Monday, January 31, 2005

Imperialism - Russian Style

MOSCOW, Russia -- The following opinion was expressed in one of Russia's main newspapers - Kommersant.

We have already forgotten our righteous anger over the intriguing of outside forces in Ukraine. And it didn't stop us from thinking that our own actions were only for the sake of greater stability in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and everywhere else.

We [Russia] know best, of course, what the former Soviet republics and their citizens really need. They couldn't cope without us. We are a great power and they are our buffer zone and underbelly.

Ukrainian President Yushchenko and his Georgian counterpart Saakashvili

The present Russian-Georgian collision has dispelled any doubts. The linchpin of Moscow's position among the former Soviet countries will be Abkhazia, South Ossetia and, unseen, Transdniestr, Eastern Ukraine and area in similar circumstances. It sounds scary, but it seems to be what's happening.

We don't have any other ways of keeping the West away yet. At least in those places we still pull some weight. We have our own people. We lost Aslan Abashidze in Ajaria, but there's still Kokoity and Bagapsh/Khadzjimba and Igor Smirnov in Transdniestr. We can give Arkady Gukasyan in Karabakh a go if need be to.

And there's still Viktor Yanukovich [who rigged the November 2004 run-off election in Ukraine, which led to the Orange Revolution]. He's not finished yet and is putting out signals that he could use a hand – a sure sign of life.

It would seem that it is a no-lose, irrefutable position. But we have to be morally prepared for to pay the high price of having our own weapons used against us. They'll use our experience and know-how. There are lots more places to do it in. Just the North Caucasus, with its eternal reputation as a tinderbox, is enough. Then we'll remember the old truth that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Yushchenko Targets Ukraine Corruption

KIEV, Ukraine -- Newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko says his top priority is to staunch widespread government bribery and corruption, the BBC reports.

Speaking at a dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Yushchenko said his was a "deeply corrupt country," and his No. 1 target was to tackle this "complex ... but not incurable" problem.

He estimated 50 percent of the country's economy was based on government bribery, and pointed out the huge loss in taxes that should be paid into social programs and infrastructure.

Yushchenko promised businesses lower taxes and "no prosecution," a reference to the disputes between the Russian government and a string of Russian firms like Yukos and Vimpelcom.

He said the key to Ukraine's success would be the adoption of European values, regardless of whether the country joined the European Union.

"I'm in Europe already. I am European. I do possess European values," he said.

Yushchenko Comments on Ukraine-Russia Relations

KIEV, Ukraine -- Commenting on Ukrainian-Russian relations, Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko noted that what Russia was doing during the latest elections in Ukraine, came close to being interference in its internal affairs.

President Yushchenko with President Putin

“My last meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was focused precisely on the problem how can we turn this page over. And I think we found a very good understanding on the issue,” Yushchenko told CNN in a recent interview.

“I fully realize and appreciate it that Russia is our eternal strategic partner."

Yushchenko’s Mother Has Passed Away

KIEV, Ukraine -- Victor Yushchenko’s mother, Varvara Tymofiyivna aged 86, died after a lingering sickness.

A memorial service was held at St Volodymyr Cathedral in Kiev. Varvara Tymofiyivna will be buried in her native Khoruzhivka village, at the local cemetery next to the grave of her husband, Andriy Andriyovych.

Yushchenko Mourns Over His Mother Varvara

Varvara Tymofiyivna was born on 27 November 1918. All her life she taught mathematics at Khoruzhivka school. She brought up two sons, she had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was highly respected by her home-folks.

Victor Yushchenko’s mother used to say: “If you can walk – get to work.”

Varvara Tymofiyivna was in a Kiev hospital over the last few months.

We express our sincere condolences to Victor Yushchenko, his family and all those who knew and loved Varvara Tymofiyivna.

Yushchenko Suggests Foreign Involvement in Poisoning Plot

KIEV, Ukraine -- Newly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has suggested that a foreign power could have played a role in an attempt to poison him during last year's presidential campaign.

"Dioxin like this is produced in four or five military labs in Russia, America, and a few other countries," Yushchenko said late Sunday in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" program.

"Our security services have informed me how this material got into Ukraine, but that evidence is now with our general prosecutor, who eventually must answer this question," he pointed out.

Yushchenko fell severely ill in early September as he campaigned for the Ukrainian presidency against then prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, a favorite of the Ukrainian ruling elite and neighboring Russia.

He was hospitalized with liver damage and unexplained boils on his face, but a diagnosis eluded doctors for three months.

Finally, doctors in Vienna concluded in December that Yushchenko had been poisoned by dioxin, a chemical agent that can cause cancer and inflict other long-term damage to a person's health.

The Ukrainian government has reopened an investigation into the case, but the circumstances of the plot remain unclear.

"I have no doubts this was by my opponents in the government, that's who would benefit the most from my death," Yushchenko said.

However, he declined to name the country that could have supplied dioxin to his opponents.

He insisted mass demonstrations in Kiev in support of his candidacy during his successful attempt to challenge the state election commission that had proclaimed Yanukovich president had given him a boost of energy.

"When I heard that millions were praying for me, it went straight to my heart," he said. "But I also felt an obligation to live. To die is not very original, but to live and carry on -- thats special."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Yushchenko Seeks Clinic To Heal His Face

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Victor Yushchenko is determined to go to any clinic able to heal his disfigured face. “48 million Ukrainians, just as me, cannot get used to such a face,” he has reported at a press conference in Davos.

Yushchenko - Before and After Poisoning

The President has emphasized his health “is not a secret – doctors have said everything they wanted in fact.” However, he has pointed out “this is quite a delicate matter that needs ethical approach.”

Yushchenko to 'Tackle Corruption'

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Businesses should stop paying bribes to Ukrainian officials, the country's new president Viktor Yushchenko has said.

Calling Ukraine a "deeply corrupt country", he promised to tackle this "complex... but not incurable" problem.

He said it was a disgrace that 50% of the country's economy was "in the shadow" - failing to "pay a penny" in taxes that could be spent on social programs and infrastructure.

Speaking at a dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Yushchenko also said he was sure the Ukraine would join the European Union, but acknowledged this would take a long time.

Number One Target

Ukraine's new president was elected after protests at the outcome of elections the country's supreme court found to have been rigged.

Mr Yushchenko said tackling corruption would be his "number one political target".

"In 2005 business people have to make another entry on their balance sheets: 'saved expenses from not giving bribes to Ukrainians'," he joked.

On Friday, Mr Yushchenko had told business leaders that Ukraine needed them "to visit, to invest, to help us become a strong country".

Mr Yushchenko promised businesses lower taxes and "no prosecution", a pointed reference to the disputes between the Moscow government and a string of Russian firms like Yukos and Vimpelcom.

He also pledged wide-reaching reforms of the health and pensions systems, an independent judiciary, and press freedom - although he noted that Ukraine's media were currently controlled by just "two or three powerful families".

I Am European

Key to Ukraine's success, he said, was the adoption of European values, regardless of whether the country joined the European Union.

Talk of "European accession" made him uncomfortable, though.

"I'm in Europe already, I am European, I do possess European values," he said.

But he also declared Russia a "strategic partner" and said he had set himself a goal of conducting an "honest and effective" policy towards his powerful neighbour.

However, Russia experts attending the World Economic Forum warned the Ukrainian president would find it difficult to move his country closer to the West without upsetting relations with Moscow.

Ukraine's economy relies heavily on gas imports from neighbouring Russia, whose government had supported Mr Yushchenko's rival in the disputed elections.

Drinking With Friends

Mr Yushchenko, his face still heavily scared as a result of dioxin poisoning that he says was an attempt on his life, made light of his condition.

Ending his speech with a toast to the health of his fellow diners, he insisted on clinking his glass with everybody on the table.

"Clinking glasses was invented in Kiev hundreds of years ago," he said. "It was to make sure that one shares the table with friends."

"By clinking glasses heavily, some drops would be exchanged between both glasses, then nobody would poison you," Mr Yushchenko said with a big grin on his face.

“Our Ukraine” Party Accepted Into The European People Party

KIEV, Ukraine -- The political bureau of the European People Party, which is holding a session in Brussels, has unanimously taken a decision to accept Yushchenko's block “Our Ukraine” into the structure of a party in the status of observer.

The Political bureau of the European people party is ready to promote the tasks put ahead by President Victor Yushchenko for the European integration of Ukraine.

The party leadership is ready to consider the granting full membership to the party that will be created on basis of "Our Ukraine".

According to the press-service of "Our Ukraine", Yury Pavlenko stated that this is an important decision as the party has the greatest faction in Europarliament that consists of 12 parties in power from 25 EU countries.

In the opinion of the deputy this gesture is a sign on recognition of cardinal changes beginning in Ukraine , according to LIGABusinessInform.

Ukraine President to Look at Privatization

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainians joke bitterly that this ex-Soviet republic's privatizations of government enterprises were models of transparency - clearly rigged to benefit the elite.

New President Viktor Yushchenko's vow to re-examine the deals in which prize industries were sold at unexpectedly low prices has sparked optimism that real transparency may return to Ukrainian business. But it's also given rise to fears that the move could devolve into political revenge and thereby scare off investors.

"Ukrainian society is watching for a clear signal that privatizations can be fair and transparent and benefit the state, but it would be a very big mistake for this to turn into an act of revenge," said Ina Pidluska, a Kiev-based political analyst.

