AUR#698 May 16 Rule Of Law In Ukraine After March 2006 Parliamentary Elections; Regions Party Controls Crimea; Belarus Letter; Romania & Bulgaria To EU ?

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ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR           
                 An International Newsletter, The Latest, Up-To-Date
                     In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

                      Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
         Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       

                        
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 698
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor  
WASHINGTON, D.C., TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2006 
             –——-  INDEX OF ARTICLES  ——–
           Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
  Return to the Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article

1.       THE RULE OF LAW IN UKRAINE AFTER THE MARCH 2006
                               PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
PRESENTATION: By Judge Bohdan Futey
Embassy of Ukraine, Washington D.C., April 27, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 1
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006
 
2.     POLISH VETS TRY TO SAVE MEAT EXPORTS TO UKRAINE
Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Monday, May 15, 2006

3      LEADER OF OPPOSITION BLOC “FOR YANUKOVYCH”

     ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF SUPREME COUNCIL OF CRIMEA
     “For Yanukovych” bloc won 44 of 100 seats in Crimean Parliament 
Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian, 12 May 06
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; Friday, May 12, 2006

4.    UKRAINE’S CRIMEA: “CRISIS APPEARS UNAVOIDABLE”
  Standoff between Crimean Tatars and Slavic residents likely to get worse
ANALYSIS:
By Oleksandr Chalenko, Journalist
Segodnya, Kiev, Ukraine, in Russian 13 May 06; p 3
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; May 15, 2006

5.    FRENCH BANK SOCIETE GENERALE LOOKING TO EXPAND
              IN UKRAINE THROUGH 100,000 CONSUMER LOANS
Abstracted from Les Echos – France, Monday, May 15, 2006

6.   UKRAINE’S FORUM BANK TO OPEN CZECH REPUBLIC OFFICE
Lenka Ponikelská, Czech Business Weekly
Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 15, 2006

7. UKRAINE TO MARK 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF PETLYURA’S DEATH 

Interfax, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2006
8. BELARUSSIAN OPPOSITION ASKS UKRAINE TO OFFER UNIVERSITY
   PLACES TO BELARUSSIAN STUDENTS EXPELLED FOR PROTESTING
Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2006

9AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENTSIA TO THE
    PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE
REPUBLIC OF BELARUS & THE NEED FOR DEMOCRATIC SOLIDARITY
LETTER: Dmytro Potekhin, Director, European Strategy Group
Coordinator, “Know!” Civic Initiative, Kyiv, Ukraine
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 9
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 
10BELARUS OFFICIALS BARRED FROM VISITING UNITED STATES
Bloomberg, New York, New York, Monday, May 15, 2006

11       CORRUPTION STILL DOGS BULGARIA ON EVE OF EU

                                    RULING ON MEMBERSHIP
 Sofia expected to be admitted, faces call to get tough on crime & dishonesty
Nicholas Watt in Sofia, The Guardian, London, UK, Monday May 15, 2006
 
12.      ROMANIA AND BULGARIA MAY GET EU APPROVAL BY
              ADVANCING BATTLE AGAINST GRAFT AND CRIME  
Bogdan Preda in Bucharest & Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia
Bloomberg.com, New York, NY, Tuesday, May 16, 2006
       
13.                     WORLD BRIEFING: RODEO DIPLOMACY
COMMENTARY: By Simon Tisdall, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, May 10, 2006

14.                                    LOOK WHO’S BACK
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Andrew C. Kuchins
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Tuesday, May 9, 2006

15           VARIETY.COM REVIEWS: LIGHT FROM THE EAST 
               A ‘Light From the East’ release of a SigmaBleyzer production

By Joe Leydon, Variety.com, New York, New York, Wed, May 10, 2006

16.                                LIGHT FROM THE EAST
By Rory L. Aronsky, FilmThreat.com, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2005

17.           FROM LITTLE ACORNS GREAT OAK TREES GROW
                           A strong bond between Ukraine and Wales
LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR:
from Margaret Siriol Colley
United Kingdom, Subject: Gareth Jones Memorial
Action Ukraine Report #698, Article 17
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006

18.   COMMEMORATION IN HONOR OF GARETH VAUGHAN JONES
REMARKS: By Lord Elystan Morgan at Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth, Wales, Tuesday, May 2, 2006

19A MAN NAMED GARETH JONES LIVED HERE 70-ODD YEARS AGO
REMARKS: By Ihor Kharchenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to United Kingdom
At the Commemorative Plaque Unveiling Ceremony for Gareth Jones
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales. Tuesday, 2nd May 2006

20.      THEREFORE I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE FULL LIST OF

                    HOLODOMOR AS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
LETTERS-TO-THE-EDITOR: Holodomor
FROM: Luís Ribeiro, History Teacher, Portugal
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 20
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006

21.           FAMINE-GENOCIDE EXHIBIT IN KYIV FEATURES U.S.

                                    INVESTOR’S COLLECTION                               
By Zenon Zawada, Kyiv Press Bureau, The Ukrainian Weekly
Parsippinany, New Jersey, Sunday, December 11, 2005
 
22.   CENTRAL ASIA EMERGES AS STRATEGIC BATTLEGROUND
THINKING GLOBAL: By Frederick Kempe
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Tuesday, May 16, 2006
========================================================
1
THE RULE OF LAW IN UKRAINE AFTER THE MARCH 2006
                            PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

PRESENTATION: By Judge Bohdan Futey
Embassy of Ukraine, Washington D.C., April 27, 2006
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 1
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006
 
The winners and losers of the March 2006 parliamentary elections are clear.
The Party of Regions obviously won the popular vote, Tymoshenko’s Bloc did
better than expected, Our Ukraine bloc underperformed, the Communists are
fading away, and Lytvyn’s People’s Bloc was undeniably a loser.

The biggest winner of all, however, were the Ukrainian people because by
general consensus the parliamentary elections of March 2006 were truly
democratic. (1)

In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal Europe, nevertheless, President
Yushchenko acknowledged that problems remain, stating “[c]ultural, religious
and linguistic differences have no place on the political agenda” and that
“[t]he harmonious regional and socio-economic development of our country
is a common goal upon which all parties should be able to agree.” (2)

Although the national elections to Parliament were free and democratic,
there were a number of voting irregularities and possible election fraud at
the local level. (3)  Some recommendations to improve the voting process
include holding parliamentary and local elections at different times,
reducing the number of ballots, and creating a computerized database of
voters.

In addition, NGOs advocate larger polling stations and setting up a national
election center for training polling station commissioners.  One would hope
that although improvements still need to be made, the fact that the
parliamentary elections went so favorably bodes well for the future of
democracy in Ukraine.

The Rule of Law is the lynchpin to promote democracy throughout the world,
and democracy, in turn, will provide a better and more prosperous economic
life.

Article 8 of the Ukrainian Constitution underscores “the principle of the
rule of law is recognized and effective,” but what exactly do we mean when
we say “the rule of law”?  There are many characteristics of the Rule of
Law.

Let me just mention what I consider to be essential.

[1] The supremacy of law, which means that all persons (individuals and
government officials) are subject to the law.  No person is above the law,
regardless of his or her status.
[2] Rule of Law – not “law of the rule”.  (An example of the latter:  Nazi
regime in Germany and the Soviet Union under the Communist Party.)
[3] The source of the law must be the people themselves.
[4] A concept of justice which emphasizes interpersonal adjudication, law
based on standards and the importance of procedures.
[5] President Abraham Lincoln, speaking before Congress in 1861 about the
establishment of the U.S. Court of Claims, said: “It is as much the duty of
government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as
it is to administer the same, between private individuals.”
[6] The importance of preservation of individual liberties: free speech,
peaceful assembly, freedom of press, worship as one pleases, equal
opportunity, due process of law, right to counsel, and independent
judiciary.  Without the courts to assure that human rights, especially those
of minorities or unpopular groups, are enforced, many provisions of the
Constitution will be reduced to pieces of paper.
[7] The doctrine of judicial precedent.
[8] Legislation should be prospective and not retrospective.
[9] A political system based on separation of powers with appropriate
checks and balances.
[10] An independent judiciary.
[11] As there cannot be a market economy without private ownership of
property, there cannot be respect for the Rule of Law unless there is an
independent judiciary.  We look forward to the courts to promote
democracy and the Rule of Law.

The rule of law has flourished in many ways since Ukrainian independence,
for example, freedom of the press had been attained, but the pace at which
it has progressed has been slowed by a number of factors.  The accusations
that corruption still exists in the government is a major roadblock to
establishing a rule of law.  It at least appears that those in power who
hold on to their influence through corrupt means obviously prefer the status
quo.

Furthermore, the loyalties of many still in power lie more with Russia or
pro-Russian forces rather than with Ukraine.  Instead of building up a
democratic and strong Ukraine, they have attempted to steer the country in

a direction that benefits Russia using corruption and putting personal
interests over national ones. (4)

The recent political reform, or at least the manner in which is was adopted,
in my opinion, is a great disservice to encouraging democracy in Ukraine
because it violates the principles of the rule of law and is probably also
unconstitutional. (5)  The political reform that resulted from the Orange
Revolution in many respects transforms the Ukrainian government from a
presidential-parliamentary system to a parliamentary-presidential system.

A few of the major characteristics of the reform are as follows:

[1] The opening session of the Rada will occur thirty (30) days after the
CEC’s publication of the results of the election.  The reform requires the
formation of a majority coalition within thirty (30) days from the opening
session of the Rada.  If no majority coalition is formed the President may
choose to dissolve the Rada.

This does not seem likely because it appears that the blocs and parties that
joined together during the Orange Revolution have once again formed a
coalition that constitutes the majority of seats.

[2] The majority of the Rada will now select most of the ministers, and,
importantly, will propose a candidate for Prime Minister to the President
for nomination.  In addition, the real day-to-day power will be exerted by
the Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, if a government is not formed within sixty (60) days of the
opening session of the Rada the President has the power to dissolve the
Verkhovna Rada.  If this happens, a new election may be held within a short
time. (6)

[3] The President, in his capacity as commander-in-chief and head of foreign
affairs, will now only appoint the ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs.
The President also appoints the Prosecutor General and the Head of the SBU
(Security Service), but must obtain the consent of the Verkhovna Rada to
dismiss them.

[4] The cabinet of ministers, under the Prime Minister, will be able to
create new ministries and executive agencies instead of the President.

The political reform, which in many ways was left unchallenged, violates the
rule of law tenets.  Therefore, because the political reform changed the
essential characteristics of the government, it should have been submitted
to a national referendum. (7)  Without a referendum, the reform is
unconstitutional.

The were a number of other aspects in the adoption of the reform which
contradict the Constitution.  This of course, brings up the issue of
judicial independence.  Currently, there is no quorum in the Constitutional
Court and, therefore, no way to determine the constitutionality of the
political reform.

Since mid-October 2005, the Constitutional Court has been unable to form a
quorum.  By way of background, there are eighteen judges on the
Constitutional Court.  The President, Council of Judges, and the Verkhovna
Rada each appoint or elect six members to the court.

Eleven judges constitute a quorum at a meeting for purposes of opening or
rejecting a case (at least six judges must vote to open a case), twelve
judges must participate in a plenary meeting, and ten judges must vote in
support of a decision or conclusion on the merits during a plenary meeting.

A crucial problem that has existed for some months is Parliament’s avoidance
of electing its share of judges to the Constitutional Court which has been
postponed from one week to another.

Pursuant to a questionable provision in the Law on the Constitutional Court,
each candidate for the Constitutional Court, regardless of whether he or she
was appointed by the President, or elected by the Verkhovna Rada or the
Council of Judges, must take an oath of office before the Parliament. (8)

Although the Constitution provides for the oath of office of the President
and Rada deputies, the Constitution does not have such requirements for
judges of the Constitutional Court.  The swearing-in requirement, in my
view, therefore, is likely unconstitutional itself because it allows the
vitality of the Constitutional Court to rest in the hands of the Verkhovna
Rada – a clear violation of the separation of powers.

The Law on the Constitutional Court also violates the principle of judicial
independence because by requiring the oath, it gives Parliament oversight
authority that the Constitution does not provide (9) and Article 153 (10) of
the Constitution can not be interpreted as providing authority to require an
oath. Naturally, such a law could be applicable only to judges elected by
the Rada, but not by the President or the Council of Judges.

