Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ukrainian Govt. Campaigns For NATO

MOSCOW, Russia -- Ukraine has begun an informational campaign to popularize the idea of NATO membership. There is $3 million budgeted for the campaign.

Boris Tarasyuk, former Foreign Minister, is a well-respected politician who will be explaining the benefits of NATO to Ukrainians.

The government hopes to reduce the number of its citizens opposed to the idea significantly by December, when Ukraine hope to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan.

The idea for the campaign arise at the beginning of the year, at the same time as Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko stated that a referendum was necessary on Ukraine's NATO membership.

The campaign itself began only in the last few days. Well-known politicians, such as Boris Tarasyuk, chairman of the Supreme Rada Committee on European Integration, have taken to the road to explain the idea to the people.

Ukrainian state television will soon begin showing “positive programming” devoted to NATO.

“NATO's refusal to give Ukraine a Membership Action Plan at the Bucharest summit was a hard blow to Yushchenko's image,” commented Dmitro Ponomarchuk, president of the Free Journalists Foundation. “Now it is a matter of honor for the president.”

According to the International Institute of Sociology in Kiev, only 18 percent of Ukrainians support the idea of the country's membership in NATO, while 62 percent oppose it.

NATO has 39-percent support in Western Ukraine, and 6-percent support in Eastern Ukraine.

“Everything depends on how delicately Russia will behave toward Ukraine,” International Institute of Sociology president Valery Khmelko said.

“It is clear from our statistics how painfully people react when they do not want to consider them citizens of a sovereign state and threaten them with missiles. So the Russian politicians themselves are working toward the likelihood that Ukrainians will vote for NATO.”

Source: Kommersant

Doomed Chernobyl Reactor To Be Buried In Giant Steel Coffin

KIEV, Ukraine -- Twenty-two years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, work is under way on a colossal new shelter to cover the ruins and deadly radioactive contents of the exploded Soviet-era power plant.

This May 10, 2007 file photo shows a general view of empty houses in the town of Pripyat and the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the background.

For years, the original iron and concrete shelter that was hastily constructed over the reactor has been leaking radiation, cracking and threatening to collapse. The new one, an arch of steel, would be big enough to contain the Statue of Liberty.

Once completed, Chernobyl will be safe, said Vince Novak, nuclear safety director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which manages the $505 million project.

The new shelter is part of a broader $1.4 billion effort financed by international donors that began in 1997 and includes shoring up the current shelter, monitoring radiation and training experts.

The explosion at reactor No. 4 on April 26, 1986 was the world's worst nuclear accident, spewing radiation over a large swath of the former Soviet Union and much of northern Europe. It directly contaminated an area roughly half the size of Italy, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

In the two months after the disaster, 31 people died of radioactivity, but the final toll is still debated. The U.N. health agency estimates that about 9,300 will eventually die from cancers caused by Chernobyl's radiation. Groups such as Greenpeace insist the toll could be 10 times higher.

The old shelter, called a "sarcophagus," was built in just six months. But intense radiation has weakened it, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and rain and snow are seeping through cracks.

Officials say a tornado or earthquake could bring down the shelter, releasing clouds of poisonous dust.

The first step, shoring up the sarcophagus, is almost complete, Ukrainian and EBRD officials say.

Later, the 20,000-ton arch — 345 feet tall, 840 feet wide and 490 feet long — will be built next to the old shelter and slid over it on railtracks.

Its front side will be covered by metal, and the back will abut the wall of reactor No. 3. Construction is to begin next year and be completed in 2012, and it is designed to last 100 years. It is designed and built by Novarka, a French-led consortium.

Workers will wear protective suits and masks, and those needing to be closer to the radioactivity will work in shifts as short as several minutes.

Once the arch is up, the least stable parts of the old shelter and the reactor will be dismantled and removed. In 50 years, the nuclear fuel will be extracted, although it is unclear where it will be stored.

The EBRD says 95 percent of the reactor's nuclear inventory is still inside the ruins, but some experts believe most of the radiation was released in the days after the accident.

The new shelter evokes mixed feelings among Ukrainians.

Some are just happy the reactor is finally going to be made safe. Others, especially those directly affected by the disaster, accuse the government of playing up the new shelter at the expense of treating their health problems.

Scientists continue to debate the Novarka solution, with some saying the reactor should be dismantled or embedded in concrete. Others say the government should be more concerned about the contaminated land, ground water and equipment, and the spent nuclear fuel.

This nation of 46 million gets almost half its electricity from 15 reactors at four power plants. None is of the Chernobyl type.

President Viktor Yushchenko wants to expand Ukraine's nuclear power industry, but environmentalists say the lesson of Chernobyl is that nuclear power carries hidden costs and dangers.

"Nuclear energy has shown how expensive it is," said Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia.

Source: AP

Yushchenko Faces Loss Of Powers

MOSCOW, Russia -- Three factions in the Ukrainian parliament, including the pro-Western bloc of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, are planning to pass a new constitution that would significantly curb presidential powers, Vedomosti reported Tuesday.

Viktor Yushchenko

The Party of the Regions, the Communists and Tymoshenko's bloc, which together have a constitutional majority in the parliament, believe Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko should be stripped of most of his executive powers and become largely a figurehead, Vedomosti cited sources in the factions as saying.

As the head of state, the Ukrainian president currently has the power to hire and fire the heads of security and law enforcement agencies, as well as the foreign minister, among other government posts.

But presidential nominees for the prime minister post -- which controls appointments in social and economic agencies -- require parliamentary approval.

The draft constitution will be endorsed by the three factions and then confirmed by the Constitutional Court, a source in Tymoshenko's bloc told Vedomosti.

Alexei Plotnikov, a deputy with the Party of the Regions' parliamentary faction, said the draft would be put up for vote after the May holidays.

Source: The Moscow Times

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

UEFA Boss Platini To Visit Poland, Ukraine In July To Check Euro 2012 Progress

GENEVA, Switzerland -- UEFA president Michel Platini will visit Poland and Ukraine in July to check on their preparations for co-hosting the 2012 European Championship.