For most of the post-Soviet period, Ukraine had been comparatively laggard in its privatizations. But in the first six months of last year - with lame-duck President Leonid Kuchma's term about to expire - some prime industrial jewels were rushed onto the auction block, and the government raked in US$1.5 billion (euro1.15 billion).

That was far less than they should have fetched, analysts and Yushchenko's new government contend. Critics note that tycoons with close government connections were the big winners, including Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk and coal-and-steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov.

The most-criticized sale was that of Kryvorizhstal, Ukraine's largest steel mill. As one of the world's most profitable steel operations, it attracted substantial outside interest, including bids from Russia's OAO Severstal and a consortium of United States Steel and LNM Group.

But a peculiar tender requirement that successful bidders must have produced at least 1 million tons of coking coal annually in Ukraine during the past three years shut the door to all but a handful of homegrown companies and a consortium including Pinchuk won, even though its US$800 million (euro613 million) bid was lower than Severstal's and LNM/US Steel's.

"Without competition, without a realistic price ... I don't consider that privatization," said Yulia Tymoshenko, Yushchenko's prime minister-designate.

The sale sparked outrage in Ukraine and abroad and is currently being challenged by a Ukrainian parliamentary commission in the courts. Pinchuk said he would adhere to any court decision provided it is "according to the law."

Some in Yushchenko's circle have hinted that they may be prepared to let the sale stand - as long as the new owners pay additional cash. The amount could be huge, with analysts predicting at least an additional US$700 million (euro536 million).

Other companies in the firing line could be Ukrrudprom, an iron-ore company that was also sold last year for a pittance to a Pinchuk-linked group and the Petrovsky steel mill, in which only local companies were allowed to participate.

"Privatization in Ukraine is a shadowy part of the country's economy and Krivoryzhstal is certainly not the only case and probably it isn't even the worst," said Andriy Dmytrenko, an analyst with Kiev's Dragon Capital investment bank.

But it is the most visible and how the new government handles it will be a significant signal.

"It is very important that the new government not get carried away by this victory wave and that it resists the temptation to reprivatize attractive pieces of property to their own benefit," Pidluska said.

Viktor Medvedchuk, Kuchma's powerful former chief-of-staff, also warned that if the government appeared to be on a witch-hunt, "the investment climate could significantly deteriorate."

Yushchenko can't risk that. He has promised to raise pensions and create jobs with higher-paying salaries, and needs an influx of cash and new investment to achieve that.

One option is to fulfill a long-delayed promise to privatize the communications giant Ukrtelekom, which is likely to draw significant foreign interest and a high price. A transparent tender would offset investor fears about renationalization. The risk, though, is that a foreign owner might raise tariffs, angering consumers.

Dmytrenko said: "There are no easy solutions. Someone will always complain."

Kiev’s ‘Princess’ Looks for Revenge

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's new prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko, has begun a battle to clear her fugitive husband of corruption allegations and punish his accusers’ allies in the regime ousted in Kiev’s Orange Revolution.

She has protested to the Supreme Court about a criminal case brought by allies of the former president, Leonid Kuchma, against Alexander Timoshenko, her husband, who is now in hiding abroad.

The action is the first shot in what is likely to be a passionate campaign by the fiery politician against Kuchma and his cronies to avenge their attempts to have her, her husband and her father-in-law imprisoned on charges of embezzlement.

Alexander and Yulia Timoshenko

“My husband is living in an undisclosed location abroad,” said Timoshenko, Ukraine’s richest woman, whose nomination as premier by the newly elected President Viktor Yushchenko is expected to be endorsed by parliament this week. “I would not risk plunging him into a new ‘meat grinder’ until the court fully acquits our family.”

Timoshenko, 44, has been trying to quash the allegations since she fell out with Kuchma, who sacked her as deputy prime minister in charge of energy in 2001. Enemies in the Kuchma camp accused the Timoshenkos of siphoning off state funds from lucrative gas imports when the couple headed United Energy Systems, a private firm that had a monopoly on gas imports from former Soviet countries, including Russia.

Timoshenko’s wealth is alleged to have come from these contracts, earning her the nickname “Gas Princess”.

She was briefly held by the authorities but the Timoshenkos, whose daughter Yevgenia, 19, is studying in Britain, have always rejected the allegations as politically motivated.

In a separate case Russia, which supported Yushchenko’s opponent in last year’s presidential elections, accused Timoshenko of bribing Russian military officers. She denied any wrongdoing and refused to go to Moscow for questioning. “I have a formally registered hunting gun and shall open fire on anyone who may try to come anywhere near,” she said.

Timoshenko, who was born into a poor family, became the populist face of the Orange Revolution — named after the opposition’s campaign colour — after joining forces with Yushchenko. She helped bring hundreds of thousands of supporters on to the streets of Kiev after a first presidential election was rigged. Kuchma’s candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, was defeated in the election rerun.

Unlike the more moderate Yushchenko, who was poisoned and disfigured during the election campaign, Timoshenko has in the past called for Kuchma and some of his allies to be jailed.

She has accused him of corruption and called for his prosecution in connection with the death of Georgy Gongadze, a journalist whose decapitated body was found in woods outside Kiev in 2000 after he tried to investigate corruption allegations surrounding Kuchma.

Timoshenko has also called for a series of privatisation deals from the Kuchma era to be investigated. At the top of her list is Kryvorizhstal, the country’s largest state steel plant, which last year was sold to a consortium backed by Viktor Pinchuk, Kuchma’s son-in-law, and Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, who was close to the former regime.

Their bid of $811m was successful even though it was lower than other bids. The highest came from a US and British consortium which offered $1.5 billion and promised to invest $1.2 billion in the plant.

“Prison was pretty hard for her,” said one of Timoshenko’s allies. “She started dreaming of revenge against those responsible for her ending up in a cell. She is now afraid of nothing.”

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Yushchenko Pleased With His Visit To Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko is pleased with having attended the World Economic Forum in Davos. According to him, all the task held by him were successful as he has managed to provide his political and business partners with positive information about Ukraine. These people, to Yushchenko’s mind, will efficiently work “in Ukraine for Ukraine.”

Wherever Yushchenko rose to speak he was given a standing ovation. Politicians and journalists wanted to speak to him.

Viktor Yushchenko has given a number of exclusive interviews to CNN, BBC, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

The focus of journalists’ interest was on the new government’s fight against corruption, plan for Ukraine’s European integration and home liberal reforms.

Ukraine Has Future in EU

DAVOS, Switzerland -- The European Union has told Ukraine that the nation has a long-term future in Europe but should concentrate for now on building closer ties through political and economic reform.

New Ukraine president, Viktor Yushchenko met European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

EU President Barroso

Mr Barroso said: "I believe that the future of Ukraine is in Europe, but now the agenda is the European Neighbourhood Policy."

That programme offers closer trade and economic ties, aid and political dialogue in return for EU-driven reforms, but it does not automatically lead to membership of the 25-nation bloc.

Barroso described the neighbourhood policy as a very ambitious agenda for Ukraine, saying the former Soviet republic had "a lot of work to do in terms of democratic reforms, economic reforms".

Yushchenko, who has set EU membership as a long-term objective, said he was satisfied with their first encounter and would visit Brussels in late February to discuss Ukraine's quest for market-based economy trade status.

USA Biggest Investor in Ukraine

WASHINGTON, DC -- According to the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, DC, the USA continues to be the largest foreign investor in Ukraine.

As of July 1, 2004, cumulative foreign direct investment into Ukraine from the USA since 1992 amounted to over $1,085.9 million, or more than 14.8 per cent of all FDI.

At that time, more than 1,200 US enterprises were working in Ukraine, of which more than 25% were joint ventures. Boeing, John Deere, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, AIG, Cargill, Coca Cola are among the most successful US investors in Ukraine.

With the election of President Yushchenko, the foreign investment base, in Ukraine, should grow dramatically. Estimates of $3 to $4 billion per year, are being discussed by some European investment banks.

Ex-Ukraine Official Vows Strong Opposition

KIEV, Ukraine -- One of the most feared and influential figures in Ukraine's former government vowed to help build a powerful opposition to new President Viktor Yushchenko, saying Wednesday he is not afraid of his one-time enemies who are now in power.

Viktor Medvedchuk, former chief-of-staff to ex-President Leonid Kuchma, denied allegations of crimes while in office - including claims he helped orchestrate the fraud in the Nov. 21 presidential runoff that prompted the "Orange Revolution" protests - and said he would not flee into exile.

Viktor Medvedchuk

"The government lost. We can't stay in power or pretend to be in power," Medvedchuk told journalists in his first wide-ranging press conference in more than two years. "We have only one way out: go into the opposition."

As Kuchma's right-hand man since 2002, Medvedchuk operated behind-the-scenes in Ukraine's bare-knuckle politics - earning the nickname the "gray eminence" and a reputation as the real power in this nation of 48 million. His personal Web site features a page aimed at dispelling "the myths about Medvedchuk," including that he is a "person without a heart."

Berezovsky Confirms Plans to Move to Kiev

LONDON, England -- Prominent and controversial Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, who currently resides in London, confirmed his plans to move to Kiev in the near future in order to be closer to Moscow.

"Yes, I am going to move to Kiev because I will have to move to Moscow soon," Berezovsky told Interfax on Saturday.

"I am not going to run business in Ukraine, I am going to live in Kiev," he said.