Since mid-October 2005, however, there has been no quorum at the
Constitutional Court to consider the constitutionality of the swearing in
because the Verkhovna Rada did not schedule a session to swear-in candidates
appointed by the President or the Council of Judges upon the expiration of
certain judges’ terms.

Therefore, the Verkhovna Rada has effectively prevented the operation of
the Constitutional Court by not filling vacancies and not allowing the
appointees assume their seats on the court.  It is difficult to believe that
after the Orange Revolution and its ideals, the Parliament was so negligent
in its duties to have an acting Constitutional Court that is so vital and
crucial to the rule of law in a country.

As I predicted in August 2005, (11) the battling factions currently within
Parliament had difficulty cooperating with each other and the lack of
consensus prevented the placing of a swearing-in ceremony on the
Parliament’s schedule and precluded the attainment of the 226 votes

necessary to schedule a swearing-in ceremony in the event a consensus
was not reached. (12)

To date, no swearing in ceremony has been scheduled (which, as previously
stated, is likely unconstitutional anyway) and the fighting over appointees
continues.

In a recent speech on the anniversary of his inauguration, President
Yushchenko announced to the nation that 2006 would be a year of reform and
that the judicial system would be a key element of change.  In my mind, the
following changes are essential to building a strong judiciary:

1. STRENGTHEN JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN GENERAL
     a. Provide adequate salaries for judges.
     b. Ensure appropriate funding and assistance for courts.
     c. Prompt publication and availability of judicial decisions.
     d. Transparency in decision-making.
     e.  Courts should avoid deciding political questions.  Judges should
be insulated from political pressure as much as possible.
     f.  Judges should not fear from retaliation for deciding cases or be
concerned with salary reductions.
     g. State Court Administration should become a part of the judicial
branch (currently an organ of the executive branch).
     h. The Judiciary needs to have its own constituency, primarily the
legal profession and strong bar associations.  These will be responsible
to expose or oppose coercive tactics upon Judges and enlist the press
on their side.

2. ENFORCEMENT OF JUDICIAL DECISIONS
     a. Lack of enforcement by the executive and legislature must be
addressed.
     b. Part and parcel of a credible, respected and independent judiciary.
     c. Strengthen adherence to the law.
          i.  For example, strict enforcement prohibition on dual mandates.
          ii. Individuals from within the government who are appointed to
              new positions should immediately resign from their prior
              posts.
     d. Domestic and foreign investors will be hesitant to engage in
financial transactions in a country that fails to adequately protect their
rights.  The courts should provide stability to trade and commerce,
foreign and domestic, that the parties will receive impartial judgments for
contracts and commercial dealings.

3. ADOPT CODE OF CONDUCT FOR JUDGES OF UKRAINE
Judicial independence does not mean the Judges do as they choose, but do as
they must in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the country.  In
civil, as well as common law countries, judicial independence in the final
analysis will depend largely on the conscience and courage of the Judges
themselves.

Judges will not be respected until they respect themselves.  Adoption of a
Code of Conduct that is binding and truly regulates judge’s conduct should
proceed as soon as possible. (13)

4. EX-PARTE COMMUNICATIONS
     a. Judges should not only avoid conduct which on its face is improper,
but also conduct which creates an appearance of impropriety.
     b. Courts need to do away with visiting hours where parties can meet
individually with judges behind closed doors without any record.
          i.  Appearance of impropriety is sometimes as damaging as the act
              itself.

5. APPOINTING CHIEF JUDGES
To remove any appearance of impropriety and to avoid political partisanship,
those responsible for judicial reforms in Ukraine should consider adopting
the tenure-based system used in the United States for the selection of Chief
Judges of lower courts. (14)

The implementation of such a system would reduce and minimize the
opportunity for external pressure.  In the event the tenure-based system is
not adopted, Ukraine should consider instituting comparable procedures to
those currently in place at the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court.

Stated another way, lower court judges should elect their Chief Judges
through secret ballots.  Although the tenure-based system and election
system possess obvious advantages, a compromise arrangement at a minimum
could be instituted, perhaps, in the event both procedures are rejected.
The compromise, while not originating completely in any of the systems
discussed above, does incorporate certain aspects contained therein.

6. ELECTION DISPUTES
In 2004, an Administrative Specialized Court was created by statute, its
jurisdiction includes adjudication of election disputes.  This specialized
court system is still in its formative stage and is not yet fully
operational.  A Higher Administrative Court has been established, and the
intermediate appellate Administrative Court is in the process of being
formed.

Nevertheless, the lower specialized administrative courts have not yet been
organized.  In the interim, lower courts of general jurisdiction will still
decide certain elections disputes.  In order to ensure the speedy and
uniform adjudication of election disputes, the government must work to
establish the lower trial courts.  In the past, the issues of jurisdiction
and venue were improperly addressed by the courts in elections disputes.

Some cases were heard in seemingly improper venues; that is, cases were
heard in courts outside of the geographic area in which the alleged acts
took place, examples include the Krihovard Court overturning the results
of the 1998 mayoral election in Odesa and a court in the city of Lviv
invalidating the June 29, 2003 election of the mayor in the City of
Mukachevo.  Other times, the appropriate court refused to take a case.

Therefore, forum shopping was rampant, with parties filing cases with
certain courts because they believed that court would give them the result
they desired.  The Administrative Procedure Code and the Law on the
Election of National Deputies will hopefully resolve the issues of
jurisdiction (subject matter) and venue (geographic area in which a case

will be tried) that have thus far plagued the courts in election disputes.

All of these things must be done in order to improve public confidence in
the judiciary.   Although the Supreme Court’s decision in Yushchenko v. CEC
on December 3, 2004 helped improve the people’s view of the judiciary.

In a survey of Ukrainians taken in April 2005, fifty-seven percent (57%)
strongly or somewhat agree that the judiciary acted correctly during the
presidential election crisis.  Furthermore, sixty percent (60%) think the
Supreme Court was justified in its decision to invalidate the November 21st
election and hold another election in December.

Sixty-two percent (62%) also support its decision to legitimize the December
26th election results. (15)  Clearly, the Supreme Court’s action in this
case was well supported by the people and helped clear the way for a
legitimate election.  Further, in a poll taken two months after the
election, forty one percent (41%) of Ukrainians said their impression of the
judiciary has improved. (16)

A more recent poll, however, shows that this new found confidence has
eroded somewhat. (17)  One would hope that the recent decision by the Higher
Administrative Court in Vitrenko v. CEC on April 26, 2006, will restore
public confidence in the judiciary.

                        THE PROCURATOR GENERAL

The role of the Procurator General is somewhat murky at this point.  Under
the Constitution the responsibilities of the Procurator General are as
follows:
[1] prosecut[e] in court on behalf of the State;
[2] represent[] . . . the interests of a citizen or . . . the State in court
or in cases determined by law;
[3] (3) supervis[e] . . . the observance of laws by bodies that conduct
detective and search activity, inquiry and pre-trial investigation;
[4] (4) supervis[e] . . . the observance of laws in the execution of
judicial decisions in criminal cases, and also in the application of other
measures of coercion related to the restraint of personal liberty of
citizens. (18)
[5] Under the political reform following the Orange Revolution, the
Procurator is now also responsible for enforcing human rights, formerly
the province of the Ombudsman

Given the Ukrainian Constitution’s specific enumeration of the Procurator
General’s powers and given the Office of the Procurator General’s intended
or unintended association with the executive branch, the Procurator General
can not have oversight of the courts.

Stated another way, the Procurator General and, in turn, the executive
branch, through its apparent control over the Procurator General, must not
attempt to implement measures to control the outcome of judicial
adjudications.

Ukraine’s Constitution adopts the principle of separation of powers in
Article 6 and establishes legislative, executive and judicial branches.19
In order to avoid superordination or subordination of the separate branches,
the Ukrainian Constitution provided each branch with a range of checks and
balances over the other branches.

To properly effectuate the principle of separation of powers, however, the
Constitution requires that the branches of government not only be separate
but also, in my view, coequal.  This proposition presupposes that one branch
of government does not exert undue influence over the other and does not
attempt to “oversee” the actions of the other.

While to some “oversight” of the judiciary could appear to be a viable
solution to the perceived problem of judicial shortcomings, in practice it
contravenes the rule of law and undermines judicial independence.  Whether
the so-called control is viewed as positive or negative, it nevertheless
amounts to outside influence, a phenomena which should not be present in any
judicial proceeding.

Plainly stated, “oversight” is a back-handed vehicle by which to influence
judicial decisions.  The Constitution and the laws of Ukraine, however,
provide for and guarantee the independence and immunity of judges. (20)

It cannot be disputed that “[j]ustice in Ukraine is administered exclusively
by the courts.” (21)  Further, the Constitution of Ukraine explicitly prohibits
“[i]nfluencing judges in any manner . . . .” (22)

This provision is incorporated within Article 14 on the Law “On Judiciary in
Ukraine”: “[w]hile administrating justice judges are independent of any
influence, unaccountable to anybody, and subordinated only to the law.”

It is the courts, not the Prosecutor General, that are empowered to decide
legal matters and merits of cases.

In his inaugural address, attended by thousands on Kyiv’s Independence
Square, President Yushchenko explained that although Ukraine has been
independent since 1991, it has only now become free.  He underscored that
an independent judiciary is vital to establishing a civil society based on
the Rule of Law.

President Yushchenko also emphasized that an independent judiciary was
an integral part of his pledge to protect individual rights and fight
corruption.  To fulfill his promise to the citizens of Ukraine, President
Yushchenko, inter alia, appointed a committee on judicial reform.

The motivations behind the appointments were well-intentioned, but the
proceedings of this committee progressed in a  manner that was neither clear
nor transparent, and resonated with an exertion of undue influence and
control over the judiciary.

A new committee  called the National Committee to Strengthen Democracy
and Rule of Law is working under the Ministry of Justice and has recently
produced a concept paper analyzing the nature of justice and the judiciary.

Hopefully, this new committee will be able continue its work free of the
political storm that is sure to descend on the new parliament.  If so,
perhaps it can promote reforms to the judiciary and the rule of law that
will bring Ukraine in line with European standards.

Regardless of which of the leading parties form a coalition, although it
appears that the Orange Revolution allies have once again joined together,
the issues of the geographic divide between Eastern and Western Ukraine,
the cultural and linguistic divides, citizen’s attitudes towards the
ownership of private property, and the integration of Ukraine with the

European Union and NATO or closer ties with Russia must be resolved
as soon as it is feasible.

The resolution of these divisive matters is essential to the security, both
social and economic, and the continued growth of Ukraine’s nascent
democracy.  As the success of the Orange Revolution and the March 2006
elections have shown, the people of Ukraine have passed the test of
democracy, time will only tell if the leaders can continue on this path.

NOTE: April 26, 2006 was the last session the deputies to the Rada of the
Fourth Convocation.  President Yushchenko now finds himself in a very
unusual position.  I have confidence that the President is a true believer
in democracy, but, until the new government is formed, he is in complete
control of the government.  Until the new Rada convenes, there is no
parliament, and currently, there is no quorum in the Constitutional Court.
Only the executive branch is intact.