UEFA President Michel Platini

The two countries have to intensify their efforts over the next few months in order to meet UEFA's requirements, Platini told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

But "there is no Plan B," he said, referring to possible alternative venues in case the former eastern bloc states fail to put in place the necessary infrastructure to host the event.

UEFA spokesman William Gaillard said Platini will travel to Poland and Ukraine after Euro 2008, held in Austria and Switzerland in June.

Gaillard said UEFA's main concern is whether the hotels and transportation networks - including airports, railways and roads - will be sufficient to host the hundreds of thousands of fans expected for the event.

"We're not thinking of moving it elsewhere," Gaillard told The Associated Press. "We have to do it there, but in order to do that the efforts have to increase."

Gaillard also said UEFA was doing everything it could to crack down on illegal ticket scalping online, but that it faced legal constraints.

"In some countries we cannot get a court order that stops someone from reselling tickets," he said.

Several websites are selling tickets for Euro 2008 games, with prices for the opening match starting at 640 euros (C$1,000) and the best seats for the final in Vienna going for 4,480 euros (C$7,000).

Gaillard said each ticket will be numbered and spot checks may be carried out to ensure that fans acquired them in accordance with UEFA rules.

He warned that "there's absolutely no guarantee that when you go to the stadium you can get in" with a ticket bought through unofficial channels.

Source: The Canadian Press

Ubisoft To Open New Ukraine Studio

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Publisher Ubisoft has announced that it has chosen Kiev, Ukraine as the location for its latest internal studio to assist its Bucharest studio on Tom Clancy's HAWX, with plans to employ as many as 800 people across Eastern Europe by 2009.

Tom Clancy's HAWX

Ubisoft says that a "core team of 12 developers" in the region, led by Vitalii Blazheiev, has already been part of the development of the PC version of Blazing Angels: Secret Missions of WWII, and the that studio hopes to employ some 50 people within the coming year.

Ubisoft also notes that it has maintained a presence in Eastern Europe for 15 years, first with its Bucharest, Romania studio -- now employing over 500 people -- and later its Sofia, Bulgaria studio -- currently employing over 50 -- following the success of Silent Hunter and Blazing Angels.

Said Ubisoft worldwide executive director Christine Burgess-Quémard, "We have had a very positive experience in Eastern Europe, as the quality of the upcoming Tom Clancy's HAWX developed by our Bucharest studio can attest. Having seen the potential demonstrated by the Sofia studio's first projects, it was only natural for us to pursue our expansion in this region and attract a new pool of highly-skilled talents to the group."

Source: Gamasutra

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yushchenko, Tymoshenko Clash Over Privatization

WASHINGTON, DC -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko have demonstrated that they would not stop short of open confrontation when big property is at stake.

Confrontations between Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko are getting dirty.

Yushchenko cancelled Tymoshenko’s orders to replace the head of the privatization body, the State Property Fund (FDM), and to privatize one of the last big factories still remaining in state ownership, the Odessa Portside Plant (OPZ).

Tymoshenko, with the courts on her side, disobeyed and instructed her subordinates, perhaps for the first time ever, to ignore Yushchenko’s orders.

Yushchenko sent his guards to protect the FDM from Tymoshenko’s team, and confrontation between the Presidential Guard and police was barely avoided.

Yushchenko opposes Tymoshenko’s efforts to privatize big industry assets in 2008. Tymoshenko makes no secret of her plan to spend money raised from privatization on compensations to those Ukrainians who lost their savings in the defunct Soviet state savings bank and on other social programs.

Yushchenko says that Tymoshenko’s plan is tantamount to squandering national wealth. His team suspects that Tymoshenko wants to use privatization proceedings to buy popular support for the 2010 presidential election.

The Tymoshenko cabinet approved a privatization plan for 2008 in February. It provides for raising some $1.8 billion by privatizing assets in electricity companies, the Ukrtelekom fixed-lines operator, the Turboatom manufacturer of equipment for nuclear plants, and OPZ, which is the key producer of ammonia and carbamide.

OPZ is probably the most attractive of those assets. Tymoshenko plans to sell it for over $500 million. From February to April 2008, Yushchenko issued several decrees suspending Tymoshenko’s privatization orders, including OPZ privatization.

Tymoshenko tried to replace FDM head Valentyna Semenyuk, who has survived several cabinets from 2005 to 2008 in this position. She believes that Semenyuk has been torpedoing her privatization efforts on orders from Yushchenko.

On February 6 Tymoshenko suspended Semenyuk and appointed Andry Portnov, a member of her party, to replace her. However, Yushchenko decreed on February 7 to suspend Semenyuk’s dismissal and requested the Constitutional Court (KS) to check the legality of Tymoshenko’s order.

He recalled that in 2007 he had decreed that the FDM was not part of the executive, so Tymoshenko could not replace its head.

Yushchenko lost to Tymoshenko in the KS, which threw out his appeal on April 17; but Yushchenko appealed again on the same day. Tymoshenko argued that Yushchenko could not appeal on the same matter twice, and she reportedly decided to replace Semenyuk by force.

Yushchenko warned her against this at his press conference on April 24. He said that only parliament could replace Semenyuk.

Yushchenko slammed Tymoshenko’s privatization policy. “What’s happening to privatization in Ukraine now reminds me of a seasonal sale at a Kiev supermarket,” he said, “but in our case national security is at stake.”

He warned against “sweet populism.” He said that he was not against OPZ privatization but that OPZ should be privatized without its transshipment facility, which was also used by other companies in the region. Therefore, according to Yushchenko, it was of strategic importance for Ukraine.

On April 23 Yushchenko ruled to replace the Interior Ministry’s security guards at the FDM with the Presidential Guard in order to prevent the FDM’s takeover by force.

The Interior Ministry reportedly had not been warned of that decision so that its security could offer resistance; but common sense prevailed.