Boris Berezovsky

Commenting on possible legal implications of this move, Berezovsky said, "I have been granted political asylum in Britain, and Ukraine is a signatory to relevant international documents. Therefore, if someone has questions about my arrival in Kiev, I am prepared to defend my rights together with my lawyers in court."

"I don't know what housing in Kiev costs now, but I think I can afford such a purchase," he said.

Berezovsky also confirmed that his wife had attended Viktor Yushchenko's presidential inauguration ceremony.

Asked whether he has lately been traveling to other countries, the businessman said he visits Israel once every two weeks.

As was reported earlier, Russian law enforcement agencies charged Berezovsky with a number of economic crimes and put him on the federal and international wanted lists. However, British judicial authorities found the accusations to be politically motivated and granted him political asylum.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Yushchenko Argues Ukraine's Case for EU Entry

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Viktor A. Yushchenko, still basking in the glow of the street protests that swept him to power in Ukraine, appeared here on Friday to ask for help in creating "a prosperous Ukraine in a successful, united Europe."

"I'm addressing you as a president," Mr. Yushchenko told the World Economic Forum's gathering of high-powered business executives, men, world leaders and intellectuals here. "Please help Ukraine, and quite shortly, you'll see a European, beautiful nation."

Declaring he wanted to attract foreign investment and propel Ukraine into the global economy, Mr. Yushchenko laid out an ambitious agenda, ranging from an anticorruption drive and a reform of the legal system to a speedier entry into the World Trade Organization.

At the heart of his agenda is bringing Ukraine into the European Union, a campaign that has met with a lukewarm response in Europe and that could put it at odds with its neighbor, Russia.

Looking healthier than he has in previous appearances, he made the case that Ukraine, with its educated populace and fast-growing economy, belongs nowhere else. "Ukraine has manifested its European values," he said. "We are no longer at the crossroads or at its margin. The European choice of Ukraine has taken part in the hearts and minds of the people."

Mr. Yushchenko's speech ended a hectic week of travel that reflected the many challenges facing Ukraine. On Monday, he visited Russia to reaffirm the "eternal" partnership between the countries, despite his turn to the West. Then he went to Poland to mark one of Europe's great horrors, the death camps at Auschwitz, liberated 60 years ago.

For Mr. Yushchenko, this speech was a chance to introduce himself to another useful constituency: European and American investors and business people. They gave him a hero's welcome.

Still, the diplomatic hurdles are formidable. Ukraine's yearning to join the European Union has put its leaders, who championed Mr. Yushchenko's cause, in an awkward position. "Ukraine is a problem for the E.U.; they don't want to deal with it," said Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia, who like Mr. Yushchenko rode a populist tide to the presidency of his country.

While European officials have not closed the door on Ukraine, they have made it clear that other matters - like the integration of the 10 newest members and complex negotiations with Turkey - will take precedence. Some here also speak of "enlargement fatigue" after the Turkish debate, which raised hard questions about Europe's identity and eventual boundaries.

"After the big bang of enlargement last May, and all the decisions on the table, I think the European Union needs to move gradually and carefully," Olli Rehn, Europe's commissioner for enlargement, said.

In meetings with European Union officials here, Mr. Yushchenko's aides struck an informal bargain that they would not pin Brussels to a date for entry if Brussels did not rule out eventual admission.

That left Mr. Yushchenko to speak of history, and accept compliments from leaders like Poland's president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who shared a stage with him. He also met with Davos luminaries like Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany and Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Meanwhile, his advisers fanned out in this Alpine ski resort to engage in another Davos pursuit - deal-making. Oleg Rybachuk, the newly appointed vice prime minister for European integration, said Ukraine's focus would be less on aid or technical assistance than on private investment.

He vowed to abolish cumbersome regulations for foreigners to set up operations in Ukraine, and he said the government would combat corruption, which is deeply rooted in the public and private sectors.

Mr. Yushchenko noted that on Thursday, a Ukrainian court froze the shares of the country's largest steel mill, which had been sold to a group of well-connected investors, including a son-in-law of Ukraine's former president, Leonid D. Kuchma, in a heavily criticized privatization.

"My government will not be stealing," Mr. Yushchenko said. "Business will be separated from politics."

At a packed lunch with investors and corporate executives, Mr. Rybachuk said the president's guiding principle would be to make every facet of the Ukrainian economy "euro compatible." The heavy focus on Europe left some of the American guests shifting in their seats.

Mr. Rybachuk added to the tension by saying that Ukrainians had been dismayed by the lack of support the United States had given to Mr. Yushchenko after the first, rigged ballot. Several guests noted that the former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, had strongly protested the election fraud.

Some conferees warned that Mr. Yushchenko could not afford to alienate Moscow, given the deep links between Ukraine and Russia.

"They have to deal with each other," said William F. Browder, an American who runs a Russian investment fund. "Otherwise, the lights will go off in Ukraine, since Russia supplies all their gas."

In Davos, however, the Ukrainians showed they were nothing if not adaptable. The lunch to promote Mr. Yushchenko was organized by Viktor Pinchuk, the same businessman and son-in-law of the ex-president whose steel mill is a target of the new government.

Ukraine to File EU Bid 'In Near Future': Yushchenko

DAVOS, Switzerland -- President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine said that Kiev would submit an application to join the European Union "in the near future."

He told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that his country's history, economy and interests "clearly show that Ukraine's way to the future is the way which is taken by the united Europe."

His comments here align the geo-strategically important former Soviet republic even further towards Europe and out of Moscow's traditional orbit.

"The 'orange revolution' paved the way to a new quality of our partnership with the united Europe," he told the annual meeting of business and political leaders here, referring to the popular protests that led to his victory in a re-run presidential election.

"We welcome the European Union's intention to develop a new strategy for relations with Ukraine," he said in a speech.

"We would like its purpose to be to open the EU door to our nation. The application for EU membership is intended to be filed in the near future."

Yushchenko, who was given a standing ovation as he rose to speak, has long said that he wants Ukraine to join the European Union.

His comments Friday are thought to be the first time he has given such an indication of timing, although he did not elaborate on what he meant by near future.

His announcement won the immediate backing of Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, also appearing in Davos.

"It is necessary to start to discuss with Ukraine for the membership of Ukraine in the European Union," Kwasniewski said.

Citing the EU's decision to open accession talks with Turkey, Kwasniewski said that if the bloc was prepared to admit Ankara, "we have no argument against Ukrainian entry and membership."

"The question is of time, of procedures, standards, but not why or if," he added.

Yushchenko was to have taken his campaign for membership to Brussels, the heart of Europe, on Thursday but was obliged to call off the trip because of bad weather.

Yushchenko, Clinton Discuss Investment, Medical Supplies

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met with former U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss the investment policies of the new Ukrainian authorities and humanitarian issues.

Bill Clinton and Viktor Yushchenko

Yushchenko said he believes the Ukrainian market is among the most promising in Europe and called on "all Ukraine's friends to come to the Ukrainian market and invite investors."

Ukrainian Prosecutors Dismiss Charges Against Timoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- Prosecutors in Ukraine have announced that all criminal charges against acting Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko have been dismissed.

Yulia Timoshenko

Timoshenko, who was appointed by the newly elected President Viktor Yushchenko on Monday, still faces criminal charges in Russia despite Yushchenko’s earlier announcement that they had been settled.

“There was no crime in Yulia Timoshenko’s actions,” Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Svyatoslav Piskun, was quoted by the Russian Information Agency Novosti as saying.

Timoshenko denied charges of bribing Russian military officials when she headed the Ukrainian electric power grid. She says the charges were politically motivated by enemies of herself and Yushchenko.

She also dismissed as a witch-hunt the charges of forgery and gas smuggling she faced in connection with her activities as the head of a private gas trading firm in the mid-1990s.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Ukraine Court Freezes Steel Mill Shares

KIEV, Ukraine -- A Kiev court on Thursday froze shares in Ukraine's largest steel mill, which was sold last year to a group that included former President Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law in one of the country's most-criticized privatization deals.

The court ordered that the consortium that purchased the Krivoryzhstal steel mill "should not release, sell or deposit shares" pending the end of court proceedings, Ukrainian news agencies reported. Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk, coal and steel tycoon Rinat Akhmetov and others make up the consortium that bought the mill for US$800 million (euro665 million).

Viktor Pinchuk (l) and Rinat Akhmetov (r)

Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ruling came amid widespread expectations that Ukraine's new government, led by the Prime Minister-designate Yulia Tymoshenko, will re-examine the country's murky post-Soviet business deals.

The court's decision followed a motion by Irina Nazarova, a lawyer who represents a parliamentary commission on privatization. Last year, the commission filed a lawsuit to annul the Krivoryzhstal privatization, arguing that the deal prevented small shareholders and citizens from buying the company's stakes.

Other bidders, including Russia's OAO Severstal and a consortium of LNM Group and United States Steel Corp., also cried foul, claiming they had made higher offers.

Krivoryzhstal is one of world's most profitable steel mills, producing about 20 percent of Ukraine's steel. In 2003, it had a pretax profit of about US$300 million (euro250 million).

Tymoshenko, a key ally of President Viktor Yushchenko, has said that Krivoryzhstal is at the top of her agenda as the new government re-examines privatizations deals.

"We don't think that Krivoryzhstal and other such businesses were privatized," Tymoshenko told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "What happened was a complete theft of state property."