Although I do not think that the President will abuse the situation, perhaps
at this time he should use his powers as guarantor of the Constitution
(Article 102) to see that the oath of office is administered now to his
appointments to the Constitutional Court and to the judges elected to the
Constitutional Court by the Council of Judges.  This way, a quorum and a
functioning Constitutional Court could exist in order to resolve any
potential disputes that may occur.                       -30-
———————————————————————————————

NOTE: Bohdan A. Futey is a Judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
in Washington, DC and has been active in various Rule of Law and
Democratization Programs in Ukraine since 1991.  He served as an advisor
to the Working Group on Ukraine’s Constitution, adopted June 28, 1996.
Judge Futey served as an official international election observer for the
International Republican Institute (IRI) during the first two rounds of the
Ukrainian presidential election as well as during the repeat second round
and during the Parliamentary Election of March 2006.  AUR EDITOR
————————————————————————————————
                                        FOOTNOTES:
1  Press Release, The International Republican Institute, Ukrainian
Elections Meet International Standards (March 27, 2006); Press Release,
Committee of Voters of Ukraine, Voting Was Conducted Under Free and
Transparent Conditions (March 27, 2006); Press Release, OSCE, Ukrainian
Elections Free and Fair, Consolidating Democratic Breakthrough (March 27,
2006); Former Prime Minister Lauds Ukraine’s ‘First Honest Elections in 15
Years,’ Voice of America, March 29, 2006.
2  Viktor Yushchenko, Op-Ed: State of the Union, Wall Street Journal
Europe, April 3, 2006 at 12.
3  See Press Release, The International Republican Institute, Ukrainian
Elections Meet International Standards (March 27, 2006).  See also Local
elections in Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Zaporizhia, and Crimea.
4  Anne Applebaum, Poison and Power in Ukraine, Wash. Post, April 12,
2006, at A17.
5  A number of legal experts and President Yushchenko have questioned the
constitutionality of the amendments.  See, e.g., Serhiy Holovaty: I Believe
the Political Reform Can be Abolished After the New Year,
http://www.pravda.com.ua/en/news/2005/12/29/4954.htm; Ukrainian President
Proposes Political Stabilization Plan in Speech Marking First Anniversary of
his Inauguration, BBC Monitoring Service (UK), January 23, 2006.  See also,
Bohdan A. Futey, Rule of Law in Ukraine: A Step Forward or Backward?
60 The Ukrainian Quarterly 57 (2004).
6  Ukr. Const., arts. 82, 83, 90.  (as amended December 8, 2004)
7  People’s Authority to Amend Constitution, decision by the Constitutional
Court, October 5, 2005
8  Law on the Constitutional Court, art. 17.
9  Ukr. Const., art. 6
10 “The procedure for the organization and operation of the Constitutional
Court of Ukraine, and the procedure for its review of cases, are determined
by law.”  Ukr. Const., art. 153.
11  Bohdan A. Futey, “Crisis in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine:  A
Court Without Judges?” August 18, 2005.
12  Ukr. Const., art. 91 (“The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopts laws,
resolutions, and other acts by the majority of its constitutional
composition . . . .”).
13  In October 2002, a code was adopted but it remains only a formal
declaration.
14  Given the emphasis in the United States on prohibiting a Chief Judge
from holding that office once he or she has reached the age of 70, it may be
worthwhile to reconsider the mandatory retirement age for judges in Ukraine,
which is 65.  Compare 28 U.S.C. § 45(a)(3)(A), (C), and 28 U.S.C. §
136(a)(3)(A), (C), with Ukr. Const. chap. VIII, art. 126(2).
15  See International Foundation For Election Systems, Public Opinion in
Ukraine After the Orange Revolution, April 2005, at 8 (2005)
16  Id.
17  See International Foundation For Election Systems, Public Opinion in
Ukraine After the Orange Revolution, November 2005, at 25 (2005)
18  Ukr. Const. chap. VII, art. 121.
19  Id. chap. I, art. 6 (“State power in Ukraine is exercised on the
principles of its division into legislative, executive and judicial
 power.”).
20  Id. chap. VIII, art. 126; see also id. chap. VII, art. 129 (“In the
administration of justice, judges are independent and subject only to the
law.”).
21  Id. chap. VIII, art. 124.
22  Id. chap. VIII, art. 126.
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2. POLISH VETS TRY TO SAVE MEAT EXPORTS TO UKRAINE

Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Monday, May 15, 2006

WARSAW – Until recently it seemed that nothing could disturb the planned

20 May re-opening of the Ukrainian market to Polish meat. This is what the
Polish and Ukrainian veterinary services agreed upon during their talks on
3-4 May. Meanwhile, the matter does not look too good for Polish exporters.

A lift on the embargo is hanging by a thread, after the Saturday
announcement by Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper. He said that the
agreement was only signed by the Polish side. Lepper also said that Ukraine
named a number of conditions Poland still has not met, which gives little
hope for the opening of the Ukrainian market on 20 May.

Chief Vet Krzysztof Jazdzewski and his deputy, Cezary Bogusz, instantly

went to Kiev to explain the matter and tendered their resignations to the
PM, without giving any comment. The meat sector is surprised. 
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3.    LEADER OF OPPOSITION BLOC “FOR YANUKOVYCH”
   ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF SUPREME COUNCIL OF CRIMEA
       “For Yanukovych” bloc won 44 of 100 seats in Crimean Parliament 

Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian, 12 May 06
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; Friday, May 12, 2006

KIEV – The leader of the [opposition] bloc “For Yanukovych”, Anatoliy
Hrytsenko, was elected chairman of the Supreme Council [parliament] of
Crimea today. [Out of 100 Crimean MPs] 71 voted in favour of Hrytsenko’s
candidacy.

Anatoliy Hrytsenko was born in 1958. He is a member of the [opposition]
Party of Regions. In 1989, he graduated from the Crimean agricultural
institute, majoring in economics and business administration in agriculture.

From 1997 to 1998, Hrytsenko was the chairman of the Crimean parliament.
[Passage omitted: In 1998-2005, Hrytsenko occupied various posts in village
councils and district administrations.]

In September 2005, he was elected the first deputy chairman of Crimea’s
Council of Ministers. [Passage omitted: The opposition bloc “For

Yanukovych” won 44 of 100 seats in the Crimean parliament during the 26
March parliamentary election.]                             -30-
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4.    UKRAINE’S CRIMEA: “CRISIS APPEARS UNAVOIDABLE”
 
  Standoff between Crimean Tatars and Slavic residents likely to get worse

ANALYSIS: By Oleksandr Chalenko, Journalist
Segodnya, Kiev, Ukraine, in Russian 13 May 06; p 3
BBC Monitoring Service – United Kingdom; May 15, 2006

What is going on in Crimea? Will the conflict in Partenit and other similar
conflicts continue? Or will emotions subside? Prominent Crimean politicians

from both sides have told Segodnya that they do not rule out the possibility
that the standoff between Crimean Tatars and Slavic residents will aggravate.

Leonid Hrach, the Crimean Communist leader and a former Crimean parliament
speaker (whose pro-Russian sentiment is well known), blames the authorities
in Kiev, saying they are interested in these developments, and also the
Crimean Tatar Majlis [self-styled ethnic assembly].

Hrach believes that the current administration in Ukraine needs the
stand-off to worsen so that it can have a permanent pretext to control the
autonomy and meddle in its affairs. Say, influence the composition of the
local government.

“Look at how supportive [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yushchenko is of the
radical nationalist Crimean Tatar Majlis, which has not been registered
anywhere and whose representatives tour Crimea waving Islamic flags. In
particular, their manifesto says that their aim is to build a national state
of their own in Crimea.

Yushchenko only implores them, ‘dear friends, don’t do this’, but they
persist. No wonder – [Majlis leader] Mustafa Dzhemilev is a member of the
propresidential Our Ukraine faction in parliament,” Hrach said.

Crimean Tatar Majlis leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, for his part, also believes
that tension can increase dramatically in the near future. But the reason is
different, he believes.

“If they go on erecting crosses (worship crosses regularly erected by
Orthodox believers in Crimea – Chalenko) at approaches to local towns, like
the one there currently is outside Feodosiya, we will have to take them
down,” Dzhemilev told us.

He said he also disliked the actions by local Cossacks, who are aided by
brothers-in-arms who came to Crimea from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The
Majlis leader sees them as a threat. A Cossack gathering was held in Crimea
yesterday [12 May] to decide what to do next, Dzhemilev said. The Cossacks’
moods are resolute.

It appears as though the situation in Crimea can indeed worsen in the near
future. Ukraine’s interior troops commander, Oleksandr Kikhtenko, told
Segodnya that the situation in Crimea is tense, but controllable.

If it gets worse, the interior troops will act on the minister’s orders –
maintain order (using force, if necessary). But in the mean time, interior
troops’ units are acting as a deterrent and are in the reserve, albeit
stationed not far from the scene.

The Security Service of Ukraine has so far not commented on what is

going on in Crimea – either on state or local level.             -30-
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5. FRENCH BANK SOCIETE GENERALE LOOKING TO EXPAND
           IN UKRAINE THROUGH 100,000 CONSUMER LOANS

Abstracted from Les Echos – France, Monday, May 15, 2006

Societe Generale (SG), the French bank, is planning to issue 100,000 loans
in Ukraine by the end of this year, through its subsidiary Prosto Finance.
The current average loan in the country is for less than $400, but with a
new range of loans for property renovation, it hopes to increase this figure
to $1,500.

Marc Rey, the head of Prosto Finance, has said that an acquisition is also
being considered, but that current prices are too high.
During its first six months in Ukraine, Prosto Finance has targeted loans
for the fast-growing markets of cars and audiovisual products.

It has had to train its 200 staff in the business of consumer credit, a
phenomenon present in Ukraine for just two years, as well as convince
retailers that its services could boost sales. Prosto Finance’s workforce
could quadruple by the end of 2006.  (Original article by F. T.)

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6. UKRAINE’S FORUM BANK TO OPEN CZECH REPUBLIC OFFICE

Lenka Ponikelská, Czech Business Weekly
Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 15, 2006

The Ukrainian lender Forum bank plans to open its first foreign
representation in the Czech Republic within a couple of months. The
Kiev-based bank is awaiting the consent of National Bank of Ukraine to
open its Prague office.

“We expect the decision to come in early June and are ready to start
operating immediately after receiving the consent,” Alexis Pavlov, head of
Forum’s international finance department, told CBW in a phone interview.

Forum is opening a Czech branch in order to establish contacts with local
banks and companies and increase the trade exchange between the two
countries. The bank also sees the Czech Republic as a potential gate to the
other European Union markets.

“We might consider opening a full-service branch, depending on the volume

of business we would get,” Pavlov said.

Banks headquartered outside of the EU are obliged to receive consent from
the local banking sector supervisor, like the Czech National Bank (CNB), to
allow them to offer commercial services in the EU zone. Commercial
representation, like Forum’s, can only offer limited services, such as
co-financing of projects and investment activities between the Czech
Republic and Ukraine.

According to Pavlov, Forum has already cooperated with Czech banks and
companies. “We want to increase the cash-flow between the two countries,”

he said, but he declined to give the names of its Czech partners.

Forum currently has no division abroad, but is considering opening
representative offices in Slovakia and Kazakhstan this year. The company

operates 110 subdivisions in Ukraine, offering the full scale of financial
services to retail and corporate customers.

Forum’s net assets were worth UAH 4.4 billion as of April 1, 2006, when its
credit portfolio amounted to nearly UAH 2.9 billion and its own capital
amounted to UAH 473.7 million. The bank ended the first quarter of 2006 with
a net profit of UAH 6.137 million. Net profit for the year 2005 amounted to
UAH 32 million.

The bank is controlled by the Ukraine-based insurance house Provita, which
holds a 58 percent stake in the company.

Apart from Forum, other banks from the post-Soviet region are eyeing the
Czech market to increase business opportunities and enter EU markets via
this country.

Conversbank Financial Group, a Moscow-based financial holding that controls
8 banks in Russia, Lithuania and Latvia, plans to open several subsidiaries
in the Czech Republic this year to offer retail and corporate banking
services. (see “Conversbank to move into CR,” CBW, April 18, 2006).

Another bank with Russian equity, First Czech Russian Bank, has a
representation office in Prague, but is trying to get a license to offer
full banking services in this country. The company, which finances
investment projects and export to Russia, appealed against the decision

last month by CNB not to grant the license.              -30-
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LINK: http://www.cbw.cz/phprs/2006051511.html
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7. UKRAINE TO MARK 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF PETLYURA’S DEATH 
 
Interfax, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2006
 
KYIV – Ceremonies  commemorating  the  80th anniversary  of the death
of Symon Petlyura are to be held in Ukraine at the end  of  May, Ukrainian 
Culture and Tourism Minister Ihor Likhovyy told reporters in Kyiv on
Monday.

“Regrettably,  Petlyura’s  personality  is  yet  to find its proper
place, which  would  match  his  contribution  to  the  building  of the
Ukrainian  nation  and  statehood. A political decision has been made at
the highest  level  in  an  attempt  to reverse the widespread custom of
scaring little children with Symon Petlyura,” the minister said “We must
break this stereotype,” he added.

An  organizing committee, to be headed by Likhovyy, has been set up
and an action  plan  has been worked out in cooperation with the Academy
of Sciences  to immortalize the memory of outstanding Ukrainian figures,
Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Olha Shokalo-Bench said.