The FDM passed under Yushchenko’s armed control without violence. When a district court in Kyiv confirmed Semenyuk’s suspension on April 24 and Tymoshenko arrived at the FDM on April 25 personally to install Portnov in Semenyuk’s place, Semenyuk, protected by Yushchenko’s guards, did not move.

The same court ruled to continue OPZ privatization, but on April 25 Yushchenko decreed it suspended again. Tymoshenko instructed Portnov to disobey Yushchenko’s decrees and to carry on with OPZ privatization.

This time the Prosecutor-General’s Office intervened, canceling Semenyuk’s suspension by Tymoshenko. In response, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc threatened to launch a no-confidence motion against Prosecutor-General Oleksandr Medvedko in parliament.

First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov, speaking in a TV interview, accused Yushchenko of pursuing “private interests” in privatization.

Turchynov did not specify what those interests were. Zerkalo Nedeli quoted “rumors” suggesting that OPZ was contested by the Ukrainian tycoons Kostyantyn Zhevaho and Ihor Kolomoysky.

Zhevaho is a member of Tymoshenko’s party, while Kolomoysky pledged in a recent interview that he would back Yushchenko in a presidential election.

Speaking at a talk-show on Inter TV, Semenyuk said that she would not go until parliament replaced her. Semenyuk knows that parliament will not do that any time soon, as the biggest caucus in it, the opposition Party of Regions, will hardly back Tymoshenko in her dispute with Yushchenko.

Semenyuk accused Tymoshenko of trying to sell OPZ “for a song” in order to “pay the oligarchs” for political support. Semenyuk also said that OPZ should not be privatized at a time when “world prices and the Ukrainian stock market are falling”.

Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor

Ukraine Chopper Crashes In Black Sea, Killing 19

KIEV, Ukraine -- A helicopter belonging to Ukraine’s state gas company crashed into the Black Sea, leaving 19 people dead, a company official said Monday.

A Mi-8 transport helicopter

The Mi-8 helicopter went down around 2:30 a.m. EDT as it was trying to land, said Valentyn Zemlyansky, a spokesman for the company, Naftogaz.

One person survived, he said.

The ITAR-Tass news agency reported that most of the passengers were employees of the gas company who were headed for an offshore drilling rig.

The Mi-8 is a workhorse helicopter used widely in civilian aviation and the military in the former Soviet Union.

Crashes occur frequently and are often blamed on poor maintenance and excessive age.

Last month, Ukrainian border guards in a helicopter crashed into the Black Sea, killing 12 people.

Source: MSNBC

Paul McCartney To Knock Out Ukraine Girls With Free Show

KIEV, Ukraine -- On Saturday 14th June 2008, at the invitation of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Paul McCartney will perform to hundreds of thousands of people in Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine.

Paul McCartney

This groundbreaking event has been named Independence Concert and was launched in Kiev by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Paul's special show will be free to attend and will be broadcasted live on Novy TV.

"I'm very excited because on the 14th of June I've been invited to play a concert in Independence Square, Kiev," Paul McCartney said. "Me and the band are going to be there and we're going to have to a great evening and we hope to see you there. So come along, it's going to be great evening hopefully for Ukraine. Pull together, groove, rock and roll – all together"

This exciting event will be seen as symbolic for several generations of Ukrainians. It will allow people of different ethnicities and religions, political preferences and geopolitical orientations to come together around the ideas of peace, love and unity; the very ideas that Paul McCartney with The Beatles helped bring into the World.

Independence Concert is an independent social initiative that aims to strengthen the confidence and understanding in the Ukrainian society.

The ideology and spirit of The Beatles helped build the democratic aspirations for much of the Soviet society and eventually led to the peaceful collapse of the USSR and independence of the former Soviet republics.

Independence Concert appeals to the ideals that helped 30 years ago to melt down the ice of the 'cold war' in the hearts of millions and changed the world into a better place.

Today the ideology that forms the core of Ukrainian independence is shared with Paul McCartney's own ideology. Independence Concert serves to promote happiness, freedom, love and peace not only in Ukraine but also to the entire World.

It is planned that this historic concert will be broadcast live on screens in cities across the Ukraine for those who can't make it to Kiev.

Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist and founder of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation said: "One could not imagine this 30 years ago. Nobody could even dare to hope for this 20 years ago. One could only dream about it 10 years ago. 5 years ago we could only envy our neighbours for whom this became a reality. And finally the day has come. For the first time we have the opportunity to hear the songs that changed the world and created a new culture. The songs that we grew up with and became who we are.

These songs tell us about very simple but nevertheless important things: real love can't be bought and that real friendship can't be sold.

There is much more to what unites people than what divides them, and in reality it's not an impossible task to become a better person and to make the world a better place, especially if you do it all together.

Recently, we had not so many reasons to unite. Not to group under some political flags but to really gather all together.

There are not so many ways to bring together the East and the West, to make the young and the mature closer, to combine different convictions and aspirations into one common national idea of building a free, tolerant and prosperous country. And I believe that this initiative and the concert can help us"

In addition to the concert the Victor Pinchuk Foundation will also be exhibiting 40 of Paul's paintings at the Pinchuk Art Centre, the largest in Eastern Europe.

This will be Paul's first exhibition in this part of the world. His first art exhibition was in Siegen, Germany in 1999. Paul will personally open the exhibition.

Source: antiMUSIC

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Belarus/Ukraine: Reports From The Contamination Zone

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- More than 20 years after the Chornobyl catastrophe, hundreds have chosen to ignore the warnings and return to live in the contaminated zone that straddles the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. And many more are on their way.

Man and his mother who returned illegally to their village, in the "30Km exclusion zone".

They are called the "resettlers." In defiance of health warnings, they have chosen to return to the "exclusion zone" -- the 30-kilometer area surrounding the site of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.

It has been 22 years since an explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, located near Ukraine's border with Belarus, spewed radiation across large swathes of Europe and the former Soviet Union.

After some 350,000 local residents were evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the 1986 accident, the surrounding area became a massive ghost town.

But little by little, people began returning to their homes in the contaminated sector. Despite high levels of radiation, they cultivate the land and gather mushrooms and berries from the forest.