Cheney Dons Orange Tie for Yushchenko

KRAKOW, Poland - Vice President Dick Cheney voiced his support yesterday for Ukraine's new president, and his bright orange tie - symbolic of Viktor A. Yushchenko's Orange Revolution - drove home the message.

"The world has been inspired by the remarkable images emanating from Ukraine in recent months," Cheney said at a cultural center in Krakow, where the two met during a heavy snowstorm. "We have watched as Ukrainians, by the hundreds of thousands, converged on Kiev's Independence Square to preserve their freedom and safeguard their right to determine the destiny of their nation."

President Yushchenko and Vice President Dick Cheney

He said the Ukrainian people have shown the world the "unstoppable power of the popular will."

Yushchenko, who survived a nearly fatal poisoning to emerge victorious in a bitterly disputed election, faces a delicate juggling act, pushing for democratic reforms and aligning Ukraine with Europe while keeping fruitful relations with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

On Monday, Yushchenko smoothed relations with Putin in Moscow. Yesterday, he and Cheney stood side by side to publicly express mutual support.

Yushchenko mentioned Russia along with the United States, the European Union and Poland as strategic partners, but he and Cheney refrained from saying anything that might have provoked Putin, who will meet with President Bush during his trip to Europe next month.

"We want to pursue the processes of liberalization and democratization in all aspects of life that are so badly needed in Ukraine and other Eastern European nations, shoulder to shoulder with our partners," said Yushchenko, his chalky complexion scarred by the near-lethal dose of dioxin he ingested during the campaign.

"After the Orange Revolution, the country and the nation have changed," Yushchenko said. "Not only do we have an independent country, we have a free country - a country capable of pursing new, independent and responsible policy."

Initially, the two men were scheduled to have a brief meeting and then eat dinner. But their meeting lasted more than an hour - twice as long as scheduled - and they skipped dinner.

Cheney is on a three-day trip to southern Poland to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. The vice president's remarks with Yushchenko and at a reception with Holocaust survivors echoed President Bush's Inauguration Day call to overcome tyranny and foster democratic reform across the world.

Weather Thwarts Yushchenko's EU Visit

KRAKOW, Poland -- Bad weather Thursday forced Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko to cancel a planned trip to Brussels to address the European Parliament.

Heavy snow meant his plane could not take off from Poland, where he attended events to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi's Auschwitz death camp, where his father was a prisoner of war.

The cancellation was a major disappointment for Yushchenko, who had planned to thank EU members for their support in the fractious election process, the BBC said. He also wanted to begin the process of seeking EU membership for Ukraine, with a target date of 2007 for beginning accession talks.

A spokesman said Yushchenko hoped to reschedule the Brussels visit for next month.

The pro-Western former banker has already traveled to Russia, France and Poland since his inauguration Sunday.

Yushchenko, Saakashvili Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

WASHINGTON, DC -- Ukraine’s newly elected president Viktor Yushchenko and Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yushchenko (l) and Saakashvili (r)

U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ) have nominated the two leaders from the former Soviet republics, Clinton’s spokesperson was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

Clinton and McCain sent a letter to the Nobel Institute in Norway saying Yushchenko and Saakashvili had played historic roles in the lives of their countries. The two leaders “have displayed an extraordinary commitment to peace,” the agency reported citing the letter.

“Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to these two men would instill hope and inspiration in those seeking freedom in other countries that lack it.”

Yushchenko was elected president on Dec. 26, after the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine was found illegal due to numerous violations. His rival, Viktor Yanukovich, who was first called the winner of the second round on Nov. 21, was supported by Russia.

Saakashvili was elected president of Georgia on Jan. 4, 2004, after a “velvet revolution” that had overthrown the previous leader, Eduard Shevardnadze.

Yushchenko’s Face Will Return to Its Normal Looks

VIENNA, Austria -- Viktor Yushchenko’s face will return to its normal looks within a few months. This was stated by Dr. Mykola Korpan, who had been treating V. Yushchenko in the Austrian clinics “Rudolfinerhaus”, today in his interview to the newspaper “ Ukraina Moloda” (Young Ukraine).

Rudolfinerhaus Clinic

Dr. Korpan says that Yushchenko is completely healthy, and nothing threatens his either psychological or physical well-being.

The doctor said that October and November were two most difficult months in Viktor Yushchenko’s life. “Now this peak in his illness is over. V. Yushchenko was fully controlled and in a good health already during the 2nd round of the elections (on November 21). Then we confidently stated that based on the results of the analyses of his blood, urine, organs, his physical, psychological and somatic health was very good.

To the question whether the face of Viktor Yushchenko will return back to normal, Mykola Korpan asnwered that “the skin changes on the face, the changes in hypodermic adipose tissue, and changes in adipose glands are caused by dioxin, that binds to these adipose cells and enters adipose glands, accumulates there, and then such ‘pits’ are formed. Earlier it was believed that 2, 3 or 7 years are needed for skin to return back to normal. However, with modern technologies, a few months will be enough. The only problem is that some traces will remain; however, they will disappear with time, and the face restoration will be almost complete”, the doctor assured.

Viktor Yushchenko Disappoints Russian Delegation

STRASBOURG, France -- When making a report at PACE session in Strasbourg, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has never mentioned Russia.

Yushchenko at Strasbourg

“Undoubtedly, he was speaking extremely civil, and this is a plus. But the fact that in his principal report, there was no place for Russia (it was never mentioned, while Europe, the European Union could be found in each second sentence), rings a bell for me.

It is a sign that relations with Russia would be taken by Ukraine as a mere fact which may either hinder or not hinder its closing-in movement towards the united Europe”, said Konstanin Kosachev, head of Russian delegation at PACE session, chairman of the State Duma’s committee on foreign affairs. “It is not enough,” Mr Kosachev said.

The second “disappointing circumstance” was an appointment of Yulia Timoshenko as the acting prime minister. In time when Ms Timoshenko faces serious accusations in corruption, moreover in corruption of trans-boundary nature, under the case which is in the final stage of trial with sentences passed for many, “it is the clear Fronde, certain demarche, and at that, the demarche unfriendly in its relation to Russia,” specified Konstantin Kosachev.

Cheney: Yushchenko Ally of Freedom

KRAKOW, Poland -- Ukraine's new president is being described as an ally in the cause of freedom.

That assessment of Viktor Yushchenko comes from Vice-President Cheney, who made a joint appearance with the new Ukrainian leader today in Krakow, Poland.

Cheney said Yushchenko's accomplishments are "remarkable" and "inspiring" but added that there are "great tasks" ahead.

Yushchenko told Cheney that he's committed to push for liberalization and democracy in all aspects of life in Ukraine.


Cheney is on a three-day trip to Poland to attend the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

He told Holocaust survivors: "We must face down hatred together.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ukraine is to Gain a Prospect of EU Membership

STRASBOURG, France -- The strategy of relations between Ukraine and the European Union is to be updated and Ukraine is to gain a prospect of EU membership, the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko is convinced.

“We welcome the European Union’s aspirations for working out a new strategy of relations with Ukraine. He is confident it should provide for the membership prospect. Proceeding from this point we regard the action plan Ukraine – EU in terms of the European Neighborhood Policy as the first step to achieve this goal,” he has stated addressing the today’s session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

According to Yushchenko, in the near future Ukraine expects to gain the status of the country with market economy and by the end of 2005 – to join the WTO and sign an agreement on free economic space with EU.

He has also expressed hopes for easing the visa regime between Ukraine and the European Union members, defining it “a very important psychological factor.” “Such initiative as “Europe – non-visa space for country members of the Council of Europe” to be the most convincing proof of united processes on the Continent,” has reported Mr President.

To his mind, the labor migration of Ukrainians to Western Europe will decrease as the quality of life of our citizens improves and “Ukrainians will go to Europe to have a rest, to study and exchange experience,” has told the Ukrainian President.

Yushchenko at the Council of Europe

STRASBOURG, France -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, visiting the heart of Western Europe after a trip to Russia, has vowed to do all he can to ensure that democratic changes in his country are irreversible.

"I can assure you that as the president of Ukraine I will make every effort possible to ensure the democratic changes that are taking place at the moment ... are irreversible," he told the Council of Europe, a 46-nation human rights watchdog, in the eastern French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Viktor Yushchenko addressing COE

Yushchenko, who hopes to guide Ukraine into the European Union, pledged his commitment to human rights, media freedom and fighting corruption in a speech to the Council's Parliamentary Assembly, which has in the past criticised Ukraine's rights record.

"As for human rights ... democracy is the supremacy of the law," he said in comments translated into French.

"We will also ensure our institutions become democratic and create a base for all our public institutions to function democratically, in particular the courts."

He welcomed European Union plans to draw up new strategy on Ukraine and pledged to improve living standards to encourage Ukrainians who have left to return home.

Yushchenko travels to Poland and on Thursday will be in Brussels to speak to the European Parliament about Ukraine's ambition to eventually join the EU. He will also attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Yuliya Timoshenko Biography

KIEV, Ukraine -- Until yesterday, Yuliya Timoshenko was known as one of the most charismatic and at the same time most offensive politicians in the post-Soviet space. Yesterday, a new entry was added to her biography – acting prime minister of Ukraine. Once known as the “gas princess”, who then transformed herself in the “orange Joan of Arc”, Yuliya Timoshenko now has every chance of becoming the first Ukrainian Iron Lady.

