Daily Archives: May 16, 2007

AUR#843 May 16 Yanukovych Stages Sweeping Political Makover; U.S.-EU Partnership Committee; Great Terror of 1937; The Moscow Trials (1936-1938)

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                     In-Depth Ukrainian News, Analysis and Commentary

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

Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer

               –——-  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
                               SWEEPING POLITICAL MAKEOVER 
By Marc Champion, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Tuesday, 15 May 2007, Front Page

2.                       PLANNING FOR AN EU-READY UKRAINE
By Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune (IHT)
Paris, France, Monday, May 14, 2007


                          MEETS IN BERLIN, ISSUES STATEMENT
STATEMENT: U.S.-EU Partnership Committee for Ukraine
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Washington, D.C. Monday, May 14, 2007

                            EUROPEAN NEIGHBORHOOD POLICY
SWP COMMENTS: By Rainer Lindner, German Institute for
International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, Germany
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #843, Article 4
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2007

                   PrivatBank plans to become a leading bank in Georgia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Reuters, Shanghai, Monday, May 14, 2007

BBC Monitoring Service, London, United Kingdom, Tue, May 15, 2007

Business Wire, New York MY, Thursday, May 10, 2007

Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

United Nations, New York, New York, Tuesday, May 15, 2007


ForUm, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 14, 2007

12.                                IF NOT NOW THEN NEVER
            It is seventy years since the unfurling of a campaign of arrests,
          farcical trials and executions which historians call the Great Terror.
By Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Published by the Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #843, Article 12
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2007

                       STUDENTS TO ‘SEE THE WORLD AFRESH’
By John Goddard, Staff Reporter, The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Monday, May 14, 2007 

14.            REMEMBERING THE MOSCOW TRIALS [1936-1938]
        The Moscow Trials were and remain important. They coincided with
        the final climax of Stalin’s Great Purges, and were a public symbol

             of these. Between 1936 and 1938, millions were arrested and
                                       more than a million executed.
By James Woudhuysen, Spiked-Online
London, United Kingdom, Monday 16 April 2007

               Book investigates the rise of communism and why it ultimately
                    failed, bar its curious Chinese hybrid, says Tim Gardam
BOOK REVIEW: By Tim Gardam, The Observer,

London, United Kingdom, Sunday May 13, 2007

16.                      BORIS YELTSIN: THE HERO OF HIS TIME
     By not permitting Russia to disintegrate into anarchy or leading it back to

     authoritarianism, Yeltsin kept the way open for such a leader to one day 
    emerge. Unfortunately, that man is not his handpicked successor, Vladimir 
        Putin, who has only perpetuated the vicious cycles of Russian history.
COMMENTARY: By Nina L. Khrushcheva
The Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)
Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, May 3, 2007


                           SAYS UKRAINE’S FOREIGN MINISTRY
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 15, 2006

18.                                    AWKWARD EMBRACE
    Widening rift in EU over how to handle an increasingly authoritarian Russia.
By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Richard Milne in Frankfurt
Financial Times, London, UK, Wednesday, May 16 2007 03:00

19.                      “EUROPE WITHOUT PUTIN’S FRIENDS”
                 Latvian writer says Russia’s friends in Europe disappearing
COMMENTARY:  By Uldis Smits
Latvijas Avize, Riga, Latvia, in Latvian 15 May 07 p 3
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, May 15, 2007

20.                                MOSCOW-ASIA TRANSIT
                During 16 years of independence, Ukraine has not started to
                  solve the problem of overcoming its energy dependence.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Mykhailo Honchar (“NOMOS” center)
Mirror-Weekly #18 (647), Kyiv, Ukraine, 12-18 May, 2007

National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 15, 2007
                   IN UKRAINE, A FRIEND OF RUSSIA

By Marc Champion, The Wall Street Journal
New York, New York, Tuesday, 15 May 2007, Front Page

KIEV, Ukraine — Viktor Yanukovich, prime minister of this strategically
important nation wedged between Russia and the West, has undergone one

of the most extreme makeovers in global politics.

Just two years ago, the Russian-backed machine politician was a pariah in
the West after he claimed victory in the 2004 presidential elections, which
were marred by fraud and a brutal poisoning that left his opponent

Only the subsequent mass street protests of the so-called Orange Revolution
forced him to accept a redo of the vote, which he lost.

Today, Mr. Yanukovich, 56 years old, is locked once more in a struggle for
supremacy with the pro-Western Orange leader who beat him, President

Viktor Yushchenko.

But this time, the thousands of protesters occupying Kiev’s Independence
Square for the past month flew not orange, but the blue colors of Mr.
Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions, and the red and hot pink of his allies,
the Communists and Socialists.

They dispersed only when Mr. Yanukovich defused the crisis by agreeing to
hold new elections — for the second time in as many years — after his
rival dissolved parliament.

With backing from a billionaire metals baron and political coaching from
U.S. Sen. Bob Dole’s former campaign strategist, Mr. Yanukovich was
re-elected as prime minister last year.

He has positioned himself as a champion of rule of law and democratic
values, a visitor to Washington, Brussels and Davos, as well as Moscow.

Mr. Yanukovich’s comeback is further evidence — on top of the Gaza Strip,
Iraq and Kyrgyzstan — that the free elections encouraged by the U.S. don’t
guarantee winners who favor U.S. goals, or even Western-style democracy.

Ukraine is adding a fresh twist to the lesson, as Mr. Yanukovich adopts the
language and institutions of democracy to shed the anti-Western and
antidemocratic image that cost him the election 21/2 years ago.

Gone is Mr. Yanukovich’s bouffant hairdo, a favorite of Soviet apparatchiks.
So too are the Russian advisers and televised meetings with President
Vladimir Putin that characterized his 2004 election campaign, though the
Russian lower house of parliament, or Duma, has issued two statements
supporting him in the current power struggle.

He says he wants to be the Ukrainian leader who starts membership talks with
the European Union. He even polished his Ukrainian, which he now speaks in
public instead of his first language, Russian.

“Time changes people, even Viktor Feodorovich Yanukovich,” said Mr.
Yushchenko, 53, in an interview. “But the test is in his decisions and
actions,” he added, accusing Mr. Yanukovich of trying to “usurp” power. Mr.
Yanukovich declined to be interviewed for this story.

How far his makeover goes has implications far beyond Ukraine. This nation
of 48 million is split by history and language, and remains divided over
whether to embrace the West or Russia.

Ukraine transports 80% of Russian natural-gas exports to the European Union,
and is key to the energy security of the EU’s $15 trillion economy.

Moscow, increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive with its neighbors,
sees Ukraine as vital to its own security, economic interests and regional

Historically, eastern Ukraine — Mr. Yanukovich’s power base — is closely
linked to Russia, and most people in the region are native Russian speakers.
President Yushchenko is stronger in predominantly Ukrainian-speaking central
and western Ukraine, which tilts toward Western Europe.

The current crisis began on April 2, when President Yushchenko dissolved
Ukraine’s parliament, or Rada, and called for early elections. He accused
his old rival of engineering a creeping coup by coaxing legislators to
defect from other parties to give Mr. Yanukovich the votes he needs to
change the constitution.

After a monthlong struggle for power in which Mr. Yushchenko fired three
judges, Prime Minister Yanukovich earlier this month agreed to new
elections. But the two men left it to parliament to negotiate a date, and
last week Mr. Yushchenko said he would impose a date if none was settled
soon, threatening a further showdown.

Opinion polls suggest the Party of the Regions will get the most votes, as
it did last year. Yet Mr. Yushchenko’s tough action in dissolving parliament
and seizing back power is expected to bring some disillusioned Orange voters
back to the fold, making the contest tight.

Both Viktors claim the legal high ground, but the moral clarity of the
Orange Revolution era has dissipated. “I’m absolutely disappointed in the
way things have turned out,” said Vitaly Kutovenko, a 28-year-old banker, as
he sipped a beer in the food court of the glitzy Globus mall beneath
Independence Square, where Mr. Yanukovich’s supporters were protesting.
“Most people are.”

Many Ukrainians were euphoric after the Orange Revolution and hoped it

would end the corrupt autocracy that had ruled the country since it became
independent of the former Soviet Union in 1991. Then-president Leonid
Kuchma and his entourage of business “clans” had carved up the proceeds
of privatization between them.

When Mr. Yanukovich in November 2004 claimed victory in presidential
elections later ruled fraudulent, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians poured
into the streets of Kiev, setting up camps of pup tents to protest in
below-freezing temperatures.

Mr. Kuchma and his anointed candidate, Mr. Yanukovich, agreed to fresh
elections, provided the constitution was changed to transfer some of the
president’s powers to parliament.

The shock of losing the rerun elections, which were held in December 2004,
hit Mr. Yanukovich hard, according to advisers and friends. He found himself
in opposition for the first time in his political career and has said his
children had to flee the country to escape harassment.

In the past, Ukrainians in opposition had suffered media blackouts,
arbitrary prosecution, a suspiciously high rate of fatal accidents, one
murder by decapitation and, in Mr. Yushchenko’s case, dioxin poisoning.

That poisoning turned Mr. Yushchenko’s face into a mask of pustules and

made him sick. In the interview, he said the effects of the poisoning reached
their peak at the beginning of 2006 and required constant treatment.

That was a full year after he took office as president, a lost period in
which economic growth collapsed as the Orange leaders fought among

Mr. Yushchenko, now revived and showing a new energy and ruthlessness, said
he knows who poisoned him, though he won’t name names. He said he expects
prosecutors to bring charges soon.

Mr. Yanukovich, for his part, says a year in opposition — he published a
book with that title — taught him the value of a free press and tolerant

“He really took it deep into his conscience that he needs to understand what
happened [in the Orange Revolution], and what should be changed in his own
mentality,” said Konstantin Gryshchenko, a former Ukrainian foreign minister
and now a foreign-affairs adviser to Mr. Yanukovich.

It isn’t the first time the former engineer has reinvented himself. Growing
up near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, Mr. Yanukovich lost his mother at a
young age and was brought up by his grandmother. He ran wild and landed in
jail twice for assault convictions in his late teens.

Out of jail, Mr. Yanukovich was taken under the wing of former Soviet
astronaut Georgi Beregovoi. He began a rapid rise in the tough world of
post-Soviet politics, becoming governor of the Donetsk region in 1997 and
prime minister in 2002, before the Orange Revolution cut him short.

Yet he was by no means washed up politically after his electoral defeat. His
rock-solid support in the east won him 44% of the vote in the 2004
presidential election. Things brightened dramatically for him in September
2005, after the president fired his prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko,
breaking up the Orange coalition.

As Mr. Yanukovich prepared for parliamentary elections due the following
spring, one of his key backers — Rinat Akhmetov, a billionaire metals
magnate from Donetsk — recommended he hire Paul Manafort, who had

worked on then-Sen. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

Mr. Manafort, now a prominent Washington lobbyist, had been advising Mr.
Akhmetov as he explored taking his business, SCM Holdings, public on

Western financial markets.

With another election fast approaching, Mr. Manafort declined in an
interview to talk about the specifics of the campaign advice he gave Mr.

But according to people involved in the Party of the Regions’ campaign in
spring 2006, Mr. Manafort advised on such basics as how to target and appeal
to voters. He also produced a slick campaign film and coached Mr. Yanukovich
on his presentation.

“This is a person who is now his own man for his own time,” said Mr.
Manafort, noting that in 2004 Mr. Yanukovich served under an all-powerful
president, Mr. Kuchma, and had limited latitude. “His vision is to have a
relationship with Ukraine’s historic neighbors, while integrating with the
West over the longer term. Like Nixon to China, he’s the only national
leader who can do that.”

The makeover has affected more than Mr. Yanukovich’s campaign style.
Ambassadors in Kiev say that during his previous stint as prime minister, he
shied away from contact with foreign diplomats and the media. Now he invites
briefings and questions, speaking Ukrainian even when addressed in Russian.