The  anniversary  ceremonies  will include a film about Petlyura, a
photo exhibition  called “The Knight of the Ukrainian Revolution” at the
National  History  Museum, a roundtable on the theme “Symon Petlyura – A
Public,  Political and Military Figure of Ukraine” and a memorial plaque
at a site  where a monument to Petlyura is to be unveiled on December 1,
2006.

A number  of  books  devoted  to  his  life  and  work will also be
released. The  city  of  Piltava  will  host  a series of events dedicated to
Petlyura.

Petlyura, a Ukrainian Central Rada deputy, chief military commander
of the Ukrainian   People’s  Republic  in  1917-1918  and  head  of  the
Ukrainian  People’s Republic Directorate in 1919-1920, led the Ukrainian
government  in exile after emigrating in November 1920. In 1923 he moved
to Austria,  and then to Hungary and Switzerland.

 
In 1924, he settled in Paris where  he  was  assassinated  two  years later
by a Ukrainian-born Jewish anarchist Sholom Schwartzbard.  Petlyura is
buried at the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.           -30-
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========================================================
8. BELARUSSIAN OPPOSITION ASKS UKRAINE TO OFFER UNIVERSITY
   PLACES TO BELARUSSIAN STUDENTS EXPELLED FOR PROTESTING

Associated Press, Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2006

KIEV – Belarussian opposition activists appealed to Ukraine Monday to offer
some state university places to Belarussian students expelled from their own
universities for protesting against their country’s authoritarian leader.

The activists said they didn’t have exact numbers, but up to 2,000
Belarussians had been arrested for participating in protests against
President Alexander Lukashenko, many of them students. The students have
faced jail time, and many have been thrown out of universities and fired
from their jobs.

“I understand that there might be concern that our children might take the
place of Ukrainians, but it would be an act of international solidarity
between our countries,” said Belarussian activist Tatyana Vanina, head of a
Belarussian group called Rebirth of the Fatherland.

Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests, which helped usher in a new
pro-Western, reformist leader, were seen as a model by the Belarussian
opposition, which staged similar protests after Lukashenko won a new term in
a March election dismissed by the opposition and Western nations as
illegitimate.

The Belarussian opposition held an unprecedented series of protests, but
they were smaller than the rallies in Ukraine and the tent camp young
demonstrators set up on a central square in the capital Minsk was broken up
by police.

About 100 Belarussians have come to Ukraine and applied for political
asylum, said Vyacheslav Sivchik, head of the Belarussian activist group
Razom.

“The repression has only increased,” said Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the
Belarussian Youth Front, who was freed from jail Saturday but faces a new
criminal case. Dashkevich planned to return to Belarus, but appealed for
help for those Belarussians who see no alternative but to stay away for the
time being.

Nikolai Ilyin is one of those. He was badly beaten when police broke up the
Minsk tent camp, but managed to escape when police brought him to the
hospital for treatment. He fled to Ukraine, he said, and now he is working
for the Ukrainian branch of Amnesty International.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has mildly criticized Lukashenko but refrained
from harsh censure, raising complaints among Ukrainian activists who had
hoped that President Viktor Yushchenko, a former opposition leader whose
party faced official harassment from the government of former President
Leonid Kuchma, would take a stronger approach.

Ukraine’s Education Ministry refused to comment on the Belarussians’
request, saying it had received no formal appeal. Yushchenko administration
officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Oleh Yastenko, the head of a Ukrainian students’ group, said his
organization had won assurances from some university rectors to provide
space for Belarussians in daytime and distance learning programs.
Belarussian opposition leaders have made similar appeals to other nations,
including Lithuania and Poland.                     -30-

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==========================================================
9. AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENTSIA TO THE
    PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE
REPUBLIC OF BELARUS AND THE NEED FOR DEMOCRATIC SOLIDARITY

LETTER: Dmytro Potekhin, Director, European Strategy Group
Coordinator, “Know!” Civic Initiative, Kyiv, Ukraine
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 9
Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Kyiv, Ukraine, May 16, 2006
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko
Dear Mr. President:

In light of recent events in Belarus, we, Ukrainian researchers and
literati, representatives of the media and civic organizations, would like
to turn your attention to the following facts:

The authorities in the Republic of Belarus systematically disregard
fundamental human rights and civil liberties: residents of Belarus are
deprived of the right to free expression of will, freedom of speech,
freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association;

In their battle against the opposition, the regime in Belarus hasn’t
neglected the darkest methods of state terror: abduction and killing of
political adversaries, dispersal of rallies and demonstrations, intimidation
and beating of opposition activists, searches and arrests.

We remind you that on April 6, 1999, Genadz Karpenko, the Deputy
Chairman of the 13th convocation of the Verkhovna Rada of the Republic
of Belarus and presidential candidate from the opposition United People’s
Party, died under mysterious circumstances.

In 1999-2000, well-known oppositionaries Yuriy Zakharanko and Viktor
Ganchar, businessman Anatol Krasovsky, and journalist Zmitser Zavadsky
disappeared without a trace.

The Belarusian authorities have turned the investigations into their
disappearances into a farce.  But the facts indicate that these people are
no longer along the living and the trails to those who ordered their
destruction point to the highest leaders of Belarus.

The global community suspects that the following people are connected to
these crimes: Viktar Sheyman (former Head of the Presidential Administration
of the Republic of Belarus and campaign manager for Oleksandr Lukashenka),
former Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Yuriy
Sivakov, current Minister of Internal Affairs Vladzimir Navumov, and
commander of the Special Rapid Reaction Detachment Zmitzer Pavlichenka.
The countries of the EU have declared them personae non grata.

Ukraine did not support this resolution

On the night of March 24, 2006, Belarusian OMON stormed the tent city on
Orange Square in Minsk.  Peaceful protesters opposed to the fraudulent
presidential elections in Belarus were brutally beaten, and roughly 400
people – among them Ukrainians – were arrested and jailed.  Systematic
arrests of opposition activists continued up until the pogrom of the tent
city.

According to the lowest figures, over several days Belarusian “law
enforcement” bodies detained over 460 opposition-minded Belarusians.
They also detained and, in best case, deported citizens of third countries,
who the Belarusian authorities suspected in “export of revolution”.

In response, EU foreign ministers declared personae non grata Aliaksandr
Lukashenka and 30 other Belarusian officials, including the Head of
Lukashenka’s administration Genadz Nevyglasa, Education Minister Aliaksandr
Radzkov, Information Minister Uladzimir Rusakevich, Justice Minister Viktar
Halavanov, Head of State Television and Radio Aliaksandr Zimovsky,
Prosecutor General Piotr Miklashevich, and Head of the Belarusian KGB
Stsiapan Sukhorenka.

Ukraine did not support this resolution.

It is clear that persecution of the opposition and violation of human rights
in Belarus will continue, and will likely take on an even more brutal
character.

Dear Mr. President:

We highly respect the fact that Ukraine joined on to several joint EU
resolutions on Belarus, specifically with regard to freedom of speech, and
that Ukraine supported the OSCE’s assessment of the presidential races in
Belarus, thus confirming its choice in favor of civilization and democracy.
However, this was done so hesitantly that it raises doubts as to whether
official Kyiv is capable of consistently embodying its proclaimed
priorities.

The Ukrainian leadership, which regularly refers to the “traditions of
Maidan” and “the Orange Revolution” as one of the main grounds for its
legitimacy, has basically fenced itself off from those who are the true
carriers of the “Spirit of Maidan” in Belarus – from those who with deeds,
rather than words, defend human rights and civil liberties.

The Ukrainian leadership, which declares its agreement on policy with the
EU, which from time to time voices its Euro-integration intentions, and
which doesn’t tire from demanding statements from European structures that
the door is open for Ukraine, has yet been unable to support the EU
resolution on recognizing a list of higher Belarusian officials as personae
non grata.

We realize that Ukraine’s economic and energy dependence prevents it from
expressing overly categorical opinions on foreign policy and firmly standing
up for the unconditional defense of human rights throughout the world, in
particular in Belarus.

However, we stress that no economic interests justify the fact that official
Kyiv consciously closes its eyes to human suffering, the usurpation of power
in Belarus, and the persecution of those who yearn for freedom and who
defend their personal dignity.

In any case, the lack of a solid democratic position on the Belarus issues
makes Ukraine’s role as a truly independent and steadfast mediator between
the West and Belarus – which in your opinion Ukraine should play –
impossible.

In view of this, Mr. President, we affirm:

We are disappointed that in official Kyiv’s relations with official Minsk,
democracy has become betrothed to so-called “pragmatism”, and that
attempts at preserving trade among “traditionally friendly nations” has
resulted in the obvious disregard for the “ideals of Maidan”, the rule of
aw, and European integration.

We don’t understand why individuals involved in the falsification of
elections, political killings and abductions in Belarus, who are forbidden
entry into the EU, US, and EU candidate countries, can travel across
Ukraine freely and relax at Crimean resorts.

Therefore, we – members of the Ukrainian intellectual community, informed
citizens, voters, and after all, taxpayers – urge you Mr. President to
demonstrate your solidarity with the victims of political repression in
Belarus not with words, but with actions in line with the EU – first and
foremost, by forbidding Belarusian human rights violators entry into
Ukraine and travel across its territory.                       -30-
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http://www.znayu.org.ua/index.php?lang=ukr&get=OpenLetter&id=1261
———————————————————————————————-
Dmytro Potekhin, Director, European Strategy Group, http://europe.in.ua
Coordinator, “Know!” Civic Initiative, http://znayu.org.ua
mobile: +380504443345; e-mail: dp@znayu.org.ua
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10. BELARUS OFFICIALS BARRED FROM VISITING UNITED STATES

Bloomberg, New York, New York, Monday, May 15, 2006

WASHINGTON — Belarus government officials will be barred from visiting the
U.S. because the government of President Alexander Lukashenko has failed to
allow the country’s transformation to democracy, U.S. President George W.
Bush said.

The restriction applies to government officials “who formulate, implement,
participate in or benefit from policies or actions, including electoral
fraud, human rights abuses and corruption,” Bush said in a statement issued
today by the White House. Such actions “undermine or injure democratic
institutions or impede the transition to democracy in Belarus.”

Lukashenko, in office since 1994, has been criticized by the U.S, the
European Union, and the United Nations for jailing opposition politicians,
clamping down on the media and changing the constitution to scrap a two-term
limit for the presidency.

Opposition parties have protested since the presidential election in March,
saying the vote was rigged to keep Lukashenko in power. The U.S. joined
European observers in rejecting the results, which Lukashenko won with 82.6
percent of the vote.

The restrictions also apply to people who derive financial benefit from the
policies or actions of the Belarus government, Bush said in his statement.

The U.S. action is to help the people of Belarus “achieve their aspirations
for democracy,” Bush said, citing suppression of human rights and democracy
in Belarus, fraud perpetrated during the election, the detention of
protesters and “persistent acts of corruption by Belarusian government
officials.”
 
                                     TRAVEL CURBS
The EU said in March it would tighten travel curbs on Belarus government
officials after security forces cleared protesters from a square in the
center of the capital, Minsk, where the opposition was protesting the
election result.

The government faced international criticism last month for jailing
opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich, an unsuccessful candidate in last
month’s election. Milinkevich was jailed for 15 days for taking part in a
demonstration initially sanctioned by the authorities.

Belarus, a former Soviet republic of 10 million people, is bordered to the
west and north by EU members Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, to the east by
Russia and by Ukraine to the south.

The country is the last dictatorship in the heart of Europe and its people
want democratic changes, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in
April. The Belarus government said at the time it wasn’t up to Rice to
decide the future of the country.

Lukashenko extended his term as president after winning a referendum in 1996
and won a second five-year term in elections in 2001. (To contact the
reporter on this story: Paul Tighe in Sydney at ptighe@bloomberg.net).
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http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=anIV9_ZKrSW0
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11.   CORRUPTION STILL DOGS BULGARIA ON EVE OF EU

                                RULING ON MEMBERSHIP
Sofia expected to be admitted, faces call to get tough on crime & dishonesty

Nicholas Watt in Sofia, The Guardian, London, UK, Monday May 15, 2006

Georgi never goes anywhere without a crumpled plastic bag which contains his
most treasured possession. Slowly drawing breath, the stocky builder reaches
inside to take out a well travelled picture of his bubbly looking wife who
was in perfect health until she encountered Bulgaria’s corrupt health
system.