Acting Prime Minister Timoshenko

Born on November 27, 1960, in Dnepropetrovsk, Yuliya Grigyan-Telegina finished university in Dnepropetrovsk, graduating from the department of economics as a cybernetic economist. She found a job as an engineering economist at the Lenin Machine-Building Plant in Dnepropetrovsk. In 1979, she married Aleksandr Timoshenko, the son of Gennady Timoshenko, a prominent regional Party functionary. Their daughter Evgeniya was born in 1980.

The first critical event in Yuliya timoshenko's life, as in the lives of most of her compatriots, was the election of Dnepropetrovsk native Leonid Kuchma as President of Ukraine in 1994. The local clan's fortunes soared. Pavel Lazarenko became prime minister, and in 1997, Yuliya Timoshenko became head of the Unified Power System of Ukraine (EESU). Yuliya Timoshenko spent two very successful years as head of the Ukrainian corporation, making EESU a major importer of energy resources. Ms. Timoshenko enjoyed the president's trust and was considered Prime Minister Lazarenko's right hand; together with him she headed the Batkivshina (Motherland) All-Ukrainian Union Party, from which she was elected to parliament in 1998. She was elected in a single-member constituency in Kirovograd Region with a record 92.3 percent of the vote.

In 1998, Yuliya Timoshenko was honored with the church order of St. Barbara the Great Martyr – her own torments began later. The scandalous firing of Pavel Lazarenko and his flight to the US could not undermine her position. She remained a supporter of President Kuchma and worked well with the new prime minister, Viktor Yushchenko, a former head of the National Bank.

In 1999, Viktor Yushchenko convinced President Kuchma that his government needed a deputy prime minister for the fuel and energy complex. Yuliya Timshenko became that deputy prime minister. At that point, her relations with Ukrainian businessmen and politicians began to deteriorate. The deputy prime minister started paying the debt to Russia for delivered and stolen gas and fighting against defaults on payments, which antagonized most energy company owners. At the same time, the management at Russia's Gazprom was replaced – Rem Vyakhirev, who had worked well with Yuliya Timoshenko, was replaced by Aleksey Miller, who did not share his predecessor's personal sympathies. In 2000, she was dismissed from the post of deputy prime minister and arrested. The Prosecutor General's Office brought a criminal case against her, and she spent several weeks in prison on charges of nonpayment of taxes during her tenure at EESU. She was then released due to insufficient evidence. But Yuliya Timoshenko's first existence – a loyal careerist and businesswoman – had exhausted itself.

In many respects, Yuliya Timoshenko owed her rebirth in the role of people's tribune, revolutionary, “Freedom at the Barricades”, and “Ukrainian Joan of Arc” to her former patron and then persecutor, Leonid Kuchma. The image of victim of the regime the authorities bestowed on her served her well. It was Ms. Timoshenko who organized the first “Ukraine without Kuchma” action. Then, just before the parliamentary elections, she formed the Yuliya Timoshenko Bloc and entered the Supreme Rada (Parliament). The culmination of her opposition activities was the “Orange Revolution” and she found her true image in the style of Lesya Ukrainka (a great Ukrainian poet, 1871-1913) – the legendary hairdo with a braid around the head.

Viktor Yushchenko called her the “Passionaria of the Ukrainian revolution”: in fact, she, not the new president, played the same fiery role in Kiev in November-December 2004 that Mikhail Saakashvili had played in Tbilisi the year before and Boris Yeltsin, in Moscow in 1991.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Putin, Yushchenko Interested in Confiding Relationship

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian president Vladimir Putin said he counts on confiding relationship with his new Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko. Speaking at a meeting in Moscow, Putin said that “Russia has never worked behind the scenes at the territory of former Soviet Union, including the work with opposition. This fully concerns Ukraine, too.”

“We are glad that the situation in Ukraine is stabilizing,” he said and reminded that Russia had told earlier it would work with any leader Ukraine would vote for.

Yushchenko and Putin

Yushchenko noted he made his first visit abroad as president to Russia “as a respect to our relationship.” “The doors to the future are opening not through rhetoric but through concrete actions that can be shown to the people.”

Speaking before the talks with Putin, Ukrainian president expressed hope that the relationship between the two countries could be better.

The two presidents also spoke on future cooperation in the gas consortium. Yushchenko has told Putin the staff of the new government. He has appointed his aide Yulia Timoshenko the acting prime minister. The Ukrainian parliament will vote on this candidacy in the beginning of February. Putin did not express his view on the new government and said it is in competence of the Ukrainian people.

First Appointments by President of Ukraine Yushchenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- Before leaving for Moscow, the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko has made his first cabinet appointments. Yulia Tymoshenko has been appointed acting Prime Minister.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Besides, the President of Ukraine has cancelled the structure of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine in its present form yet signed a decree on forming the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine. Oleksandr Zinchenko is appointed Secretary General to the President of Ukraine

The Ukrainian President has appointed Petro Poroshenko National Security Council Secretary.

Information has been provided by the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s President, Iryna Gerashchenko.

President Yushchenko’s New Course for Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- It was an unprecedented, truly revolutionary inauguration of Viktor Yushchenko, which 64 foreign delegations envied. More than 550,000 people gathered in the centre of Ukraine’s capital on Sunday to celebrate the triumph of Yushchenko and his swearing in as president in the parliament, which continued as unofficial public inauguration with Yushchenko’s highly emotional speech delivered before the crowd on Kiev's Independence Square.

Yushchenko Taking Oath on the Bible and Constitution

People from all over Ukraine, many with tears in their eyes, and guests from some 80 nations celebrated Viktor Yushchenko’s inauguration with a burst of orange balloons, fireworks, doves, songs and chants.

The newly inaugurated Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko promised to steer a new course for Ukraine – away from “system corruption” and “political cronyism” and towards the European Union’s full membership as a main strategic goal.

''Ukraine will stand against all evil," Yushchenko told the crowd on Independence Square, where tens of thousands of his supporters were standing days and nights in the unprecedented campaign of peaceful protest, crying out that he had been robbed of the presidency by government’s fraud.

Yushchenko, with his face still disfigured from the poisoning in September, called his inauguration “a common victory, the victory of freedom over tyranny” and said Ukraine is ''now in the centre of Europe."

The enthusiastic crowd waived yellow-and-blue and orange flags, sang the national anthem of Ukraine and repeatedly chanted ''Yu-shchen-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!".

Yushchenko said that “Ukraine's place 'is in the European Union. My goal is Ukraine in a united Europe. Our road into the future is the road on which a united Europe is headed." Earlier the EU has made clear that membership for Ukraine is not yet on the agenda, saying the country should instead settle for closer ties.

Now Ukraine has to show substantial progress in many areas: Yushchenko must turn the country around after years of corruption, eradicate poverty and shadow economy.

''We will create new jobs. Whoever wants to work will have the opportunity to work and get an appropriate salary," Yushchenko stated.

''We will fight corruption in Ukraine. Taxes will be enforced, business will be transparent, . . . we will become an honest nation," the new president of Ukraine promised.

Addressing to Ukraine’s native-Russian-speaking population, who mainly supported his rival, Yushchenko said: ''Everyone can teach his children the language of his forefathers."

It is believed, however, that Yushchenko may face difficulties in fulfilling his electoral promises.

Supporters of Yanukovych, who was backed by Russia, grouped together on the square to wave white-and-blue flags, Yanukovych’s campaign colours. They chanted ''Shame! Shame!" as Yushchenko spoke.

Today, Viktor Yushchenko is visiting Moscow, in his first foreign trip as Ukraine’s president, for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Putin had congratulated Yanukovych on his presidential “victory” and supported him in other ways.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Yushchenko Inaugurated President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Viktor Yushchenko has become Ukraine's president and has vowed to seek a full place in Europe for the people he led in a peaceful revolt against a rigged national election and pressure from Russia.

Watched by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, seven presidents of ex-communist states and relatively minor dignitaries from Moscow, Yushchenko took the oath of office in parliament on Sunday to cap his two-month "Orange Revolution".

He then made his way to Independence Square, focal point of weeks of protests by supporters sporting orange banners, scarves and hats and told hundreds of thousands massed there that they had every right to be part of a broader Europe.

"Our way to the future is the way of a united Europe. We, along with the people of Europe, belong to one civilization. We share similar values," Yushchenko told cheering supporters, many clambering on iron gates and telephone boxes for a better view.

In his 20-minute address on a chilly afternoon he made no direct mention of Russia, where he meets Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin on Monday on his first foreign trip abroad before launching a tour of western and central Europe.

Yushchenko, his face disfigured from dioxin poisoning he blames on secret services, said Ukraine -- sandwiched between former imperial master Russia and three new members of the 25-nation European Union -- would act in its own interests.

"Our place is in the European Union," Yushchenko said, his U.S.-born wife standing with their five children nearby. "We are no longer on the edge of Europe. We are situated in the centre of Europe."

"Ukraine will not be a buffer zone or a testing ground for anyone else," he said. "We are prepared to respect the interests of other states. But for me and for you, national interests are above all else."

Before the ceremony, Yushchenko appeared well aware of the turning point in Ukraine's history, telling Powell he was happy "that I have lived to the time when the Ukrainian president is elected not in Moscow, not in Washington, but in Ukraine".


Yushchenko, a former prime minister and central bank governor, wants to eradicate corruption and build a country with a transparent economy and institutions.
Ukraine is one of Europe's poorest countries, with average monthly salaries equivalent to little more than $100 (53.4 pounds) and many people, especially in rural areas, getting by on far less.

