointing third with 13.94 percent. Yet Tymoshenko’s drubbing
of her old ally was tempered by finishing nearly 10 points behind
Yanukovych’s party.

The Socialist Party, which backed the Orange Revolution and serves in
Yushchenko’s government, placed fourth with 5.67 percent of the vote,
out-performing the Communist Party, its longtime rival. The Communists
cleared the 3 percent hurdle by a hair, finishing with 3.66 percent of the
vote, a humiliating result for what until recently was considered Ukraine’s
main opposition party. The Socialists did better, but not well enough to
increase their influence. It was believed that their numbers were deflated
in the presidential election because their voters made a tactical choice to
back Yushchenko. Many thought that these voters would return to the
Socialist fold this time around. They didn’t.

The most important result of last month’s election, however, was that the
Blue-Orange rivalry that has defined Ukrainian politics for the last two
years is clearly becoming a thing of the past. This affects more than the
distribution of seats in parliament. A Blue government may be
mathematically impossible, but an Orange government is politically

Tymoshenko’s tenure as prime minister ushered in a period of instability
marked by a battle between liberalism and conservatism on one side and
populism on the other. Yet this didn’t seem entirely clear even to the
parties involved. It’s often said that generals always plan to fight
yesterday’s wars. Political analysts are no different. Gripped by
ideological inertia, they forecast the continued development of conflicts
that have become irrelevant.

Yushchenko was the first to recognize the shift, and responded by pursuing
a government of national reconciliation rather than an Orange coalition. He
was seconded by Rynat Akhmetov, the steel and coal magnate who is
considered the main financial backer of the Party of the Regions, who
proposed a Blue-Orange "marriage of convenience."

The whole thing is straight out of Marx. Akhmetov’s marriage of convenience
is based on shared class interests. If Yanukovych and Yushchenko join
forces, they will create the first truly bourgeois Cabinet in Ukrainian
history. Until now the ruling class has been split into clans, all pursuing
their own narrow business interests. Following the Orange Revolution, the
bourgeoisie appears to have emerged as a class.

What are the Blue and Orange camps teaming up against? Obviously not the
demoralized Communist Party, or the Socialists, whose desire to be invited
into the Cabinet — regardless of ideological orientation — outweighs all
other concerns. The Ukrainian new left, represented by such groups as Che
Guevara and Left Initiative, have made progress, but are still a long way
from becoming serious political players.

The real threat to the Ukrainian ruling class is Tymoshenko’s economic
populism. It was the fear of populism that brought down her government last
year, and the same fear is now pushing Yushchenko and Yanukovych together.

The trick for Yushchenko and Yanukovych is to convince Tymoshenko to
participate in a coalition that is actually directed against her — hardly
a rare thing in politics. Populist leaders tend to have shifting views and
radical but inconsistent programs. As a result they are easily ensnared in
their own slogans.

Tymoshenko is an extremely ambitious politician, however, and this makes
her a dangerous opponent. If she prefers to remain in opposition, the united
Ukrainian elite will be in for a tough time.                   -30-
[ return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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