It is nearly two years since Teodora, 30, died in a Sofia hospital after a
massive blood loss while giving birth to a boy, Stilian. Tragic mistakes are
made in hospitals all over the world, but Teodora’s husband blames her death
on a corrupt doctor who, he alleges, induced the birth so he could collect a
£170 bribe.

Teodora’s final hours serve as a grim illustration of endemic corruption in
Bulgaria, which is giving the EU pause for thought before it allows the
Balkans country to join.

Olli Rehn, Europe’s enlargement commissioner, is expected to rule tomorrow
that Bulgaria – and its northerly neighbour Romania – should be admitted to
the EU on January 1, though he will demand greater action against corruption
and organised crime.

Teodora’s family hope that EU membership will improve standards in Bulgaria
to ensure that their experience is not repeated.

In common with families across Bulgaria, they agreed to pay £170 to ensure
that Teodora received proper medical attention. When her doctor warned that
the baby was overdue and should be induced on a Sunday, the family assumed
he was planning to devote even more time to Teodora.

In fact, Teodora had not even started contractions, and his only interest
appeared to be the money: as the only doctor on duty he would receive the
full payment.

Staring blankly at the floor as he recounted the final moments of his wife’s
life, Georgi, 33, said: “The doctor refused Teodora’s request for a
caesarean because he wanted to make the birth look as natural as possible
and avoid questions about why she was admitted to hospital on a Sunday.”

Teodora died the following day after losing 10 litres (more than 17 pints)
of blood, and the family claims that staff at the hospital closed ranks to
protect their gynaecologist by reporting he had done nothing wrong.

“I would not wish this on anyone else. One day I will have to explain to my
son what happened to his mother,” said Georgi , who faces a two-year wait to
see whether his son will be permanently damaged by the birth.

Widespread corruption in Bulgaria’s public services has been a serious cause
of concern for EU officials deciding whether the country is fit to join the
union. A recent report called for greater efforts to make “public services
more resistant towards corruption”.

The report highlighted the disappointment in Brussels, where EU diplomats
had assumed Bulgaria would have less difficulty in meeting the strict
criteria for membership than Romania, which had been slow to embrace reform.

But Bucharest has overtaken Sofia in the past 18 months after a reforming
government attacked corruption and organised crime with a zeal that has
impressed Brussels. Progress has stalled in Bulgaria in the past year,
mainly because the Socialists took months to form a coalition government
after unseating the centre right last summer.

Efforts to stamp out corruption in public services, including the criminal
justice system, and a clampdown on organised crime have suffered.

Klaus Jansen, a German investigator sent by the EU to assess Bulgaria’s
criminal justice system, described Sofia’s efforts to tackle organised crime
as a “total mess”. He warned that sensitive European police information
could end up in the hands of Bulgarian criminals if the country joins the
EU.

Diplomats are nervous because Bulgarian criminal gangs, whose leaders speed
through Sofia in Porsches and Mercedes with trademark darkened windows,
appear to enjoy a charmed existence beyond the reach of the law.

Highly professional snipers carry out contract killings with apparent
impunity for around £20,000 a hit in broad daylight on the streets of Sofia.
Out of 100 such killings in the past 10 years, only one person has been
convicted.

A host of reasons explain why Bulgaria is a haven for criminal gangs.
Perched on the eastern edge of Europe by the Black Sea, it is on the main
drug-smuggling route to western Europe from Afghanistan. It is also a
transit country – and a country of supply – for trafficked women on their
way to western Europe from Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

As one of the Soviet Union’s poorest satellite states, Bulgaria was
initially slow to embrace market reforms after the collapse of communism.
Just as it started to reform in the mid 1990s Bulgaria was badly hit by the
international blockade imposed on the former Yugoslavia, its western
neighbour.

Rumen Petkov, Bulgaria’s interior minister, freely acknowledges that his
country cannot be given a completely clean bill of health by Brussels.

“This is a real problem,” Mr Petkov said of the low rate of convictions of
contract killers. “These murders are very well planned and organised. It is
quite clear to everyone that it is difficult to solve them. The people who
carry them out are not amateurs, they do not practise in a village.

“I am stating this very honestly because I want Bulgaria to be welcome in
the EU. This means that our partners need to know us well.”

According to Mr Petkov, in the past eight months three contract killings
have been solved – though only one person has been convicted – and five
trafficking gangs have been broken up. A new penal code has been introduced
and a campaign against corruption led to the sacking of 40 civil servants
from the interior and foreign ministries in the first three months of this
year.

“This is a very difficult road,” Mr Petkov said of the reforms demanded by
the EU. “It is very important for us to be able to show the public and to
our European partners that this path is the only way.”

Mr Petkov looks up at a portrait of Vassil Levski, Bulgaria’s national hero
who led the fight against Ottoman rule, as he explains why Bulgaria should
join the EU. “Bulgaria is part of Europe and has given a lot to Europe. This
is where the Ottoman empire was stopped – so it did not reach the rest of
Europe.”

The EU will take a deep breath this week as it acknowledges that Bulgaria
belongs in the European family, said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the veteran German
Green MEP and former leader of the 1968 student protests in Paris, who
visited last Sofia week. “We are taking a bet – a bet that we will stabilise the

region,” he said.
                                CONDITIONS FOR ENTRY
A series of “red flags” is likely to be imposed on Bulgaria and Romania by
the European commission as the price for allowing them to join the EU on
January 1 2007. Brussels hopes to speed up reforms by warning the two
countries they could be excluded from full EU business in flagged areas.

Bulgaria is expected to face red flags in justice and home affairs after
failing to do enough to tackle crime and corruption in public services.
Romania may face restrictions in areas such as food safety.

Olli Rehn, the European enlargement commissioner, believes they should join
the EU on the original target date because a delay might provoke a backlash
against reform. Their entry cannot be delayed beyond 2008.      -30-

———————————————————————————–

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1774781,00.html?gusrc=rss 
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12.  ROMANIA AND BULGARIA MAY GET EU APPROVAL BY
          ADVANCING BATTLE AGAINST GRAFT AND CRIME  

Bogdan Preda in Bucharest & Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia
Bloomberg.com, New York, NY, Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Romania and Bulgaria, ranked among the most corrupt countries in Europe,
may learn today they’re on track to join the European Union on Jan. 1,
provided they step up their battle against graft and organized crime.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will release a report on
the progress of the two Balkan nations at a meeting scheduled to begin at 1
p.m. in Strasbourg. A final decision will be made by EU heads of government
in the autumn.

The two nations, with a combined population of 30 million, have lagged
behind other eastern European states since communism was toppled. The
transition to democracy and free-market economies has been marred by
violence, government and judicial corruption and growing organized-crime
involvement in contract killings, drug-running and people-trafficking.

The commission probably will “take the view that accession should take place
on Jan. 1 but with safeguard clauses that would be reconsidered in the next
several months,” said Geoffrey Van Orden, vice chairman of the European
Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in a telephone interview from
Brussels. The commission has :serious reservations in some areas, but that
doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a signal for delay.”

Any go-ahead may contain conditions that curtail the countries’
participation in EU decisions on areas such as justice, home affairs and
food safety.

Romania ranked 80th in a 2005 league table of corrupt countries compiled by
Transparency International, a Berlin-based watchdog group, with Bulgaria
ranking 55th. On the European continent, only Serbia-Montenegro, Belarus,
Ukraine and Russia were lower than Romania.
                                         EXPANDING EU 
The countries are counting on EU membership to help raise per-capita wealth
from a third of the region’s average. Accession would expand the EU to 27
nations and extend its borders to the Black Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

In the last expansion, in May 2004, Malta, Cyprus and eight former communist
states joined the EU: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia,
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and Slovenia.

“It has always been political and it always will be political,” said
Katinka Barysch, chief economist at the London- based research group Centre
for European Reform. “If I was an investor, I wouldn’t focus too much on all
the ups and downs.”

Bulgaria has Europe’s highest per-capita rate of organized crime killings
with police reporting 132 unresolved contract killings in the past five
years, some carried out in broad daylight in the center of the capital,
Sofia.

In response, the Interior and Foreign ministries fired 40 civil servants in
the first quarter while five trafficking gangs have been broken up,
according to the Interior Ministry. The commission will decide whether that
is enough.

                                          RED FLAGS 
“The fight against corruption is an issue in both countries and organized
crime particularly in Bulgaria, and clearly the report will have to focus on
that,” said Jonathan Scheele, the EC head of delegation in Romania, in an
interview in Bucharest.

Concerns about Romania also include the payment system for harmonized EU
value-added taxes, the way agencies will disburse EU agricultural aid,
veterinary standards for livestock and steps to contain infectious diseases
such as mad cow disease.

“If you compare the situation in Hungary and Poland, you’ll notice they had
more so-called red flags six months before entry,” Romanian Prime Minister
Calin Tariceanu told journalists in Bucharest yesterday. “The four matters
that have red flags on them do not threaten accession, and they’re issues
that will be solved before the end of this year anyways.”

Romania and Bulgaria have fallen behind regional peers in attracting
investment. In Bulgaria, foreign direct investment has totaled $13 billion
since 1992, and Romania has lured more than $27 billion since 1990, with
more than half coming since 2001. By comparison, the Czech Republic, which
joined the EU in 2004, has attracted $54 billion since 1993, when it split
from Slovakia.

                                     SLOWING REFORMS 
Any delay in membership may slow the pace of change that has been stoked in
both countries by the prospects of joining the EU.
“I wonder if all the 10 countries of the previous enlargement were better
prepared than we are now,” Simeon Saxe- Coburg, Bulgaria’s ex-king and a
former prime minister, wrote in a May 10 note to Bloomberg. “Bulgaria and
Romania are a stimulating example for the entire region. Only 16 years ago
these countries had a completely different social order.”

A delay would also defer access to EU aid. Romania expects to receive as
much as 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in the first year after entry and
Bulgaria, which has one-third of Romania’s population, would be entitled to
661 million euros.

Romanian central bank Governor Mugur Isarescu said in a May 12 interview
that a postponement may temporarily hurt the attractiveness of the
countries.

“We hope the commission and the council will adopt a flexible approach,
allowing their timely entry in 2007, without the implementation of safety
clauses,” said Alessandro Profumo, chief executive officer of UniCredit
SpA, Italy’s biggest bank, in an interview. UniCredit controls Bulgaria’s
biggest bank after the merger of Bulbank with HVB Biochimbank.

————————————————————————————————
Bogdan Preda in Bucharest at bpreda@bloomberg.net and 

Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net
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13.                 WORLD BRIEFING: RODEO DIPLOMACY

COMMENTARY: By Simon Tisdall, The Guardian
London, United Kingdom, Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dick Cheney’s just-completed east European rampage left Russia in a rage.
Peppering grapeshot in his inimitable way, the US vice-president accused the
Kremlin of using oil and gas exports to “intimidate and blackmail” European
neighbours; of “interfering with democratic movements” in places such as
Ukraine; and “unfairly and improperly restricting” civil rights.

Mr Cheney’s rodeo diplomacy in Lithuania, Croatia and Kazakhstan, all
formerly in the Soviet sphere of influence, recalled his roots in Wyoming’s
cattle-lands. And his down-home criticisms produced a stampede of uptight
Russian officials angrily shooting back. The old cold war hustler did not
know what he was talking about, they said.

But Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, kept cool. “I believe such
statements won’t undermine efforts we are making together with the United
States . . . to build a fair world without conflicts,” he said. “Russia
expects to be perceived as an equal partner in the world arena without whose
involvement it is impossible to solve a single problem.”

Such calm assurance about Russia’s rightful international role may help
explain Mr Cheney’s frustration. From Vladimir Putin down, Moscow’s
new-century message is that Yeltsin-era weakness has finally been banished.

The Kremlin is a global player once more, whether the issue is Iran or
Hamas, global warming or energy security. Buoyed by an ocean of
petro-dollars and a reviving nationalism, Russia is back – and, Mr Lavrov
implied, the US must deal on its terms.

Pre-emptive US attempts to avoid embarrassment for George Bush at the

July G8 summit, to be hosted by Mr Putin in St Petersburg, illustrate the
changing power balance. Officials have reportedly urged Moscow to bolster
its democratic and free market credentials by easing restrictions on
foreign-funded NGOs and guaranteeing energy supplies. But Russia has
shown scant interest so far.

When Mr Bush called Mr Putin last week to seek his support on Iran, the
Russian leader countered with a demand that talks on Russia’s World Trade
Organisation membership be speedily concluded. Mr Bush promised to help –
meanwhile, Russia is still blocking UN action against Tehran.

