AUR#858 Aug 15 Democracy Under Threat Again; Tymoshenko Has To Delay Campaign; Putin/Yushchenko Cancel; Russia: Was Stalin So Bad?

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

Ukrainian History, Culture, Arts, Business, Religion,
Sports, Government, and Politics, in Ukraine and Around the World       
                        
ACTION UKRAINE REPORT – AUR – Number 858
Mr. E. Morgan Williams, Publisher and Editor, SigmaBleyzer
WASHINGTON, D.C., WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2007
INDEX OF ARTICLES  ——–
Clicking on the title of any article takes you directly to the article.               
Return to Index by clicking on Return to Index at the end of each article

1.  DEMOCRACY IS ONCE AGAIN UNDER THREAT IN UKRAINE
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Nina Khrushcheva
The Daily Star, Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, August 14, 2007

2WEST-LEANING OPPOSITION DEMANDS CANDIDATES
By David R. Sands, The Washington Times
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 14, 2007

3UKRAINIAN COURT RULES CEC MUST ACCEPT OPPOSITION
CANDIDATES FOR SEPTEMBER ELECTIONS: BYuT LEADER

YULIA TYMOSHENKO FORCED TO DELAY CAMPAIGN
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, Aug 14, 2007

4UKRAINE COURT ORDERS ELECTION OFFICIALS TO REVIEW
REFUSAL TO REGISTER OPPOSITION POLITICAL CANDIDATES
Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, August 14, 2007

5UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES ELECTORAL BODY TO
REVIEW DECISION AND NOT WAIT FOR COURT INTERVENTION

ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 13 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Mon, Aug 13, 2007

6IN UKRAINE, FOUR STEPS TO DEMOCRACY
By Taras Kuzio and F. Stephen Larrabee
Special to WashingtonPost.com’s Think Tank Town
Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 28, 2007

7NEW POLITICAL ALLIANCES EMERGE IN UKRAINE
Ukraine’s parties prepare for September elections
COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 130
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, D.C., Thu, July 5, 2007

8YUSHCHENKO, YANUKOVYCH, TYMOSHENKO CONTESTING

ELECTION AGAIN, FAMILIAR PARTY PLATFORMS
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Pavel Korduban
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 154
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, D.C., Wed, August 8, 2007

9WHAT SHOULD MOSCOW EXPECT FROM KIEV?
OPINION & ANALYSIS: By Viktor Kuvaldin
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, August 13, 2007

10 UKRAINE: AND THEY’RE OFF! Early parliamentary elections on.

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Ivan Lozowy
THE UKRAINE INSIDER, Kyiv, Ukraine, Vol. 7, No. 3, Aug 8, 2007
 
11. UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS CANCEL AUGUST MEETING
BACKGROUND: BBC Monitoring research in English 14 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Tuesday, Aug 14, 2007

12BRACEWELL & GIULIANI INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM

By Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer
President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, August 15, 2007

13UKRAINE: TURNING CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES
BRIEFING: Oxford Business Group, UK, 19 June 2007

14UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TURNS CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION
ZONE, 48,870 HECTARES, INTO GAME RESERVE
Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian 13 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Mon, Aug 13, 2007

15TENNIS SUPERSTAR, MARIA SHARAPOVA, PLANS FIRST TRIP
BACK TO CHERNOBYL SINCE FAMILY FLED 21 YEARS AGO
Beth Harris, AP Worldstream, Monday, Aug 13, 2007

16 HARD LIFE AND ISOLATION FOR WORLD’S TALLEST MAN
By Sabina Zawadzki, Reuters, Podolyantsi, Ukraine, Sat, Aug 11, 2007

17YUSHCHENKO SENT LETTER TO RUSSIA TO HONOR

HUNDREDS OF PROMINENT UKRAINIANS
Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, August 3, 2007

18UKRAINIAN PRES YUSHCHENKO CALLS FOR CONDEMNING
ALL TOTALITARIANISM CRIMES, 1937-1938 TERROR VICTIMS
Olha Volkovetska, Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, Aug 3, 2007

19.  UKRAINE: NO “MANAGED TRUTH”
On one personal hiccup in critical thinking, the temptation to adjust
the truth and growing concern over a squalid historical remake
emerging from the recesses of the Kremlin.
ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Halya Coynash
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Kharkiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 11, 2007

20BACK TO THE U.S.S.R. WAS STALIN SO BAD?
By pushing a patriotic view of history and the humanities,

the Kremlin is reshaping the Russian mind.
By Owen Matthews, Newsweek International
New York, New York, Aug. 20-27, 2007 Issue
 

21WORD FOR WORD/NEW RUSSIAN HISTORY
Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …
By Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times
New York, New York, Sunday, August 12, 2007
 
22RUSSIAN CHURCH, BUT NOT THE KREMLIN, HONORS
THOUSANDS OF STALIN’S VICTIMS, GIANT CROSS ERECTED 
By Michael Schwirtz, International Herald Tribune
Paris, France, Wednesday, August 8, 2007
 
23HUGE CROSS MARKS STALIN PURGES
The cross honours the memory of tens of thousands of Stalin’s victims
BBC News, United Kingdom, Wednesday, August 8, 2007
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1
DEMOCRACY IS ONCE AGAIN UNDER THREAT IN UKRAINE

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Nina Khrushcheva
The Daily Star, Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The campaign for Ukraine’s parliamentary election of September 30th is
scarcely under way and yet Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is already
trying to steal it. Yanukovich was the man who sought to falsify the result
of the presidential election of 2004, inciting the Orange Revolution.

Back then, a peaceful and honest result was reached in the end because
Ukraine’s President Leonid Kuchma refused to heed Yanukovich’s call to
use violence to defend his rigged election. This time it appears that
Yanukovich is prepared to do anything to remain in power.

The dirty tricks began in the midnight hours of August 11th, when Ukraine’s
Central Election Commission (which is packed with Yanukovich placemen)
refused to certify the largest opposition party, the bloc of former Prime
Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, to participate in the election.

The technicality the commission cited would be absurdly funny if its
potential results were not so incendiary: the CEC objected to the fact that
the Tymoshenko bloc candidates listed only their home towns on the party
list, not their precise street address.

But Tymoshenko’s party successfully submitted its list in the very same
format at the March 2006 election, which demonstrates the glaringly
partisan nature of the election commission’s ruling.

By seeking to cling to power by hook or by crook, Yanukovich is likely to
bring on the deluge. In Ukraine that means not only violent unrest, but
economic decline and renewed repression.

At the end of the day it could lead to the sort of huge street protests that
marked the Orange Revolution, and their attempted violent suppression.

Recent history is replete with alarming examples of dictators and would-be
dictators who refuse to recognize when their time has run out. But for the
past 20 years their blatant political chicanery has been met with a potent
new force: the massed voices of ordinary people who refuse to be cowed.

From the “People Power” revolution that toppled Ferdinand Marcos in the
Philippines in 1986 to Boris Yeltsin’s defiance of the attempted coup
against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, to the Rose, Orange, and Cedar
Revolutions of recent years, dictators have been forced to admit defeat
when enough people stand up to them.

Will it really be necessary for Ukrainians to repeat the Orange Revolution
by again gathering in their millions to shame Yanukovich (a twice convicted
violent felon before he entered politics) to change course?

There is a person who might compel Yanukovich to retreat to democratic
norms and thus hold off such protests: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

It is certainly in Russia’s national interest to prevent chaos in the
country’s big next door neighbor. But Putin’s idea of what constitutes
Russia’s national interest makes that type of intervention unlikely.

Weak neighbors are states that the Kremlin can control, so why not expand
Russian power by letting Ukraine slide into protest and anarchy if by doing
so it brings that country back under Putin’s thumb?

Moreover, Putin himself is in the business of sterilizing Russia’s
democratic processes by handpicking his successor and having his courts
and electoral commissions block his opponents from political participation,
often tarring them as traitors. Someone with such contempt for the
democratic rights of his own people is unlikely to champion them abroad.

As is usual with this ex-KGB man, Putin is being cunning about Ukraine, but
he is deluding himself if he thinks that siding with Yanukovich will bring
back effective Russian overlordship of Ukraine.

The days of empire are over, no matter how much wealth oil and gas is
bringing to Russia. Only if Ukraine maintains its independence will the
imperial nostalgia of Russia’s elites be shattered.

So other pressure will need to be applied, primarily by the European Union
and the United States. In 2004, both the EU and the US were tardy in
speaking in defense of Ukraine’s democrats.

Only when the courage of millions of ordinary Ukrainians gathered in central
Kiev galvanized world opinion did the US and EU marshal the courage to
stand up for an honest election result.

And the one state that did stand with Ukraine from the start back then,
Poland, has now antagonized much of EU opinion, particularly in Germany,
because of the paranoid behavior of its current leaders. So Polish influence
in EU councils is at rock bottom.

Luckily, the leaders of Europe’s three biggest states are different people
than in 2004. Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Gordon Brown appear
to have a clearer appreciation of the union’s security problems to its east,
and so may find the will to act decisively now, rather than dither as their
predecessors did when Ukraine moved into crisis in 2004.

Unless Ukraine’s democratic opposition is allowed to take part in the
election, a new crisis is certain. Tymoshenko, who has survived three
assassination attempts, is not the type of woman to surrender her campaign
on a technicality.

While the Orange Revolution made ordinary Ukrainians more conscious of
their rights than ever before, this alone cannot guarantee that they are
certain to see those rights vindicated in the coming weeks.

However, it will make the job of repressing them much harder. And isn’t
that what the battle for democracy is all about?
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NOTE: Nina Khrushcheva, who teaches at the New School University
in New York, is the author of “Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art
and Politics.” THE DAILY STAR publishes this commentary in
collaboration with Project Syndicate (c) (www.project-syndicate.org).
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=84503
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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2. WEST-LEANING OPPOSITION DEMANDS CANDIDATES

By David R. Sands, The Washington Times
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, August 14, 2007

WASHINGTON – Leaders of Ukraine’s largest pro-Western opposition

party – with hundreds of its candidates banned from running for parliament –
demanded yesterday that the ban be reversed and accused the country’s
pro-Russian prime minister of trying to provoke a political crisis.

Supporters of the bloc led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

have appealed to a Kiev court to reverse the election commission’s decision
Friday night for the Sept. 30 vote.

An estimated 1,000 Tymoshenko supporters rallied in the center of the
capital for a second straight day yesterday to protest the ruling.

“They are trying to provoke us to commit illegal actions because of the
ruling, when they can tie us up in court,” said Hryhoriy Nemyria,
foreign-policy adviser to Mrs. Tymoshenko. “It’s really an attempt to
disrupt the entire political process,” he said in a telephone interview from
Kiev.

The snap parliamentary vote is seen as critical to ending a long political
stalemate between pro-Western forces led by Mrs. Tymoshenko and

President Viktor Yushchenko and the pro-Moscow Party of Regions,
led by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr. Nemyria said his party had been unable to campaign because of the
disqualifications, which he blamed squarely on Mr. Yanukovych.

“There is only a very limited time to campaign, and the other parties are
already out among the voters,” Mr. Nemyria said.

The election commission rejected about 450 candidates supporting Mrs.
Tymoshenko, reportedly for failing to provide complete addresses on their
applications.

The eight Yanukovych appointees on the commission were either absent or
abstained from the ruling, and the applications were rejected because they
did not receive a majority of votes from the 15-member commission.

Mr. Nemyria said his party provided exactly the same information as it filed
for the 2006 vote, and that the rejections were based on more sinister
motives.

Mr. Yanukovych was vacationing in Russia when the electoral commission
issued its ruling, but his aides said the mass rejections were a technical
issue that would be resolved.

“This conflict should soon be over,” Marina Stavnichuk, deputy head of

the prime minister’s office, told reporters in Kiev yesterday. “At issue here
are some shortcomings in the commission’s work and technical matters.”

The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, saying the election commission is
independent of the government, declined to comment on the ruling.

Several commissioners defended their action in a joint statement issued
Sunday.