Nadzeja Zoryna, a pensioner in her 70s, several years ago returned to her home in the evacuated village of Hermanavichy, in Belarus's Homel region.

Remembering Their Roots

There she grows wheat and potatoes -- and sometimes even sells them to visitors.

"We no longer receive benefits. And look how many unfortunate children we have, whom we have to help," she says. "We need lard, milk, potatoes. Today, foreigners came here to buy potatoes, everybody wants to buy. One needs to live -- and it's tasty."

Many "resettlers" are not aware of the dangers of radioactive contamination. Those who are, choose to ignore them.

Ukraine's emergency situations minister, Volodymyr Shandra, who oversees Chornobyl issues, says the contamination is concentrated below the surface -- precisely where potatoes and other tubers grow.

"We must understand that this territory is contaminated by radiation," Shandra notes. "This radioactive contamination is located some 15-20 centimeters below the surface of the earth and in other places as well, such as trees. It's transuranium contamination, which is very long-lasting -- for hundreds of years."

According to official statistics, only 24 families live in that part of the exclusion zone. But other estimates put the number of "resettlers" there at more than 300.

In the nearby Belarusian village of Rudnya, Katsyaryna Ihnatsenka has settled in one of the evacuated town's abandoned, decaying houses.

Life Of Exclusion

She says it's a hard life, one in which she is left to fend for herself. "I'm 78 and I had to travel to the charcoal factory myself, order a car, order briquettes, pay for it, prepare reserves for the winter," she says. "All this all cost me 500,000 rubles [$230]. Go and survive after that!"

Ihnatsenka finds little more help whenever she leaves the exclusion zone. Local officials, she says, don't even look at her and ignore all her pleas for assistance. "As though I'd drop dead tomorrow," she complains.

Source: Radio Free Europe

Aftermath Of A Soviet Famine

MOSCOW, Russia -- Relations between Russia and Ukraine, bedeviled by disputes over natural gas supplies and NATO expansion, have lately been roiled by one of the great tragedies of Soviet history: the famine of 1932-33, which left millions dead from starvation and related diseases.

President Bush and Laura Bush, in Ukraine a month ago, visited the memorial to the famine of 1932-33 with President Viktor Yushchenko and his wife, Kateryna.

Ukraine is seeking international recognition of the famine, which Ukrainians call Holodomor -- or death by hunger -- as an act of genocide.

When Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin forced peasants off their homesteads and into collective farms, special military units requisitioned grain and other food before sealing off parts of the countryside. Without food and unable to escape, millions perished.

Ukraine, according to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, became "a vast death camp."

"There is now a wealth of historical material detailing the specific features of Stalin's forced collectivization and terror famine policies against Ukraine," Yushchenko wrote in the Wall Street Journal late last year. "Other parts of the Soviet Union suffered terribly as well. But in the minds of the Soviet leadership there was a dual purpose in persecuting and starving the Ukrainian peasantry. It was part of a campaign to crush Ukraine's national identity and its desire for self-determination."

There are no exact figures on how many died. Modern historians place the number between 2.5 million and 3.5 million. Yushchenko and others have said at least 10 million were killed.

But Russian politicians, historians and writers say Yushchenko and his allies are attempting to turn a Soviet crime that also killed Russians, Kazakhs and others into a uniquely Ukrainian trauma. They argue that the famine was the awful but collateral consequence of ruthless agricultural policies and the drive to industrialize, not a case of deliberate mass murder.

"There is no historical proof that the famine was organized along ethnic lines," the lower house of the Russian parliament said in a resolution passed this month. "Its victims were millions of citizens of the Soviet Union, representing different peoples and nationalities living largely in agricultural areas of the country."

Moreover, some Russians say, the push for the designation of genocide has more to do with demonizing modern-day Russia in the West than any desire for historical justice. Since Yushchenko came to power in early 2005, the two countries have repeatedly clashed over a host of issues, particularly his desire to integrate Ukraine into Western institutions and away from Russia's orbit.

The Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a front-page commentary in the newspaper Izvestia this month, wrote that the "provocative cry about 'genocide' " took shape "inside spiteful, anti-Russian, chauvinistic minds."

"Still, defamation is easy to insinuate into Westerners' minds," he wrote. "They have never understood our history: You can sell them any old fairy tale, even one as mindless as this."

That broadside came a few days after President Bush, on a visit to Ukraine, laid a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the famine. The United States and several other Western countries have recognized the famine as genocide.

But historians remain divided over whether the famine meets the United Nations definition of genocide, which defines it, in part, as the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

"Registry office statistics for 1933 show death rates in urban localities no higher than average in contrast to the exorbitant death toll in the countryside, not only in Ukraine but all over the Soviet Union," Andrei Marchukov, a researcher at the Institute of Russian History, wrote in an article published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. "People were doomed not on the grounds of ethnicity but merely because they lived in rural areas."

The issue has also divided Ukrainians, with Russian-speakers, who live mainly in the eastern part of the country, dismissing the genocide charge as grandstanding by Yushchenko. The president has also proposed a law that would criminalize denial of Holodomor.

The pro-Russian party led by former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych boycotted a parliamentary vote on a 2006 law recognizing the famine as an act of genocide. His party has suggested using the word "tragedy" to describe the famine.

"It happened on the territory of many countries," Yanukovych said. "Maybe in Ukraine it had a greater effect, as Ukraine is a more agricultural country."

Some Ukrainian historians, such as Stanislav Kulchitsky, an authority on the famine who works at the Institute of History in Kiev, counter that while the famine enveloped many regions of the Soviet Union, the "smashing blow," as he said Stalin called it, fell on Ukraine and Kuban, a region heavily populated with Ukrainians.

"The mechanism was different in Ukraine," Kulchitsky said in a telephone interview. He cited the sealing off of the Ukrainian countryside in particular, saying there were no such efforts elsewhere.

Kulchitsky said the famine should be understood as part of a larger effort to wipe out Ukrainian culture and nationalism that began in the 1920s.