Similarly, the US has looked on as Moscow has imposed de facto trade
sanctions on Georgia, encouraged counter-revolution in Ukraine, and moved to
rebuild its influence in central Asia.

According to Irina Yasina of Open Russia, a pro-democracy organisation
founded by the jailed Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mr Putin’s power

at home is expanding unchecked – and western concerns cut little ice.

‘Putin needs to know when he has to stop – but he doesn’t know,” she said.
“There is no real democratic opposition any more.” Once the Petersburg
summit was over, a new crackdown on NGOs was expected. “When the

good guys leave town, real problems will begin.”

US efforts to rein in Russia are also compromised by America’s chronic
foreign energy addiction – and perceived double standards. Trading on ties
forged during his time as a Halliburton oilman in Texas, Mr Cheney urged
Kazakh leaders to build new pipelines bypassing Russia.

Soft-pedalling on autocratic Kazakhstan’s (and Azerbaijan’s) poor human
rights record was a price he was apparently prepared to pay. But it still
may not be enough to keep Moscow at bay.

Russia’s increased economic and military collaboration with Beijing is
another stumbling block. If Washington pushes him too hard, Mr Putin, like
Richard Nixon in reverse, has a China card to play. Another reason, perhaps,
for Mr Cheney’s well-aimed but unproductive angst.         -30-
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14.                                  LOOK WHO’S BACK

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Andrew C. Kuchins
The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, Tuesday, May 9, 2006

U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney made clear last week in Vilnius that he
is not pleased with Russia’s democratic backsliding, human-rights abuses and
rough behavior in its neighborhood. And to hammer the point home Mr.
Cheney then broke bread with the noted democrat, Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazerbayev, who got a complete pass on his dubious record. Alert the media:
We’ve identified double standards in U.S. foreign policy!

But the real story that Mr. Cheney and many in Washington and elsewhere
have a hard time dealing with is that Russia is back in the game. Rapidly
accumulating oil and gas wealth is fueling a new assertiveness in Russian
foreign policy that has been missing for nearly 20 years.

Whatever issue we look at in 2006 — be it Iran, the Middle East peace
process, gas supplies to Europe or accession to the World Trade
Organization — Russia is more confidently defending its interests as it
perceives them far more than two years ago, or even six months ago.

Russia’s previous two decades of geopolitical decline started with the
withdrawal from Afghanistan, and included the disbanding of the Warsaw
Pact and, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. But it is possible
that 2005 may be viewed retrospectively as a historical turning point in
Eurasia — the end of Russia’s decline. This recovery might be based on the
shaky foundation of high oil prices, but it’s real nonetheless.

The momentum of “color revolutions” has dissipated as at-risk countries and
their great power supporters have mobilized to prevent further spread. While
falsified elections in Kyrgyzstan resulted in regime change last spring,
subsequent elections in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Belarus have been
effectively managed with incumbent presidents, ruling parties or elites
holding on to power.

Authoritarian ranks are drawing in tighter formation — led by Moscow and
Beijing — with Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov, Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko
and others to resist U.S.-led democratization.

The eviction of U.S. military forces in Uzbekistan and the subsequent
signing of a security alliance between the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan
last year also marks a turning point. If one chooses to look at the
U.S.-Russian relationship in Eurasia as a zero-sum game, then what took
place in Uzbekistan marked the first clear victory of Russian interests at
America’s expense.

The durability of this particular victory remains to be seen, but as long as
record-high energy prices fuel Russia’s status both substantively and
symbolically as an energy superpower this competition is likely to persist
if not grow.

The Russians are aggressively playing their energy card to expand economic,
commercial and political influence throughout Europe. They’re playing hard
on the inclinations of France and Germany to appease their great gas
supplier to the east, and to cater to Russian interests at the expense of
new European states, notably Poland and Ukraine.

If oil and gas prices remain high in coming years or even grow, so grows
the leverage of Russia in this region and the world. This is a simple but
powerful formula and certainly one that Mr. Cheney understands.

The Russian recovery is truly impressive. According to Moscow-based
investment bank Troika Dialog, in 1999 Russian GDP in nominal terms was
less than $200 billion; in 2006 it’ll be close to $1 trillion — growing at
a rate of more than 25% per year, though nominal dollar growth rates will

of course taper downward as the ruble appreciates in value.

Since Russia’s wealth is based on strategic commodities — first and
foremost hydrocarbons — rather than information technologies or consumer
goods, Russia’s weight as a strategic, geopolitical player will increase. It
will be able to punch above its weight class to some degree.

There are many questions about Russia’s capacity to be a real “energy
superpower,” something still unprecedented and rather undefined, but we
better take the notion seriously when we consider Russian interests.

Throughout the 20th century, and notably during the second half of the Cold
War, the currency of power was military forces. Remember Stalin’s famous
question about how many divisions the Pope commands? After a 15-year
retreat from power politics, the Russians are returning with a different
instrument, oil and gas. The good news is that oil and especially gas trade
creates mutual dependencies.

To the extent that Europeans can more efficiently use energy and diversify
supply sources (not easy to do in the near term), Russian leverage is
diminished. It would be extraordinarily naive not to expect Russia to try to
use its economic/energy leverage to advance political goals. It is fine to
say “let commercial and market interests decide,” but we should expect
Russian to try to balance commercial with political state interests.

Some, like Mr. Cheney evidently, will interpret Russia’s behavior as
“neo-imperial” — or worse. Maybe it is. But this kind of flexing of
strategic muscles is expected of great powers. And history suggests Russia
is prone to rather rough behavior with its less powerful neighbors. It is as
if the West has forgotten what Russia is like, but now the Russians are
acting like…well, Russians.

Since Russia has been for all intents defensive, if not out of the power
game, for the past 15-20 years, it may now have a tendency to overplay its
cards. The rush of petro-wealth is having the effect of “psychological
steroids” or mega antidepressants on Russian behavior.

There is also a tendency in Washington to overreact to aspects of Putin’s
Russia that America does not like. Instead, the U.S. needs to very carefully
and wisely play its cards to advance its own interests and hold no illusions
about how the Kremlin interprets its interests and the U.S. capacity to
shape those interests.

We seem to be on a slippery slope toward a new Cold War today. We
better get off it, take a deep breath, and think very hard about the real
relationship we want with Russia — not the one we might like to imagine.
——————————————————————————————-
Mr. Kuchins directs the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace [CEIP] in Washington, D.C.
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========================================================
15.      VARIETY.COM REVIEWS: LIGHT FROM THE EAST 
             A ‘Light From the East’ release of a SigmaBleyzer production in
         association with Strike Prods. Produced by Amy Grappell, Christian
             Moore. Executive producers, Michael Bleyzer, Natasha Bleyzer.
             Co-producer, Chris Krager. Directed, written by Amy Grappell.

By Joe Leydon, Variety.com, New York, New York, Wed, May 10, 2006

‘Light From the East’ follows a group of American actors in the former
Soviet Union.

Though it covers widely reported events more than 15 years after the fact,
“Light From the East” generates genuine suspense as it follows a group of
American actors in the former Soviet Union during a fateful period of the
Perestroika era.

Illuminating time-capsule doc boasts impressive technical polish, and could
find receptive auds in commercial and nonprofit venues after its May 11-17
premiere run at New York’s Two Boots Pioneer Theater.

The year is 1991, and bad timing turns out to be good fortune for helmer
Amy Grappell. She and other members of New York’s La Mama Theater are
in the Ukraine to take part in a bilingual stage production with Ukrainian
counterparts when the attempted coup in Moscow threatens to drag the
region back to the bad old days.

Grappell starts out an inquisitive tourist, asking locals how they feel
about freedom after decades of Soviet rule. Helmer’s host, prickly and
pessimistic dramaturge Natalia Shevchenko, is supposed to provide literal
translation during interviews.

More often than not, however, Shevchenko instead offers cynical commentary
concerning respondents who care more about whether store shelves are full
than they do about freedom of expression.

Doc’s tone changes dramatically as reports circulate that Gorbachev has
disappeared, the Kremlin has been overthrown, and power now lies in the
hands of a few military men. Shocked — and, perhaps, more than a little
frightened — the helmer asks Shevchenko: “Does this happen often?”

The stranger-than-fiction irony: At a time that was filled with dark
portents of renewed repression, increasingly anxious U.S. and Ukrainian
thesps were collaborating on a play about Les Aurbas, a maverick theater
artist who rebelled against Soviet Realism and was killed during a 1937
Stalinist purge.

By the time the actors complete their limited run, the coup has been turned
back, Ukraine declares its independence — and “Light From the East”
demonstrates that, on stage on off, nothing is more satisfying than a happy
ending.

Camera (color), Christian Moore; editors, Kyle Henry, Leah Marino; sound,
Eric Friend; associate producers: Mark Rudkin, Rina Rudkin, Kevin Pruitt,
Kyle Henry. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, May 7, 2006. Running
time: 73 MIN.                                  -30-
———————————————————————————————–

———————————————————————————————–
  FILM SHOWING IN NYC THU MAY 11 THROUGH WED MAY 17
The Two Boots Pioneer Theatre, 155 East 3rd Street, between

Avenues A and B (closer to A), New York City, (212) 591-0434
 
Thurs May 11 9pm; Fri May 12 9pm; Sat May 13 9pm
Sun May 14 9pm; Mon May 15 9pm; Tues May 16 9pm
Weds May 17 9 pm

Advance tickets: click by showtime or call (800) 595 4849 (service
charges do apply) admission $9 (members $6.50)
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
16.                                 LIGHT FROM THE EAST

By Rory L. Aronsky, FilmThreat.com, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2005

While President Bush I went about his daily business in 1991, receiving
briefings on the escalating situation in the Ukraine, Amy Grappell was there
as part of an acting troupe that sought to present and celebrate the life of
pioneer Ukrainian theater artist Les Kurbas in a bilingual production
encompassing the American actors and their Ukrainian counterparts.

In fact, Grappell had arrived on the heels of celebration. It was enough to
take great joy in being part of this production, “Light from the East”, but
her camera soon captured the elation of the people of Ukraine, where Mikhail
Gorbachev was soon to sign a treaty that would push more power into the
hands of the republics.

Grappell roomed with Natalia Schevchenko, a theater historian, who becomes
a hugely important part of this documentary. At first, it seems odd that
Grappell doesn’t show a lot of footage of the rehearsals for this play, but
then the parallels between Kurbas and the current situation grow.

Soon the Ukrainian people are in an uproar, to which Grappell awakens to, as
it is learned that Gorbachev was booted from power, replaced by a military
government calling themselves the “Group for Extreme Measures”.

The drama here is in the words, in the concern running rampant through this
troupe, even going so far as to affect member Peter McCabe so deeply that he
heads back home just in case anything more dangerous should transpire. At
the beginning, he’s already homesick, but this is enough to get him back
there quicker.

Grappell is an amazing force in this documentary, as much as anyone else in
it. In shaping it as she has, with the help of editors Kyle Henry and Leah
Marino, it is not only a journey of expression, but also that of freedom,
change, and new lives shedding themselves of the old ones.

In this case, it’s about the end of being chained to the principles of the
Soviet Union. More than that, these Ukrainians live heftier lives than we do.
Everything that we want is available for us without fail. Looking at how
they live, how they fight for their right to be people (they even go on a
massive march at the risk of death to proclaim their desire to be free of
communism once and for all), they are heroes for the world.

They want lives that they can live, not lives that are merely tolerable.
“Light from the East” also makes note of what has amazed me over all these
years. We live under the same skies, and we all are of the same types. With
varying exceptions, we all have the ten-fingers-ten-toes package. We are
either men or women. But this world truly is different everywhere.

Consider seeing this at a film festival, in comfortable seats, watching
these various political situations unfold. Indeed the world is very
different in that way. People like Amy Grappell should be highly honored
for showing those parts of the world that we do not know, despite news
networks insisting otherwise.                      -30-
———————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.filmthreat.com/index.php?section=reviews&Id=7234
URL http://www.twoboots.com/pioneer/europe.htm#Light
Film URL www.lightfromtheeast.com
Film Trailer http://www.lightfromtheeast.com/trailer.htm
————————————————————————————————

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
17.      FROM LITTLE ACORNS GREAT OAK TREES GROW
                          A strong bond between Ukraine and Wales

LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR: from Margaret Siriol Colley
United Kingdom, Subject: Gareth Jones Memorial
Action Ukraine Report #698, Article 17
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dear Morgan,

How long ago was it that you found Gareth’s name on the website
http://www.garethjones.org. and contacted me?  The memorial plaque
unveiled in the great hall, know as the Quad in the University of
Aberystwyth was the climax of your discovery.