Yushchenko has pledged to build on economic growth of recent years by establishing fair rules for investors and separating government from the interests of big magnates as he alleges was a common practice under outgoing president Leonid Kuchma.
He must now put together a cabinet from the competing interests making up his election team, with appointments expected early next month.

Many Ukrainians disillusioned by post-Soviet poverty see Yushchenko as one of the best hopes for a fresh start after 14 years of corrupt or inept rule.

"I now want prosperity for Ukraine," said Kateryna, a pensioner who came from Yushchenko's home region of Sumy in the north. "I want Ukraine to live like other democratic countries."

But the new president will have to win the trust of the country's Russian-speaking industrial east, which solidly supported his defeated rival, Viktor Yanukovich.
After taking the oath of office in parliament, Yushchenko clearly sought to overcome the legacy of the divisive poll.

"The people achieved honest elections, the transfer of power was legitimate," Yushchenko said, seeking cooperation from all. "We have a single aim -- a democratic and prosperous Ukraine."

The presidents of seven countries were in attendance -- Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Moldova -- all ex-communist states committed to European integration.

Yushchenko this week also visits the Council of Europe, a major rights body, the European Parliament, the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and attends commemorations in Poland of the Soviet army's liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

"I want to assure you that you will continue to enjoy the full support of the American government and the American people as you move forward to undertake the efforts that the Ukrainian people are expecting," Powell told Yushchenko after their talks.

Yushchenko told Powell, soon to step down, that his victory would not have happened "if we didn't have partners that are advocating democratic principles and shared democratic values".

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Bush Praises Yushchenko on Election Win

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Bush called Ukrainian President-elect Viktor Yushchenko on Saturday to congratulate him on his election and on "democracy's victory" in Ukraine, a White House spokesman said.

Bush noted that he was sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to represent the United States on Sunday at Yushchenko's inauguration. Bush and Yushchenko talked for about 15 minutes.

"The two leaders also discussed their support for the people of Iraq and for democracy in that country," White House spokesman Brian Besanceney said. "They agreed to consult and work closely together in the coming months."

Yushchenko, a Western-leaning reformer, lost the Nov. 21 election that spawned allegations of widespread fraud by followers of his opponent, Viktor Yanukovych, who ran with the support of the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma.

The election results were overturned by the Ukrainian Supreme Court, which agreed that the balloting was tainted by fraud. Yushchenko won the Dec. 26 rerun, and Yanukovych still has not conceded.

Powell's trip to represent the United States at the Yushchenko inauguration will be one of the secretary of state's last official acts.

In announcing his trip Thursday, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher congratulated the Ukrainian people for their courage in "standing up for their democratic rights" with sustained pro-democracy demonstrations that facilitated Yushchenko's eventual victory.

US Congratulates Ukraine's Yushchenko on Election Win

WASHINGTON, DC -- The United States on Friday congratulated Viktor Yushchenko on his win of the Ukrainian presidential election and said outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel to Ukraine to attend Yushchenko's inauguration ceremony.

"We congratulated Viktor Yushchenko on his historic victory. We wish him all success in his new term of office," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a news briefing.

Richard Boucher

Boucher said that Powell will leave the United States for Ukraine on Saturday morning and go to Kiev to represent US President George W. Bush at Yushchenko's inauguration ceremony on Sunday.

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko won the rerun of Ukraine's presidential election and will be inaugurated as president on Sunday.

Former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych won a disputed presidential runoff on Nov. 21, 2004, triggering weeks of protests by Yushchenko's supporters. The Supreme Court later annulled the election results and ruled for a re-vote of the runoff on Dec. 26.

Ukraine's Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed Yushchenko as president.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Yushchenko Invites Kuchma, Yanukovich to His Inauguration

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian incumbent president Leonid Kuchma and former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich have been invited to the inauguration ceremony for president elect Viktor Yushchenko, Pyotr Poroshenko, a close partner to Yushchenko and head of the Parliament Budget Committee, said.

Kuchma and Yanukovich

Poroshenko said he knew for sure that Kuchma would attend the inauguration ceremony. “I do not known about Yanukovich,” he added.

Yanukovich said on Thursday that he would not be present at the inauguration ceremony.

Kuchma will symbolically transfer his power to Yushchenko at the Verkhovna Rada on January 23, the same as his predecessor Leonid Kravchuk did on July 19, 1994. Delegations of 14 states attended the inauguration ceremony for Kuchma.

Foreign guests are confirming their participation in the Yushchenko inauguration ceremony to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Thirty-three official delegations have informed Kiev that they will attend. Presidents will head six delegations, speakers will head four delegations, and prime ministers will head two delegations, ministry spokesman Markiyan Lubkivsky said.

The presidents of Poland and Moldova and the NATO secretary general are expected to visit Ukraine for the Yushchenko inauguration.

EU's Javier Solana Opens Door to Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- The European Union's foreign policy chief opened the door to eventual Ukraine membership on Friday, and said it was up to president-elect Viktor Yushchenko and his people to work toward joining the trade bloc.

Javier Solana, speaking as officials compiled lists of guests for Yushchenko's Sunday inauguration, said after three hours of talks with the liberal leader that it was conceivable one day for Ukraine to join.

President-elect Yuschenko and EU Boss Solana

Yushchenko, elected after weeks of turmoil in the ex-Soviet state, intends to turn the ceremony into a national holiday — including an address to crowds in Kiev's main square, the epi-center of the Orange Revolution.

"We think Ukraine is making a tremendous effort and is a good friend of the European Union," Solana said after lunch at the president-elect's home.

EU membership, he said, was "a possibility for the Ukrainian people. You have to do the job. You have to have the energy and the mobilization of the country, the reforms necessary to get as close as possible to Europe. Nothing is impossible for Ukraine."

The EU's Executive Commission last week said it had no plans to consider eventual Ukrainian membership despite a vote in the European Parliament urging the Union to boost ties with Ukraine.

Any notions of membership was all but inconceivable under outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, often criticized by the EU.

A statement on Friday by EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who is due to attend the inauguration, said only that Yushchenko's election "have opened the way for a new beginning in the EU-Ukraine relationship."

Yuschenko's Victory Recognized Around the World (Update 9)

KIEV, Ukraine -- The hero of the Orange Revolution and now President of Ukraine continues to receive congratulatory messages from heads of state, around the world.

Katerina and Viktor Yuschenko

The heads of 73 foreign countries and organizations have so far sent their congratulations to the newly elected President of Ukraine, Yuschenko.

These include the leaders of Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Council of the European Union, Council of Europe, Croatia, Czech and Slovak Republics, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, European Commission, European Parliament, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldavia, NATO, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, OSCE, Palestinian Authority, Paraguay, People's Republic of China, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of China, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Nations, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Vatican and Vietnam.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, congratulated Viktor Yushchenko on winning the presidential elections in Ukraine.

President of the Russian Federation Volodymyr Putin finally congratulated Victor Yushchenko on winning the Presidency of Ukraine on January 20. Russia’s President wished Victor Yushchenko every success in such a responsible office.

United States has finally congratulated Viktor Yuschenko in a written statement by US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Orange Revolution Victor Turns to the West

KIEV, Ukraine -- Viktor Yuschenko is to be inaugurated as President of Ukraine on Sunday, crowning the Orange Revolution that overturned a rigged election and wrenched the former Soviet republic out of Moscow’s strategic embrace.

The Ukrainian Parliament set the inauguration date yesterday after the Supreme Court had rejected the last appeal from his opponent, the pro-Russian former Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Nato Secretary-General, will attend, marking Ukraine’s geopolitical shift westwards.

Colin Powell and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer

Mr Yushchenko — his face still disfigured from an assassination attempt by poisoning — will begin a European tour next week, in the hope of forging new ties with the West without further alienating a humiliated Kremlin.

He will address the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Tuesday and then attend the commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland. He will also address the European Parliament in Brussels and chat with world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

But before all that, he will visit Moscow on Monday to mend fences with President Putin, who backed Mr Yanukovych in an attempt to preserve Russia’s influence over Ukraine and maintain a buffer against the expanding EU and Nato.

Yuschenko Inauguration Date Set

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's parliament has just voted on setting the date for the inauguration of elected President Yuschenko as noontime (Kiev time) on Sunday, January 23rd.

The printing of the results opened the way for parliament to set a date, and 309 of the chamber’s 450 deputies voted in favour of holding the ceremony on Sunday.

Eight hours ago the Ukrainian Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Ukrainian Central Elections Commission, which announced opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko the winner of the presidential race, thus denying an appeal filed by Kremlin-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovich.

Yanokovich, who is a former Prime Minister, argued, that it was impossible to announce a winner because of a number of violations of laws during the elections.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It's Official - Yuschenko is Ukraine's New President

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's supreme court rejected a final appeal over Viktor Yushchenko's election as president at 2:30AM Thursday, clearing the way for the pro-Western reformer to assume power in the ex-Soviet nation after weeks of political turmoil.

"The court has concluded that the complaint should not be granted," read the eagerly awaited ruling on an appeal filed by defeated candidate, former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich.

"The decision is final and cannot be appealed," chief presiding justice Anatoly Yarema said in reading the decision that sparked applause from one side and resigned indignation from the other.

The ruling freed parliament to set a date for Yushchenko's inauguration, which top ally Petro Poroshenko said has been tentatively scheduled for noon on Sunday in Kiev.