"It was not industrialization or modernization," he said. "It was cold-blooded killing by hunger."

Source: Washington Post

Ukraine Remembers Chernobyl Amid Anti-Nuclear Protests

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine paid tribute Saturday to victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 22 years ago while anti-nuclear demonstrators at home and abroad also recalled the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history.

Women hold pictures of their dead husbands during the commemoration ceremony at Chernobyl's memorial.

A group of Ukrainians led by President Viktor Yushchenko laid a wreath during the night at a monument to the victims of the catastrophe in which a reactor exploded one night in April 1986.

"The Chernobyl catastrophe became planetary and even now continues to take its toll on people's health and the environment," the health ministry said in a statement marking the anniversary.

Demonstrators gathered in the centre of the capital Kiev brandishing placards including one reading: "Don't build a new Chernobyl."

"The consequences of the Chernobyl power station accident are huge," said activist Dmitry Khmara. "We are worried that they are again telling us to go along the risky path of developing atomic energy."

In Minsk, capital of the neighbouring republic of Belarus which suffered fallout from Cherobyl, some 2,000 people protested against plans for the country's first nuclear power station.

"No to another Chernobyl," read one placard. "We have two misfortunes, Lukashenko and radiation," read another. Alexander Lukashenko is the authoritarian president of Belarus, much criticised by the opposition and foreign governments for perceived human rights violations.

In Geneva, hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators wearing white masks formed a human chain around the headquarters of the World Health Organisation.

The anniversary was also marked by an all-night vigil in a small Ukrainian town called Slavutich, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Chernobyl, where many of the reactor site's employees lived.

The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986 at 1:23 am local time, when one of the reactors exploded -- contaminating the Soviet states of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus with the fallout also spreading to other parts of Europe.

Over 25,000 people known as "liquidators" -- most of them Ukrainians, Russians and Belarussians -- died getting the accident under control and constructing a concrete shield over the wreckage, according to Ukrainian official figures.

A United Nations toll published in September 2005 set the number of victims at just 4,000, a figure challenged by non-governmental organisations.

In Ukraine alone, 2.3 million people are designated officially as "having suffered from the catastrophe."

Some 4,400 Ukrainians, children or adolescents at the time of the accident, have undergone operations for thyroid cancer, the most common consequence of radiation, the health ministry says.

Chernobyl nuclear power station was finally closed in 2000 after one reactor had continued producing electricity.

But the dead power station remains a threat because the concrete cover laid over 200 tonnes of magma, consisting of radioactive fuel, is cracking.

The magma is "our worst problem. It is highly radioactive and we are doing all we can so that rain and snow do not make it into the sarcophagus," said Ukrainian Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra.

Work is in hand to reinforce the seal hurriedly flung over the reactor in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Work will also start later this year on a new steel cover due to be in place by 2012.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday marked the anniversary by pledging UN assistance for the stricken region's renewal.

Source: AFP

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wizz Air Expands Into Ukraine

LONDON, England -- Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost carrier, has established a new base in Ukraine, at Kiev’s Boryspil Airport. As such, Wizz Air is opening a new chapter in Ukraine’s aviation history, by becoming the first discount carrier to operate in this former Soviet republic.

Wizz Air Airbus A320

Wizz Air will start off by offering domestic service only, rather than international routes. The first destinations to be served include Odessa, Lviv, Simferopol, Kharkov, as well as Zaporozhye.

Some of these routes will specifically serve to transport Ukrainians to popular domestic tourist resorts. All flights will commence on July 11, 2008 and, as is customary for Wizz Air, the carrier will focus on heavily discounted fares, in exchange for basic, no-frills service.

The Kiev to Odessa route will be served by seven flights per week, while those flying from Kiev to Simferopol will be able to select from 10 weekly departures from the Ukrainian capital.

Those interested in reserving tickets ahead of time for these routes may do so as of today, at www.wizzair.com. All of the routes will be served by new Airbus A320 aircraft and each will include 180 comfortable, leather seats.

Natalia Kazmer, the director general of Wizz Air’s Ukrainian branch, told journalists that the opening of the new Kiev base represents a “milestone” for both the carrier and for Ukraine.

Wizz Air was founded in 2003 and the carrier has its headquarters in Vecsés, Hungary, near Budapest’s Ferihegy Airport.

Source: Car Rentals

UN Chief Pledges Aid On Chernobyl Disaster Anniversary

NEW YORK, NY -- UN chief Ban Ki-moon marked the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine by pledging UN assistance for the stricken region's renewal.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon

In a statement to mark the anniversary which falls today, he noted that the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2006-2016 a 'decade of recovery and sustainable development" for the Chernobyl area.

"The UN will do all it can during the 'decade of recovery' to support efforts toward the region's full renewal," Ban said as he urged the world community to "sustain its generosity in supporting the recovery of Chernobyl affected areas."

On April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, contaminating large parts of Europe but especially the then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Over 25,000 "liquidators" who worked on the ruined reactor and constructed a concrete sarcophagus enclosing it, have died since then, according to official figures.

The station, whose last reactor continued to produce electricity, was closed down in December 2000.

Source: The Economic Times

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ukraine Marks 22nd Anniversary Of Chernobyl Catastrophe

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine paid homage Saturday to victims of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, a "planetary" drama as Kiev called it, 22 years after the world's worst nuclear incident.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko (R) places a wreath at the memorial marking victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

Overnight, some hundred Ukrainians including President Viktor Yushchenko and other top state officials laid wreaths at the monument to the victims of Chernobyl in Kiev and lighted candles during a religious service held for the tragedy, the presidential press service said.

In Slavutich, a small town 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the wrecked nuclear power station, where most of its personnel live, an overnight vigil was due to be held.

"The Chernobyl catastrophe became planetary and even now continues to take its toll on people's health and the environment," the health ministry said in a statement.

On April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, contaminating large parts of Europe but especially the then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Over 25,000 "liquidators", mostly Ukrainians, Russians and Belarussians who worked on the ruined reactor and constructed a concrete sarcophagus enclosing it, lost their lives, according to official figures.