It was all that we could have asked for; now Gareth is remembered by
Wales as well as the Ukrainians both in their own country and further
a-field.

Gareth is no longer airbrushed out of history. I only regret that his
parents, Major Edgar Jones and Mrs. Annie Gwen Jones did not live to see
him recognized as he was last Tuesday in a most remarkable ceremony.

The Service in the College Chapel was very moving both in the speech by
Lord Elstan Morgan, but also in the prayers of the Ukrainian Orthodox
Priests.

The plaque was very impressive and notable in the fact that it was in three
languages, Ukrainian, Welsh and English.  Already there is a bond between
Ukraine and Wales in the fact that Donetsk is a city founded by the
Welshman, John Hughes and with whose family my grandmother lived, but
today the bond has been cemented even further.

The memorable ceremony laid down the foundation for further cooperation
between the two nations.  This was very evident in a very friendly but
somewhat joyous day, which celebrated his life.  We must not forget though
the millions who died in the Holodomor.

Prof Lubomyr Luciuk did an excellent job in arranging the plaque. It could
not have been more fitting to the occasion and to Gareth.  We must also
thank the vice Chancellor, Prof Noel Lloyd for the honour of allowing the
plaque to be erected in the University of Aberystwyth.

I thank you for being the acorn from which this wonderful event grew. The
culmination of all we could have wished for Gareth.

Yours most gratefully  Siriol Colley
[Niece of Gareth Jones, Welsh journalist]
—————————————————————————————————-
FOOTNOTE:  My heritage on both sides of the family is Welsh.  The
Welsh families came to the United States after the Civil War and settled
in Iowa and Missouri.  The Iowa family went into coal mining and the
Missouri family in farming.  I congratulate Margaret Siriol Colley and her

son, Nigel Colley, on the outstanding work they have done with the legacy
and archives of Gareth Jones.  It was a pleasure for me to discover their
new website a few years ago and then spread the information as far as I
could about Gareth Jones and the work of the Colley’s. AUR EDITOR
————————————————————————————————
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18. COMMEMORATION IN HONOR OF GARETH VAUGHAN JONES

REMARKS: By Lord Elystan Morgan at Aberystwyth University
Aberystwyth, Wales, Tuesday, May 2, 2006

May I on behalf of the Council of Aberystwyth University and the public
officers extend to you all the warmest and the sincerest welcome. Croeso.

We are very gratefully privileged to attend this event in commemoration and
thanks-giving for the life of a young man of integrity and honour, of
brilliance and of courage. We are pleased enormously that you have chosen
Aberystwyth as the appropriate locality.

Not only in the light of the fact that not only did Gareth Vaughan Jones
graduate here, but indeed that that was also the case with his father, Major
Edgar Jones, with his mother Mrs Gwen Jones and indeed both his sisters,
Gwyneth and Eirian were also graduates of Aberystwyth.  So the link between
the family and the Alma Mater is indeed a very, very close and warm one.

There are other persons far better more qualified than myself who will speak
later of the detailed aspects of Gareth Vaughan Jones’ life.

But we at this stage all tender our grateful thanks to Almighty God for the
strength, for the inspiration, the steadfastness with which this young man
relentlessly and valiantly pursued the holy grail of truth, thereby causing
the exposure of evil and oppression.

His assiduous studies of the cultural and economic trends his day. His deep
understanding of diplomatic intrigues and his finely honed intelligence and
his hunter’s instinct for significant news; all combined to place him, young
though he was, at the very pinnacle of his profession.

But it was, I believe, his messianic and remorseless determination to place
bravely and challengingly before the world the evidence of tyrannical greed
and power leading to atrocities of mass murder on a wholly unbelievable
scale that was the heart core and kernel of his very being. It was his
absolute dedication to such ends that led to his murder in captivity on
August 12th 1935, ironically on the eve of his thirtieth birthday.

The world today is a far reduced and accessible place than it was 70 years
ago.  Advances in mass communication have given the journalist a greater
range and impact than ever before. But the pursuit of factual truth is
nevertheless, an end in itself and the eternal commission for humankind.

It is a formidable dread that is constantly at the elbow of the tyrant and
the dictator – it is the fearful Achilles heel of every conspiracy to stifle
embarrassing and damaging facts.

Even the most flagrant actions can only be hidden for a period.

Frances Bacon, will be known to many of you, Bacon, the philosopher, the
Lord Chancellor, the essayist, said “truth is the daughter of kind and not
of authority, her birth may be delayed, but never totally frustrated.  No
edict from the most powerful source can ever suppress the voice.”

The capacity to expose to tyranny in all its obscene and terrifying forms is
the one of the fundamental elementals of human freedom and justice. The most
enlightened international laws, the most noble declarations of human rights,
the most carefully crafted treaties can never of themselves guarantee peace,
and justice and freedom for the people of this earth.

It is only the relentless and unremitting energy and commitment of the
investigative journalist that can breath the breath of life and emotion into
the cold clay and dry bones of such institutions.

Gareth Vaughan Jones did exactly that; in the prime of his life and at the
zenith of his powers. He gave to the world his foresight of the cataclysmic
potential of the Nazi powers.

He spelt out the massive atrocities of Japanese aggrandisement in China.

In relation to Russia, he already made himself fluent in that language. The
Ukraine held a very specialist place for him due to the fact that this
mother has lived there as young woman for some three years in Hughesovka

now Donetsk as a governess to the children of Hughes himself [Hughes was
a Welsh coal baron who developed coal mining in Ukraine at the request of
the Czar. AUR Editor]

His travels in the Ukraine in the early 1930’s led to him broadcast in the
press to the whole world, the brutal truth of the callous liquidation of
many millions of Ukrainians, probably between five and ten million in total,
a mass murder which went under the name of Agricultural Collectivisation and
which was of course, the very foundation of Five-Year Plan of Stalin, 1928
to 1933.

To the world it was a stain on name of human kind. To many of you here, you
have indeed been brought up in the very shadow of that unspeakable tragedy.

Gareth Jones spoke not as a political advocate, but as a witness of truth.
Soviet propagandists after his death sought in every way to try and demean
and denigrate his record, but it was a pathetic failure on their part.  His
investigative zeal, his lust for truth continued up to his death in Inner
Mongolia in 1935.

We may very well never know what dark and deepest forces of evil combined

to perpetrate his murder in captivity. David Lloyd George for whom he had
worked in relation to Foreign Affairs for some years described that area as
a “cauldron of political intrigue”. What we do know is that Gareth Vaughan
Jones’s name is flit large in annals of integrity and courage

The University is proud to honour him as one of the bravest and most
distinguished of its sons.

The Nation of Wales revels in the fact that he has enriched our nationhood
in such a splendid and unique way.

“Not gold but only men can make, a Nation rich and strong,
Men who for truth and for honours sake stand fast and suffer long
Brave men who work while others sleep, who stand while others fly..
They build a nation’s pillars deep and raise them to the sky.”

Gareth Vaughan Jones was such a man – We humbly thank Almighty God

for his life and sacrifice.                               -30-
————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://garethjones.org/gareth_jones_commemoration_elystan.htm 
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
19. A MAN NAMED GARETH JONES LIVED HERE 70-ODD YEARS AGO

REMARKS: By Ihor Kharchenko, Ukrainian Ambassador to UK
At the Commemorative Plaque Unveiling Ceremony for Gareth Jones
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales. Tuesday, 2nd May 2006

Thank you very much Mr Vice Chancellor, since I have only been in the
country of Wales for two hours, I promise that next time I come here I will
be able to speak at least a couple of phrases in Welsh, as it is difficult
for me now.

May I complete the reading of the inscription on the plaque because we have
heard it in two languages; both Welsh and English and as I bet it is the
first Ukrainian script in Aberystwyth, I would now like to proudly read it
in Ukrainian:

“In Memory of Gareth Richard Vaughn Jones, born 1905, who graduated

from the University of Aberystwyth and the University of Cambridge. One
of the first journalists to report on the Holodomor, the Great Famine of
1932-33 in the Soviet Ukraine.”

I am really proud to be here in Wales and when driving up from London this
morning I was thinking about why people holding British, Canadian and
Ukrainian passports would gather here for this occasion in Aberystwyth,
Wales?

Why? Because, a man named Gareth Jones lived here 70-odd years ago? 

Yes, but not only.

Is it because Ukraine is now free and Wales is living through a remarkable
part of its history and we are now free to co-operate together? Yes, but not
only.

I think it would be good to recall that in Ukraine we have a novel in the
school curriculum written by the renowned Ukrainian author, Mychailo
Stelmach, entitled; “The Evil and the Truth” and I think in the remarks of
the sermon earlier this morning [by Lord Elystan Morgan], the President of
the University of Wales was recalling some common points of wisdom and
most appropriate as to why people from over the ocean, from different
cities and members of the public all came here.

Ukraine lived through a very difficult period of history in the 20th
century. We had more evils than truths and that is why Ukrainians will
always be grateful for every word of truth that has been broadcasted in
their countries and for this reason I am personally grateful to all
Ukrainian institutions and organisations, the University of Wales here in
Aberystwyth and members of the family who made this occasion happen.

I believe all of us standing here today, making their way to this place,
just to signify the point of common wisdom that reads, ‘truth will finally
prevail’.

And I think this is a valid occasion for us all to gather here together at
the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Thank you very much.  -30-
————————————————————————————————
LINK: http://garethjones.org/gareth_jones_commemoration_kharchenko.htm
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
20. THEREFORE I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE FULL LIST OF

      TWENTY (?) COUNTRIES WHO HAVE CONDEMNED THE
             HOLODOMOR AS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY

LETTER-TO-THE-EDITOR: Holodomor
FROM: Luís Ribeiro, History Teacher, Portugal
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #698, Article 20
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dear Friends,

I have a enormous interest about Ukraine, specially about the Holodomor
and this genocidal nature.

Therefore I want to promote, in Portugal, the political recognition of this
genocide, honoring the great, peaceful and respectable Ukrainian community
(68.000 persons).

Some countries or international organizations have already recognized the
1932-1933 famine (Holodomor) as an act of genocide or a political crime
against the Ukrainian nation:

ARGENTINA – Resolution of the Senate: “Declaración rindiendo homenaje a
las victimas de la hambruna provocada por el regimen sovietico en 1932 y
1933 en Ucrania” (n.º 1278/03-17/09/2003) and the new resolution proposal: “
Proyecto de Declaración rindiendo homenaje a las victimas provocadas por la
hambruna artificial en Ucrania, al conmemorarse un nuevo aniversario” ( n.º
3659/05 -14/11/2005);

AUSTRALIA – Resolution of the Senate: “Ukrainian Famine” (n.º
680 -31/10/2003);

BELGIUM – Resolution proposal of the Chamber of Deputies: “Proposition
de résolution relative à la reconnaissance de la famine organisée en Ukraine
par le régime stalinien” (n.º 51-2034/1-27/10/2005) and resolution proposal
of the Senate :”Proposition de résolution visant à reconnaître la famine
organisée en Ukraine par le régime stalinien” (n.º 3-452/1-20/04/2004);

CANADA – Resolution of the Senate: “The Genocide of Ukrainians”
(19/06/2003);

ESTONIA – Resolution of the State Assembly: “Riigikogu Avaldus”
(20/10/1993);

FRANCE – (not submitted) Resolution proposal of the Senate: “Proposition
de Loi relative à la reconnaissance du génocide ukrainien de 1932 à 1933″
(n.º 317-10/05/2001);

GEORGIA – Resolution of the Parliament: “On Perpetuation of the Memory
of Victims of the Political Repressions/Genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933″
(20/12/2005);

HUNGARY – Resolution of the National Assembly: “Országgyulési határozati
javaslat az 1932-33. évi nagy ukrajnai éhínség 70. évfordulójára” (n.º
129/2003 – 26/11/2003);

ITALY – Resolution of the Chamber of Deputies (3th Foreign Affairs
Commission):”Stalinismo,  Unione  delle Repubbliche  Socialiste Sovietiche”
(n.º 7/0038 -22/03/2004);