He pushed through legislation to take Ukraine into the World Trade
Organization, and has promised to pursue a free-trade agreement with the
European Union.

In one example of his new openness, he invited eight local journalists to
his home this past March. He talked about how he used to race cars until
1999 — his favorite was a three-liter Ford Escort — and about meeting his
wife when she dropped a brick on her foot making deliveries to a factory.
They even discussed his two spells in jail, a taboo subject the media were
once banned from discussing.

“We were wrong not to talk about that,” said Hanna Herman, Mr. Yanukovich’s
communications chief. “He didn’t go to jail because he was a terrible
criminal, but because he was a young kid on the street with no parents.”

Yet some things about the prime minister may not have changed. A report
released last month by the Council of Europe, the Continent’s human-rights
watchdog, noted growing complaints of arbitrary police raids and harassment
of journalists since Mr. Yanukovich’s coalition government took power.

It also noted the reinstatement of discredited old-regime officials, such as
the head of the Central Election Commission, who oversaw and approved the
fraudulent 2004 presidential vote.

Mr. Yanukovich didn’t address the report’s criticisms, but praised the
resolution to which the report was attached, which called for Ukraine’s
constitutional court to decide whether Mr. Yushchenko’s dissolution of
parliament was legal.

Initially, Mr. Yanukovich didn’t have enough allies to form a government
after last spring’s elections, when the Party of the Regions became the
largest in Parliament. But as the Orange faction squabbled, a key coalition
member, the Socialist Party, defected.

Orange politicians have alleged Mr. Yanukovich’s backers paid the Socialists
$300 million to switch sides. Both he and the Socialists say no money
changed hands.

After taking office last August, Mr. Yanukovich began to tussle with the
president over important powers that weren’t transferred under the 2004
deal. He quickly reversed Mr. Yushchenko’s policy on the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, halting Ukraine’s efforts to join the Western military

In January, he pushed through a law stripping the president of his right to
appoint the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister, as well
as regional governors.

For Mr. Yushchenko, the last straw came in March, when 21 legislators
defected to Mr. Yanukovich from the president’s Our Ukraine party and Ms.
Tymoshenko’s bloc.

Many were businessmen, in a political system where all parties sell
parliamentary seats to businessmen who want protection and access to the
sale of state assets.

The new blood brought Mr. Yanukovich closer to the 301 votes he needs

in the 450-seat parliament to override presidential vetoes or amend the

Accepting the defectors “was a mistake,” says Taras Chornovil, a legislator
who ran Mr. Yanukovich’s doomed campaign for the 2004 presidential rerun,
and whose father — an opposition leader — died in a suspicious car crash
in 1999. “We should have known how Yushchenko would react,” he said.

Mr. Yushchenko dissolved parliament, alleging that the defectors were
bribed, and re-formed the Orange coalition with Ms. Tymoshenko. Mr.
Yanukovich declared the move illegal and called thousands of supporters into
the streets.

“We can’t have a president who breaks the constitution,” said one of them,
Leonid Yermuraki, a 49-year-old veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
“The president only represents one part of the country, his people in the

Mr. Yermuraki was the leader of Camp Feodosiya, a group of tents just
opposite the government building in Kiev. He had 63 people here on rotation
from the eponymous coastal town in Crimea, a fiercely pro-Russia area of

Food, medical care, flags and matching raincoats were centrally provided, he
said proudly. Each morning, his charges joined thousands to march down to
Independence Square to listen to speeches and pop music.

Most of the protesters have since gone home, but in their echoes of the
Orange protests, they helped Mr. Yanukovich’s makeover.

The Party of the Regions was “deeply wounded when the people threw them out”
and needed to have its own version of the Orange Revolution, said Vladislav
Kaskiv, leader of the Pora youth movement, which played a central role in
the 2004 protests.

He’s heartened that people like Mr. Yanukovich now feel the need to pursue
politics in public, rather than in the dark as before 2004.

“My mistake was thinking the Orange Revolution could sweep out all these
business clans at once,” said Mr. Kaskiv. “I was wrong. It’s going to be an
evolution.”                                                –30-

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

By Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune (IHT)
Paris, France, Monday, May 14, 2007

BERLIN: Challenging the European Union’s cautious policies toward Ukraine,

a group of leading U.S. and European officials have joined forces to prepare
Ukraine for eventual membership in both NATO and the EU, despite the
continuing political turmoil in the country and enlargement fatigue inside
the 27-member bloc.

The initiative, led by a former U.S. national security adviser, Zbigniew
Brzezinski, and a former German defense minister, Volker Rühe, reflects a
growing concern that unless Ukraine is given the prospect of EU and NATO
membership, the chances for long-term stability and economic, political and
social reforms could remain elusive.

Meeting in Berlin, the U.S.-EU Partnership Committee, as it is called, said
that it believed that if the EU reached out to Ukraine, it would achieve two
beneficial things: stability for Europe and assurances to Russia.

“The committee urged U.S. and European leaders to remember that an
independent, democratic and market-orientated Ukraine will contribute to a
more stable and secure Europe,” said Brzezinski, counselor at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Such a policy could also
show to Russia that European policy toward Ukraine was not intended to
alienate Russia.

“We want to advance the cause of a larger Europe and a more cooperative
Europe,” added Brzezinski, who was speaking at the German Council on

Foreign Relations, which hosted the conference.

“In that context, a closer and better relationship between Ukraine and
Europe that is open would not exclude Russia becoming involved in an open
and cooperative enterprise with Europe.”

The U.S.-EU Partnership Committee proposed that one concrete area for
cooperation between the EU and Ukraine could be the security and reliability
of energy supplies. Ukraine is the major transit country for Russian gas
exports to Europe.

Russia’s state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, cut its deliveries to Ukraine
last year, officially because of a dispute over the price of gas. But
analysts said it was the Kremlin’s response to Ukraine’s pro-democratic
Orange Revolution.

The committee proposed a reform of Ukraine’s energy policies, with support
from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to reduce
corruption, introduce transparency and modernize the energy infrastructure.

The EU, which has become frustrated with the bitter infighting between the
pro-Western Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, and the pro-Russian
prime minister, Viktor Yanukovich, is reluctant to hold out any prospect of
Ukraine’s joining the bloc. Several countries, including Germany, also fear
that NATO membership would affect Berlin’s close ties to Moscow.

Instead, the EU said it had offered Ukraine and other countries in the
region a “neighborhood policy.” Under the plan, countries that enact reforms
would have greater access to trade with the EU and economic, social and
political ties with the bloc would be strengthened. Regardless of the
reforms, it would not lead to membership of the EU.

Rühe is unusual in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union
party because he supports Ukraine’s and Turkey’s joining the EU, while
Merkel favors a privileged partnership for Turkey, similar to the
“neighborhood policy.”

“The European neighborhood policy should be enhanced and should not be

a substitute for potential EU membership for Ukraine,” Rühe said.

Bronislaw Geremek, a former Polish foreign minister and now a member of

the European Parliament who is on the U.S.-EU Partnership Committee for
Ukraine, warned about “enlargement fatigue” inside the EU. Despite that, he
said Ukraine should start preparing for when it will be in a position to
negotiate membership, that is, it should introduce the rule of law and
implement the EU’s standards, regulations and legislation.           -30-
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

STATEMENT: U.S.-EU Partnership Committee for Ukraine
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Washington, D.C. Monday, May 14, 2007

BERLIN – The U.S.-EU Partnership Committee for Ukraine met on May 14,
2007 in Berlin at a meeting jointly hosted by the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS) and the German Council on Foreign Relations
(DGAP) to discuss developments in Ukraine and ways to enhance Europe’s
opening to Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

The Committee welcomes the effort underway in Ukraine to find a compromise
to the current political crisis, and hopes the effort will succeed.

Continuing political conflict at the highest governmental levels, including
the efforts to further dilute the existing divisions of power, is not what
the Ukrainian people expected after they voted in national elections in
December 2004 and March 2006.

The Committee emphasizes the importance of the rule of law and recommends
that any compromise address not only early Rada elections, but also the core
legal issues and constitutional ambiguities that helped cause the crisis.
The executive branch and Rada ultimately must work together.

The Committee urges that all parties bear this in mind and that they conduct
their electoral campaigns accordingly.  All should avoid the temptation to
exploit ethnic and language issues that will only sow division.

Ukraine needs coherent policies that advance the nation’s interest.  Absent
such policies, the disillusionment of the people with their leaders will

Areas in which Ukraine’s leaders should work together include energy
security, creating a positive and more transparent business climate,
completing WTO accession, and combating corruption.

The Committee urges U.S. and European leaders to remember that an
independent, democratic, and market-oriented Ukraine will contribute to
a more stable and secure Europe.

Promoting such a Ukraine needs to be a policy priority for EU and U.S.
leaders, despite frustration with Ukraine’s internal political problems.

The European Neighborhood Policy should be enhanced, but not as a
substitute for potential EU membership for Ukraine. In the near term,
developing the EU’s relations with Ukraine, visa costs for Ukrainian
citizens need to be reduced and Ukrainian students included in the EU’s
ERASMUS program.

Enhancing Ukraine’s relationship with Europe will also make more likely the
prospect of a Russia that is democratic and deeply engaged with Europe.

The Committee believes that a timely and logical area for cooperation
between the European Union and Ukraine is the security and reliability of
energy supplies.

The European Union depends on Ukraine as a transit corridor for natural
gas and oil, while Ukraine looks toward an EU strategy that can help it
integrate into Europe-wide energy networks.

An important part of this equation is ensuring that arrangements for
importing energy into and through Ukraine are transparent and minimize
opportunities for corruption.

Reform of Ukraine’s energy sector, including with the help of the EBRD,
can also reduce the country’s dependence on energy imports, which will
bring greater energy security and a more balanced relationship between
Kyiv and Moscow.

With regard to prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration, the Committee
considered several potential steps for enhancing Ukraine’s cooperation
with NATO.

These included conducting public information initiatives within Ukraine
to explain the benefits of closer engagement with the Alliance. In
addition, Ukraine’s regional role should be encouraged through Kyiv’s
involvement in various multilateral initiatives.

Members of the Partnership Committee present were:

     [1] CSIS Counselor and Trustee Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski;
     [2] former German Minister of Defense Volker Rühe;
     [3] former Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek; and
     [4] former Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen.

Also present were the project’s four Task Force Directors:

     [1] CSIS Director of the New European Democracies Project and
          CSIS Europe Program Senior Fellow Janusz Bugajski;
     [2] former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and CSIS Senior Adviser
          Steven Pifer;
     [3] former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania and CSIS Senior
          Associate Keith Smith; and
     [4] Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University
           and CSIS Senior Associate Celeste Wallander.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan,
non-profit organization that seeks to advance global security and prosperity
by providing strategic insights and practical policy solutions to decision

For more information, please contact CSIS Director of Media Relations H.
Andrew Schwartz at aschwartz@csis.org, (202) 775-3242.
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

SWP COMMENTS: By Rainer Lindner, German Institute for
International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, Germany
Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #843, Article 4
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2007

                                       By Rainer Lindner

Dr. Rainer Lindner is a researcher at the Russia Federation/CIS
Research Unit of SWP.

A copy of his paper in English can be found at the following link:

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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                   PrivatBank plans to become a leading bank in Georgia

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TBILISI – Ukraine’s PrivatBank has entered into the Georgian market after
buying into 75% of shares of a small Georgian Tao Bank for USD 25 million.

Coca-Cola Bottlers Georgia LTD was a major stakeholder of Tao Bank, whose
total assets reached GEL 26.3 million (USD 15.6 million) this year.