The official UN toll in September 2005 set the number of the accident's victims in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus at 4,000, but the figure had been contested by non-governmental organisations.

Officially, Ukraine alone numbers 2.3 million people qualified as "having suffered from the catastrophe."

Some 4,400 Ukrainians, who had been children or adolescents at the time of the accident, were operated for thyroid cancer, which is the most common consequence of radiation, the health ministry said.

The station, whose last reactor continued to produce electricity, was closed down in December 2000. However, its cracked sarcophagus, which contains some 200 tonnes of radioactive magma made up of nuclear fuel, makes it a continued threat.

The magma is "our worst problem. It is highly radioactive and we do all we can so that rain and snow do not make it into the sarcophagus," the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Minister Volodymyr Shandra said in a statement.

Ukrainian authorities had completed reinforcement of the old concrete sarcophagus, which had been constructed at speed shortly after the catastrophe, but a new steel sarcophagus, which would cover the old one, is yet due to be built.

Source: AFP

Prague Will Host V4 Meeting With Ukraine, Sweden

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- A meeting of the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group countries (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) will take place in Prague next week with the participation of their counterparts from Sweden and Ukraine who were invited as guests, the Czech Foreign Ministry press department told CTK Thursday.

V4 Visegrad Group countries

The ministers will discuss regional cooperation between the EU and east European countries.

"The future of the EU and its neighbouring countries will be the main topic and an emphasis will be put on the current situation in Ukraine, Serbia and Belarus," the ministry said.

The independence of Kosovo will probably also be one of the questions on the agenda since there is no united view on the recognition of its independence even among the V4 countries.

While Poland and Hungary have recognised the independent Kosovo, Slovakia is against the recognition. The Czech Republic has adopted the wait-and-see position but tend to recognising the new Kosovo.

The politicians will probably also discuss the EU rotating presidency. Prague will take the EU presidency in the first half of next year, followed by Sweden. The two countries are coordinating their priorities and the preparation, along with France that will hold the EU presidency six months ahead of the Czech Republic.

The representatives of the V4 countries, Ukraine and Sweden will also talk about the results of the recent NATO summit in Bucharest. Ukraine hoped that the Alliance would invite it to join NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the summit, which is a step towards the admission in the Alliance.

This did not happen because Germany and France were opposed to it mainly for the fear, as is generally believed, not to unnecessarily irritate Russia.

The NATO representatives, however, have made it clear to Ukraine and Georgia that they could count with NATO membership in the future.

Bilateral meetings between the individual countries' foreign ministers can be expected to take place during the Prague meeting.

The Declaration on cooperation on the path to European integration was signed between the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland in the Hungarian town of Visegrad in 1991.

After Czechoslovakia's division in 1993 the Visegrad Three has turned into the Visegrad Four.

Many meetings of the V4 presidents, prime ministers, ministers and chief of staffs as well as consultations of the four countries' supreme courts have taken place since then.

The cooperation stagnated in the mid-1990s and only in 1998 the countries' prime ministers agreed to renew it, which happened at a summit in Bratislava in 1999.

Source: Prague Daily Monitor

Thursday, April 24, 2008

”Miss Ukraine” Crowned In Kiev

KIEV, Ukraine -- Iryna Zhuravska, 18, won the "Miss Ukraine" beauty contest in Kiev April 23, 2008. She is related to the Deputy Mayor of Kiev.

Iryna Zhuravska, 18, adjusts her crown after winning the "Miss Ukraine" beauty contest in Kiev April 23, 2008. Twenty-six girls from all over Ukraine took part in the contest.

The winner received a US $500 thousand crown.

Overall, twenty-six girls from all over Ukraine competed in the contest, which was held in Ukraine Palace in Kiev on Wednesday, April 23.

The jury included Olena Franchuk, daughter of ex-president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Russian singer Natalia Korolyova, and Miss World 2007 Zhang Zilin (China).

Miss Ukraine 2008 was born in 1990. She also has the titles of Miss Internet and Vice-Miss Donbass Open, 2007.

Iryna works as a model in the KARIN MMG agency, belonging to Ukrainian model Vlada Lytovchenko, who was crowned Miss Ukraine in 1995.

Source: UNIAN

Back In The USSR: McCartney To Play One-Off Ukraine Gig

LONDON, England -- Former Beatle Paul McCartney said Thursday he will perform at a free concert in Ukraine in June.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney

The show will take place in Kiev's Independence Square on June 14 and has been organised by billionaire businessman Victor Pinchuk.

"Me and the band are going to be there and we're going to have to a great evening," McCartney said in a statement issued by his publishers MPL and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

"It's going to be [a] great evening hopefully for the Ukraine."

The event is being branded as a chance for people from different backgrounds "to come together around the ideas of peace, love and unity".

Source: AFP

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nuclear Waste Storage Inaugurated In Chernobyl

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko Wednesday inaugurated a nuclear waste storage and processing centre in the contaminated zone around the Chernobyl nuclear station ahead of the catastrophe's 22nd anniversary, his press service said.

President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko (L) looks at a monitor on the control panel during his visit to Chernobyl's Nuclear Power Plant during the unloading of the last fuel cell from the 3rd power reactor. Yushchenko Wednesday inaugurated a nuclear waste storage and processing centre in the contaminated zone around the Chernobyl nuclear station ahead of the catastrophe's 22nd anniversary.

The centre's first module, constructed with the European Commission's aid, would be launched by the end of the year, Valentin Melnichenko, a project official, told AFP.

He said it would be able to store up to 75,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste from Chernobyl and its surrounds.

The entire complex, which is due to be completed in "five to 10 years," will also allow storage and processing of radioactive waste from four nuclear power stations currently operational in Ukraine, he added.

No storage of foreign nuclear waste is planned, assured Melnichenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian company Technocenter which had constructed the complex.

On April 26, 1986, reactor number 4 at Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, contaminating large parts of Europe but especially the then-Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Over 25,000 "liquidators" who worked on the ruined reactor and constructed a concrete sarcophagus enclosing it, lost their lives, according to official figures.