“No one will ever manage to force us into making an illegal decision, even
if such indecent and unacceptable methods as threats and intimidation are
used,” the commissioners said, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news
agency.

Mrs. Tymoshenko and Mr. Yushchenko were leading figures in Ukraine’s

2004-05 Orange Revolution, which overturned a fraud-ridden presidential
election originally won by Mr. Yanukovych. The pro-Western reformers
received strong support from the United States and the European Union.

Feuding and infighting among Ukraine’s Western-oriented parties allowed Mr.
Yanukovych to stage a political comeback last year, reclaiming the prime
minister’s post last August. But the government has faltered in recent
months, with neither side enjoying a clear majority.

Polls suggest that the Sept. 30 vote may not solve the crisis, with Mrs.
Tymoshenko and Mr. Yanukovych claiming about a third of the vote and

Mr. Yushchenko and other smaller parties sharing the rest.

Mr. Nemyria said Mr. Yanukovych’s party also could be trying to delay the
parliamentary vote until later in the fall, moving them closer to the
Russian State Duma elections scheduled for December.
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http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070814/FOREIGN/108140031/1003
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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3. UKRAINIAN COURT RULES CEC MUST ACCEPT OPPOSITION
CANDIDATES FOR SEPTEMBER ELECTIONS: BYuT LEADER

YULIA TYMOSHENKO FORCED TO DELAY CAMPAIGN

Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), Kyiv, Ukraine, Tue, Aug 14, 2007

KYIV – On Tuesday, August 14, a Ukrainian court ruled that the Central
Election Committee (CEC) must, by tomorrow, act to register the major
opposition party, Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), for the September 2007
parliamentary elections. The court found that BYuT was in compliance with
all laws and gave the CEC two days to appeal the verdict.

This court ruling came after the CEC refused to register BYuT for a second
time on Monday.

Last Friday, the CEC, which is dominated by representatives from Prime
Minister Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions, first refused to certify Bloc
Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) for the upcoming parliamentary elections, to the
consternation of Ukrainians and many Western observers and government
officials.

Supporters of BYuT have begun to set up tents and demonstrate in front of
the CEC headquarters.

Not only did the CEC again vote Monday against BYuT’s participation in the
campaign, it also voted to pass a measure stating that BYuT supporters who
had rallied at CEC headquarters had no right to publicly protest the CEC
decision to disqualify BYuT.

“This is a brazen, and quite frankly, politically crude attempt to disrupt
the development of a democratic and civil society in Ukraine” said Ms.
Tymoshenko.

On the court ruling, Ms. Tymoshenko added that “despite efforts at electoral
manipulation, our democracy has progressed to the point where these issues
may be addressed in our courts. Now we must see if the CEC and its

governing party leadership will respect the decisions of Ukrainian courts and
the rule of law.”

“We must remain vigilant that democracy is not overrun by manipulation”,

she concluded.

BYuT considers the CEC ruling to be an illegal, politically-motivated
attempt designed to delay and disrupt BYuT’s ability to enter the political
campaign, which has already begun.

Because these are early elections, the entire campaign is limited to
approximately 60 days, so every day is vital.

Indeed, Ms. Tymoshenko was scheduled to launch her campaign in her

hometown Dnipropetrovsk today, Tuesday, August 14th.

However, if she had done so, she would have been in violation of the CEC
ruling, which was based upon interpretation of the rules governing how
election candidates filled in their electoral qualification forms.  -30-
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NOTE: TD International, Washington, is the FARA registered

representative of BYuT. (202)-872-9595
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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4. UKRAINE COURT ORDERS ELECTION OFFICIALS TO REVIEW
REFUSAL TO REGISTER OPPOSITION POLITICAL CANDIDATES

Associated Press (AP), Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, August 14, 2007

KIEV – A Ukrainian court has ordered election officials to review their
refusal to register hundreds of opposition party candidates running in next
month’s parliamentary vote, the party said Tuesday.

The Central Election Commission declined Saturday to register members of
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko, casting doubt on the Sept. 30 election called to
defuse a months-long power struggle between the country’s president and
prime minister.

Kiev’s District Administrative Court Tuesday ordered the commission, which
said the candidates had failed to provide their exact street addresses, to
consider the applications again, the opposition said. Court officials,
however, couldn’t immediately confirm the order.

Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, has called the commission’s move
politically motivated and hundreds of her supporters have been holding
rallies outside its building.

Ukrainian politics has been riven by a power struggle between President
Viktor Yushchenko, who has pledged to bring the former Soviet republic
closer to the West, and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who is seen as
more friendly to Russia.

The two were bitter rivals in the 2004 presidential election. Yanukovych was
initially declared the winner, but Yushchenko won a court-ordered revote
after weeks of mass protests against electoral fraud, which became known as
the Orange Revolution.

Yanukovych staged a remarkable political comeback last year when his party
received the most votes in parliamentary elections and formed the ruling
coalition.
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5. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES ELECTORAL BODY TO
REVIEW DECISION AND NOT WAIT FOR COURT INTERVENTION

ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 13 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Mon, Aug 13, 2007

KIEV – Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko asked the Central Electoral
Commission “to consider voluntarily again”, without waiting for court
intervention, the documents of the Yuliya Tymoshenko bloc for candidates’
registration for the early parliamentary election scheduled for 30
September, Maryna Stavniychuk, the deputy head of the presidential
secretariat, Yushchenko’s representative in the Central Electoral Commission
and the Constitutional Court, told a briefing on Monday [13 August].

“The Central Electoral Commission will thus resolve the problems in the
election process that has arisen now and remove questions about the
organization of the early parliamentary elections regarded as
technicalities,” Stavniychuk said.

She said Yushchenko on Monday received Tymoshenko’s letter calling for
“every measure to ensure citizens’ rights and freedoms”. After that the
president turned to the Central Electoral Commission. “The president’s
request is quite justifiable and is based on provisions of Ukraine’s
existing legislation and is in keeping with the provisions of the
Constitution,” Stavniychuk said.

On the night to Saturday, the Central Electoral Commission refused to
register the list of parliamentary candidates from the Yuliya Tymoshenko
Bloc, as, in violation of the law for candidates’ registration, it did not
supply their addresses.

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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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6. IN UKRAINE, FOUR STEPS TO DEMOCRACY

By Taras Kuzio and F. Stephen Larrabee
Special to WashingtonPost.com’s Think Tank Town
Washington, D.C., Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Ukrainian parliament has wound up its life and set the stage for early
parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, four years ahead of schedule. The
elections could give Ukraine’s revolution — recently mired in crisis — new
momentum and have an impact elsewhere in the post-Soviet space.

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych agreed

to hold early elections after a tense two month stand-off, caused by Prime
Minister Yanukovych’s attempt to diminish the powers of the president and
reverse many of Yushchenko’s pro-reform and pro-Western policies.

Yanukovych and his allies removed checks and balances by seeking a
constitutional majority that threatened to sideline the president and create
a powerful prime minister.

Yushchenko’s decision to dissolve parliament and call for new elections
demonstrated a resolve and decisiveness that had been often lacking in the
past. Yushchenko had little choice. He had to reshuffle the deck or watch
his authority — and Ukraine’s hopes for democratic reform and integration
into Euro-Atlantic structures — become progressively emasculated and
diminished by Yanukovych.

Four steps are crucial if the crisis is to contribute to democratic
consolidation in Ukraine:

[1] First, all sides need to adhere to the compromise agreements that have
been reached. These compromises should ensure that the checks and balances
of the reformed parliamentary constitution are not again threatened by the
pro-government coalition attempting to forcefully usurp monopoly power by
seeking to establish a constitutional majority.

Ukraine cannot continue to have periodic breakdowns and crises every six
months. The nation’s four crises since the Orange Revolution threaten to
bring on Ukraine fatigue by Western governments giving up hope in
Yushchenko’s ability to promote democratic change in Ukraine.

[2] Second, if Ukraine’s 2007 elections are recognized as having been held
in a “free and fair” manner by international organizations, as last year’s
elections were, the outcome should be accepted by all sides. Early elections
will permit a new parliament to begin office with a democratic mandate built
on a consensus on domestic and foreign policy goals enshrined in law.

Yushchenko needs to act decisively following the elections by ensuring a
coalition and government is in place, thereby not repeating last year’s
six-month post-election crisis.

[3] Third, all sides in Ukraine need to adhere to the June 2005
recommendations of the Council of Europe’s legal advisory board, the

Venice Commission, and to join the president’s constitutional commission.

The Venice Commission recommended a range of improvements to the

reforms in imperative mandates, inter-institutional relations, human rights and
the constitutional court. These reforms, the Venice Commission said, would
“improve the state of democracy and rule of law in their country.”

[4] Fourth, active Western support will be important. The crisis in Ukraine
provides an opportunity to consolidate the democratic gains of the Orange
Revolution through building democracy at home and integrating Ukraine into
the Euro-Atlantic community of democratic nations.

If fair and free elections are carried out, the European Union should
quickly move to negotiate a free trade agreement with Ukraine following its
entry into the World Trade Organization. NATO should continue to hold out
the offer of a membership action plan that Ukraine may find appealing.

The West has a strong political stake in Ukraine’s success. Ukraine’s
evolution will have a significant impact on the Western regions of the
post-Soviet space.

If democracy can be consolidated in Ukraine, the pro-Western orientation of
Georgia and Moldova will be strengthened, while Alyaksandr Lukashenko’s
autocratic rule in Belarus will be weakened.

But if Ukraine’s democratic reforms fail, the prospects for reform and
closer ties to Euro-Atlantic structures in all three countries will be set
back, perhaps irrevocably.

Russia’s political evolution could also be affected. If Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution gains new momentum, it will be harder for Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s successor to continue the progressive backsliding on
democratic reform that has been a hallmark of Putin’s rule.
——————————————————————————————
NOTE: Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Institute for European,
Russian and Eurasian Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs,
George Washington University. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate

Chair in European Security at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit
research organization.
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/27/AR2007062702303.html?sub=AR
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[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
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7. NEW POLITICAL ALLIANCES EMERGE IN UKRAINE
Ukraine’s parties prepare for September elections

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Taras Kuzio
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 130
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, D.C., Thu, July 5, 2007

As Ukraine prepares for the September 30 parliamentary elections, the
balance of power among political forces is markedly shifting.  The
pre-democratic “Orange” camp is reconfiguring while the long-dominant
Dnipropetrovsk camp is dwindling in influence.

On Thursday, June 28, President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party,
headed by Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, and Yuriy Lutsenko’s People’s Self Defense
signed an agreement to create an election bloc for the September 30
parliamentary elections. The election bloc still must decide who will head
the bloc and who will take the first 10 places.

The Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense alliance has three advantages:
First, it likely will add another 6-7% to Our Ukraine’s expected 14% vote
level, returning the party to its 2002 level.

Second, it will attract voters in central Ukraine, the traditional
stronghold of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT), the Socialists, and the
Agrarians. Although Yushchenko swept central Ukraine in the 2004
presidential election, Our Ukraine fared poorly in the region in the 2006
parliamentary races.

Third, the alliance rehabilitates Our Ukraine, as Lutsenko is popular among
Socialist and Pora voters and NGO activists. Our Ukraine’s popularity fell
following “corruption” charges against its senior business leaders in
September 2005.

The new Our Ukraine-Lutsenko alliance called upon other “democratic” forces
to join them. The Pora party has agreed to merge with the new bloc.

Other national democrats, including the Reform and Order party) joined

BYuT earlier, while the Ukrainian Rightists are unwilling to give up their
independence.  The Ukrainian Rightists have balked at plans to merge Our
Ukraine and People’s Self Defense following the elections.

However, including the Ukrainian Rightists will not help the Orange alliance
much. With returns of only 1-2% expected, the Ukrainian Rightists would add
few votes. In addition, their main base of support, five oblasts of Galicia
and Volhynia in western Ukraine, are already strongholds of Our Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Rightists include several discredited politicians, such as the
Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, led by sacked Naftohaz Ukrainy chairman
Oleksiy Ivchenko.