PrivatBank, with a net asset of up to USD 8 billion, has an ambition to
become a leading bank in Georgia with a plan to establish up to 100 branches
and 200 ATMs throughout Georgia by 2008, officials from the PrivatBank said
at a presentation in Tbilisi on May 15.

This is the first major deal in the country’s banking sector this year.
Georgia’s banking system is expected to attract up to USD 500 million in
foreign investments, according to the central bank chef Roman Gotsiridze.

A deal between the Georgia’s TBC Bank and Israel’s second largest bank,
Leumi, was announced in January, 2007. But the deal has not been finalized
as TBC reportedly announced withdrawal in May.
LINK: http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=15124

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

Reuters, Shanghai, Monday, May 14, 2007

SHANGHAI – General Motors Corp.’s flagship venture in China said on Monday
it plans to export 10,000 of its Chevrolet Lova compact cars to Ukraine in
its largest export deal to date, to tap the potential of the Eastern
European market.

Shanghai GM, the Detroit giant’s tie-up with top Chinese car maker Shanghai
Automotive Co. also makes Buick and Cadillac models in China.

Several Chinese carmakers are pursuing ambitious plans to boost exports,
although GM has said its joint ventures would remain focused on the China

Sales of the Chevrolet Lova have topped 60,000 since its debut in the
world’s second-largest auto market in March 2006, the venture said in a
statement. It added that about 70,000 of the 1.4 and 1.6 litre engines
designed for the Chevrolet models would be sold to South Korea.

In 2006, GM, which also operates a commercial vehicle venture in south
China, sold 876,747 vehicles in China, up 31.8 percent from 2005.

The company’s sales this year are expected to grow at least 15 percent,
beating an estimated 10 to 15 percent expansion of the market, GM China
President Kevin Wale told Reuters in November.

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

BBC Monitoring Service, London, United Kingdom, Tue, May 15, 2007

LONDON – BBC Ukrainian has teamed up with its key partner Radio Era FM to
launch a regular joint debate programme called Kolo Zapytan (A Round of

It is co-produced and co-presented by the BBC’s Kateryna Khinkulova and
Era’s Serhiy Sulym from various Ukrainian cities, and broadcast across the
country. Kolo Zapytan launches on Friday 18 May 2007 from Ukraine’s second
largest city, Kharkiv.

Kolo Zapytan features a panel of four prominent guests from the worlds of
politics, legal affairs, business and literature. They will answer the
questions from a specially invited audience on a range of political,
economic, social and cultural issues.

Maciek Bernatt-Reszczynski, Head of BBC Ukrainian, says: “This is an
important next step in our partnership with Radio Era FM.
“It moves the relationship into delivering a joint production which will
maximise the skills, expertise and insights of both broadcasters to the
benefit of listeners across Ukraine.”

Ihor Lotashevsky, Radio Era FM Director General, adds: “We are delighted
with this co-production. “Radio Era FM is Ukraine’s only speech radio
station. Yet Kolo Zapytan is a completely new format – an exciting and
engaging new experience for our listeners.”

The format of Kolo Zapytan is based on Any Questions? – the popular current
affairs debate programme running on the BBC’s domestic speech radio station,
BBC Radio 4.

Peter Griffiths, Executive Producer of Any Questions?, will travel to
Ukraine to see the launch of Kolo Zapytan.

BBC Ukrainian started broadcasting in 1992 and now has an extensive network
of partner radio stations.

Radio Era FM is BBC’s leading partner, re-broadcasting two hours a day of
the BBC Ukrainian output as well as co-producing a weekly international news
analysis programme with the BBC’s London-based team. Radio Era FM started
broadcasting in 2002 and is now on air in 38 Ukrainian cities.

BBC Ukrainian is re-broadcast by more than 20 partner FM stations across
Ukraine. It also broadcasts on medium wave in Kiev and Kharkiv, short wave
and via satellite. Programmes are also available, in text and audio, via the
service’s website, www.bbcukrainian.com.                   -30-

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    NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.

Business Wire, New York MY, Thursday, May 10, 2007

NEW YORK – Star Energy (OTCBB:SERGE) announced the signing of a

memorandum of understanding with Anglo-Ukra Energy, Kiev, Ukraine.

The memorandum provides for the acquisition of rights to concessions of oil
and gas fields in the Ukraine named Region, Sakhalinska and Bukovyna.

The assets planned to be acquired and developed include the aforementioned
three areas, with total reserves of over 150 million barrels of oil and 75
billion cubic feet of natural gas.

As part of this significant expansion in Ukraine, Star will open and staff
an office in Kiev, and has retained Ryder Scott Company, LP., Houston,
Texas, to assist in updating valuations of the respective fields.

Patrick J. Kealy, President & CEO said “I am a great believer in the future
of the Ukraine. It has significant oil and gas reserves, but has only
recently found it necessary to develop these assets.

We are looking forward to a long and successful relationship with Ukraine,
providing the capital and expertise necessary to develop this great
country’s natural resources.”

Kealy further said, “The exclusive focus of Star over the next several years
will be on developing our base in Russia and the Commonwealth of

Independent States.

Through acquisitions and development, we plan to significantly expand our
exploration, production and refining operations. It is early in this
process, but we have a very clear and focused strategy that we feel will
result in substantial shareholder value.”

About Star: Star Energy Corporation is a U.S.-based public oil and gas
exploration company with one hundred percent (100%) of its assets located

in Europe, primarily the Samara region of Russia.

The company is pursuing a strategy of seeking investment and acquisition
opportunities in Russia and Eastern Europe with the goal of providing
Western investors with access to a portfolio of natural resource licenses
and operating companies. Additional information can be found at

Safe Harbor Statement: A number of statements contained in this press
release are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor
provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995.

These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and
uncertainties, including the recovery of oil and gas resources, the
successful completion and integration of prospective acquisitions,
competitive market conditions, and the ability to secure sufficient sources
of financing.

The actual results Star may achieve could differ materially from any
forward-looking statements due to such risks and uncertainties. Star
encourages the public to read the information provided here in conjunction
with its most recent filings on Form 10-KSB and Form 10-QSB. Star’s public
filings may be viewed at www.sec.gov.
Star Energy Corp., 317 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor
New York, NY 10017, Tel. (212) 500-5006; Fax (212) 968-7691
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WARSAW – Friday and Saturday saw two groups of politicians discuss the

same thing – the transport of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea region to
Europe – in venues separated by 2,000 kilometres.

The President Lech Kaczynski, who invited the leaders of Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Lithuania and Ukraine to Cracow, managed to persuade his guests
that the idea of constructing an oil pipeline transferring Caspian oil,
going round Russia, is sensible. The issue of oil supplies for the pipe has
not been settled, however.

At the same time, the Russian President Vladimir Putin was soliciting the
favour of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the region’s largest oil and gas
producers, in Astana and Ashgabat. Putin received assurances Russia would
remain the most important importer of their energy resources for many years
to come.

Guaranteeing supplies is the crucial factor in binding talks on extending
the Ukrainian pipeline from Brody to Plock. Kaczynski explained that the
gathered politicians could not discuss contracts during their first meeting,
but without settling this burning issue it will be extremely difficult to
get the loans needed to finance the investment.

“The summit showed our activity in such countries as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan
and Georgia can be effective and may well bear fruit,” said the Polish
President on Saturday, after the meeting was over.

It was decided a company encompassing the national petrol companies from the
interested countries would be established. The next meeting of the
presidents is to take place in Vilnius. Kaczynski hopes other countries will
want to take part in the summit, planned for the beginning of October, as

He did not reveal their names, but hinted they are located “in the northern
part of the European Union.” It is rather unlikely Kaczynski meant Latvia
and Estonia, because these countries do not have a refinery capable of
processing Caspian oil.

It also remains uncertain whether the Kazakhstan president will make it to
Vilnius. The country could be the main supplier of oil for the
Polish-Ukrainian pipeline.

Though President Nursultan Nazarbayev accepted Kaczynski’s invitation a few
weeks earlier, he did not appear in Cracow, because he preferred to talk to
Putin.                                                 -30-

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

United Nations, New York, New York, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

NEW YORK – Yuriy A. Sergeev, the new Permanent Representative of

Ukraine to the United Nations, today presented his credentials to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Prior to his latest appointment, Mr. Sergeev was Ambassador to France since
2003, during which time he was also Permanent Representative to the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Between 2001 and 2003, he was Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign
Affairs, a position he held after having served five months in 2001 as First
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.  From 2000 to 2001, he was
Director-General for Foreign Policy in the Administration of the President
of Ukraine.

Between 1997 and 2000, Mr. Sergeev was Ambassador to Greece and Albania,
prior to which he had served as Minister Counsellor at his country’s Embassy
in the United Kingdom for 11 months in 1997.

He twice headed the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Information, first
from late 1993 to mid 1994 and again from late 1994 to early 1997.

He was Director of the Secretariat of the Minister for Foreign Affairs from
August to December 1994, and Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Press
Service from 1992 to 1993.

Mr. Sergeev earned a doctorate at T. Shevchenko Kyiv State University in
1981. Born on 5 February 1956 in Leninakan, Armenia, Mr. Sergeev is married.
LINK: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/bio3873.doc.htm
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]


ForUm, Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, May 14, 2007

KYIV- The new permanent representative of Ukraine at UNO Yury

Sergeyev called on the United Nations Organizations as the united voice of
the international community to make its contribution to arrangements
concerning the 75th-anniversary of Great Famine 1932-1933 (Holodomor).

“We do not intend to put responsibility for events and acts committed at

the territory of Ukraine in 1932-1933 to any country. We underline that
responsibility for artificially-organized famine is on totalitarian regime
of that time,” Sergeyev told at the UNO General Assembly session.

“It is important to understand the past in order to moralize and avoid such
mistakes in future. It is of great importance to admit crime against
humanity and to pay homage to its victims,” Sergeyev told considering that
it will contribute to strengthening of trust and understanding between the
peoples and to cooperation of new generations within harmony and dialogue.

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
If you are receiving more than one copy of the AUR please contact us.
12.                   IF NOT NOW THEN NEVER
              It is seventy years since the unfurling of a campaign of arrests,
           farcical trials and executions which historians call the Great Terror.

By Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Published by the Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #843, Article 12
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dear Mr Williams,

I suspect I am by no means the only person feeling frustrated that the
seventieth anniversary of 1937 is passing by, when so many graves have
still not been found and so little widely known about the Terror and its

I am sending you a text [printed below] in Ukrainian and English  (it is
in Russian as well, but presumably that’s not of interest) which I would
be very grateful if you could pass to any people you think might be

If you have any suggestions for people I could contact, I would be
very grateful if you could tell me, or simply pass on my e-mail.

We are not asking for anything – only for all those who believe that
Ukraine needs to know and remember its past and honour those
unjustly murdered to join in ensuring that this need is not forgotten.

It does however seem appropriate (and necessary given the other
preoccupations of politicians right now!) – that this initiative come
from us.  It is our memory.

Best wishes, Halya
Halya Coynash, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Contact: halya@maidanua.org
                       IF NOT NOW THEN NEVER

COMMENTARY: By Halya Coynash
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Published by the Action Ukraine Report (AUR) #843, Article 12
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The ninetieth anniversary of the October Revolution this year will
doubtless rouse the usual press attention, Kremlin ambivalence and
marches by largely elderly stalwarts through many cities of the former

The other anniversaries are, after all, too personal, too anonymous and
for those concerned about their “ratings” altogether too uncomfortable.

But for those of us who have no graves and no photographs  only the right
by law to read the yellowing pages of an NKVD “Sprava [File] our own
“round dates” turn that other anniversary to bitter ash. 

It is seventy years since the unfurling of a campaign of arrests, farcical
trials and executions which historians call the Great Terror.

In countries of the former Soviet Union, however, a name will long remain
redundant – all is encapsulated in the words Nineteen Thirty Seven.