The 50-year-old, who has vowed to make European integration the mainstay of his administration, will become the third president of an independent Ukraine, taking over after 10 years of authoritarian-leaning rule by outgoing leader Leonid Kuchma.

Yushchenko's swearing-in will cap months of political turmoil and uncertainty that have roiled this strategic ex-Soviet nation on European Union's eastern border.

"Our suffering is finally over," said a beaming Yury Klyuchkovsky, a Yushchenko lawyer. "The last word has been said. We have a newly-elected president."

Yanukovich's team meanwhile blasted the court for favoritism.

"The supreme court is against Yanukovich," shot a grim Nestor Shuffrich. "Now it is clear that elections can be held by means of civil disobedience, that today in Ukraine, anything goes."

The court said that Yanukovich had not proven his charges that the December 26 rerun election that Yushchenko won by more than 2.2 million votes was marred by widespread irregularities and should therefore be annulled.

The same court ordered the repeat election nearly two months ago, after it threw out a November runoff won by Yanukovich because of systematic irregularities.

Yushchenko will be formally sworn in inside parliament, with an informal ceremony following on Kiev's central Independence Square, the epicenter of the mass popular protests known here as the "orange revolution" that swept him to power.

The demonstrations, organized by the opposition after a now-discredited vote was won by Yanukovich, touched off an unexpected tidal wave of popular support and echoed on the world stage as Moscow backed Yanukovich while Brussels and Washington lined up behind Yushchenko.

It also marked the second year in a row that a pro-Western leader headed popular protests that swept aside a Russia-friendly regime in an ex-Soviet nation, after a "rose revolution" in Georgia in late 2003.

The presidency of pro-Western Yushchenko, who has spoken in favor of Ukraine joining both NATO and the EU, marks a turning point for Slavic Ukraine that has been under Moscow's shadow for hundreds of years.

"From the first months, citizens will know what democracy feels like," Poroshenko declared after Thursday's ruling.

Yushchenko will face a wide array of problems once he assumes office, including rampant corruption and increased tensions with Russia, Ukraine's main trading partner.

He will also have to push through ambitious reforms before crucial parliamentary elections in March 2003, which will take place months after constitutional reforms transferring important presidential powers to the legislature take effect.

Yushchenko Faces Early Test Over Choice of Premier

KIEV, Ukraine -- Viktor Yushchenko looks set to become president of Ukraine on Saturday after the Supreme Court yesterday said that the election results could be published tomorrow.

Publication of the results, a key step in the handover of power, had been held up by an appeal against Mr Yushchenko's victory in last month's re-run presidential election, which his opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, insists was spoiled by fraud. But the court confirmed the embargo on publication would expire at midnight tonight, regardless of whether it had dealt with the appeal.

Now the western-leaning president-elect faces the tough task of choosing a prime minister from among his closest allies. He tried last week to let the leaders of his "People Power" coalition decide who should get the job while he took a holiday outside Kiev.

But their meeting only ended in deadlock. Mr Yushchenko's tactics have provoked criticism that he is prevaricating.

The contest has narrowed to three main candidates: Yulia Tymoshenko, the charming but fiery former "gas princess" who helped lead the Orange Revolution protests in November and December, Petro Poroshenko, the softly spoken "chocolate prince" whose television channel brought the protests into the homes of millions of Ukrainians and Olexander Zinchenko, Mr Yushchenko's campaign manager.

Mr Zinchenko is a recent recruit to the Yushchenko camp. He was previously head of the Inter television channel and a leading member of the Social Democratic Party, the grouping headed by Viktor Medvedchuk, outgoing president Leonid Kuchma's chief of staff.

Oleh Rybachuk, a leading Yushchenko aide, said that Mr Zinchenko could be a compromise candidate who might prevent a split between the "heavyweight" candidates, Ms Tymoshenko and Mr Poroshenko.

Ms Tymoshenko raised the stakes at the weekend by declaring that she expected Mr Yushchenko to choose her, but people close to the talks said Mr Poroshenko remained the front-runner.

Mr Poroshenko, the 39-year-old chairman of parliament's budget committee, lacks Ms Tymoshenko's personal popularity and has relatively little experience addressing the public. However, he commands broad respect among the members of Mr Yushchenko's Our Ukraine political movement and is seen to have proved an effective manager of his own business empire.

Mr Poroshenko's Roshen confectionery company - Ukraine's largest - reported $274m (€210m, £147m) of sales last year. His business group also includes Mriya Bank, Channel 5 television, a car plant in Lutsk and a shipyard in Kiev. Ms Tymoshenko says Mr Yushchenko promised her the prime minister's job when he sought her support before the elections.

She says it would be "unprecedented" for such an agreement to be broken. Mr Poroshenko has appeared cooler, arguing that Mr Yushchenko's team is as united as ever.

Ms Tymoshenko, 44, was previously head of United Energy Systems of Ukraine, a private gas trading company. The company became the country's biggest gas trader when, controversially, the government of then-prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko granted UESU a lucrative regional monopoly on supplies of gas to large areas of central and eastern Ukraine in 1996.

But Ms Tymoshenko lost the business after Mr Lazarenko was sacked in 1997. She entered politics as a supporter of Mr Lazarenko, but in 1999 she teamed up with Mr Yushchenko, who was named prime minister at the end of that year. Mr Yushchenko made her deputy prime minister and energy minister, a position in which she won support from western donors for her attacks on corruption.

However, Mr Kuchma saw Ms Tymoshenko as self-promoting and sacked her in early 2001. Soon afterwards, she was briefly jailed for alleged fraud in connection with her former gas-trading business, but re-emerged as leader of a centrist opposition bloc that won 7 per cent of the vote in 2002 parliamentary elections.

Ms Tymoshenko has been repeatedly accused of corruption in what she insists have been politically motivated attempts to repress a popular opposition leader.

Mr Poroshenko is untainted by accusations of corruption, but many of Mr Yushchenko's team fear such a prominent industrialist will find it difficult to put the interests of the state above his own business.

He says he has put his business interests into a trust, but questions have been raised about whether he has entirely separated himself from his commercial activities.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Voting Results Publication

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's Supreme Court paved the way Tuesday for the inauguration of Western-leaning reformer Viktor Yushchenko in a ruling issued while it still considers an appeal by the Kremlin-favoured losing candidate.

Representatives of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who filed the appeal, denounced the decision as politically biased and warned it would undermine Ukraine's stability and aggravate tensions.

The court, responding to a motion by Mr. Yushchenko's camp, ruled that the results of the presidential election can be published in two government newspapers – a condition for the inauguration. That means the results can be printed in Thursday's editions of the newspapers, said Yuriy Kliutchkovsky, a Yushchenko representative.

Mr. Yushchenko won a Dec. 26 runoff election, a rerun of Nov. 21 balloting in which Mr. Yanukovich's victory was annulled by the court because of massive fraud.

Tuesday's decision came on the second day of the court's hearing of a complex appeal by Mr. Yanukovich.

He contends that the December election was flawed because many people had been denied the opportunity to vote because of changes in absentee ballot regulations. Yushchenko supporters say the appeal essentially was an effort to postpone the inauguration as long as possible.

“This means the inauguration will happen,” Mykola Katerinchuk, a Yushchenko representative at the court, said after the decision.

Olena Lukash, a lawyer who previously represented Mr. Yanukovich, agreed with that interpretation, saying publication means the Supreme Court and the Central Elections Commission cannot rescind the results.

Yanukovich representative Nestor Shufrich said Mr. Yushchenko will be “an illegitimate president. Yushchenko's staff is interested only in crowning him and inaugurating him.”

“The only remedy after such an inauguration would be an impeachment process,” said another Yanukovich representative, Taras Chornovyl.

Officials could not immediately be reached to confirm whether an inauguration date would be set. Mr. Yushchenko's aides said previously that they were aiming for the inauguration to be Friday or Saturday.

After the decision, the court continued its session on the Yanukovich appeal, leaving open the possibility that it could issue further rulings before the election results see print.

Much of the alleged fraud in the Nov. 21 vote was connected with misuse of absentee-voting procedures that allowed people to cast multiple ballots. After that election, the parliament passed reforms eliminating absentee balloting.

That provision was overturned by the Constitutional Court the day before the December vote, leaving little time for many old and ailing people to make voting arrangements. Mr. Yanukovich's appeal focuses on that issue, claiming that large numbers of Ukrainians were denied the vote.

On Monday, the court rejected several manoeuvres by the Yanukovich camp, including a call to move the entire proceedings to the Administrative Court, a panel that exists only on paper. A presidential order creating the Administrative Court was issued in 2002, but steps to bring it into existence have not been implemented.

The court also rejected a motion to call the head of the elections commission as a witness, and it turned down a request for one of the judges to be excluded for saying the court had already dealt with major elements of the complaint.

The court has until Friday to decide on the appeal.

Mr. Yanukovich's camp repeatedly has raised the prospect that supporters angered by his loss could descend on Kiev if Mr. Yushchenko is inaugurated. Comparatively small groups of his backers came to Kiev at the height of pro-Yushchenko demonstrations that brought hundreds of thousands of people into downtown Kiev.

Several hundred Yanukovich partisans blocked the street outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday and complained bitterly after the publication decision.

“They have spit on our souls,” demonstrator Mykola Azayko said. “Yushchenko is an American stooge and America wants to enslave us.”