LITHUANIA – Resolution of the Parliament: “Statement on the Commemoration
of the Victims of Political Repressions and Famine/Genocide in Ukraine in
1932-1933″ (24/11/2005);

POLAND – Resolution of the Senate: “W Sprawie Rocznicy Wielkiego Glodu

na Ukrainie” (n.º 90 S -17/03/2006);

SPAIN – Resolution of the Basque Parliament: “En recuerdo y condena del 70
aniversario de la hambruna genocida de Ucrania 1932-33″ (01/10/2003) and
(not submitted) resolution proposal of Congress of Deputies:” Proposición no
de Ley sobre el recuerdo y condena del 70 Aniversario de la Hambruna
Genocida de Ucrania” (n.º 161/002269 – 16/09/2003);

UKRAINE – Resolution of the Supreme Council:”Address of the Verkhovna
Rada to the Ukrainian nation on commemorating the victims of Holodomor
1932-1933″ (n.º 789-IV- 15/05/2003);

U.S.A. – House Representatives Resolution: “Expressing the sense of the
House of Representatives regarding the man-made famine that occurred in
Ukraine in 1932-1933″ (HR 356-20/10/2003) and House Representatives
Resolution: “To authorize the Government of Ukraine to establish a memorial
on Federal land in the District of Columbia to honor the victims of the
manmade famine that occurred in Ukraine in 1932-1933″ (HR 562 -16/11/2005);
Senate Resolution: “Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the
genocidal Ukraine Famine of 1932-33″ (S. RES. 202 – 28/07/2003) referred to
the Committee on Foreign Relations;

VATICAN – Statement by Pope John Paul II on the 70th anniversary of the
Famine  (23/11/2003);

COUNCIL OF EUROPE – Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly: “Need
for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes”
(n.º 1481-25/01/2006) including the starvation;

EUROPEAN UNION – (not submitted) Resolution proposal of the European
Parliament: “Propuesta de resolución del Parlamento Europeo sobre el 70
aniversario de la hambruna artificial en Ucrania” (B5-0396/2003 –
01/09/2003);

UNITED NATIONS – “Joint Statement on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in
Ukraine (Holodomor)” (A/C.3/58/9 – 10/11/2003).
Joint statement by the delegations of Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus,
Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, Georgia, Guatemala, Jamaica,
Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nauru, Pakistan, Qatar, the Republic of Moldova, the
Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic,
Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United
States of America, Argentina, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kuwait,
Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Peru, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on the
seventieth anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine
(Holodomor).

Therefore I would like to know the full list of twenty(?) countries who have
condemned the Holodomor as a crime against Humanity.

Respectfully,  Luís Ribeiro

(History teacher – Portugal) (luismatosribeiro@yahoo.com.br)
————————————————————————————————
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========================================================
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21. FAMINE-GENOCIDE EXHIBIT IN KYIV FEATURES U.S.
                                  INVESTOR’S COLLECTION

By Zenon Zawada, Kyiv Press Bureau, The Ukrainian Weekly
Parsippany, New Jersey, Sunday, December 11, 2005

KYIV – Among the biggest contributors to the Famine-Genocide exhibit
unveiled by President Viktor Yushchenko in Kyiv two weeks ago was

Morgan Williams, a prominent Ukrainophile.

Mr. Williams spent the last eight years accumulating and organizing what is
now the world’s largest known private collection of Holodomor artwork.

His collection consists of 300 items, including more than 100 posters and
35 paintings.

Having spent 25 years in international food system development, Mr. Williams
said he was deeply affected when he began learning the details about the
Holodomor. His first trip to Ukraine was in 1992 and by 1995 all his
professional work involved Ukraine, including investing and consulting.

“There were no photos from the Famine, and no one was allowed to write,
publish, or paint anything about this up until 1988,” Mr. Williams said.
“The suppression of facts that took place is amazing, and everything
exposing it was done outside of Ukraine.”

Mr. Williams’ exhibit was displayed between November 23 and 28 on the

second floor of the Ukrayinskyi Dim on European Square in Kyiv. Mr.
Yushchenko opened “The Bells of Remembrance” exhibit on its first day.

Among those pieces of artwork from his collection that most impressed the
president, Mr. Williams said, was a poster titled, “And We Watched and

Kept Silent.” It portrays a black crow with red eyes picking at a red thread
in Ukrainian embroidery, symbolizing death picking apart the fabric of
Ukrainian society.

Posters became a popular form of Holodomor art between 1988 and 1993

largely because the industry that churned out the massive volumes of Soviet
propaganda went bankrupt after the Soviet Union’s collapse. With production
means still intact and a cultural void to fill, poster artists began creating art
about the Chornobyl disaster and the Holodomor of 1932-1933, Mr. Williams
said.

Another poster impressing Mr. Yushchenko featured the slogan, “No One

Wanted to Die” against a blue-and-yellow background, with wheat fields and
crosses portrayed in the bottom half.

Mr. Williams’ collection  featured a lot of diaspora poster art, including
two postcards printed in 1948 by Ukrainians in Germany. “It was one of the
first visual expressions of Ukrainian protesting the famine,” he said of the
postcards, which he found the postcards in a Ukrainian museum in
Connecticut.

Other diaspora items included a program cover from a 1983 commemoration
event organized by the Winnipeg branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee
(today known as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress), as well as a poster
announcing the October 2, 1983 demonstration in Washington. With between
15,000 and 20,000 in attendance, the manifestation became one of the
largest gatherings of Ukrainian Americans in history.

Among the most recognizable paintings in Mr. Williams’ collection were those
of Viktor Zaretskyi, the husband of murdered Soviet dissident Alla Horska;
Kyiv artist Nina Marchenko, who painted four large oil canvas paintings
depicting rural scenes of starvation; and the late Holodomor survivor
Volodymyr Kutkin, who painted a somber scene of a crow sitting on a man

who had died trying to escape from his village to the city.

Aside from Holodomor art, Mr. Williams also displayed 300 works of folk

art to demonstrate what life was like in Ukrainian villages before the ruinous
genocide perpetrated by Soviet authorities.

Mr. Williams used many of his own funds to compile his collection, a figure
he declined to name. But he also received help and financial contributions
from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. the Ukrainian Federation

of America and the Bahriany Foundation [and the Swift Foundation].

Mr. Williams was born November 26, 1939, in Kansas, a state that bears “a
lot of similarities to Ukraine,” he said. Between 1997 and 1999, he ran an
agricultural development finance company. It folded when French banking

firm Societe Generale decided Ukraine was too risky an investment.

Since then, he has offered business and investment consulting services. He
is currently director of government affairs [Washington office] for

SigmaBleyzer, a private equity investment management company.  -30-
————————————————————————————————
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
22. CENTRAL ASIA EMERGES AS STRATEGIC BATTLEGROUND

THINKING GLOBAL
: By Frederick Kempe
The Wall Street Journal, NY, NY, Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Central Asia, site of the 19th-century “Great Game” for supremacy between
the British Empire and czarist Russia, is emerging with its oil and gas
riches as the first strategic battleground of the “Multipolar Era” among the
U.S., China and Moscow.

The Cold War ended in 1990, and the dominance of the U.S. since then is fast
eroding. Now a globally rising China, an oil-intoxicated Russia and the U.S.
are locking horns in a struggle for resources and influence in Central Asia,
a region that regained its global strategic importance after its five states
gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Dick Cheney got plenty of press for his recent Russia-bashing speech in
independent Lithuania, a former Soviet state. Yet of greater note was the
vice president’s less-ballyhooed next stop in Central Asia’s Kazakhstan,
where he signaled a U.S. policy shift beyond rhetoric to actions aimed at
countering what he called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of oil and
gas as “tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or
attempts to monopolize transportation.”

Former oilman Mr. Cheney befriended Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev and
solidified his support for energy cooperation, including agreement in
principle for a new pipeline across the Caspian Sea that would cut out the
Kremlin. That in turn would help break Moscow’s near-stranglehold on gas
exports out of landlocked Central Asia to Europe.

The trip followed a White House visit from Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev,
who is participating in energy projects of like motivation in the
neighboring Caucasus.

Ultimately, the “New Great Game” for an Iraq-distracted U.S. is less about
winning and more about avoiding being marginalized by an ambitious China and
resurgent Russia. “We’re losing now but it doesn’t have to stay that way,”
says Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute, who keeps score on her frequent
travels to the region and meetings with its leaders. “Cheney’s trip was a
bold move. The U.S. is now there at the highest levels and has decided not
to let China and Russia monopolize the game.”

The White House’s embrace of Mr. Nazarbayev and Mr. Aliyev also marks its
return in the region to realpolitik from the democratic missionary work
which had estranged some Central Asian leaders. Mr. Nazarbayev suppresses
opponents and employs resource wealth to enrich his family.

But at the same time he has transformed his country from a dumping ground
for Soviet political prisoners and nuclear waste to an economy with 10%
average annual growth for the past five years, and where far-reaching
reforms have brought real development. He has balanced Russia’s influence

by pursuing energy deals with China and the West.

Mr. Putin speaks of U.S. hypocrisy in criticizing Russia as anti-democratic
while backing such authoritarians. But Bush administration officials, who
still give lip service to the notion that the region’s long-term stability
can only come from democratic change, have decided the stakes have grown

too high to be slave to principle.

Russia and China for months have been winning ground from the U.S. by
reassuring Central Asia’s leaders that they can help them resist the
contagion of Western-backed democratic revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and
Kyrgyzstan.

What’s up for grabs is access to vast energy resources at a time of tight
supply and the use of military bases within easy reach of Iran and poised
between China and Russia. Growing Islamic extremist undercurrents

complicate matters.

Backing reigning autocrats for short-term gain could replicate the Mideast’s
political-instability problems, but U.S. officials believe abandoning the
region is a far worse option-and would leave only parties who lack interest
in human rights and democratic change.

One of the rising dangers to U.S. fortunes is the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization, or SCO, created by Beijing in 2001 to counter growing U.S.
influence. It excludes Washington but includes Russia, four of the region’s
states-Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan-and has given
observer status to Tehran.

It was at an SCO summit last July that China and Russia convinced Uzbek
leader Islam Karimov to ask the U.S. military to leave one of its
best-positioned bases anywhere, established after 9/11 and in preparation
for the war in Afghanistan.

Mr. Karimov was already in a foul mood toward the U.S. when he arrived at
the meeting, as the Bush administration was supporting calls for an
international investigation of his brutal crackdown on protesters in the
city of Andijan, Uzbekistan, the previous May. His security forces had
gunned down dozens of pro-democracy protesters whom Mr. Karimov

said were armed Islamist radicals.

The loss of the U.S. base, leaving it just one other base in the region, in
Kyrgyzstan, demonstrated the growing headwinds buffeting U.S. sway in

a more complex world.

Russia’s advantage in the three-way competition is Mr. Putin’s fierce focus,
knowing Central Asia is key to his aspirations to be an energy superpower.
Moscow energy giant Gazprom won’t be able to fulfill European contracts
beyond 2009 without Central Asian resources. The Russians also are
proficient at the region’s chief policy tools of threats and bribes.

China is playing the long game in its alliance of convenience with Moscow to
gain resources and counter what it considers creeping U.S. military
encirclement. Beijing believes it will be more attractive over the long run
to Central Asian elites, who are impressed with its mixture of glittering
economic success and autocratic rule. “China gives Central Asian leaders
red-carpet treatment and after what they see they come back asking, ‘Who
cares about democracy?’ ” says Ms. Baran.

The U.S. weapons in this asymmetrical battle include the enduring lure of
close relations with the West, access to European and U.S. markets and to
their technology and finance. Central Asian leaders also want a Western
counterbalance, suspect of Chinese motivations and too familiar with the
perils of imperial Russia.

That has made NATO partnership agreements attractive. “We can’t out-leverage
them, we can’t out-nasty them, so we have to win hearts and minds and
trust,” says a senior U.S. official.

A Kazakh proverb goes this way: If the Chinese hordes come, the Russians
will seem like your own father. That provides an opening for Uncle Sam, but
only if he answers the multipolar world’s challenge of more plentiful,
formidable and focused rivals.                    -30-
————————————————————————————————-
Write to Frederick Kempe at Thinkingglobal@wsj.com with your thoughts.

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