A lot has been written about the Great Terror, including the recent
publication from Memorial http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1175776132 .
I have nothing to add, neither wise thoughts nor compelling explanations.

In fact, I have nothing at all, except the aching need to articulate
questions. Some of these are indeed too personal for public airing. One,
however, is not.

Throughout Ukraine, Russia and all the other republics ravaged by torrents
of frenzied hatred and killing, there are unknown or unmarked mass graves.

In this year, so seeped in terrible anniversaries, is it not time to
seriously speak of ensuring that our parents and grandparents are
remembered, that the earth which bears their remains is honoured?

There is a survey on the Ukrainian Memorial site (www.memorial.kiev.ua ).

One question only: do we need to seek the truth?  Not surprisingly there
is no controversy, with 100% support for such efforts. Yet why do we
Ukrainians do so little to seek that truth?
Why is the recently created Institute of National Remembrance in Ukraine
still is not receiving the leadership and financial support it needs?

Survivor of Oswiecim [Auschwitz] Primo Levi wrote in “If Not Now,
When?” the harrowing question:

A man enters his house and hangs up his clothes and his memories; where
do you hang your memories, Mendel, son of Nachman?

And where will we hang ours, if we continue to allow comfortable oblivion
to reign? 

        IMPERATIVE WE SEEK THE TRUTH TOGETHER                               
I believe it is imperative that we all seek the truth together, that we
share in building a real Institute of National Remembrance.. This could be
through tending to memorial sites or through looking for mass graves.

It may be by raising awareness in society, lobbying politicians or raising
money for real measures to honour and perpetuate the memory of all those
brutally slaughtered.

There are so many ways. With time, however, we have infinitely less scope.
If not now then never.                                    -30-

FOOTNOTE: Subheadings have been inserted editorially by the
Action Ukraine Report (AUR).
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         Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
                    STUDENTS TO ‘SEE THE WORLD AFRESH’

By John Goddard, Staff Reporter, The Toronto Star
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Monday, May 14, 2007 

TORONTO – To call Petro Sydorenko a survivor is to put it mildly. He was
born in Soviet Ukraine in 1926, the youngest of 10 children, in the village
of Ternovatka.

The Communists classified his parents as “prosperous peasants” and took
their home and farmland, forcing them to the nearby city of Kryvyi Rih.
In 1932, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin set out to crush Ukrainian farmers’
resistance to forced collectivization. Throughout the country, food and
livestock were confiscated, including seeds for planting.

A great famine struck. Over the next year, an estimated 6 to 7 million
Ukrainians died, either from starvation or mass executions – events kept
secret for decades.

Sydorenko’s mother was caught hiding a sack of corn and sent to Siberia for
four years, says Sydorenko’s daughter Halyna. His brothers and sisters
dispersed, leaving Sydorenko alone with his father.

“His father went searching for work every day and locked (the boy) in the
house because cannibalism was rampant,” Halyna Sydorenko recounts.
“He was six or seven. He hid under blankets and cried all day.”
                          SLAVE LABOURER IN GERMANY
When Petro Sydorenko was 15, the Germans invaded Russia [the Soviet
Union]. He was sent to Germany as a slave labourer for three years. Under
guard, living in barracks behind barbed wire, he mined coal at Gelsenkirchen
and made bricks at Kaldenkirchen.

When the war ended, the Soviets tried to force him back to the Ukraine but
Sydorenko escaped to a displaced person’s camp under American authority.
He made his way to northern France and, in 1951 at the age of 25, settled in

“He was the only member of his family to make it to North America,” his
daughter says. “No contact with his family was possible for him for a number
of years. Not until 1960 or 1961 was he able to make contact with a niece
and indirectly with his father.”

Much later, in 1993, Sydorenko’s brother wrote to say he finally understood
why Sydorenko escaped to Canada: the bodies of young forced labourers
returned from Germany had been discovered in a mass grave.

Sydorenko, on a scholarship, enrolled at the Ontario College of Art. He took
lessons from Group of Seven artists Frederick Varley and A.Y. Jackson, and
in his third year met and married Kateryna Wasyliw.

For 35 years, he worked as a technical illustrator at the Ontario Ministry
of Transport, and from the family home ran his own art school two evenings
a week and on Saturday mornings.

“I often recall his voice, cautioning all of us to slow down and really
look – really think what happens when you put a mark on the page,” writes
Natalie Rewa of Toronto in the tributes section of the Cardinal Funeral
Homes website. “With his art classes I learned to see the world afresh.”

In 1976, Sydorenko was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition he
attributed to his mistreatment during the war.

“During my three years of forced labour my health was ruined,” he once
wrote. “I suffered in extreme mental and physical conditions. I was hungry.
I was overworked. I was under constant stress…. My nervous system
suffered most.”

For most of his Toronto life, one of his favourite activities was sketching
performers at an opera or concert.

“Specifically, a more intimate concert, like the chamber music concerts at
Hart House,” his daughter says. “We would be sitting in the Great Hall,
preferably in one of the front rows, my dad with a pencil and paper
pad….He had a talent for capturing a person’s likeness.”
The painting that meant the most to him, she says, is a work titled “Karl
Marx Street, Kryvyi Rih: Great Famine in Ukraine, 1932-1933.” It depicts
a horror he witnessed at the age of seven.

He was walking one day with his father to the government store, Sydorenko
wrote of the painting in 2003. They approached the city’s main street, Karl
Marx. Both sides were lined with people crazed by starvation.

“They were weeping, pleading for a bite to eat, moaning in the agonizing
throes of death,” he recalled.

When he and his father reached the Kryvbas Theatre, Sydorenko saw a

couple standing at a pillar reading a concert poster.

The man wore a military uniform, with a revolver on his belt. The woman
wore a coat, boots and a fashionable beret.

They were chatting and laughing, apparently oblivious to a toddler nearby,
crying over a dead woman.

“At the foot of the pillar lay a woman,” Sydorenko wrote. “With his bony,
wasted hands her 2-year-old son tugged at her headscarf and clothes,
clinging to his mother’s body, tears streaming down his ghostly face.”

In 1963, Sydorenko submitted the painting for an exhibition of the Ukrainian
Association of Visual Artists of Canada, of which he was a founder. Although
other members objected to its theme, Sydorenko took it to the opening and
hung it anyway.

“In the 1960s, even here, people were reticent to talk about (the famine),”
his daughter says. The painting has since established a place for itself,
having been displayed on numerous occasions and printed in catalogues.

Petro Sydorenko died on May 6, just short of his 81st birthday. He leaves
his wife, Kateryna, and two children, Halyna and Wasyl.

Donations in his memory can be sent to the Ukrainian Canadian Research
and Documentation Centre to help fund a book about the great famine.
LINK: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/213521

FOOTNOTE: Subheadings have been inserted editorially by the
Action Ukraine Report (AUR).
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
        The Moscow Trials were and remain important. They coincided with
        the final climax of Stalin’s Great Purges, and were a public symbol
             of these. Between 1936 and 1938, millions were arrested and
                                       more than a million executed.

By James Woudhuysen, Spiked-Online
London, United Kingdom, Monday 16 April 2007

Amid today’s craze for anniversaries, there’s one episode in history that
nobody – especially on the left – wants to talk about.

In August 1936, radios all over the world broadcast the sound of fallen
Bolshevik Party leaders confessing, at a packed, dingy Moscow court, to
crimes against the Soviet Union that they had never committed.

By 1937 the Moscow Trials gained further momentum, as 17 more leading
Bolsheviks were given a second public humiliation, while hundreds of leaders
of the Red Army were tried and executed in secret.

In March 1938, a third and final show trial concluded with a further 21
confessions, and nearly as many executions. Around the world, the court
proceedings initiated by Communist Party leader Joseph Stalin against those
who had led the October 1917 Revolution caused heated debate. Yet today
they are almost forgotten.
Despite the fact that we are currently living through an anniversary
frenzy – where any event from the past judged to have ‘meaning’ for the
present is pored over – nobody seems to want to talk about the Moscow
Trials. Indeed, there has been silence on these events, especially among the
Western left, for decades.

The Trials tend to be revisited by historians only as a confirmation of
Stalin’s rotten nature and personality, or as easy ‘proof’ that any attempt
to create a progressive alternative society is doomed; rarely are they
properly interrogated or fully explained.

That is a pity. The Moscow Trials were and remain important. They coincided
with the final climax of Stalin’s Great Purges, and were a public symbol of
these. Between 1936 and 1938, millions of Russians were arrested and more
than a million executed.

Up to 1950, Soviet forced labour camps never held fewer than eight million
prisoners, and ran death rates of perhaps 10 per cent (1).

Bourgeois critics of the Trials insist that blind loyalty to the old
Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) led veteran revolutionaries to
believe that their confessions, however far-fetched, were politically
justified (2). But what really happened in those dark days in the Soviet
                                     ‘TERRORIST ACTS’
The origins of the first trial lay in the December 1934 assassination of
Sergei Kirov, governor of Leningrad (now St Petersburg), and a moderate and
popular member of the Stalinist Politburo.

Stalin arranged for Kirov to be shot in the back of the head on the way to
work and, on the same day, issued a decree hastening the trial and execution
of those accused of ‘terrorist acts’.

Tens of thousands of people alleged by Stalin to be supporters of Leon
Trotsky, the former commander of the Red Army and exiled leader of the Left
Opposition within Stalin’s Communist Party, were blamed for Kirov’s murder
and deported to Siberia. Gregory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, also key
Bolshevik leaders in the revolution of October 1917, were arrested.

The works of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and the brilliant left-wing
economist Yevgeni Preobrazhensky were removed from libraries. The
prestigious Society of Old Bolsheviks was disbanded, the Communist youth
organisation purged, and the death penalty lowered to include 12-year-olds.

In August 1936, Zinoviev and Kamenev and 14 others were brought to dock.
They were charged with helping Trotsky murder Kirov, attempts on the lives
of Stalin’s henchmen on the Politburo, and plotting to shoot Stalin.

No evidence apart from the false confessions was produced, nor were those
implicated in the fictitious conspiracy brought to the witness stand. After
five days in court, all the defendants were sentenced to death. Executions
followed swiftly.
                               CREATIVE CONFESSIONS
From then on, the Purges began in earnest. While Stalin sought an alliance
with Hitler’s Germany, Soviet Jews were shot for being in league with the
Nazis. Some officials received the Order of Lenin on the day they were
arrested. Others, dismissed from their posts, had to wait weeks before the
police picked them up.

Prisons were more diseased, overcrowded and full of informers than in
Tsarist times. Confessions were left to the creative powers of those
accused. It was essential to denounce relatives and friends, while wives of
convicted ‘terrorists’ were automatically shot, too.

Trials took place in minutes, and many top-level political meetings took
place at which only those listening knew that those speaking were already
destined for execution.

In January 1937, Georgy Pyatakov, the driving force behind Soviet
industrialisation in the 1930s, was publicly tried along with former Left
Oppositionist Karl Radek and a collection of top industrial bureaucrats.

The charges: plotting with Trotsky to sabotage trains, chemical plants and
mines; repudiating industrialisation and the collectivisation of
agriculture; conspiring to surrender the Ukraine to the Nazis at a meeting
between Trotsky and Rudolf Hess; spying for the Axis powers under an
agreement reached between Trotsky, Hitler and Japan’s Emperor Hirohito; and
trying to kill Stalin and his senior aides.

Within a week, one of Trotsky’s former colleagues, Christian Rakovsky, was
implicated in the plot, together with Marshall Tukhachevsky, the formidable
head of the Soviet army.

Twenty years later, Nikita Khrushchev, in his famous secret speech to a
closed session of the 20th Party Congress on 25 February 1956, was the
Soviet leader who first condemned the excesses of Stalin’s era; in 1937, he
was the new secretary of the Moscow party.