Yushchenko opponents fear he will undermine relations with Moscow, which is important to Ukraine as a trading partner and because of its cultural ties with the large Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Yushchenko's wife is U.S.-born and opponents say U.S. money helped the massive, well-organized demonstrations that broke out after the fraudulent Nov. 21 vote.

Mr. Yushchenko has promised to crack down on widespread corruption and bring more openness to government and business. He wants to strengthen Ukraine's ties with Europe but also says he will maintain “friendly ties” with Russia.

Ukraine Court Rejects Yanukovich Appeals - Yushchenko Inauguration Imminent

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Supreme Court rejected an array of motions from defeated Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovich on Monday in the ex-prime minister's apparent last legal chance to fend off the inauguration of his western-leaning rival.

After a day of arguments, the court adjourned until Tuesday, leaving open the question of when former opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko might be inaugurated. Yushchenko was declared the winner of the Dec. 26 election with almost 52 per cent of the vote against Yanukovych's 44.2 per cent, but cannot be inaugurated until the Supreme Court resolves the appeal.

The December election was a rerun of Nov. 21 voting, in which Yanukovich was declared the winner, but that result was annulled by the high court after allegations of massive voting fraud.

Much of the alleged fraud was connected with misuse of absentee voting procedures that allowed multiple ballots to be cast. After the Nov. 21 vote, parliament passed election reforms that eliminated absentee balloting - but that provision was overturned by the Constitutional Court the day before the December voting.

That left little time for many old and ailing people to make voting arrangements. Yanukovych's appeal focuses on that issue, claiming that large numbers of Ukrainians were denied their right to vote.

The court rejected several motions from Yanukovich's legal team, including a call to move the entire proceedings to the Administrative Court, which exists only on paper. A presidential order to create the court was issued in 2002, but steps to bring it into existence have not been implemented.

The court also rejected a motion to call the head of the Central Elections Commission as a witness and a request for one judge to be excluded for saying the court had already dealt with major elements of the complaint.

Before the hearing, Yanukovich accused the court of "adopting a biased position in advance."

The court previously had rejected other minor appeals from the Yanukovich camp.

"I and millions of my voters were thus deprived from our right to appeal to the court which constitutes a serious violation of the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights," he told a news conference before the court session.

Yanukovich's legal team at the hearing included three Swiss lawyers, apparently underlining his stated intention to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if the Ukrainian court ruled against him.

Yushchenko supporters say they expect the inauguration to be held by the end of this week.

But the court by law has until Friday to decide on the appeal. If it rejects the appeal and rules Yushchenko's victory legitimate, the election results must then be published in official newspapers before Yushchenko could take the oath of office.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ukraine Spy Masters Blocked Crackdown - Top Officers Defied President to Aid Yushchenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- As protests here against a rigged presidential election overwhelmed the capital last fall, an alarm sounded at Interior Ministry bases outside the city. It was just after 10 p.m. on Nov. 28.

More than 10,000 troops scrambled toward trucks. Most had helmets, shields and clubs. Three thousand carried guns. Many wore black masks. Within 45 minutes, according to their commander, Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov, they had distributed ammunition and tear gas and were rushing out the gates.

Kiev was tilting toward a terrible clash, a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war. And then, inside Ukraine's clandestine security apparatus, strange events began to unfold.

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back.

The officials issued warnings, saying that using force against peaceful rallies was illegal and could lead to prosecution and that if ministry troops came to Kiev, the army and security services would defend civilians, said an opposition leader who witnessed some of the exchanges and Oleksander Galaka, head of the military's intelligence service, the G.U.R., who made some of the calls.

Far behind the scenes, Col. Gen. Ihor P. Smeshko, the S.B.U. chief, was coordinating several of the contacts, according to Maj. Gen. Vitaly Romanchenko, leader of the military counterintelligence department, who said that on the spy chief's orders he warned General Popkov to stop. The Interior Ministry called off its alarm.

Details of these exchanges, never before reported, provide insight into a hidden factor in the so-called Orange Revolution, the peaceful protests that overturned an election and changed the political course of a post-Soviet state.

Throughout the crisis an inside battle was waged by a clique of Ukraine's top intelligence officers, who chose not to follow the plan by President Leonid D. Kuchma's administration to pass power to Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich, the president's chosen successor. Instead, these senior officers, known as the siloviki, worked against it.

Such a position is a rare occurrence in former Soviet states, where the security agencies have often been the most conservative and ruthless instruments of state power.

Interviews with people involved in these events - opposition leaders, chairmen of three intelligence agencies and several of their senior officers, Mr. Kuchma, a senior Western diplomat, members of Parliament, the interior minister and commander of the ministry's troops - offer a view of the siloviki's work.

The officers funneled information to Mr. Kuchma's rivals, provided security to opposition figures and demonstrations, sent choreographed public signals about their unwillingness to follow the administration's path and engaged in a psychological tug-of-war with state officials to soften responses against the protests.

Ultimately, the intelligence agencies worked - usually in secret, sometimes in public, at times illegally - to block the fraudulent ascension of Mr. Yanukovich, whom several of the generals loathe. Directly and indirectly, their work supported Viktor A. Yushchenko, the Western-oriented candidate who is now the president-elect.

Many factors that sustained the revolution that formed around Mr. Yushchenko are well known. They include Western support, the protesters' resolve, cash from wealthy Ukrainians, coaching by foreign activists who had helped topple presidents in Georgia and Serbia, the unexpected independence of the Supreme Court and cheerleading by a television station, Channel 5, which Mr. Kuchma never shut down.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Ukraine Election a Great Event But Fight Continues

KIEV, Ukraine -- What can be said about the presidential election in Kiev, Ukraine and the Orange Revolution that has not already been written, read or heard on the news? As the world news focuses on the tsunami and daily problems in Iraq, history that has been made here in Kiev, and the current situation in Ukraine has all but faded from the headlines. This crisis as President Bush commented on, had all the potential of an East/West showdown, possibly as serious as the Cuban missile crisis.

On one side, there is presidential candidate and first winner of the election, Victor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian, anointed leader of President Putin of Russian and outgoing Ukraine President Kuchma. On the other side, there is pro-western candidate Victor Yuschenko, married to a California-born Ukrainian. The election had all the makings of a blockbuster movie. In early September, Vicktor Yuschenko, resembling a young Rock Hudson, was poisoned by a massive dose of dioxin that left him looking like Quasimodo. Where this story will end will be most interesting. This was the third known attempt on his life.

When the National Election Committee declared his opponent, Yanukovych, the presidential victor, the most remarkable thing occurred. Hundreds of thousands of people rose and marched against what was deemed a complete farce of an election. Many city councils in Ukraine, embassies and world political figures denounced and refused to acknowledge the election results.

Braving freezing cold weather and potential military confrontation, thousands of people adorned the color orange in protest and marched through the country’s capitol. At one point, estimates counted nearly 2 million protesters.

In this capital city of Kiev, along the main boulevard, a giant tent city, complete with a central command center, was established to coordinate the protest, and rise to any requests by their beloved Victor Yuschenko, to surround government buildings and block access to them, or to protest a decision that any government body would make to confirm the election results.

This is a character departure from Yuschenko’s typical political demeanor, that of being a steady statesman who is not known for strong aggressive action.

The United States walked, and is walking, a thin line. If you recall President Bush during the debates proclaimed President Putin as a close friend. The U.S. may desperately need Russian oil, especially if the situation in the Middle East goes awry. Yet, the situation is one where Putin was about to crush a somewhat stable and emerging pro-west democracy here in Ukraine. This situation and further relationship between Russian and the U.S. will be something to observe.

The result of the people’s uprising gave way to a new election on Dec. 26. Thousands of election observers from around the world flew in for this event. The result was a undisputed victory for Victor Yuschenko, a crushing defeat for out-going President Kuchma, his selected predecessor Yanukovych and President Putin of Russia.

In the past week, the minister of transportation, who had much knowledge of outgoing President Kuchma’s financial dealings, was found dead from a gunshot at his home. Announced as a suicide, most people believe it was an assassination. Another top government official who also had much knowledge of Kuchma’s corrupt 10-year reign is missing. Kuchma himself, obligated to be at the inauguration, is facing possible criminal charges for the involvement of the death of a popular journalist along with other financial scandals and corruption. Some people think he may seek refuge and exile in Russia.

So the news is still alive and well here, and the potential for more problems and a confrontation between the east and the west could occur.

Ukraine Might Join EU Before Turkey

STRASBOURG, France -- A European Parliament (EP) decision paving the way for Ukraine's membership with an overwhelming majority have led to discussions regarding whether or not Kiev will become a European Union (EU) member before Turkey.

Despite its application to the EU many years after Turkey, Croatia was assigned a date by the EU within two years and March 2005 was designated as the starting date for membership negotiations. While Croatia's acceptance as a member before 2010 has been discussed, it is now thought that Ukraine could follow the same process and will be able to join the Union before Turkey.

Many Europeans had expressed during discussions on Turkey before the December 17th EU summit that Ukraine is a part of European culture and therefore should be accepted to the Union.

The EP's decision that paves the way for Ukraine's membership is not binding. The EU leaders, that is to say the European Council, must take a decision regarding ascribing the status of a candidate to a country or a start of negotiations. Experts in Brussels think Ukraine could soon be a candidate but that any comparisons between Turkey and Ukraine would be wrong. The same experts also point out that Turkey will begin negotiations on October 3rd if they meet certain conditions.