The station, whose last reactor continued to produce electricity, was closed down in December 2000.

On Wednesday, Chernobyl's director Igor Gramotkin announced the completion of works reinforcing the old sarcophagus which was built in the immediate aftermath of the accident to confine radioactive leaks.

The sarcophagus, which had become a constant menace due to cracks, would now be able to hold against an earthquake of 6.0 on the Richter scale, Gramotkin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

A consortium including France's Bouygues and Vinci construction companies meanwhile launched preparations for the construction of a new steel dome over the old sarcophagus, the Interfax said.

Source: AFP

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

VIEW: NATO’s Dangerous Signals

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO is supposed to be a beacon for countries struggling to establish democracy and freedom. The Bucharest summit suggests that the beacon has been switched off.


Two dangerous signals were sent from NATO’s Bucharest summit. The first was that Russia has re-established a “sphere of interest” in Europe, where countries are no longer allowed to pursue their own goals without Moscow accepting them. The other was that all NATO member states are free to blackmail their partners into supporting their own narrow goals.

The first signal was sent when Ukraine and Georgia were denied the “Membership Action Plan” (MAP) that they sought. Several European heavyweights, led by Germany and France, said no, despite strong support for the idea from the United States.

The second signal was sent when Greece successfully vetoed membership for Macedonia, a move that reflected the two countries’ unresolved conflict over Macedonia’s name (which Greece insists must be Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia — FYROM — one of the most disgraceful acronyms harassing international politics today).

The dispute with Macedonia goes back to the early 1990s, when Yugoslavia collapsed into independent states. Greece vehemently opposed its tiny northern neighbour — with only two million inhabitants — using the name Macedonia and symbols from the days of Alexander the Great in its flag and crest.

Macedonia at one point agreed to design a new flag and remove the symbols, as well as to amend its constitution to clarify that it had no territorial claims on Greece, but it flatly refused to live under one of the tongue-twisting names suggested by its bigger neighbour.

So there you are: a Greek veto on Macedonia’s national aspirations until it has chosen a name that does not make the Greeks shiver in fear of aggression from the north.

It sounds ridiculous, but there is another, often overlooked, aspect to the dispute: by behaving as it has, Greece is demonstrating a lack of confidence in its NATO partners.

With Macedonia in NATO, any adventurous policy that undermined regional stability would certainly be stopped in its tracks. If the Greeks cannot see that, their partners must let them know that there is a price for their obstructive behaviour.

The problem with Ukraine and Georgia is far more serious.

In a sense, Russia has behaved like Greece in claiming that NATO enlargement threatens its security. That is nonsense, and Russia knows it.

But the Kremlin has found that behaving like a spoiled child gets results: the right to influence developments in ex-Soviet countries.

In other words, Russia is being allowed to re-assert its “sphere of influence” — a concept that should have been superseded by that of “Europe Whole and Free”, which the entire European Union appeared to have embraced when Communism collapsed. But no: 1989 was not the end of history. History threatens to return.

European opponents of a MAP for Ukraine and Georgia argue that neither country is ready for NATO membership. Too many question marks about their national unity are said to exist, too many internal conflicts linger, and their records on political and judicial reforms are supposedly dubious.

But the MAP process does not imply an automatic right to NATO membership. On the contrary, MAPs would put heavy demands on Ukraine and Georgia. Both would have to answer a lot of difficult questions and convince others that they are able to live up to NATO’s democratic requirements before being allowed to join.

Therefore, it would also be in Russia’s interest to see such a process started. Russia has valid concerns regarding the huge Russian-speaking minorities in both countries, and these concerns are best dealt within the framework of the MAP process, where the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s very strict rules on treatment of minorities provide the benchmark.

Indeed, the MAP process ensured protections for Russian minorities in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — all ex-Soviet republics that are now NATO members.

The crux of the matter is Europe’s lack of political will to forge a unified stand toward Russia. This has led Russia to pursue a classic “divide and rule” strategy by tempting some big European countries into bilateral agreements — particularly on energy issues — that preclude a common EU position.

This is sad — both for Russia and Europeans — because it strengthens the hand of those in Moscow who want to pursue a policy of national pride rather than national interest, and it weakens the possibilities of establishing a real common European foreign and security policy.

But it is saddest for the countries that are once again being left out in the cold.

Source: Daily Times

The Tug-Of-War

MOSCOW, Russia -- The protracted conflict between Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has proceeded to a new stage.

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in better days.

Ukraine’s main democrats proposed two mutually exclusive models of the country’s political structure: Mr Yushchenko lobbies for the presidential form of government, whereas Ms Tymoshenko promotes the parliamentary republic.

The ideological contradictions of the leaders of the “Orange team” are a sign of their final breakup.

What Man Wants

Yesterday the workgroup of the National Constitutional Council, established last year by a decree of the head of state, convened at the Secretariat of President Yushchenko, Kiev.

Five months ago Mr Yushchenko charged the body with drafting a new variant of the Constitution. Yesterday the Council, supervised by Marina Stavniychuk, Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat, delivered the results of its lawmaking routine.

According to the Communist Georgy Kryuchkov, member of the workgroup, “the final variant of the conception of the new Constitution” was settled at the meeting.

The document was scheduled to be publicly announced tomorrow. Mr Kryuchkov refused to give Kommersant any details of the approved conception.

As far back as February, when Mr Yushchenko presided over the first convention of the Council, consisting of some hundred experts, lawyers and politicians, it was clear that he was going to alter the Constitution so that his powers could be extended to the maximum.

“It is vital to secure the status of the President elected nation-wide as the guarantor of the Constitution, state sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Yushchenko instructed the Council members.

Judging from the information Georgy Kryuchkov shared with Kommersant, it can be concluded that on the whole the Council followed the aspirations of Viktor Yushchenko.

Anyway, it is considered that Ukraine can adopt the French form of government, with a powerful President being the head of state.