Our Ukraine refused to include Ivchenko in its list. The Ukrainian Rightists
may also include the extreme right All Ukrainian “Svoboda” (Liberty) party
led by Oleh Tiahnybok, who was expelled from Our Ukraine’s parliamentary
faction in 2004 following a scandalous anti-Russian and anti-Semitic speech.

Despite these shifting alliances, Ukrainian politics are become more
predictable. Most observers agree that the winning party will take 45-55% of
the total, and no party is likely to win a landslide. This result mirrors
the pattern of the Ukrainian presidential elections in 1994 and 2004, where
the winner similarly took about 52%.

Only four of the five political forces now in parliament are likely to win
seats for a 2007-2012 term. Parliament will feature two Blue forces (Party
of Regions, Communists) and two Orange forces (Our Ukraine bloc, BYuT).

These two camps are likely to have similar vote tallies and a similar number
of parliamentary deputies. The Socialist Party, which won four parliamentary
elections between 1994-2006, is now polling barely 1%.

This configuration makes Viktor Yanukovych and Tymoshenko the leading
candidates for the more powerful prime minister’s position. While President
Yushchenko was willing to accept Yanukovych as prime minister in 2006, he no
longer trusts Yanukovych in this position.

A three-party system appears to be emerging, composed of two Orange parties
(center-left BYuT and center-right Our Ukraine-Lutsenko) and the centrist
Party of Regions. Since the 2004 presidential and 2006 parliamentary
elections, the Communist Party has lost support to the Party of Regions, and
it is unlikely to survive as a serious political force.

One major development is the marginalization of the Dnipropetrovsk clan.
Ukraine’s regionalism means that no political force has nation-wide appeal.
Two Orange political forces dominate western and central Ukraine, while the
Party of Regions controls the other half of Ukraine.

This is the first time in Ukraine’s history that the Donetsk clan has
controlled Ukraine. In the Soviet era, Ukrainian politics were dominated by
the famous Dnipropetrovsk clan (which included Soviet leaders Leonid
Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev), Kyiv, and Kharkiv.

Although its influence dipped immediately following independence, the
Dnipropetrovsk clan re-entered Ukrainian politics after Leonid Kuchma was
elected president in July 1994.

After three years of political crises, the upcoming parliamentary elections
give Ukraine a chance over the following five-year parliament to consolidate
the democratic gains of the Orange Revolution.

The three keys to this consolidation will be repairing the rule of law,
which was badly damaged during the spring crisis, settling constitutional
questions, and quickly establishing a parliamentary coalition and government
following the elections. (http://www.jamestown.org)
———————————————————————————————–
(Washington Post, November 19, 2004, www.samooborona.in.ua,
www.razom.org.ua, Ukrayinska pravda, June 25-28)

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
NOTE: Send in a letter-to-the-editor today. Let us hear from you.
========================================================
8. YUSHCHENKO, YANUKOVYCH, TYMOSHENKO CONTESTING
ELECTION AGAIN, FAMILIAR PARTY PLATFORMS

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Pavel Korduban
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Volume 4, Issue 154
The Jamestown Foundation, Wash, D.C., Wed, August 8, 2007

The campaign for the September 30 parliamentary elections officially kicked
off in Ukraine on August 2.

This campaign will see the same contenders as in the March 2006 election:
President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defense bloc

(NUNS), except last year it was just Our Ukraine, without Yuriy Lutsenko’s
Self-Defense; the Party of Regions (PRU) of Prime Minister Viktor
Yanukovych, which represents Eastern Ukraine’s big businesses; and the
populists from the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (BYuT).

The Communists and the Socialists, which barely made it into parliament in
2006, again will be fighting for their survival. The Communists have better
chances than the Socialists, who apparently lost much of their electorate
because of their largely unexpected coalition with the PRU. Both are set to
enter a coalition with the PRU again, once in parliament.

So far, the campaign is focused on domestic problems, such as corruption,
the cancellation of the deputy immunity from prosecution (a top issue with
both NUNS and BYuT), amending the constitution, the demographic problem (all
three main players promise more money for one-time payments for childbirth)
and, to a lesser extent, the official language issue.

Foreign political issues are not high on the agenda, and none of the main
players have positioned themselves as pro-Russian or decidedly pro-Western.
NUNS is pro-NATO; the PRU reluctantly concedes that NATO membership

may be on the agenda in the future; and this issue is not among BYuT’s top
priorities.

Rumors persist about PRU infighting. Several newspapers have speculated that
Yanukovych may be replaced as prime minister by either Ukraine’s richest
man, Renat Akhmetov, who is viewed as the PRU’s main financier, or

Akhmetov’s right-hand man, Borys Kolesnikov. Both have denied this.

Akhmetov said he is not planning to work in the executive at all, and
Kolesnikov repeated in several interviews that there is no need to replace
Yanukovych as head of the cabinet.

The PRU, confident of its strength, has been the only force among the three
main players to not form a bloc. Instead, several small parties ceased to
exist to enable their leaders to join the PRU’s list for the election.

The list, adopted at the party’s pre-election convention on August 4,
includes a record number of government officials: five deputy prime
ministers and 11 cabinet ministers.

The head of Yushchenko’s office, Viktor Baloha, has suggested that the PRU
will not resist the temptation of using “administrative resources,” meaning
the government’s illegal participation in the campaign in favor of one
party, a frequent charge against former president Leonid Kuchma.

NUNS has ostentatiously crossed Yushchenko’s aides, including Baloha,

from its list, in order to preclude accusations against Yushchenko of
interference in the election process. Furthermore, Yushchenko in August 6
dismissed six advisers who had decided to run for parliament on the NUNS
list.

There are, however, two key ministers among the top 10 on the NUNS list:
Foreign Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko.

The PRU has already accused Hrytsenko of having recourse to administrative
resource, claiming that military servicemen were spotted distributing NUNS
campaign materials.

One of the main questions that the election should resolve is whether the
current opposition will remain united. Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine (NU)
leader Vyacheslav Kyrylenko have pledged that their parties would be
together, and never form a coalition with the PRU.

Lutsenko, who tops the NUNS list, however, has not ruled out his party’s
cooperation with the PRU in a new parliament on specific issues like
constitutional amendments or new electoral legislation.

“We have to take into account that about one in three Ukrainians backs the
PRU,” he told Inter TV, urging “dialogue” with the PRU. Yanukovych,
addressing the PRU convention on August 4, urged a broad coalition, but he
did not mention either NUNS or BYuT specifically.

Tymoshenko, addressing her convention on August 5, said that corrupt
officials should be imprisoned for life, and that judges should be elected
by popular vote. BYuT also seeks a new constitution in order to strengthen
the presidency.

Tymoshenko also promised to do her utmost to revise gas agreements with
Russia. She wants to remove intermediaries in the natural gas trade, and she
also pledged to return to cheaper gas prices for Ukraine.

Recent opinion polls show that not much should change in parliament after
the election, so Yushchenko and Tymoshenko’s hopes for a parliament
dominated by their coalition will hardly come true. The PRU is the confident
leader of popular sympathies.

Some 30-33% of Ukrainians are ready to vote for it, according to the polls
conducted independently by SOCIS and the Public Opinion Foundation in

June and July.

NUNS and BYuT will contest the second position. They should score
respectively 13-15% and 14-17.5%, according to the pollsters. The Communists
should score 3.5-5%. The Socialists may fail to clear the 3% barrier, as
public support for them hovers around 1.1-2.5%. (http://www.jamestown.org)
———————————————————————————————–
(Glavred.info, July 30; UNIAN, July 28, August 1, 4; Segodnya, August 2;
Interfax-Ukraine, Channel 5, August 4; Inter, August 5; Ukrayinska pravda,
August 6)
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]

========================================================
9.  WHAT SHOULD MOSCOW EXPECT FROM KIEV?

OPINION & ANALYSIS: By Viktor Kuvaldin
RIA Novosti, Moscow, Russia, Monday, August 13, 2007

MOSCOW – A short summer recess is coming to a close. Before long,

Ukraine and Russia will be in for a hot fall – parliamentary elections.

For Ukraine, this is the moment of truth, a hope to come out of a deep
political crisis, which has been tormenting the country with periodic
aggravations for months. For Russia, this is no more than a training session
before the main event of the political year – presidential elections next
March.

Coincidence in time is largely reducing bilateral interest in each other’s
political cycles. Each neighbor is primarily concerned with its own

domestic affairs.

No matter how we treat the powers that be, our life depends on them,
especially in former Soviet republics. Only professionals can afford the
luxury of closely following both election campaigns at once.

But the political calendars are not all-important. In the past 16 years, we
have moved away from each other so much that our interest in bilateral
affairs has become much less emotional than it used to be – sometimes

over the top.

We have come to realize that we are no longer bound by one and the same
chain, and can choose where to go without paying much attention to a
neighbor. This is particularly true of our part of the world, where one
group makes a choice and another pays for it through the nose.

But no matter what importance we attach to elections, correlation of forces
in parliament, political reforms, and foreign policy alliances and
misalliances, they do not determine the future of our countries or their
relations. The emergence of Russia and Ukraine on the political map
coincided with belated, wild return of our nations to the primordial
bourgeois civilization.

The owner’s instinct, big money and gold rush are bossing the show on the
post-Soviet space without any regard for law, morality or supreme national
considerations.

Private ownership has enabled individualism to make a historic revenge – in
the Soviet times public interests prevailed over any individual
manifestations, whereas now the reverse is true – individualism is ousting
public values all along the line, reaching unparalleled cynicism at the top.

Many members of our so-called elites are thinking much more about their own
pockets than destinies of their countries. The civil society in Ukraine and
especially in Russia is still too weak to make them forget this bad habit.

This is why they enjoy more freedom of action than is normal for Europe.
This is also why our nations have to pay so dearly for the wrong choice of
rulers.

All this is true, but nonetheless, for Moscow, Ukrainian elections are not a
routine event, and not because good guys are fighting bad guys or because
pro-Russian leaders are battling against their enemies. We don’t have
supporters there, except for the heroic Natalia Vitrenko (a curious opposite
of the Iron Yulia Tymoshenko).

This is normal. There are no pro-Ukrainian politicians in Russia, either,
and nobody is surprised that they are none. Why should we apply a different
yardstick to Ukraine?

Any pro-Russian politician is bound to become a marginal with the
consolidation of Ukraine’s independence and we should not expect

Yanukovich and his entourage to be happy to play this role.

A sensible approach lies elsewhere. In principle, it does not differ from
what is accepted universally. I mean the willingness of certain political
forces in Ukraine to take into account Russia’s legitimate interests in
building their strategy on many issues of mutual interest. In other words,
develop partner relations to mutual benefit.

Our nations have truly unique potentialities in this sphere, given goodwill
and a sober approach. The benefits of cooperation and the costs of conflicts
are equally great for both sides. The problem is that not infrequently the
national interests are being replaced with the opportunistic considerations
of the clans, self-centered calculations and personal considerations.

The Ukrainian elections’ political agenda consists of numerous and diverse
issues. It is up to the Ukrainians how to resolve them. We must respect
their choice whether we like it or not (reciprocity would be welcomed).

But there is one urgent problem, which affects Russia’s vital interests. It
cannot and will not passively watch the increasingly overt attempts of
certain Western circles to draw Ukraine into NATO.

Probably, Kiev, just as many other European capitals, does not fully
understand why Moscow is so sensitive to NATO’s continued eastward
expansion. The Cold War is over; the likelihood of an armed conflict between
NATO and Russia is close to zero; and they have established good working
relations.

It would seem that there are no grounds for concern and that Moscow’s

morbid reaction may be treated as a leftover syndrome of the past era. But in
reality, the Kremlin’s approach is quite rational. The world’s most powerful
military-political alliance is being deployed at Russia’s borders.