He mobilised a demonstration of 200,000 in Red Square, in temperatures
of -27°C, demanding that Rakovsky and Tukhachevsky’s sentences be carried
out immediately.

They were. Following the execution of Tukhachevsky, eight admirals and
thousands of officers were also shot.

In September 1936, Nikolai Yezhov had been appointed head of the secret

Stalin had chosen that moment to call on every party official to name two
replacements in case of emergencies. Now in the notorious ‘Yezhov years’
(1937-8), four or five such substitutes became necessary.

Failure to have denounced those who had been arrested became, itself,
grounds for arrest. Police interrogators unable to extract enough
confessions were shot. National minorities, foreign communists in exile,
Leningraders, historians, linguists and writers were singled out for arrest,
torture and execution.

In the mines and forests of the Soviet far north, GULAG – the organisation
that administered the camps – presided over regimes in which rape, murder
and death by disease, starvation or hypothermia were commonplace. Soviet
citizens were led to believe that Yezhov was to blame; by contrast, Stalin
appeared innocent.

Now nobody was safe. Nikolai Bukharin and Alexei Rykov, who had supported
Stalin in his struggles against the Left Opposition, were arrested in the
middle of a central committee meeting and put on trial with 19 others in
March 1938 (3).
To the familiar list of charges were added: responsibility for the famine
which followed collectivisation; faulty design of power stations; poisoning
pigs and horses; sabotaging butter with nails and glass; causing production
delays, poor harvests and shortages of paper, eggs and sugar; raising prices
and weakening the ruble; trying to kill Lenin in 1918; receiving money from
the Nazis – and working for the Mensheviks, the Tsarists, the Polish secret
service and British intelligence.

Even after the trial reached its inevitable conclusion, the purges
continued. Soviet diplomats, scientists, engineers, police and military men,
in their thousands, were forced to build their own labour camps.

Most of the Stalinist leaders appointed in the 1930s were removed by
the 1940s. Scarcely a section of Soviet society escaped the purges.
How can we explain the Stalinist terror? Its origins lay not in Stalin’s
evil character, as many claim today, but in the vacuum created by the defeat
of the revolution and the crisis in the system (4).

After October 1917, war and famine ravaged the Soviet Union and prevented
the Bolshevik revolution from realising its aims. Limited freedom was given
to capitalists in the early 1920s in an attempt to revive the economy, a
policy that was extended by Stalin when he took over.

The free rein that Stalin gave to private commerce at the height of the New
Economic Policy in the late 1920s led to a crisis, in which all-out
collectivisation of agriculture and headlong industrial growth was enforced
by the state as the alternative to a full revival of capitalism.

Through forced collectivisation and industrialisation, the Soviet economy of
the 1930s succeeded in destroying all the mechanisms of the capitalist
market, but at a terrible cost.
   ECONOMIC CHAOS RULED FROM 1929 to 1989-1991
Economic chaos ruled – in fact, from about 1929 to the collapse of the USSR
in 1989-91. The only way a wholly degenerate Communist Party could try to
overcome economic chaos was by imposing violence everywhere.

Stalin’s terror was the outcome of neither ingenious planning nor personal
whim. Rather, it was the result of a completely rudderless economy.

Indeed, terror itself was conducted in the same chaotic way as was life and
politics in the rest of the Soviet Union.

Nor was terror alone enough to stabilise the Soviet system. While enforcing
relentless discipline in farms and factories, the Stalinist bureaucracy also
launched a programme of education and training to try to incorporate a new
generation of hacks into the state machine.

Through the classroom, the Kremlin tried to foster a section of society that
owed its privileges and its future prospects to the regime. The link between
Stalinist terror and this social engineering was apparent as early as 1928
in the Shakhty case – the forerunner of the Moscow Trials.
                              PURGING FOR INDUSTRY
On the eve of the launch of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan (1928-32), the
Soviet Communist Party had just 138 engineer members to oversee
industrialisation. Hence the bureaucracy was heavily dependent on surviving
experts from the Tsarist era, most of whom had little sympathy with the new

The trial of technicians, on charges of sabotaging coal mines in the key
Shakhty region of the Donbass heavy industrial zone, revealed the dangers of
relying on experts with no loyalty to the regime.

The Shakhty Trial was held in public, as a warning to bourgeois experts and
party officials alike. It was also significant in that the presiding judge
was Andrei Vyshinsky.

A former Menshevik and, eight years later, the notorious prosecutor at all
three Moscow Trials, Vyshinsky’s career has pretty much vanished from the
world’s history today. But after his success at the Shakhty Trial, he was
subsequently put in charge of all Soviet technical education.

In the early 1930s, hundreds of thousands of manual workers were rushed
through technical courses and trained for white-collar jobs. The role of the
secret police expanded – it now not only had to conduct repression, but also
to play a part in organising the economy.

However, the hectic industrialisation drive produced crises everywhere, and
the crash education programme moved painfully slowly. By 1934 and the 17th
Communist Party congress, little had been achieved. Only about 200 of the
2,000 delegates had ever got beyond secondary school.

By 1939, most of those delegates attending in 1934 had perished in the
purges, yet still only a quarter of the new Stalinist cadres had higher

Given the dislocation of the Soviet economy, Stalin sought to maintain the
momentum of his industrialisation drive by purging layer after layer of
senior administrators. In 1935, he complained that industrialisation was
proceeding too slowly.

He sponsored the Stakhanovite movement, a corps of ‘shockworkers’ dedicated
to exceeding production norms and terrifying factory chiefs deemed

With the population atomised, each individual converted into a real or
imagined informer, and both market mechanisms and workers’ power long gone,
Stalin could only try to exhort or bash the Soviet economy into any kind of
For Stalin, the trials were also a means of shifting the blame for the
unpopularity of his regime on to scapegoats who might otherwise have
supplanted him.

By accusing his opponents not just of dissent, but also of terror, espionage
and all the ills of his economic policy, Stalin made the lie big enough to

It is also true that the trials showed the West that Stalin was in control,
and so eased capitalist fears about the Russian Revolution spreading to the
rest of the world. These fears had been real enough in the decade after

But the Trials and Purges cannot be put down, in the modern manner, to the
diseased mind of a malevolent madman (5). They were the work of the whole
of the Soviet bureaucracy.
                                     OUT OF CONTROL
Tensions within the Soviet bureaucracy ensured that Stalinist terror was as
makeshift as Stalinist industrialisation.

The rewriting of history books, the retouching of photographs, the arbitrary
selection of victims and the iffy ways in which they were made to rehearse
their court confessions beforehand – all these devices were so hurried and
so crude in their implementation that the collapse of the whole edifice of
judicial terror was always a possibility.
Terror, like the economy, was out of control. Only a few months before
Zinoviev’s public crucifixion, the left-wing writer and critic of Stalinism,
Victor Serge, was allowed to leave Russia. ‘I am conscious’, he wrote later,
‘of being the living proof of the unplanned character of the first trial’.

At all three trials, defendants qualified their confessions and Vyshinsky
made potentially disastrous mistakes. The poverty of evidence and witnesses
was an error of Stalin’s; so, too, was the fact that many people with both
the position and the desire to unmask Stalin – Lenin’s widow Nadezhda
Krupskaya, foreign commissioner Maxim Litvinoff, writer Boris Pasternak,
physicist Pyotr Kapitsa – were never brought to book.
                      TERROR SYSTEM WAS IRRATIONAL
Finally, the terror system was just as irrational as the rest of the
Stalinist economy. By turning millions of Russians into unproductive
interrogators, guards, prisoners and corpses, it was just one more factor
exposing the Soviet economy to Hitler’s Panzer tanks in 1941, and delaying
its full consolidation until the 1950s.

The degrading confessions of the Moscow Trials had nothing to do with
revolutionary politics, and everything to do with its disappearance in the
late 1920s. To the extent that people confessed because they thought it
correct to do so, this was the result of 12 years of Stalinism.
A brutish economy produced a brute; a devious society produced a deviant
leader. What is striking about Stalin’s still-debated personality traits –
his suspiciousness, his inscrutability, his petty viciousness – is how much
they corresponded to the backward, disorganised nature of the Soviet system.

No wonder that, when asked back in 1925 what Stalin represented, Trotsky had
first thought for a minute, then replied with a one-liner that was not only
famous for years, but which retains its precision today. ‘Stalin’, Trotsky
observed, ‘is the outstanding mediocrity in the party’. (7)

Previous anniversaries of the Moscow Trials have proved gifts for right-wing
ideologues. But in the twenty-first century, things seem rather different.

Obsessive portraits of Joe the totalitarian are still published, and Western
commentators regularly bemoan the growth of nostalgia for Stalin in Russia
                       TRIALS WERE AWFUL WARNING
However, the worldwide collapse of genuine historical thinking ensures that
few now point to the Trials as the awful warning they once were.

Yet there is something else. In their youth, people like the British Labour
Party’s John Reid, Jack Straw and Peter Mandelson joined the post-war
organisations of the Communist Party of Great Britain. They should have
known all about the Trials. Did they?

In 2007, we have as much reason to remember the Moscow Trials as some have
to forget them. Seventy years ago, many of those hauled in to appear before
Stalin’s judges refused to confess, and never made it to the courtroom.

Rakovsky withstood interrogation for eight months, while Preobrazhensky died
rather than confess. History should avenge these men, give its own harsh
verdict on their tormentors, and on all those who would pass over these
tragic events.                                        -30-
NOTE: James Woudhuysen is professor of forecasting and innovation at

De Montfort University, Leicester. Visit his website here. This is an edited
version of the author’s article ‘Stalin’s Trials’ in the next step, 22
August 1986.
(1) The figures here followed Robert Conquest, The great terror: Stalin’s
purge of the thirties [1968], Penguin, 1971. Conquest was a right-wing
historian vilified for many years by the Stalinophile left. For a more
recent, more balanced set of estimates, by another right-winger, see
‘Appendix: how many?’, in Anne Applebaum, GULAG: a history of the
Soviet camps [2003], Penguin, 2004.
(2) The classic anti-communist work here is Arthur Koestler’s novel,
Darkness at Noon, Jonathan Cape, 1940.
(3) A popular intellectual who had joined the Bolsheviks after the
revolution of 1905, Bukharin rose to become the chief organiser of the
Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy after Lenin’s death. Bukharin favoured
the growth of private enterprise, and especially encouraged capitalist
farmers to enrich themselves, believing that prosperity on the land would
lead to a boom in the towns. When, in 1928-9, Stalin turned from the New
Economic Policy to a bloody collectivisation of agriculture and an all-out
programme of industrialisation based on terror, Bukharin opposed him, only
to meet his fate in the Trials.
(4) The analysis that follows is based on Frank Furedi’s pioneering work,
The Soviet Union Demystified, Junius, 1986.
(5) A recent example of this school is Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Stalin: the
court of the Red Tsar, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2003. (6) Victor Serge,
Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Oxford University Press, 1963, p330.
(7) See Leon Trotsky, My Life, 1930
LINK: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/3092/
FOOTNOTE: Subheadings have been inserted editorially by the
Action Ukraine Report (AUR).
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                 New book investigates the rise of communism and why it
          ultimately failed, bar its curious Chinese hybrid, says Tim Gardam

BOOK REVIEW: By Tim Gardam, The Observer,
London, United Kingdom, Sunday May 13, 2007

Comrades: Communism, a World History
By Robert Service, Macmillan £25, pp624

When Nicolas Sarkozy claimed that his victory had finally liquidated the
legacy of 1968, he sought to dispel the shadow of an ideology that once
seemed a credible threat to the West.

1968 was perhaps the last time in Europe when Marxism could claim
intellectual ascendancy, even though the revolt was led by student
radicals – the French Communist party stood aloof – with Lenin and Trotsky,
and not the regime in Moscow, their inspiration.