This is a bloc, which does not invite Russia to become a member, where
Russia is not welcome. NATO does not even consider Russia’s interests too
much, thereby compelling it to take adequate measures.

This is all irritating by itself, but the main point is that the
NATO-offered semi-decorative partnership is increasingly revealing what is
for Russia an alarming reality – NATO has become a quite effective
instrument for ousting Russia from the European space. As Europe’s biggest
country, Russia cannot accept this turn of events under any circumstances.

To sum up, Ukraine’s European choice is logical and understandable. Russia
is striving to move in the same direction. Ukraine and Russia should help,
or at least not obstruct each other’s way forward.

Together, they will find a befitting place in the European family easier and
quicker. Divided, they will not fulfill their historic mission in the world.
———————————————————————————————–
Ph. D. Viktor Kuvaldin (History) heads a chair at the Moscow School of
Economics of Moscow State University. The opinions expressed in this

article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
10. UKRAINE: AND THEY’RE OFF! Early parliamentary elections are on.
 
COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS: By Ivan Lozowy
THE UKRAINE INSIDER, Kyiv, Ukraine, Vol. 7, No. 3, Aug 8, 2007

Despite early misgivings and some desperate flailing from Socialist Party
Chairman Oleksandr Moroz, both Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor

Yushchenko are going ahead with the September 30, 2007 election date.
The new electionsare supposed to settle the long-running struggle for
power between President and Prime Minister.

They are unlikely to do anything of the sort.

Yanukovych’s Party of Regions are in the ascendant. In elections held only
a year and a half ago, the Party of Regions won a convincing first place.
Now, thanks to Yushchenko, they dominate the government and are sure to
bring into play “administrative resource,” a euphemism for government power
in the service of narrow, political interests. The power of the purse,
budgetary and a myriad of other financial allocations present powerful
weapons to use in convincing local government and business leaders to
support the Party of Regions.

The Party of Regions is well disciplined. They have also been flexible
enough to take on board representatives from two other, smaller, but still
important clans. Inna Bohoslovska, a protege of the oligarch Viktor
Pinchuk, and Nestor Shufrych, of the Social Democratic Party (united) —
the SDPU(o) — are in the top five of the corresponding election list.

Given that these elections should, from the Party of Regions’ view,
entrench them in power, the party’s informal head and Ukraine’s richest
man, Renat Akhmetov, will not be stingy in spending party funds. Through
Yanukovych’s government, Akhmetov and his party have had ample time to
gobble up resources from “The Trough,” as the State Budget is sardonically
referred to.

Thus Yanukovych and company look set to significantly increase their 2006
results of 32%, a result on the order of 36-40% is entirely possible.

Yulia Tymoshenko will also doubtless improve on her result of 22% in 2006.

But Tymoshenko is also on a collision course with herself. Her consistently
very high negative ratings create a relatively low ceiling for her
ambitions. Her passivity before the pre-election period contributed to the
rise of an alternative “leader of the opposition” in the form of former
Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko.  Lutsenko is allied with the Our Ukraine
coalition and some of his poll ratings reach a respectable 6%.

Yushchenko’s “Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defense” coalition, on the other
hand, has an uphill climb ahead of it.

Shut out from executive power by the very people their informal head, the
President, put in office, Our Ukraine has little financing available and a
serious image problem.

A much touted reunion of nine political parties in the “Our Ukraine”
coalition is no more than an empty space within a shell, since most of the
parties are miserly groupings with no grass-roots organizations or impact
on society. After the elections, many of the nine signatories to a pact to
form one, united party will not stay the course, preferring their small,
separate “ant-hills.”

Recent polls have generously given the Our Ukraine coalition 12-16%. In
reality, the pent-up anger at Yushchenko’s failed promises bodes a severe
disappointment for adherents of the Orange Revolution. Just the dismay at
Yushchenko’s appointment of Yanukovych following a campaign slogan of
“Prison for the bandits!” will cost his coalition dearly two months from
now.

If Our Ukraine has troubles, then Moroz’ Socialist Party is deader than
dead. His betrayal of the Orange Coalition and switch to Yanukovych’s ally
has decimated his electoral support. Now Moroz has been outed by
Yushchenko’s decrees dissolving parliament.

Although Yushchenko has seemed to act forcefully the last several months,
this is not to his own credit. The reason for Yushchenko’s recently
uncovered backbone is his head of the presidential Secretariat, Viktor
Baloha. Consequently, the Party of Regions have taken to referring to
“certain bureaucrats” or “the President’s office” as the source of their
woes in the conflict with Yushchenko.

Baloha is a small-time Mafiosi from the deep Western region of Zakarpatya.
He gained prominence as Yushchenko’s ally in a vicious local conflict with
the SDPU(o) in the spring of 2004, known as the “Mukachevo” affair.

Knowing full well that Yanukovych’s principal strength lies in his grip on
the government, Baloha personally opened an early front on the panoply of
ministers the Party of Regions are mustering to garner votes, but this use
of “adminresurs” simply cannot realistically be countered.

The big question is who will form an absolute majority coalition after the
elections. If, as seems likely, the three principal groups divide
parliament’s seats so that no single one of them can form a coalition, a
“grand coalition” between the Party of Regions and Our Ukraine is entirely
possible.

The major problem with a revival of the Orange coalition is that Tymoshenko
repels strong personalities as much as she attracts public attention. As a
weak politician, Yushchenko has been one of the few with whom Tymoshenko
has been able to work. Baloha, on the other hand, is rumored to harbor
ambitions of replacing Yanukovych as Prime Minister. He is unlikely to
calmly contemplate Tymoshenko’s return to this post.

Baloha recently publicly lauded new Tymoshenko’s political program,
“Ukraine’s Breakthrough.” In the Byzantine world of Ukrainian politics,
this is as good as declaring that he is preparing to stab Tymoshenko in the
back.

————————————————————————————————
THE UKRAINE INSIDER – is distributed via the Internet free of charge to
all interested parties as a source of in-depth information on political events
in Ukraine, including behind-the-scenes coverage of significant current
issues, the positions of policy-makers, tactics and strategy information on
Ukraine’s ongoing struggle toward a free and democratic society.
Correspondence should be addressed via the Internet to: lozowy@i.com.ua
————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
11. UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS CANCEL AUGUST MEETING

BACKGROUND: BBC Monitoring research in English 14 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Tuesday, Aug 14, 2007

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s visit to Russia, tentatively
scheduled for 15-20 August 2007, has been postponed until late October-

early November, the Ukrainian president’s press service has said.

Yushchenko was to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the
Yushchenko-Putin interstate commission. The two presidents were to sign the
Ukrainian-Russian action plan for 2007-08. Yushchenko dubbed the plan as a
“road map” that would deal with all key problems between the two countries.

August meeting put off reportedly due to coming election in Ukraine

The first official indication of plans for the August visit came at a news
conference Yushchenko gave after meeting Putin in St Petersburg on 10 June.

According to an official version quoted by the Ukrainian edition of the
Russian newspaper Izvestiya, Izvestiya v Ukraine, the visit was delayed to
make additional preparations for the commission meeting.

Media reports suggest that the meeting between the presidents was postponed
as Moscow wants to see the outcome of an early parliamentary election in
Ukraine scheduled for 30 September before deciding on whether to raise the
price of gas for Ukraine.

The director of the Ukrainian Sofiya centre for social studies, Andriy
Yermolayev, speculated that the Kremlin was mostly interested in postponing
the meeting until after the 30 September election as the opposition is
gaining support in Ukraine and its slogans on revising relations with Russia
are becoming increasingly popular.

Ukraine currently pays 130 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres of gas but Putin
and other Russian leaders threatened to raise the price of gas, especially
if Ukraine chooses an unfriendly course after the election.

Putin warned on 4 June, “We have been subsidizing Ukraine for 15 years with
a low price for gas amounting to 3bn-5bn dollars annually. We do not intend
to do this further.”

Other Russian politicians said that Gazprom should raise its price from 130
dollars to the European levels of 230 dollars as early as the fourth quarter
of 2007 if the Orange forces gain power in the coming election.

Yushchenko said in a 4 July interview with four Moscow newspapers that he
would bring up the question of gas imports in an August meeting with Putin,
proposing a formula for setting gas prices to avoid sharp, unpredictable
hikes.

“The upward trend in pricing is obvious, but I want this trend to have a
predictable nature,” Yushchenko said. He explained that based on this
formula – calculated on comparable rises for other forms of energy such as
coal and uranium – the annual price of gas can rise 10-20 per cent but not
to 235 dollars per 1,000 cu.m.

“Prices go up 10-20 per cent every year. Even if we had factored in a
100-per-cent increase in the uranium price in 2005, we would have never
arrived at 235 dollars per 1,000 cubic metres, which was the price we were
offered,” Yushchenko told the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta on 9 July.

Ukrainian political analyst and MP Dmytro Vydrin suggested that Yushchenko
wants to wait for a reformatting of Ukraine’s political elite and of that
part of it which will be in charge of Ukrainian foreign policy following the
election before he gets down to preparations for his Russian visit.

Vydrin believes that Yushchenko sees no point in involving in talks
officials who may lose their seats after the general election.

History of Previous Visits
[1] Yushchenko’s first visit to Moscow on 24 January 2005:
Yushchenko’s first meeting with Putin after election as president was in
Moscow on 24 January 2005 right after his inauguration on 23 January.
Opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko’s appointment as Ukraine’s acting prime
minister was announced when Yushchenko’s plane landed in Moscow.

The appointment looked fairly provocative ahead of Yushchenko’s Moscow

visit because criminal proceedings against her continued in Russia.

The Russian daily Kommersant reported on 25 January that Yushchenko “showed
himself during the negotiations as a worthy son of the Ukrainian people”.

Initially, he looked excited after Putin said that Yushchenko should know
that Russia never acted behind the scenes in the post-Soviet area including
in relations with the opposition, that Russia always supports the de facto
government and that they expect to have trusty relations with Yushchenko.

“Viktor Yushchenko listened to this statement very attentively. He was
obviously excited: changed his pose every now and then, took his hands off
the table and put them on the table again, and often nodded – at times it
seemed that his nods were absolutely out of place,” Kommersant wrote.

Yushchenko said he wanted to shake Putin’s hand as a symbol of the
development of their relations but he did not reach out his hand. He did not
even half-rise in his seat.

The talks continued for more than two hours. When the presidents walked out
to meet the press, Yushchenko looked a completely self-assured person,
Kommersant wrote.

Speaking at a final press conference, Putin said they discussed the creation
of a gas transport consortium to manage and develop Ukraine’s gas pipelines.
He said that Germany planned to join the consortium. He did not rule out
that other West European countries may take part in the project.

The two presidents also discussed political and military-technical
cooperation between the two countries and the Single Economic Space (a
common market of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, SES). Yushchenko
told Putin that Ukraine would move towards the SES solely provided that this
did not hamper its movement towards the EU.

Putin expressed satisfaction with his first meeting with Yushchenko. He told
journalists, “There is not a single problem that we did not discuss. We met
understanding in that we should move forward from the achieved level of
cooperation.”

Yushchenko said that Russia is an eternal and strategic partner of Ukraine
and that he is prepared to deal with all existing problems in relations.
Putin said they would instruct their governments shortly to prepare new
documents on cooperation.

[2] Putin’s visit to Ukraine on 19 March 2005:
Putin visited Ukraine on 21 March for the first time since the Orange
Revolution. Kommersant said that Yushchenko waited for Putin on the porch
outside his office. They embraced and created the impression of old friends
who had not seen each other for a long time.

The Russian and Ukrainian presidents told a news conference they discussed a
joint gas consortium to operate Ukrainian pipelines. Yushchenko said that
Ukraine’s existing gas transport system would remain the country’s property.

Putin stated that Russia was interested in attracting new participants to
ensure stable gas supply to Europe. He mentioned Germany as a potential
partner.

Yushchenko and Putin agreed to adopt a bilateral action plan to be drawn up
by the governments for 2005 and to set up the Putin-Yushchenko interstate
commission.