True, in the mid-Seventies, Moscow could kid itself that communism was
spreading, as Vietnam, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique and Afghanistan painted
red across the map, but in reality, the sclerotic logic of Soviet central
planning was already destroying an enfeebled system.

Within a decade, Mikhail Gorbachev had presided over the most dramatic and
unexpected collapse of imperial power in modern history.

Robert Service’s Comrades is a timely and ambitious book. Embroiled as we
are with Islamic terrorism, the 20th-century struggle between world
communism and western capitalism seems as remote now as the 1914 rivalries
of kings and emperors must have seemed in 1945. But this was an equally
desperate battle for ideas and power.
Service strips away the illusions about communism that beguiled generations
of admirers. From the moment in 1917 when Lenin forced the disparate
revolutionary parties in Russia under his sway, communism became a system
based on state terror and the dictatorship of elites in the name of the

Service demonstrates that the Bolsheviks came to power without a detailed
template for the new world order. This was invented almost as an
afterthought and never lost a sense of insecurity.

Service dissects the paradoxes – Marx foresaw the withering of the state,
but Lenin created a system of state coercion that infested public and
personal life; Marxism believed that communism would emerge out of the
contradictions of capitalism; yet apart from the military conquests of the
Red Army in 1945, it only took root in underdeveloped peasant societies.

The first years of Soviet communism awaited with confidence revolution
across Europe. Later, Moscow pumped funds into western communist parties,
but, by the end, communism’s internationalism expressed itself only in its
fractures: Yugoslavia, then China and finally the Euro communists.
We can forget how permanent it seemed for so long. Service’s account reminds
us why its face seemed so powerful though its heart was so weak.

Any history of communism is overwhelmed by Stalin and Mao. Most chilling is
Service’s account of how the clinical targets of state industrial planning
during Stalin’s five-year plans were replicated in the extermination of
political opponents.

Decree 00447 in 1937 stipulated that 259,450 ‘anti-Soviet elements’ should
be taken into custody; a precise 28 per cent of them were to be executed.
Stalin’s famine in Ukraine in the Thirties is eclipsed by the 30 million
estimated killed in Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

The most horrible quotation in the book is Mao’s: ‘How many people would

die if [nuclear] war breaks out? There are 2.7 billion people in the world… if
we take the most extreme situation, half die and half live; but imperialism
would be razed to the ground and the whole world become socialist.’

Service’s history is vast in its scope. He writes best when he offers an
unabashed personal and moral perspective on the human cost of the
totalitarian society. He seeks to explain how so many could acquiesce in a
regime that wantonly destroyed their lives.

‘Millions had moved from the countryside to the cities. Neighbours were
strangers to each other. Families had been broken up. It was tempting for
individuals to look after themselves by showing unkindness to others.’

The enormity of the totalitarian 21st century can obscure our understanding
of why Marxist Leninism was so attractive. Its manifesto guaranteed full
employment, universal education, housing and welfare, and a commitment to
eliminating racism.
                        COMMUNISM FAILED BECAUSE
Communism failed, Service argues, because in the end totalitarianism could
not eradicate individual aspiration. It was the system’s failure to deliver
the promised prosperity that discredited it in the eyes of the working
people it championed.

Yet there remains today one communist state courted as the world’s next
superpower. Deng Xiaoping’s China succeeded where Gorbachev failed.

It was Deng who coined the phrase: ‘Seek truth from facts.’ He set in train
the market reforms that led to China becoming ‘the only communist state
which developed a viable economy by giving it over to capitalism’.

Yet at the same time he ruthlessly retained, as at Tiananmen Square, the
full apparatus of centralised control and the rigidity of the one-party
state; and the labour camps.

As Service concludes: ‘The communist order has been retained only as a

means of rigorous political and ideological control; its economic and social
components were blown to the four winds.’ It remains the most unsettling
question for liberal democracy today: on what terms do we really want China
to succeed?

A state that lets loose unbridled capitalism but secures the full despotic
apparatus of Leninism may yet demonstrate that the victories of pluralism in
1989 were not the end of communism.                 -30-
LINK: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2078191,00.html

FOOTNOTE: Subheadings have been inserted editorially by the
Action Ukraine Report (AUR).
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
      By not permitting Russia to disintegrate into anarchy or leading it back to
      authoritarianism, Yeltsin kept the way open for such a leader to one day 
     emerge. Unfortunately, that man is not his handpicked successor, Vladimir 
         Putin, who has only perpetuated the vicious cycles of Russian history.

COMMENTARY: By Nina L. Khrushcheva
The Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)
Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, May 3, 2007

Boris Yeltsin was utterly unique. Russia’s first democratically elected
leader, he was also the first Russian leader to give up power voluntarily,
and constitutionally, to a successor. But he was also profoundly
characteristic of Russian leaders.

Using various mixtures of charisma, statecraft, and terror, Peter the Great,
Catherine the Great, Alexander II, Peter Stolypin (the last tsar’s prime
minister), Lenin, and Stalin all sought to make Russia not only a great
military power, but also an economic and cultural equal of the West.

Yeltsin aimed for the same goal. But he stands out from them in this
respect: he understood that empire was incompatible with democracy, and

so was willing to abandon the Soviet Union in order to try to build a
democratic order at home.

At the height of Yeltsin’s career, many Russians identified with his
bluntness, impulsiveness, sensitivity to personal slight, even with his
weakness for alcohol. And yet in the final years of his rule, his reputation

Only in the last few months of his second presidential term, after he
launched the second war in Chechnya in September 1999, did he and his
lieutenants regain some legitimacy in the eyes of the Russian public, while
causing revulsion among any remaining Western admirers.

Despite his caprices, however, Yeltsin kept Russia on a course of broad
strategic co-operation with America and its allies. Although he opposed
America’s use of force against Iraq and Serbia in the 1990’s, his government
never formally abandoned the sanctions regime against either country.

Moreover, no nuclear weapons were unleashed, deliberately or accidentally,
and no full-scale war of the kind that ravaged post-communist Yugoslavia
broke out between Russia and any of its neighbors, although several of them
were locked in internal or regional conflict in which Russia’s hand was

The tasks that faced Yeltsin when he attained power in 1991 were monumental.
At several crucial moments, he established himself as the only person who
could rise to the challenges of transforming Russia from a dictatorship into
a democracy, from a planned economy into a free market, and from an empire
into a medium-ranked power.

In 1992, as the emerging Russian Federation teetered on the brink of
economic and monetary collapse, he opted for radical reform, prompting a
backlash from vested interest groups. In the years that followed, he would
tilt toward liberal economics whenever he felt powerful enough to do so.

Yeltsin was quintessentially a product of the Soviet system, which makes his
turn to democracy and the free market, though imperfect, even more

The son of a poor building worker, he had a meteoric rise through communist
ranks to become party boss in the industrial city of Sverdlovsk (now
Yekaterinburg) in the Urals.

Unlike most other party leaders, he was good at talking to ordinary people,
a skill that helped him win support and then power later, but he also showed
no sign of questioning the Marxist-Leninist gobbledygook that he was
required to recite at public events.

It was only after Mikhail Gorbachev summoned Yeltsin to Moscow in 1985

that he began to differentiate himself from dozens of other senior party

Sensing the bitter frustration of Moscow’s middle class-in-waiting, Yeltsin
quickly gained a reputation as a harsh, if not always coherent, critic of
the party’s old guard.

Campaigners for democracy admired Yeltsin’s struggle against the
conservatives in the politburo – especially after he was forced out of the
party’s inner circle in November 1987.

Determined to outbid Gorbachev as a reformer, he persuaded liberals to
overcome their distrust of his provincial manners. They gave him lessons in
democratic theory, while he gave them tactical advice.

As the Soviet Union steadily disintegrated, with virtually all of its 15
republics straining at the leash, Yeltsin gained the leadership of the
largest – the Russian Federation – which placed him in a tactical alliance
with independence campaigners in Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Georgia.

By June 1991, after quashing a series of challenges to his leadership, he
became the first elected president of Russia; two months later, real power
fell into his hands, after the failed putsch against Gorbachev of August
1991 by conservatives seeking to prevent the Soviet Union’s disintegration.

For most Westerners and many Russians, his finest hour came on August 19th
that year, when he stood on a tank outside the Russian parliament and defied
the hardliners who had seized power.

But Yeltsin himself never succeeded in fully throwing off the intellectual
shackles of the past. As president, he talked of economic performance as if
it could be improved by decree. Like most Russians, he wanted the material
advantages of capitalism, but had little respect or understanding for the
rule of law and dispersion of power, which makes capitalist institutions

Nevertheless, for most of his presidency, Yeltsin kept alive – albeit with
many tactical retreats – the goal of economic reform.

At some level, he sensed that Russia’s potential could be unleashed only if
the government either faced down, or bought off, the special interests –
military, industrial, and agricultural – that stood in the way. The economic
orthodoxy pursued after the collapse of 1998 laid the groundwork for today’s
sustained Russian boom.

Yeltsin’s tragedy, and Russia’s, was that, when the country needed a leader
with vision and determination, it found an agile political operator instead.

By not permitting Russia to disintegrate into anarchy or leading it back to
authoritarianism, Yeltsin kept the way open for such a leader to one day

Unfortunately, that man is not his handpicked successor, Vladimir Putin, who
has only perpetuated the vicious cycles of Russian history.    -30-
LINK: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=44813

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
                       SAYS UKRAINE’S FOREIGN MINISTRY

RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 15, 2006

KIEV – Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry is surprised at Russia’s reaction to the
situation around Soviet memorials in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov, a
ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

“Such close attention of the Russian side to protection of monuments and
memorial signs in Ukraine is surprising, taking into account that in the
Russian Federation… there are plans to remove two memorials in order to
use the site for construction and a parking lot,” Andrey Deshchitsa said.

The Lvov city legislature decided May 10 to remove two monuments classified
as “symbols of imperial-Bolshevik domination” and to create a commission
that will define memorials that will remain in Lvov. Russia’s Foreign
Ministry said “attempts to earn political points on fighting memorials and
mocking the memory of the fallen can arouse nothing but indignation.”

Deshchitsa said there was no “mockery” involved, adding that special
commissions were in line with the law and that the issue could not be a
subject of international consideration.

On May 13, bronze garlands were pulled down in Lvov, and the Russian
ministry said following the incident that it all happened after the Lvov
city council’s notorious decision. It called on Ukrainian authorities to
“stop such provocations.”

An aide to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said May 11 the removal of
symbols of foreign domination in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov must be
decided by a referendum.

“If these monuments are not simply symbols of imperial Bolshevik domination,
but also masterpieces of art, a special commission needs to be set up before
removing them to find out whether they are of historical or cultural value,”
Oleksandr Bystrushkin, who is in charge of humanitarian issues and the
preservation of cultural heritage, said.

“Such issues should be decided by a [city] referendum. We need to talk to
people in a genuine and open way. Only then will we have a civilized state,”
Bystrushkin said.

The controversy comes shortly after the Estonian government moved the Red
Army monument some had derided as a “statue to occupation” and some
cherished as a “monument to the victory over the Nazis” from the city center
and exhumed the remains of Soviet soldiers buried there.

The move triggered protests from the Russian-speaking part of the
population, partly stripped of citizenship rights, and of Russian officials
and lawmakers.

LINK: http://en.rian.ru/world/20070515/65514043.html
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18.                       AWKWARD EMBRACE
    Widening rift in EU over how to handle an increasingly authoritarian Russia.

By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin and Richard Milne in Frankfurt
Financial Times, London, UK, Wednesday, May 16 2007 03:00

The Lithuanian ambassador had been speaking for some time when the patience
of Wilhelm Schönefelder, Germany’s long-serving ambassador to the European
Union, finally ran out.

What political advantage, Mr Schönefelder snapped, was Vilnius expecting to
obtain by threatening to block this week’s negotiations on a new partnership
agreement between the EU and Russia?

To participants, the curt exchange at an ambassadors’ meeting in Brussels
last week was more than a simple disagreement over energy supplies.

The spectacle of Germany taking the side of Russia against one of the new

EU entrants – which Berlin had pledged to treat “equally” with other EU
members – raised eyebrows across the room.

The spat not only exposed a widening rift in the EU over how to handle an
increasingly authoritarian Russia. It also called into question the ability
of Germany, current holder of the EU presidency, to remain neutral in a
whole range of disputes between Russia and its former Soviet-era satellites
in eastern Europe. Nor was this the first time that Germany had upset the
European status quo in favour of its relationship with Moscow.

Recent German chancellors, from Helmut Kohl to Gerhard Schröder and now
Angela Merkel, have often tried to keep a principled distance from their
neighbour to the east.

But they have invariably wound up clasped in an uncomfortable embrace
through the combined weight of trade and energy ties, geopolitical realities
and simple good-neighbourliness.

Today, ahead of an EU-Russia summit on Friday that threatens to be eclipsed
by recent disputes, the latest crisis shines an awkward light on the extent
of Germany’s dependence on Russia and how it is affecting its foreign

Raised in Communist East Germany, Ms Merkel in some sense personifies the
contradictions of the Moscow-Berlin relationship. She harbours the
instinctive distrust of Russia shared by many politicians of the former
Soviet bloc.

Her meetings with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, have been awkward
affairs devoid of the backslapping cheerfulness that characterised the era
of her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder.

Unlike Mr Schröder, Ms Merkel has met non-governmental organisations and
opposition leaders when visiting Moscow, and she is contemptuous of Russia’s
“managed democracy” and the weakness of its rule of law.

Last month she condemned police brutality during opposition demonstrations
in Moscow and St Petersburg and persuaded the Kremlin to allow a protest
during Friday’s summit in Samara, central Russia.

But while she has taken a hard line on human rights, she has compromised
with Mr Putin in other areas, prompting some comparisons between her and her
predecessor: “Remember Schröder’s first election,” a Berlin diplomat
recalls. “Analysts said it was the end of the sauna diplomacy between the
cardigan couple” of Mr Kohl and Boris Yeltsin, the late Russian president.
“And see what happened.”

Although Germany has often paid lip-service to the goal of diversifying its
energy supplies away from Russia, which provides just under half of the
country’s natural gas, there is scant evidence that Berlin has made this a
genuine priority. Once elected, for example, Ms Merkel backed plans for a
German-Russian gas pipeline launched under Mr Schröder.

This was a U-turn for the new chancellor, initially among the harshest
critics of the project – which among other things would isolate Poland – and
of Mr Schröder (upon leaving office, he became non-executive chairman of
Nord Stream, the Russian-German but Gazprom-controlled company that is
building the pipeline).

Energy experts are also surprised at Berlin’s lack of interest in Nabucco, a
pipeline project that would give Europe its first direct access to central
Asian gas fields, circumventing Russia via Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria,
Hungary and Austria. Moscow’s efforts to undermine the project, which it
sees as competing with the Baltic pipeline, have hardly raised an eyebrow in

“Germany has no interest in Nabucco because it makes the Baltic Sea pipeline
redundant,” says Alexander Rahr, Russia expert at the the German Council on
Foreign Relations. “And it does not want to do anything in Central Asia that
would alienate the Russians. Germany’s foreign policy is neutralising

Another surprise was Germany’s attitude when Moscow protested at US plans to
position a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Although
she privately expressed interest in the scheme, Ms Merkel did not endorse it
publicly, instead calling on Washington to explain itself before the
Nato-Russia council.

The affair demonstrated how difficult Ms Merkel’s balancing act has become,
as Russia’s relations with the west become increasingly strained and Germany
seeks to straddle the two.

“Russia wants to redefine its relationship with the west and is doing this
aggressively. But remember, we’re heading into an electoral period,” says
Eckart von Klaeden, a German MP and foreign policy expert close to Ms
Merkel, suggesting the bout of bad temper in Moscow could end once Mr
Putin’s succession is agreed.

Some of the contradictions in Germany’s Russia policy have their roots in
the difficult co-existence of a chancellor and foreign minister of opposite
political persuasions, who have agreed to a strict division of labour as
part of the “grand coalition” that has ruled Germany since the last

Under an informal agreement the chancellor, from the Christian Democratic
Union (CDU), looks after Europe while Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign
minister, who hails from the Social Democratic party (SPD), is responsible
for Russia.

Chancellery chief-of-staff under Mr Schröder, Mr Steinmeier has adopted the
pro-Russian stance of his former boss, rebranding it “New Ostpolitik” in
reference to the Soviet-friendly diplomacy of Willy Brandt, another SPD
chancellor who in the late 1960s promised “Wandel durch Annäherung” – change
through rapprochement.

When the missile shield controversy broke out, Mr Steinmeier warned about a
“new cold war”. Like Mr Schönefelder in Brussels, Mr Steinmeier sees the
string of conflicts between Russia and its western neighbours – the spat
with Estonia over Tallinn’s Soviet war memorial, with Poland about meat
imports, with Lithuaniaover energy supplies – as irritating distractions
from the goal of building a strategic partnership between the EU and Russia.

An oft-heard complaint about Germany in Europe these days is that it tends
to see critics of Russia either as jingoistic provocateurs or, in the case
of Ukraine and Belarus, as cynics who sought to manipulate the west into
supporting dubious claims to discounted Russian gas.

For allies of Mr Steinmeier, however, only a constructive Germany has enough
clout in the Kremlin to broker the kind of deal that ended last week’s
blockade of Estonia’s embassy in Moscow. There is no point, they say, in
giving Russia lessons in human rights when Europe needs its help in drafting
Kosovo’s future status, averting the Iranian nuclear threat and fighting

There is much more to Germany’s ambiguous Russia policy, however, than
political infighting between parties in Berlin. As far back as the 19th
century, German statesmen have seen Moscow as a key ally, as when Otto von
Bismarck declared in 1863 that the secret to politics was “a good treaty
with Russia”.

Jan Techau, who heads the Europe programme at the German Council on Foreign
Relations, says: “One thing that’s very difficult to understand from a US
point of view is that Russia for us is not just a player, it’s a neighbour .
. . We are too close to afford to leave issues unresolved, and we cannot be
as principled as the US. We have an imperative to work with Russia.”

This imperative springs in part from Berlin’s energy dependence. Germany is
Europe’s largest importer of Russian fossil fuels, which cover 40 per cent
of its gas and 35 per cent of its oil needs. Experts estimate that German
gas imports will increase from 37.3bn cu m in 2004 to 105bn cu m in 2025,
raising Russia’s share of German gas imports to 60 per cent.

Ms Merkel’s government has sought to diversify energy supplies but, as the
example of the Nabucco pipeline shows, such efforts have been half-hearted
and progress in this area is by nature slow.

The two countries are also bound together by wider business interests.
Germany is Russia’s biggest trade partner and its companies’ exports there
have risen by an average 20 per cent a year over the past three years,
reaching Euro23.4bn ($31.8bn, £16bn) last year.

Although big names ranging from Eon to BASF, Adidas, Metro and
Commerzbankhave all invested heavily, the distinctive feature of Germany’s
presence in Russia, as in China and India, is its large proportion of small
and mid-sized companies that escape the Kremlin’s scrutiny.

This means German investors have been little exposed to the creeping
renationalisation of the Russian economy. “The Germans may not have the
biggest single investments but they are all over the place,” says Hans
Jochum Horn, managing director of Renaissance Capital, the Russian
investment bank.

Given the antiquated state of the country’s infrastructure and its need for
capital goods – a field where German companies excel – many exporters think
Russia’s potential equals, or even exceeds, that of China.

German business needs good relationships with a stable, if authoritarian,
Russia and it wields considerable influence in Berlin. One such lobby is the
East Committee of German Companies, or Ostausschuss, which is close both to
market-friendly circles in Ms Merkel’s CDU and Russia-friendly quarters of
the SPD.

The lobby is a supporter of Mr Putin – in a recent paper it said Russia had
become “a reliable and important international partner engaged in the
resolution of international conflicts” – and is campaigning for an EU-Russia
“free-trade zone”.

One key channel for its influence is the German-Russian Working Group on
Strategic Aspects of Economic and FinancialCo-operation. In addition to the
Ostausschuss leadership and its Russian counterparts, the body includes the
Russian and German deputy economic, finance and foreign ministers.

It has met more than 20 times in the past three years and paved the way for
more than ?10bn in invest- ments, including the Baltic Sea pipeline.

History, too, has played a role in pushing Russia and Germany closer
together. The half-century of Communist rule in eastern Germany has left the
reunified nation with a vast pool of Russian speakers.

Moneyed Russian tourists, the large Jewish community from the former Soviet
bloc whose members were granted passports after reunification, and the
older, steadier inflow of ethnic Germans from the Caucasus and central Asia
have made Russian a ubiquitous tongue from the synagogues of former East
Berlin to the luxury spas of Baden-Baden.

By sticking to its exclusive relationship with Moscow, however, some EU
experts argue that Berlin is contributing to the division of Europe.

Besides, they argue, Germany’s interest – to persuade an increasingly
affluent and assertive Russia to remain a reliable energy supplier and
partner – would be better served by building a truly European policy towards

“I would make an analogy with the euro,” says Ulrike Guérot, EU expert at
the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “We had the D-Mark, the best
currency in Europe, yet we too put it into the basket. The question is do we
do the same with Russia or do we keep our precious, exclusive, special
relationship to ourselves.”                         -30-

LINK: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f3e85354-034a-11dc-a023-000b5df10621.html
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                 Latvian writer says Russia’s friends in Europe disappearing

COMMENTARY:  By Uldis Smits
Latvijas Avize, Riga, Latvia, in Latvian 15 May 07 p 3
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, May 15, 2007

I doubt whether the routine meeting of leaders from the European Union and
Russia on May 17 and 18 in Samara will particularly improve the relationship
between the two sides.

The relations are cooler than they have ever been, and the situation has
been overshadowed by the diplomatic crisis in Moscow and Tallinn.
                                      HISTORICAL ISSUES
Moscow has used the transport of the “bronze soldier” statue in Tallinn to
foment hatred against Estonia, and this means that unwillingly enough,
Russia provided a certain service for the people of the Baltic States.

The point is that news media outlets in the West once again focused on the
events in the Baltic States which occurred in the 1940s. Their explanation
of the past was by no means identical to the explanation that is offered by
Russia’s official ideology.

What is more, the “spontaneous” protests that were conducted from the
Kremlin were reviewed in the direct context of the anti-Western campaign
that has begun in Moscow.

“The idea of a Western conspiracy to weaken Russia is constantly being
presented by Russian television channels, and it is becoming more and more
expansive. It is supplemented by a revision of history, and the stink of
Stalinism which accompanies this revision covers entire pages of Soviet
history, including those which have to do with the occupation of the Baltic
States,” writes the French daily Le Figaro.

It must be added that this newspaper reflects the views of right wing
circles, and it is now adapting its ideas to the political line of the newly
elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.
                            FRENCH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS
It is important that Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his
congratulations to Sarkozy with a two-day delay. During the election
campaign, Sarkozy denounced human rights violations in Russia, particularly
focusing on repressions in Chechnya. Moscow’s worries about his election,
however, are pointless.

Segolene Royal would not have been a more advantageous partner for the
Kremlin. Unlike the pro-Muscovite Social Democrats in Germany, leftists in
France have always been harsh critics of Putin’s politics.

True, Sarkozy inherited a certain idea about Eastern Europe from his father,
who fled Hungary at the end of World War II, fearing the Red Army and
understanding very well how the “liberation” would occur and what would

Finally, Nicolas Sarkozy has never hidden his sympathies towards the United
States. He did not even mention Russia in his first post-election speech. In
politics, the things that are not said are sometimes more important than
those which are said.