Yushchenko said Ukraine proposed a compromise on Sea of Azov border
delimitation and also suggested that Russia recognize the Soviet-time border
between Russia and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait as a state border now.

The presidents said they discussed the continuing deployment of the Russian
Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. “There’s no question of the Black Sea fleet base
being liquidated,” Yushchenko said amid concerns in Moscow that if Ukraine
eventually joins NATO, it could revoke Russia’s lease on the naval base
which runs until 2017.

The presidents discussed arms trade, the separatist Dniester region in
Moldova and the issues of citizenship, language and religion. Yushchenko
urged a free-trade agreement to close Ukraine’s deficit in bilateral trade,
while Putin urged Ukraine not to leave the SES.

Yushchenko did not give a final answer on whether Kiev would pull out of the
Kremlin-promoted SES, which would forge closer economic and trade links
between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. He noted only that the
first step should focus on creating a free-trade zone.

[3] Putin, Yushchenko met in Russia on 29 August 2005:
Yushchenko and Putin’s next meeting took place in Russia’s Kazan on 29
August 2005 to discuss the SES. The two presidents also met other heads of
CIS member states and visited a horse race, Kommersant reported.

Yushchenko said that Ukraine was prepared to sign only 15 of the 29
documents to be signed on 1 December 2005 by Russia, Kazakhstan and

Belarus.

The documents concerned the rules of the free economic zone, which is
primarily of interest to Ukraine in the SES, while the other 14 documents
deal with supranational bodies. Putin insisted that the 29 documents “may be
signed and take effect only as a package”.

[4] Yushchenko, Putin’s meeting in Kazakhstan’s Astana on 11 January 2006:
Putin and Yushchenko met again in the Kazakh capital Astana on 11 January
2006. They arrived to attend the inauguration ceremony of re-elected
Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The meeting took place just days after Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine in
a price dispute and two months ahead of the parliamentary election in
Ukraine. Kiev was amid an acute political crisis as parliament expressed no
confidence in Ukrainian government head Yuriy Yekhanurov.

The pretext was the 4 January gas agreement. But in reality Yekhanurov fell
victim to the fight for power between branches of authority as part of
political reform that entered into force on 1 January 2006.

The talks continued for more than an hour. Yushchenko told journalists after
the talks that the gas war with Russia was over. He said that the new gas
deal with Russia raising the price of gas for Ukraine was written “in a
professional manner”.

Yushchenko promised to abide by the new deal. He said Russia and Ukraine
were close to signing an agreement on readmission. The sides also reached
agreement for a joint commission to start work on demarcating the land
section of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

For his part, Putin promised stable gas supply to Ukraine. Putin called the
talks with Yushchenko “a thorough and fruitful discussion”, Russia’s
Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote on 12 January.

[5] Putin’s October 2006 visit to Ukraine cancelled:
Putin intended to visit Ukraine in the second half of October, Russian
ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin said on 12 September. Putin
discussed the preparations with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych
in Moscow on 22 September 2006, Russian presidential press secretary Aleksey
Gromov told ITAR-TASS.

The Ukrainian newspaper Segodnya on 28 October said unnamed officials from
the Russian presidential press service confirmed that a visit to Ukraine was
not listed in Putin’s official travel plans.

The Ukrainian and Russian political pundits polled by the paper offered a
whole range of possible reasons for the apparent postponement, from failure
to agree the visit’s agenda and the outcome of the resale of Ukraine’s
Kryvorizhstal steelworks to problems in the oil and gas sector.

Political scientist Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy said that the visit was the
Ukrainian government’s wishful thinking, as no-one had any intention of
going anywhere, and politicians were simply spreading rumours about Putin’s
visit to make people believe that our relations with Russia are in good
shape.

Russian pundit, Sergey Markov suggested that the main reason for cancelling
the visit was poor preparation for the two presidents’ meeting. He put the
blame on Ukraine for this. He suggested that they probably failed to agree
on the agenda.

Segodnya’s source in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry almost confirmed
Markov’s opinion, saying that the Ukrainian side did not come up with
concrete proposals to the Russians yet, therefore, the visit has been
postponed until later time.

Yushchenko’s adviser and Russian politician Boris Nemtsov speculated that
Putin could have become upset about the repeat sale of Kryvorizhstal to
Mittal Steel Germany on 24 October and decided not to go to Ukraine.

“Maybe, he would be ashamed to come to Ukraine to face its privatization
successes, while in Russia the authorities audaciously take away Yukos
facilities,” Nemtsov told Segodnya.

[6] Putin visited to Kiev on 22 December 2006:
Putin arrived in Ukraine on 22 December 2006 for a one-day visit to meet
Yushchenko and attend the meeting of the Yushchenko-Putin commission. This
was Putin’s second visit to Ukraine since the 2004 election of pro-Western
Yushchenko following a bitter campaign in which the Russian leader publicly
backed Yushchenko’s opponent, Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych returned to the prime minister’s post in August 2006 after his
party won the most votes in the March 2006 parliamentary election. In
November, Russia announced that Kiev would see the price for gas imports
increase less than its neighbours.

In turn, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said the Kremlin would like
Kiev to “synchronize” its entry to the WTO with Moscow. Yanukovych put on
hold Ukraine’s drive for NATO membership that had irritated Russia.

The two presidents spoke tete-a-tete much longer than planned, for nearly
two hours.

The presidents agreed to step up talks about the delimitation and
demarcation of the border. They noted progress in resolving the conflict in
Moldova’s Dniester region. Putin said their agenda included the stationing
of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine’s Crimea and the settlement of the
Azov-Kerch issue. Speaking about gas, Putin said that market prices will
ensure stable gas supplies to Ukraine and gas transit to Europe.

Putin defended the price of gas which Russia supplies to Ukraine. He said
the main factor was the price of gas which Russia buys from Turkmenistan and
then exports to Ukraine. He promised stable gas supplies to Ukraine.

“As regards the price of 135 dollars, this is not our price, this is the
Turkmen price. Turkmenistan sold all gas to Russia at 100 dollars per 1,000
cu.m. Add transport and overheads, and you get this price,” Putin said.

The two presidents told a news conference after the talks that they were
pleased both with the outcome and the atmosphere of the talks.

In the evening, Putin met Yanukovych in his residence. Afterwards,
Yanukovych went to see Putin off in the airport.

[7] Yushchenko’s late February-early March 2007 visit delayed:
Yushchenko’s visit to Russia was tentatively scheduled for late
February-early March 2007.

Preparations for the visit were discussed on 31 January at the Moscow
meeting between Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Viktor Baloha, his
Russian counterpart Sergey Sobyanin, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor
Ivanov and Russian State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoriy
Karasin. The two presidents were expected to sign a bilateral action plan
for 2007-08.

But the preparations were marred by the on-going controversy involving the
head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Ukraine’s pro-Western Foreign
Minister Borys Tarasyuk was sacked by parliament on 1 December at the
cabinet’s suggestion, which said Tarasyuk couldn’t be foreign minister and
leader of an opposition party at the same time.

Yushchenko reinstated Tarasyuk, but the latter was forced to resign on 30
January following a lengthy and controversial litigation process.

Tarasyuk told a news conference on 30 January that he resigned to put an end
to the uncertainty produced by the protracted litigation damaging Ukraine’s
international image. He said another reason was that the Finance Ministry
blocked the Foreign Ministry’s operations by freezing its accounts and
cutting budget allocations.

Ukrainian analysts suggest that Tarasyuk fell victim to the fight for power
between Yushchenko and Yanukovych, which had been triggered by the flawed
constitutional reform trimming the president’s powers in favour of the prime
minister and parliament since 1 January 2006.

Career diplomat Volodymyr Ohryzko, known for his pro-Western views,

became acting foreign minister following Tarasyuk’s resignation. Yushchenko
nominated Ohryzko for foreign minister twice but the ruling pro-government
coalition in parliament rejected him on both occasions on 22 February and 20
March.

The Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin, said on 8 February
that the personality of a new Ukrainian foreign minister was not a matter of
principle for Russia. On 20 March Yushchenko nominated deputy head of the
presidential secretariat Arseniy Yatsenyuk for foreign minister and
parliament confirmed his nomination on 21 March.

Ohryzko was appointed Yatsenyuk’s first deputy. The Russian daily Kommersant
reported on 21 March that Yushchenko sacrificed Ohryzko, who irritated
Moscow, following a phone conversation with Putin on 20 March.

Tension rose following Putin’s unexpected statement at a news conference for
Russian and foreign journalists in the Kremlin on 1 February that Ukraine
may get access to Russian gas deposits in exchange for a share in the
Ukrainian gas transport system. Putin said that the proposal was forwarded
to Russia by its “Ukrainian friends”, adding that he was willing to discuss
the matter with Yushchenko.

Putin’s statement caused quite a stir in Ukraine. Yushchenko said on 2
February that it was too early to launch talks on the matter as any change
to Ukraine’s monopoly on its gas transport system “requires an extremely
cautious approach”. The opposition said it believes that the cabinet wants
to hand over Ukrainian gas pipelines to Russians.

Ukrainian opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko immediately launched a bill to
forbid Russian ownership of Ukraine’s pipelines, and parliament passed the
bill with no one daring to vote against it. Yanukovych defended the proposal
but later denied any intention of giving Russia control over Ukraine’s
pipelines.

The Ukrainian daily Kommersant Ukraina said on 2 February that the Ukrainian
constitution must be amended in order to sell a share in the pipelines. This
requires at least 300 votes in parliament, so the ruling coalition will have
to get the support of the opposition for this to happen.

[8] Yushchenko’s 21 March 2007 visit put off:
On 20 March Yushchenko asked Putin to agree on a new date for his visit to
Russia, which was originally scheduled for 21 March, due to the tragic
events in Russia – a mine blast killing more than 100 miners in Kemerovo
Region and a fire in an old people’s home in Krasnodar Territory claiming
the lives of 62 people, Yushchenko’s press service said.

Kommersant wrote on 21 March that Yushchenko’s visit was cancelled at the
last minute by Moscow, as the Kremlin had no desire to give Yushchenko a
boost in his struggle with Yanukovych. According to Kommersant, another
reason was that acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko,
regarded in Moscow as an anti-Russian politician, was included in the
Ukrainian delegation.

Furthermore, Kommersant said, “A week before his scheduled trip to Moscow,
Yushchenko showed ostentatious support for US plans to locate elements of an
antimissile system in the Czech Republic and Poland. He also made an
important statement on the role of NATO in Kiev’s foreign policy, without
saying a word about the role of Russia in it.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russia’s State Duma on 21 March
that the Ukrainian president’s visit to Russia was not thwarted but put off
as time was still needed to duly prepare the visit, Russia’s Ekho Moskvy
radio station reported on the same day.

[9] Yushchenko’s 3 April 2007 visit cancelled over political crisis in
Ukraine:
Yushchenko phoned Putin on 2 April to say he could not come to Moscow

on 3 April because of the political crisis in Ukraine following his 2 April
decree dissolving parliament and calling an early election. The crisis began
when parliament refused to comply with Yushchenko’s dissolution decree.

[10] Yushchenko met Putin at informal CIS summit in Russia on 10 June 2007:
Yushchenko met Putin at the informal CIS summit in Russia’s St Petersburg on
10 June. The meeting took place just days after the Russian president said
in an interview that Ukraine is heading towards tyranny.

In response, Yushchenko on 6 June warned Moscow that it should not interfere
in Ukrainian affairs, suggesting that Russia was in no position to lecture
Ukraine on democracy.

The meeting was preceded by yet another row over alleged “black lists” of
personae non gratae between Ukraine and Russia that erupted in early June.

Yushchenko’s adviser Mykola Zhulynskyy was banned entry into Russia on 5
June, which Russian ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin described as Moscow’s
response to the deportation of Russian nationalist politician Aleksandr
Dugin from Ukraine.

The situation was further aggravated by Moscow’s refusal to recognize
Ukrainian court rulings ordering Russia to transfer to Ukraine the
lighthouses that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is using in Ukraine’s Crimea.

This was voiced by Russian State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Minister
Grigoriy Karasin at his meeting with Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister
Volodymyr Ohryzko in Kiev on 5 June after a session of the subcommission for
the Black Sea Fleet, which is part of the Yushchenko-Putin commission.

Yushchenko told a news conference in St Petersburg following his 10 June
meeting with Putin that he was pleased with the atmosphere at the talks. He
noted progress on issues of demarcation and delimitation of joint borders,
entry bans, conflict settlement in Moldova’s rebel Dniester region and the
CIS.

[11] No reports on Yushchenko’s likely 30 June 2007 informal visit to
Russia:
The Ukrainian One Plus One TV channel quoted the Ukrainian ambassador to
Russia, Oleh Dyomin, as saying that Yushchenko and Putin were to meet in
Rostov-na-Donu on 30 June for the annual horse race for the cup of the
Russian president, at which CIS leaders traditionally meet.

But no reports on whether or not the meeting took place were observed. In
all likelihood, Yushchenko cancelled the visit.

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12. BRACEWELL & GIULIANI INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM

JOINS THE U.S.-UKRAINE BUSINESS COUNCIL (USUBC)
 
By Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer
President, U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC)
Washington, D.C., Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Executive Committee of the Board of

Directors of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC) has just
approved the Bracewell & Giuliani LLP law firm as the 41st member
of the Council.

Martin J. Hunt, Partner, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, who works out of

their London and New York offices and is in charge of their business
in Eastern Europe and the FSU, informed the Council about the law
firms interest in membership in the Council. 
 
The UAUBC is acquainted with Bracewell & Giuliani as they perform
legal services for SigmaBleyzer, a member of the U.S.-Ukraine Business
Council.

Bracewell & Giuliani LLP is a prominent international law firm. With

400+ lawyers in New York, Connecticut, Texas, Washington, D.C.,
Dubai, Kazakhstan and London, they serve clients concentrated in
the energy and financial services sectors worldwide.

In 2005, former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani
joined the firm as a senior partner. His international reputation for
leadership and problem solving is a unique asset for their clients, which
include Fortune 500 companies, major financial institutions, leading
private investment funds, governmental entities and individuals.

Bracewell & Giuliani (www.bracewellgiuliani.com) is the 18th new

member for the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council in the last seven months.
The Council’s goal is to double its membership in 2007.              
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13. UKRAINE: TURNING CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES

BRIEFING: Oxford Business Group, UK, 19 June 2007

Ukraine has long enjoyed a reputation as potentially one of the most
productive agricultural production areas of the world.

When Ukraine declared independence in 1991, the country was saddled with
badly organised and poorly managed collective farms – with no farmers
skilled in private farming or decision-making.

Since then, it has suffered many of the vagaries common to post-Soviet
states – unstable economic policies, endemic corruption and political
upheaval.

Collective farms have given way to a hodgepodge of giant corporate-type
farms, a collection of hardscrabble private farmers and a large number of
small subsistence farms.

One problem they all face is an insufficient supply of reliable, efficient
and affordable farm equipment.

In the mid-1990s, an effort was made to solve the problem, with significant
programmes jointly financed by the US and the Ukrainian Export-Import bank.

Through these, a large amount of American-made farm equipment was provided
to Ukrainian farmers. However, because of poor management, many combines

and tractors went to farms that could not pay for the equipment.

Today, debts in the millions of dollars have been written off and a large
amount of expensive, imported equipment has found its way to the scrap heap
because of inadequate maintenance.

Later, other large agricultural equipment companies made years-long efforts
to develop the Ukrainian market with straightforward sales operations
underwritten by credit on commercial terms from European banks.

Ultimately, this too proved largely unsuccessful. One of the best-known farm
equipment companies, UK-based Massey-Ferguson, downsized and eventually
closed its operations in Ukraine, although it continues to operate through
importer-dealers.

More recently, programmes underwritten by the Ukrainian government have had
some success, but in a country where as many as 10,000 replacement combines
for worn-out equipment should enter the market each year, probably not more
than 10% of the need is fully met.

In addition, much of the Ukrainian government effort has been directed
towards the financing of equipment made in Ukraine that is not as efficient
nor as durable as combines and tractors made in Europe or the US.

In the last few years, a small group of entrepreneurs has developed a niche
business that is actively filling a small part of this market. One of these,
Jim Asher, is a 76-year old American who grew up in the wheat fields of
Kansas.

In 1993, he found himself in Kiev as country manager for the Citizens
Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA), an American non-governmental
organisation that was for many years the largest agricultural development
group working in Ukraine, with funding almost entirely supplied by the US
Agency for International Development.

When he left CNFA in 1997, Asher spent some time working on agricultural
assistance projects with Massey-Ferguson as it tried to develop the sales
and service of its equipment line in the country.

Asher’s life-long agriculture and farm banking experience and his
hard-earned lessons learned in Ukraine, eventually led him to see what he
thought was a real market opportunity.

More often than not, Asher does not have to find private farmers in need of
farm equipment. They usually find him, thanks to his developing reputation.
They are usually looking for tractors and combines, but cannot, or will not,
pay the $400,000 or so asked for new equipment.

With that in mind, the appeal is obvious for used and reconditioned foreign
farm machinery that, properly maintained, could operate efficiently for
another 10 to 20 years.

The cost difference between buying used European or American equipment
rather than something new differs from deal to deal, but in almost every
case, the Ukrainian farmer saves as much as 50% or more.

Once a deal is made, Asher’s uses his experience and contacts, usually
somewhere in America’s farmland of Kansas, Colorado, Missouri or

Nebraska, to locate several options.

He then usually gets visas for the farm owners to visit the US to see the
options and make their choices. The trip also allows the Ukrainian buyers to
get a feel for Western-style farming, something most have never really
understood.

Asher also takes care of the rest of the details, getting the equipment to a
port city for shipment to Ukraine. Returning from these trips, he usually
brings back hundreds of pounds of parts and other needs for customers who
use his services on a continuing basis.

As Asher told OBG, Ukrainian agriculture has been in a state of flux for all
of the 15 years that I’ve been involved, and I can see the time when what
I’m doing may have outlived its usefulness.

However, for these last few years, it has been good business, and quite
large business for someone who operates with only one or two associates.

It has been a relatively profitable business that now amounts to well into
seven figures.

He added, For the person who wants to be involved in business in Ukraine,
the opportunities are great, but then so are the problems.

The learning curve here is long and can be very painful. However, those with
good ideas and great tenacity will find Ukraine an interesting place to be.
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14. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TURNS CHERNOBYL EXCLUSION
ZONE, 48,870 HECTARES, INTO GAME RESERVE

Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian 13 Aug 07
BBC Monitoring Service, United Kingdom, Mon, Aug 13, 2007

KIEV – The Chernobyl exclusion zone and zone of absolute resettlement
(48,870 hectares – Interfax-Ukraine) have been declared a general zoological
game reserve of national importance “Chernobyl Special”.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed the decree to this effect on 13
August, the presidential press service has said.

The decree was signed to preserve the unique features of the forests in the
exclusion zone within the Kiev Polisya region, Ukraine’s largest reservation
of wild life that needs protection and regulation of population of animals.

According to the decree, the Cabinet of Ministers should approve a
regulation on the general zoological game reserve of national importance
“Chernobyl Special” within three months.

Also, the cabinet was instructed to transfer the area under protection of
the state department for administration of the exclusion zone and zone of
absolute resettlement.
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15. TENNIS SUPERSTAR, MARIA SHARAPOVA, PLANS FIRST TRIP
BACK TO CHERNOBYL SINCE FAMILY FLED 21 YEARS AGO

Beth Harris, AP Worldstream, Monday, Aug 13, 2007

Maria Sharapova travels the world as the highest-paid female athlete,
cocooning in fancy hotels, dining at swanky restaurants and indulging her
love of shoes.

Yet there’s one place the 20-year-old tennis superstar’s journeys have never
taken her – the region devastated 21 years ago by the Chernobyl nuclear
reactor disaster.

Sharapova’s mother, Yelena, was pregnant with her only child when the plant
in Ukraine exploded and spewed radioactive clouds over the western Soviet
Union and northern Europe.

“A lot of families were moving, but not a lot of them could because they
didn’t really know where to go,” Sharapova told The Associated Press. “My
mom’s dad happened to be working in Siberia, so that’s why we had a sense of
direction.”

Sharapova’s father, Yuri, and her mother fled the city of Gomel in Belarus –
about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Chernobyl – shortly before she was
born in Nyagan, Siberia, exactly a year and a week after the explosion.

Gomel was one of the areas most affected by radiation. Sharapova said she
still has family there, including grandparents.

Sharapova plans to visit Chernobyl as a United Nations goodwill ambassador,
perhaps after Wimbledon next July.

“It’s in the beginning stages of what exactly I’m going to be doing,” she
said. “But I want to visit the facilities that they’re building right now
for the children – computer labs and hospitals.”

Sharapova started hitting tennis balls at age 4. Two years later, she was
discovered by Martina Navratilova at a Moscow exhibition. At 9, Sharapova
and her father moved to Florida, beginning a two-year separation from her
mother because of visa restrictions and limited finances.

She’s never forgotten her roots.

In 2004, Sharapova won the season-ending WTA Championships and received

a car worth more than $56,000 (A41,000). She donated the money to those
affected by the Russian school hostage crisis in Beslan in which 334 people
died, more than half of them children.

In February, when Sharapova was appointed an ambassador for the U.N.
Development Program, she donated $100,000 (A73,000) to help recovery in

the Chernobyl region.

Goodwill ambassadors try to draw attention to the plight of some of the
world’s poorest spots. Sharapova, who has earned more than $9 million (A6.6
million) in career prize money, has a two-year contract with the UNDP that
pays her a symbolic salary of $1 a year. Goodwill ambassadors pay their own
way on trips.

“They wanted me to work with them because they felt like people in those
areas didn’t really feel like they had a chance to survive,” Sharapova said.
“They wanted me to help raise the awareness that by building schools,
hospitals, cleaning the air that there is pride and a side they can head
towards instead of thinking all those negative things.”

Her trip to Chernobyl will last just a few days. “Unfortunately, I have

about 28 days a year for the work that I do and for the sponsors, for the
photo shoots and the visits,” she said. “Time is very, very limited.”

Sharapova won her first title of the season a week ago near San Diego.
During the tournament, she met with a group of Russian children visiting the
United States.

Their trip was sponsored by The Children of Chernobyl, a nonprofit group
that brings healthy children from Belarus from ages 8 to 12 to America for a
six-to-eight week visit. They are placed with host families and the children
receive free medical, dental and eye care treatment.

Upon meeting Sharapova, some of the families asked what advice she could
give the children.

“It’s tough because most of them don’t have any parents, and what’s really
helped me in my life was having my mom and dad be so supportive and around
me,” she said.

Despite her Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles and No. 2 world ranking,
Sharapova didn’t expect the children to know who she was.

“They had all these questions lined up for me. The kids are pretty young and
the questions they were asking me were so mature and so beyond their years,”
she said. “This young kid asked me how I wanted to raise my children. I was
like, ‘Geez, you’re a kid yourself.’ It was very strange.'”

The children knew only rudimentary English phrases, like ‘How are you?’ so
they questioned her in Russian and Sharapova responded in her native
language.

Hearing the kids squeal about their trip to Sea World brought back memories.
As sophisticated as Sharapova comes off in photo spreads and on red carpets,
she says she acts like a kid away from the court and cameras.

“I still love things that you don’t even need to pay for,” she said. “Going
to the beach and being around five of your friends and having a good time
means so much more than going out and spending hundreds of dollars. It did
make me realize that, ‘Wow, all these small things are making them happy.'”

Sharapova is to begin her U.S. Open title defense on Aug. 27. She withdrew
from the semifinals of last week’s tournament in Carson because of a leg
injury. She said she plans to compete for another seven years.