It has been said that the Russian embassy in Paris devoted a lot of effort
to combat those opponents of the Putin regime who were part of Sarkozy’s

This particularly applies to the economist Andre Gluckmann, who has signed
several open letters which denounce Putin, as well as Pierre Lellouche, a
member of the National Assembly.

For the time being, the embassy’s attempts have been without any visible
results. To regain the love of the Elysee Palace, the Kremlin may well have
to return to tested resources – behind-the-scenes economic blackmail against
French companies in Russia or foreign policy in the Middle East, for
instance, which hurts the interests of Paris.
                               KREMLIN’S ‘OLD FRIENDS’
At any event, the old friends of the Kremlin are gradually disappearing from
the political stage – Gerhard Schroeder, Silvio Berlusconi and Jacques
Chirac. This makes it more complicated for Moscow to pursue its intentions
in Europe.

Russia’s hope of creating a gap between “old” and “new” Europe has
particularly been harmed by the replacement of leaders in the EU
“locomotive” countries of Germany and France.

The placement or non-placement of “elements” of the US anti-missile system
in the Czech Republic and Poland will be more the result of the will of the
Czechs and the Poles than of the noise which Moscow creates.

Even in Western Europe, where the “anti-missile shield” creates no joy,
military specialists admit that Russia’s reaction has been purposefully

The same is true of all of the nonsense about the threats which the
proximity of this “shield” supposedly create for Russia.

Moscow could make pace with the situation, but only if the West accepts its
demands in other areas. One object for bargaining may be the repeal of
Russia’s embargo against Polish agricultural products.

The European Commission, as we know, has concluded that the ban, which is
the main obstacle against a new partnership agreement between the EU and
Russia is mostly political in nature and, therefore, is essentially

In other words, this is petty revenge against the Poles for the support
which they gave to Ukraine’s “orange revolution”.

There have been various suggestions as to what Moscow will want in return.
The status of Kosovo, the Dniester region and a few other subjects have been
mentioned, and bargaining over these issues will apparently continue at the
G8 meeting in Germany, as well as behind the scenes in major power politics.

The only thing that is clear right now is the things for which Moscow has no
reason to hope any more, and it seems that Russia understands this.

I very much doubt that any of the current leaders of Europe will follow the
example set in the past by Jacques Chirac, who once said that Russia’s
government is “on the front lines of democracy”.                   -30-
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20.                         MOSCOW-ASIA TRANSIT………….
             During 16 years of independence, Ukraine has not started to
               solve the problem of overcoming its energy dependence.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: Mykhailo Honchar (“NOMOS” center)
Mirror-Weekly #18 (647), Kyiv, Ukraine, 12-18 May, 2007

The announcement from Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan,
that his country prefers to transport oil through Russian territory became a
sensation in world media.

Hyperactivity of Vladimir Putin in Central Asia before and during the energy
summit in Poland is a result of Russian domestic problems with gas
production. And the unprecendent long-lasting tour of the Russian president
in Central Asia is another proof of that.

The Russian media will show Putin’s visit to Central Asia as successful and
triumphal, of course, but it would hardly hide all of Gazprom’s problems in
providing gas resources for export contracts and domestic consumption.

We must remember that at the meeting of the Gas Production Commission in May
2006 held in Moscow and at the 9th Geological Coordinating Conference public
corporation Gazprom reported that in 2005 the company provided increased
reserves, which exceeded the annual amount of gas production for the first
time since 1993(!).

Such a long 12-year period of low increases in reserves affects and will
affect production, even if starting in 2005 growth dynamics remain positive.
The most considerable increase in reserves is expected in next ten years.

This means that at least next 5 years will be the most complicated period
for the monopoly, hence – the desperate but systematic attempts by Russia to
keep the Central Asia region under its influence. Without this resource,
Russia will fail to provide its contracted supplies of gas to the European

However, this is not the only reason for Russian activity in the Central
Asian region. The other reason is high revenues from exporting energy

According to official information, in 2006 Russia received $139.4 billion
from exporting oil and gas ($96.7 billion from exporting oil and $42.7
billion from gas).

The export of arms, compared to oil and gas, brought in a “miserable” $6
billion. The difference is impressive. The sizes of earnings from oil and
gas trading are too tempting for Russian political leaders and push them to
use energy resources as an instrument of influence on countries that do not
agree with Russian policy.
By increasing the EU’s dependence on energy resources, the Russian
Federation is trying to achieve its strategic goals – make EU policy toward
Russian Federation more loyal, neutralize the European component of NATO
and keep the post-Soviet infrastructure under Russian control.

The means, used for this purpose, is to block the development of energy
transportation that is not controlled by Russia, turning most of the oil and
gas transit from the Caspian region and Central Asia through Russia’s

Among the most undesirable energy transportation projects are the
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and gas pipeline “Nabukko”, oil pipelines
Odessa-Brody-Plotsk and Samsun-Djeyhan.

At the same time, Russia is speeding up the development of existing and
creating of new transportation routes under its control – “Blue Stream-2”,
the North European gas pipeline and Burgas-Aleksandrupolis oil pipeline.

This policy by the Russian Federation, as well as periodically shutting off
oil and gas taps to some countries (to Latvia in 2003, to Belarus in 2004,
to Ukraine in 2006, to Lithuania in 2006) caused a reaction from the side of
the country-consumers of Russian energy resources and the European Union.

The Krakow summit of presidents of the Caspian-Black Sea-Baltic region is a
reply by the country-consumers and transit-countries to the hegemonic policy
of Russia in Europe.

It is just a symbolic step of protest that does not have any
systematically-substantial aspects. But according to the old Spanish
proverb-there are no established ways because we have to pave the ways.
And every way, as is well known, starts with the first step.

Russia predicted the possibility of consolidation. That’s why there were
projects that passed around the transit area from the Black Sea to the
Baltics. But that is not enough. Ukraine with its gas transportation system
is irreplaceable even if “Blue Stream-2” and the North European gas
pipelines are built.

An example for that is the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline which had to reduce
Ukrainian transit. The Yamal pipe is working, but Ukrainian transit has even
increased due to an increased amount of gas supply to EU.
At the same time, it is not an occasion to relax. During 16 years of
independence, Ukraine has not started to solve the problem of overcoming its
energy dependence.

The Odessa-Brody oil pipeline, which had to start transporting Kazakh oil in
2004 according to an agreement between Ukrtransnafta and KazMunayGaz from
July 17, 2003, instead started to transport Russian oil.
So Ukraine proved to be an inconsistent and unreliable partner once again.
Therefore, Kazakhstan prefers projects with minimal political risks and
those that do not “tease the Russian bear”.

That’s why Kazakhstan favors the Russian Burgas-Aleksandrupolis oil pipeline
project, and Nazarbayev announced that Kazakhstan prefers to transport oil
through the territory of Russia.

However the government of Kazakhstan can only manage directly the oil
produced by the national oil production company and the shared oil produced
by joint stock companies. The rest of the oil, which is the major portion,
is managed by foreign companies. And they determine their own optimal
logistics plans independently.

It is a diplomatic tradition of Eastern leaders to tell the guest things he
wants to hear but do the things the Eastern leader wants to do. Kazakhstan
has succeeded in it by joining the Baku-Tbilisi-Djeyhan project and building
the first part of an oil pipeline to China.

But it can’t be like Azerbaijan, which has achieved energy and
infrastructural independence from the Russian Federation when exploitation
of the Caspian fields started and the Baku-Tbilisi-Djeyhan oil pipeline and
Baku-Tbilisi-Ersurum gas pipeline was built.

The Kazakh way to energy independence, as well as the Turkmen way is more
complicated than the Azerbaijani. Both countries are dependent on Russian
infrastructure. The price-making policy is also determined by Gazprom.

That’s why the most desired dream of both Central Asian leaders is to
receive independent access to the European market. They understand very

well that only this, not Russian promises, can be the actual guarantee of
political stability and business prosperity.

The consolidated efforts of European countries and the USA might play a
major role here. A change in the government in Turkmenistan gave the EU a
chance to correct its Central Asian strategy.

These countries don’t need the investment resources offered by the Europeans
and Americans. They have it themselves and are ready to invest in Europe.

Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan need a strategic three-component packet:
exploitation of new gas fields by a consortium of European countries,
construction of the Trans-Caspian oil pipeline and direct access for
national producers to the EU market with opportunities to buy some assets.

If this doesn’t happen then Central Asian gas from perspective fields will
be transported through Russia by the Caspian gas pipeline and will be also
transported to China in time.

If the Russian Federation realizes the Caspian project and blocks
Trans-Caspian gas, then a notorious “gas OPEC” will be created de-facto,
which was initially planed in the format Russia + Central Asia. In this
case, nothing will be able to stop Gazprom from setting a price of $500 per
thousand of cubic meters of gas for European consumers.

Concerning Central Asia energy resources and new pipelines, Ukraine must be
interested in cooperation with countries of the EU and European Commission.
Its partnership with Poland is not enough here. All the more, Poland did not
succeed in energy diplomacy in Kazakhstan, where it did not receive mining

The Polish government and top oil organizations could not set up favorable
conditions for Kazakh companies that intended to buy assets in Poland. And
Polish support for Kazakhstan as candidate for the chairmanship in OSCE
looked quite absurd in that situation.
Considering the Ukrainian position, I remember the offensive, but relevant
words of one Turkmen opposition leader: “Ukrainians as Papuans are not
interested in national problems; they want to steal as much as possible”.

Watching the suicidal competition of the so-called political elite,
Ukrainian partners started thinking of excluding attractive but high risk
Ukrainian transit from their strategic projects.

In a word, there is a lot of work to do for the Working group created
according to the President’s Decree # 204 on March 14, 2007 to prepare
proposals for the foreign policy of Ukraine in the energy security sphere.
LINK: http://www.mw.ua/1000/1550/59239/
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National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI)
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WASHINGTON – The  National Democratic Institute for International

Affairs (NDI) is a non-profit institution working to strengthen democratic
institutions worldwide by providing practical training to leaders of
democratic political parties, civic groups and legislators.

NDI seeks a senior political professional to serve as Director of NDI’s
office in Ukraine. This position is based in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Resident Director would advise leaders of political parties and manage
a large NDI’s office in the former Soviet Union.

Responsibilities would include representing NDI to the U.S. Embassy and
other American and international organization, supervising a Ukrainian
office staff of 13 and consulting with senior Ukrainian political leaders.

Primary Responsibilities —–
·  Oversee the design and implementation of training programs for political
   parties on all aspects of political party building.
·  Provide day-to-day management and oversight of local and expatriate
   program staff in the field office.
·  Maintain relationships with key partners in the legislature, civil
   society, government and the donor community.
·  Oversee the development, review and timely submission of program-related
   materials, including regular reports that measure and evaluate program
   results, and reports on political developments in Ukraine that may affect
   program outcomes.
·  Ensure adherence to NDI-DC and Ukraine policies and procedures, as

   well as adherence to funder/donor regulations, ensuring the integrity of all
   financial transactions.

Qualifications —–
·  Bachelors Degree, preferably in International Relations or related 
·  Minimum of twelve (12) years of experience in working with parliaments

   or political parties.
·  Supervisory and managerial experience.
·  Demonstrated ability to work effectively with high-level government
·  Effective written and oral communication skills. Proven ability to
   communicate skills and experience to others.
·  Work experience abroad and familiarity with international political
    systems and foreign languages desirable.

Application Instructions —–
Interested applicants can apply now using our on-line resume tool. Please
see the employment section of NDI’s web site, www.ndi.org

IMPORTANT: Please include cover letter with specific job title cited. No
phone calls please.

NDI is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis
of race, ethnicity, national origin, political affiliation, religion,
gender, disability, and/or sexual orientation.                    -30-

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