“I have so many other things in my life that I want to try and do,” she
said, ticking off marriage and children among her goals. “I’d love to open a
tennis school for children in my hometown of Sochi.”

Sharapova said she recently read a book about Africa, and it, along with her
charity work, has helped expand her world of forehands and backhands.

“If you’re able to help some people and make them smile and make them
realize that life is good,” she said, “then that’s worth so much more than
buying a pair of shoes.”

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16. HARD LIFE AND ISOLATION FOR WORLD’S TALLEST MAN

By Sabina Zawadzki, Reuters, Podolyantsi, Ukraine, Sat, Aug 11, 2007

PODOLYANTSI, Ukraine – Being named the world’s tallest man has meant

very little for Leonid Stadnyk, scraping together a living with his mother in a
tiny village in central Ukraine.

Guinness World Records gave the accolade to him last week. But Stadnyk is
prouder of the present from local authorities on his 37th birthday — a
bathroom with a shower tall enough to fit his 2.53-metre (8-foot, four-inch)
frame.

“I don’t need glory. I just want a normal life under normal conditions,”
Stadnyk told Reuters, dwarfing an armchair outside his modest bungalow.

“I want to say to people — everyone is different, just as there are no two
identical apples in a barrel. But the world is built for medium-sized
people.” The Ukrainian’s extraordinary height has been a heavy burden,

rather than a blessing.

His spectacular growth began at about age 10 or 12. He is reluctant to
discuss the details, though local media say a brain operation set off
hormonal problems that kept him growing.

He was, nonetheless, gifted at school and became a veterinarian after
travelling 50 km (30 miles) every day to the town of Zhytomyr, where student
dormitories were unable to find a bed big enough to accommodate him.

But he had to quit the job as he just kept on growing. His size ruled out
using normal transport and he resorted to a horse and cart, hardly suitable
for a job entailing speedy travel.

Unable to find shoes that fit, Stadnyk’s feet suffered from frostbite in
winter. His hands became too big to use some of the equipment, and his
health deteriorated as his organs worked overtime to support such a towering
build.
SMALL PENSION, FARMYARD
He and his mother live off a pension equivalent to $100 a month and whatever
else they earn from growing tomatoes and cucumbers and raising chickens,
cows and pigs.

Barely a village, Podolyantsi is a collection of ramshackle, yet tidy,
houses 200 km (120 miles) west of the capital Kiev in a region traditionally
considered “the breadbasket of Europe”.

The glitter of consumer-oriented Kiev fades into a region dotted by forests
and sky-blue lakes. Flashy foreign vehicles are replaced by Ladas and
Soviet-era trucks, which swerve to avoid the occasional horse-drawn cart.

For Stadnyk, the simplest of things poses problems. His mobile phone
disappears into the grasp of one of his hands and the small keys make it
difficult to use. But most frustrating is lack of mobility and dependence on
others.

“There is nothing here. No schools, no library, no cultural centre,” he
said. A bus, he said, might solve the problem.

His mother now walks on crutches. Stadnyk also finds walking difficult: his
feet simply cannot take the weight of his body.

Present during the discussion is regional doctor Leonid Pavlyuk, who said
Stadnyk had complained of heart problems the night before. The doctor said
his health was “stable”.

Andriy Danylov, head of the local authority which built the oversize shower,
says Stadnyk is also provided with hormonal medication, produced abroad

and requiring government permission.

“He needs not just the status of a handicapped person, but government
protection, a special status,” Danylov said.

Stadnyk hopes for practical things, like transport, farm machinery and maybe
something more. “I dream of (marriage) but I have problems and I don’t want
to pass my burdens onto the shoulders of a wife,” he said.

“Doctors tell me I will live for a long time. I hope it will be in happiness.”

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17.YUSHCHENKO SENT LETTER TO RUSSIA TO HONOR
VICTIMS OF STALIN’S GREAT TERROR INCLUDING
HUNDREDS OF PROMINENT UKRAINIANS

Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, August 3, 2007

KYIV – Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko on Friday sent a letter to the
participants of memorial events to honor the victims of the Great Terror of
1937-1938 in Sandomorokh in the Republic of Karelia (Russia).

“We share the pain of each nation whose sons and daughters were the

victims of the totalitarian regime,” the president said.
Yuschenko said that the tragedy had affected not only Ukraine but also
Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other Soviet republics.

“In the history of Ukraine, the memory of the Solovki is sacred.” The
president said hundreds of prominent Ukrainian scholars, artists and
religious leaders had been “tortured to death” in Sandomorokh.

“We must spare no effort to ensure that future generations never forget
these tragic pages of our shared history. The totalitarian crimes must be
condemned.”

In the 1930s Sandomorokh was used as a site of and burial of convicts of
Soviet labor camps and prisons located in Karelia and the Solovki prison
camp.

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18. UKRAINIAN PRES YUSHCHENKO CALLS FOR CONDEMNING
ALL TOTALITARIANISM CRIMES, 1937-1938 TERROR VICTIMS

Olha Volkovetska, Ukrainian News Agency, Kyiv, Ukraine, Fri, Aug 3, 2007

KYIV – President Viktor Yuschenko believes it is necessary to condemn all
crimes of the totalitarian regime. This follows from the president’s address
to participants of the convention in memory of the 1937-1938 terror victims
in Sandomory of Karelia (Russia).

“On behalf of the Ukrainian state, I pay homage to all innocent victims of
the great terror of 1937-1938 who are buried in Karelia’s land,” Yuschenko
said.

He noted that Ukraine shares pain of each people that suffered from the
totalitarian regime since it was a common tragedy.

“On behalf of Ukraine, I express gratitude to all partial states and public
figures of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Karelia, all people of
kind and fair will, owing to whom we’re observing the process of restoration
of historical justice and tributes to the memory of the Solovki victims,”
Yuschenko said.

The president noted that it is necessary to do everything possible for the
future generations to remember the tragic pages of the common history.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, President Viktor Yuschenko has plans to
establish the day in memory of victims of communist repressions.
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19. UKRAINE: NO “MANAGED TRUTH”
On one personal hiccup in critical thinking, the temptation to adjust
the truth and growing concern over a squalid historical remake
emerging from the recesses of the Kremlin.

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY: By Halya Coynash
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Kharkiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Collisions between beliefs and reality are rarely painless and the
temptation to stay with untried, untested, but painless assumptions is
strong. The bruises can, however, on occasion protect from worse
mistakes.

All my critical reflexes, encapsulated in one warning bell “Not so simple!”
were temporarily suspended when I heard of the opening (in fact,
renaming) of a Museum of Soviet Occupation in Kyiv.

On top of the unifying force of shared rejection of a totalitarian
monstrosity, there was the comfort of straightforward goodies and
baddies, with us in the right roles.

I owe a thank you to historian Yury Shapoval for a therapeutic mental
shake-up.  Binary systems – occupier and occupied simply leave too
many questions unanswered. A debate would seem to be gathering
force in Ukraine on this issue (1) which can only be welcomed.

An opposite trend can be seen rising in full force in today’s Russia.  Of
particular concern is the interest which the Kremlin is paying to the
teaching of History and Social Studies.

Two manuals for teaching these subjects have recently received Putin’s
personal stamp of approval presenting a picture of Soviet history entirely
in accord with that of the ex-KGB agent.

Stalin is presented as the “most successful Soviet leader”, and Putin
himself speaking before teachers in June, acknowledged the Terror only to
state that “other countries had done much worse things”.

This, ironically, was virtually verbatim what I heard two years ago from a
Ukrainian SBU [Ukrainian Security Service] official waiting while I read my
grandfather’s NKVD file.

I was certainly not in a fit state for political argument, the woman seemed
harmless enough, and I suppose I was aware that from her position some kind
of justification felt needed.

Two years later, seeing where such “justification” has led Russia, I feel
less certain that even in such circumstances one should remain silent.

We all hate feeling that we were wrong.  Presumably the greater the mistake
and the more irreversible its consequences, the greater too becomes the urge
to turn to easy “readjustment” of the camera lens.

The louder, I would suggest, should sound that warning bell within us.

None of us is immune, and few are not implicated in the wish to provide
historical truth in comfortable doses.

One problem which did not, unfortunately, end with the collapse of the
Soviet Union was the tendency to tolerate ideas and behaviour from those who
shared our aversion of a totalitarian regime seeped in bombastic propaganda,
hyperbole and lies. The truth was seen as all too quiet and modest without
counter-embellishments.

On certain subjects, most particularly that of the resistance from the
Ukrainian Resistance Army [UPA] and Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
[OUN] during the Second World War and in the first post-War years it was
next to impossible either in Ukraine or within the Diaspora to read
historical studies not coloured by the author’s own ideology.

It is cheering, therefore, to find historians unwilling to be imprisoned in
ideological constraints.  It is at the same time galling to see how easy it
is to slip into such straightjackets.

In this, I believe, we are all implicated.  Yes, those who actively suggest
concealing the truth, as recently and outrageously we heard from the Head of
the State Archive Committee (2) are, I believe, especially culpable, and I
would suggest that a review of Ms Ginsburg’s right to hold her present
position be made as a matter of urgency.

The malaise unfortunately leaves few uninfected. How many of us, knowing how
ready the world was to ignore Holodomor, do not stay with higher figures for
the number of victims even though we suspect the numbers were lower?  As
though such “bookkeeping” had anything to add to the general judgment of
that monstrous evil!

It is easy to understand the automatic habit of trusting those who opposed
the Soviet regime, of seeing their resistance the fight of good against
evil.

I am not for a moment suggesting any particular group or individual could
not be trust, yet such simplistic oppositions leave, whether consciously or
not, far too much out of the picture.

If we assume that it was Russians against Ukrainians, then we either rewrite
the history books or we relegate the many Ukrainians who supported the
Soviet regime to the category of “bad” or “the wrong” Ukrainians. .

Similarly, if the UPA were heroes, then those resistance fighters who
behaved less than nobly are quietly expunged from the history books, as
were, albeit for different motives,  “enemies of the people” during the
Terror.  And those who fought against the Nazi occupier in the Soviet Army
also become “”the wrong” Ukrainians.

Add religious conflict, “the wrong church”, the “wrong political views”, the
“wrong” language, and numbers of “bad” or “wrong” Ukrainians should sound
alarm bells.

The need to distinguish between “us” and “others”, with only you know who
recognized as being right, may have advantages for survival as a species,
but it remains, in my view, one of human beings’ most dangerous instincts.

It becomes acutely threatening in a historical context as tragically complex
as that of Ukraine over the last hundred years.

Warning bells must ring every time any answer blurs this complexity, every
time the camera’s focus is aimed at either concealing spots or highlighting
them.  Ukrainian history books, especially those for educational
institutions need to spurn any narrow ideology and any totems, too sacred or
frightening to mention aloud

This, I believe, is imperative in the light of certain trends among
Ukraine’s neighbours. We cannot speak of honouring the memory of all

innocent victims if we allow the return of lies.
———————————————————————————————-
FOOTNOTES: (1) Yury Shapoval’s article Reproducing a real tragedy or
politicizing history? is found in English at http://www.day.kiev.ua/183199/.
See historian Stanislav Kulchytsky’s Was Ukraine under Soviet occupation?
http://www.day.kiev.ua/184204/
(2) So who doesn’t want the truth?
http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1181941303
———————————————————————————————–
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
20.  BACK TO THE U.S.S.R. WAS STALIN SO BAD?
By pushing a patriotic view of history and the humanities,
the Kremlin is reshaping the Russian mind.

By Owen Matthews, Newsweek International
New York, New York, Aug. 20-27, 2007 Issue

In Russia, the ghosts of the past refuse to die. This month, several hundred
mourners gathered in the Moscow suburb of Butovo at a mass grave of
20,000 victims of Joseph Stalin’s purges.

As priests chanted a liturgy for the dead, mourners hauled up a giant pine
cross cut from trees on the Solovetsky Islands, a notorious gulag.

“Russia must never forget what happened here,” says 81-year-old Olga
Vasiliyeva, whose engineer father was shot in 1937 as an “enemy of the
people.” “We cannot gloss over the crimes of Stalin; otherwise we will end
up repeating them.”

The Kremlin, it seems, doesn’t agree. Russian President Vladimir Putin told
a group of history teachers last month that though Russia’s past had
“problematic pages,” they are fewer and “not as terrible as those of some
others.” Regardless, he said, it was the teacher’s duty to make
schoolchildren “proud of their motherland.”

To that end, the government has embarked on a campaign to change the way
history is taught to Russian schoolchildren. Earlier this year, the Russian
Academy of Education commissioned a major review of key history
textbooks.

But historians complain that new guidelines issued by the academy are
designed to whitewash the atrocities committed by Stalin and downplay the
Soviet Union’s loss of the cold war.

“The Kremlin thinks it would be much easier to consolidate the society
around pleasant memories of history, rather than around negative facts,”
complains one of the editors, historian Isaak Rozental. “Their approach is
not to study history but to use it.”

One new state-approved text, “A Book for Teachers: The Modern History of
Russia, 1945-2006,” describes Stalin as “the most successful leader of the
U.S.S.R.”

Of the estimated 25 million killed in the purges and in collectivization, it
notes, with chilling blandness, “political repression was used to mobilize
not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite.”

The new history is much tougher on Boris Yeltsin-who led Russia’s chaotic
post-communist transition in the 1990s-denouncing his “weak” and
“pro-Western” policies.

This effort to rewrite Russian history comes on the heels of Kremlin
attempts to push its views of a great resurgent Russia into every sphere of
science and the humanities.

Russia’s most high-profile scientific venture of recent years used its
famous research submarines to plant a Russian flag on the seabed under the
North Pole last month as part of an effort to claim the potentially
resource-rich area for Russia. And the Kremlin’s best-funded humanities
program creates a new Russian Institute to promote spoken Russian and
Russian culture around the world, and particularly in former Soviet states.

Could this new wave of state-sponsored patriotism lead to a closing of the
Russian mind-with intellectual debate going the same way as free speech and
opposition politics?

Gleb Pavlovsky, director of Moscow’s Center for Effective Politics and one
of the Kremlin’s chief ideologists, scoffs at the idea. He argues that any
controversy generated by the new history textbooks shows that “intellectual
life in Russia is alive and well.”

“It is impossible to create a state ideology in an information society,” he
says. “But what the authorities do want is to define the debate-to shape
what is considered politically correct and what is not.”

Indeed, authors of the new teachers’ handbook appear to have the explicit
aim of reversing what one of its editors, Alexander Filippov, calls a
“propaganda offensive” directed from both inside Russia and abroad.

The old, Yeltsin-era books dwelt too much on the evils of Soviet rule, he
argues, which implied “Russia has no place in the company of the so-called
civilized nations,” and also that Russia, “as a successor of a totalitarian
regime, is doomed forever to repent for this regime’s real or invented
crimes.”

For Russians, free historical debate is often a bellwether of freedom
itself. When Nikita Khrushchev denounced the crimes of Stalin (in secret) to
the 1956 Party Congress, he began a brief thaw that allowed Russians to
speak, travel and work more freely.

The thaw would end under Khrushchev’s successors, and it was not until
Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost in the 1980s that Russian historians
were allowed to explore the full horrors of previous Soviet rulers.

Today, Russian bookstores are full of books that expose everything from the
private life of Catherine the Great to the memoirs of Leonid Brezhnev’s
interpreter. “Modern Russian society is unbelievably hungry for history,”
says Eduard Radzinsky, Russia’s most popular historian.

Now, says Radzinsky, Putin’s chief ideologue, Kremlin deputy chief of staff
Vladislav Surkov, is “demanding that historians create a new ideology for
them, fitting their regime.”

While some older members of the Russian intelligentsia have resisted such
calls, Soviet nostalgia has taken root in a younger generation that has been
encouraged to believe efforts to promote Western-style democracy in Russian
are Trojan-horse attempts to weaken the country.

In short, the Kremlin campaign is working. According to a poll last month by
the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19
believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the
collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that
America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government
should “deport most immigrants.”)

“Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed
before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an
international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the
state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of
some great cause.”

Putin himself has begun to rehabilitate Soviet history. He told a conference
of history teachers earlier this year that Russia “has nothing to be ashamed
of” and that it was time to “stop apologizing.”

He added it was America that dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and
napalmed Vietnamese jungles. Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki
Group sees the new glorification of the Soviet past as both a danger and a
missed opportunity.

“The Kremlin has a perfect example in Germany of how a nation actually
grew powerful by thinking through its mistakes,” she says. “Instead, they
are going to stuff kids’ minds with lies again.”

If that means steeping a new generation of children in the great-power myths
of the Soviet world, where dissent was equated with “treachery” and
political repression with “strength,” then the ghosts of Russia will
continue to lie uneasy.
———————————————————————————————–
With Anna Nemtsova in Moscow
LINK: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20226567/site/newsweek/
———————————————————————————————–
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21. WORD FOR WORD/NEW RUSSIAN HISTORY
Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

By Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times
New York, New York, Sunday, August 12, 2007

MOSCOW – STALIN has undergone a number of transformations of
his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about
the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself.

In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20
million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or
the gulag.
A GENERATION OF PEASANT FARMERS IN UKRAINE
They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks
and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s,
Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave
labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty
and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history.

While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in
Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if
familiar, lens.

It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because
of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of
autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times
demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united
Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to
the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide – titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” – was
presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir
V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a
Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was
translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.
JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER
As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and
candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress
suffered from reprisals to a certain degree. Postwar reprisals were quite
similarly addressed.

The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand
people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign
historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the
repressions in 1930-1950.

Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the
people in order to get the maximum possible. The result of Stalin’s purges
was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in
conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and
immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single
state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and
mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and
defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter
Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the
same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always
cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”
A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER
A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at
ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of
Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail
is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers
might conduct more research on it.

It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts
absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term
in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and
Catherine the Second prove it.

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the
beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking
for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted
in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund: If we speak as a whole of the role
of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47
percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On
the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the
U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and
reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even
surpassed it).

A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the
economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not
only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best
educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries
in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes – many Stalin
opponents point it out – were achieved through cruel exploitation of the
population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions
during his rule.

Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of
class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry,
urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of
people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.
ECHOES OF 9/11
The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on
American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly
serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule,
turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United
States after September 11, 2001.
——————————————————————————————-
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/weekinreview/12kramer.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

————————————————————————————————
[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
22. RUSSIAN CHURCH, BUT NOT THE KREMLIN, HONORS
THOUSANDS OF STALIN’S VICTIMS, GIANT CROSS ERECTED
 
By Michael Schwirtz, International Herald Tribune
Paris, France, Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MOSCOW: A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of
Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected Wednesday with
religious pomp, but little recognition from a government prone to gloss over
one of Russia’s darkest eras.

The cross was ferried 1,300 kilometers, or 800 miles, by boat to Moscow from
a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal,
which was built in the 1930s by slave labor. Thus began a commemoration of a
rampage of state-sanctioned violence.

The procession and the ceremony marked a rare attempt to address Soviet
brutality during Stalin’s reign. President Vladimir Putin acknowledged only
in June that the purge was one of the worst episodes of the Stalin era. At
the same time, Putin said that “in other countries even worse things
happened.”

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30
years of Stalin’s rule. During the purges from August 1937 to October 1938,
the systematic slaughter reached its apogee. During this time the Soviet
secret police, or NKVD, arrested more than a million people and executed
more than 700,000.

About 20,000 of those were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in
southern Russia, where the cross now stands.

The 12-meter, or 41-foot, Siberian cedar cross began its journey with the
blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, departing the Solovetsky
Monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by Alexander Solzhenitsyn as
the first link in the gulag archipelago.

The procession reached Moscow on Tuesday. There, strapped to a truck, the
cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road, mimicking
circumambulations of the church on Orthodox Easter.

It was then taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony on Wednesday
morning attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from
state-run television, but largely ignored by political officials.

The government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in
terms of scale and historical importance,” Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the
opposition Yabloko Party, said in a telephone interview.

“The authorities should speak openly on these issues at schools and in
public,” he said.

He said that official statements glorifying the Soviet past were at least
partly to blame for Russians’ ambivalence to Stalin’s reign.
Despite the violence of the Stalin years, many Russians – 38 percent,
according to a 2006 poll – consider Stalin in positive terms, as the man who
brought stability to the Soviet Union and fought off the Nazis in World War
II.

“The authorities need to tell the people that the victory in the war, the
achievements of the Soviet Union came despite the totalitarian regime,”
Yavlinksy said.

Instead, the Kremlin has created a myth of Soviet greatness meant to bolster
the credibility of Putin’s strong, centralized government, said Yan
Rachinsky, the co-director of the Moscow human rights center, Memorial.

The Kremlin tends to disregard Soviet era repressions because they cast a
shadow on Soviet successes, Rachinsky said.

Putin has recognized Stalin as a dictator but has played down the crimes
committed under his leadership.

In rare comments on the Stalin era delivered at a conference of Russian
teachers in June, Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history.
“Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said, before mitigating the Russian
experience in comparison to other countries.
——————————————————————————————-
LINK: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/08/europe/russia.php
————————————————————————————————

[return to index] [Action Ukraine Report (AUR) Monitoring Service]
========================================================
23. HUGE CROSS MARKS STALIN PURGES
The cross honours the memory of tens of thousands of Stalin’s victims

BBC News, United Kingdom, Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A giant cross commemorating the victims of Stalinist purges in the 1930s
has been erected at a ceremony near Moscow. The wooden cross –

12.5m high (41 ft) and 7.6m wide (25 ft) – was placed in Butovo, at the
site of a former execution ground.

At least 20,000 people were killed there by Stalin’s secret police, the
NKVD. The first killings occurred exactly 70 years ago.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony south of the capital. Events
marking the 70th anniversary of Stalin’s drive to purge opponents of
his regime have been held throughout Russia.

The relatively small-scale ceremonies have been organised by religious
or human rights groups rather than the government.

The BBC’s James Rodgers in Butovo says the execution ground had
previously been a firing range. It did not seem necessary to change its
name after 8 August, 1937, he adds.

Yulia Shcherbakova – now in her 70s – wanted to explain her personal tie
to Stalin’s terror. “It’s terrifying to think back. I remember people in our
small house being arrested – people who lived below and above,” she
told the BBC.

“I was seven when my neighbour, a priest, was taken away – he disappeared
without a trace. And everyone was afraid to mention his name.”
ACTIVISTS’ FEARS
The Siberian pine cross was erected as a centrepiece to a new memorial to
Stalin’s victims in Butovo.

Those executed there in 1937 and 1938 included about 1,000 priests, monks
and nuns. No-one knows precisely how many are buried at the site.

The cross was constructed at the Solovetsky Monastery in northern Russia,
which was itself turned into a notorious prison camp by the Soviet
authorities in the 1920s.

The cross was delivered by boat, and part of its route followed the White
Sea Canal, a Stalinist construction project which claimed the lives of
thousands of convicts.

Seventy years after what is known as “the great purge”, only a few
thousand survivors remain. Human rights groups say they have never

been properly compensated, and most struggle to get by on a small state
pension.
JOSEPH STALIN’S PURGES
Orchestrated by Stalin in 1930s to cement his rule ; 5 Aug 1937 – order
N00447 for mass executions of “anti-Soviet elements” issued
Targeted Communist Party opponents, but also the army, the
intelligentsia and peasants
Hundreds of thousands of people executed by NKVD by 1938
Millions arrested and sent to labour camps
Mass executions end in Nov 1938, but arrests continue until Stalin’s death
————————————————————————————————
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6936478.stm
————————————————————————————————-
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