“Different views were articulated: from keeping the current system to switching to the French system of prefects, so that the representatives of the President in certain areas could oversee the fulfillment of laws and the observation of the rights of citizens,” Mr Kryuchkov said.

According to him, the powers of the Cabinet of Ministers were discussed as well. “There is a kind of ambiguity in the structure of the government. Some ministers are appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and two (the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister) are appointed by the President. Everyone agreed that there is no return to the failed ambiguity of the government.”

The members of the workgroup unanimously agreed that the President must be in charge of the country’s foreign and defense policy, personally appoint the supreme command of the armed forces and other military entities.

“There is an obvious need for change now. The powers must be so balanced that the rules of play were clear to everyone,” Nikolay Poludenny, Advisor to Mr Yushchenko, explained to Kommersant, “I believe that for such kind of society as ours the presidential republic is the preferred form government. Our elites are not ready for anything else yet.”

The key concepts of the new, presidential draft of the Constitution will take shape after the whole Council considers them.

What Woman Wants

At first it seemed that the Prime Minister would simply watch the presidential team preparing amendments to the Constitution, but then it got evident that the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc was bracing itself for a counterattack against the President.

Ms Tymoshenko did her best to announce her ideas to the whole world. She chose the tribune of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to be the base of her attack.

Last Wednesday, speaking at the regular session of the PACE in Strasbourg, Yulia Tymoshenko suddenly declared that Ukraine must alter its Constitution so that it complied with the principles of the Council of Europe.

“We must separate powers, making Ukraine a traditional parliamentary republic, characteristic of European states. This model has advantage over any other monopolized form of government,” stated the Ukrainian Premier, with the PACE delegates welcoming the idea with a storm of applause.

Last Sunday Ms Tymoshenko made it clear which model she would like to see adopted. “In my opinion, with the parliamentary republic, order will be established, just like in Germany. At that, the post of the President will remain, as well as the nation-wide election,” said the Prime Minister in her interview to one of the Ukrainian channels.

She expressed her confidence that the team of Mr Yushchenko would support the idea. “I’m sure that we are a team working our way together. I’m sure, by the way, that the whole democratic coalition will vote for the amendments to the Constitution.”

It’s up to the Rada

Ms Tymoshenko’s reconciliatory statements that the Orange team should share her ideas can be regarded mere rhetoric. The bickering between the President and the Prime Minister concerning the right to alter the Ukrainian Constitution the way he/she wants points to a true fissure between the former allies.

Their disputes used to touch upon economic policy: the privatization of enterprises, the return of deposits with the former Sberbank of the USSR to the people, gas supplies from Russia and the payment for it.

The present conflict is mainly ideological, with the parties giving to understand that no compromise is possible.

From the outset Viktor Yushchenko stated that his draft of the Constitution must be approved of at a nation-wide referendum, promising to hold one by the end of this year, that is before the next presidential election 2009.

Mr Yushchenko appealed to the Constitutional Court to get the permission to prepare and hold this plebiscite. But the plans of the head of state dashed as last Friday the Court announced its verdict.

According to it, the Verkhovna Rada must determine the procedure, by means of amending the Constitution and the Law on Referendum. This said, to fulfil his plan, the President is to get the support of 300 lawmakers at least, which he does lack: the parliamentary faction of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine–People’s Self-Defense Bloc has only 72 mandates out of 450.

In her turn, Yulia Tymoshenko is much better prepared for delivering her draft of the Constitution. The amendments to the Constitution still being processed, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc has already secured the support of its eternal rival – Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

“A wide spectrum of political forces are working out the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc project. She can reckon with the support of the Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and, of course, her own bloc. And maybe, a large part of the Our Ukraine,” Alexey Sitnikov, Russian spin-doctor providing consulting services to Ms Tymoshenko, told Kommersant.

Member of the Party of Regions, Yelena Lukash partly confirmed the fact that Viktor Yanukovych’s adherents are eager to forget the past squabbles and play up to Ms Tymoshenko, “At the Saturday party congress we unequivocally supported the parliamentary-presidential form of government.”

So, account taken of Friday’s verdict of the Constitutional Court, the draft of the Constitution by the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc is bound for success when it comes to the voting in the Rada, since, taken together, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and the Party of Regions have 331 votes in the Rada.

That’s why Yulia Tymoshenko may consider herself the winner, ”I’m sure that after the Easter holidays the Parliament will convene and pass the amendments to the Constitution, which the country needs more than any other sort of reform.”

Still, Viktor Yushchenko can frustrate his rival. Just like a year ago, he can dissolve the Rada and announce early elections, explaining his step with the evasive wording: “The activity of the lawmakers no more complies with the spirit of the Constitution.”

Source: Kommersant

Ukraine Complained Of Russia To U.N.

MOSCOW, Russia -- A complaint of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reached the U.N. headquarters and was given the status of official document of the U.N. General Assembly, according to the U.N. web.

A woman passes by a banner near the French embassy in Kiev. A demonstration in support of Ukraine's membership in NATO took place in front of the French and German embassies in the capital Kiev.

The complaint is against Russia, of course.

The document draws attention to the recent statements of Russia’s officials questioning territorial integrity of Ukraine and directly interfering into domestic affairs of the country.

No definite names are given for some reason.

Official Kiev demands that Russia drops the practice of threatening Ukraine and emphasizes that the progress in relations of two countries proves that Ukraine has made the right choice when staking on the NATO integration.

On April 10, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry submitted a note of protest to its Russia’s counterpart in response to the statement made by Vladimir Putin in time of the NATO-Russia’s summit.

In his conversation with U.S. President George Bush, Putin said that Ukraine was not even a state, as a part of its territory is Eastern Europe and a sizeable portion has been presented by Russia.

On the next day after that statement, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pledged that Moscow would spare no efforts to prevent Ukraine and Georgia from joining the NATO.

Source: Kommersant

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ukrainian PM Yulia Timoshenko Disregards President Viktor Yushchenko Ban On Privatisation

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko is going to put into effect the privatisation of a number of facilities, “disregarding the presidential decree,” after President Viktor Yushchenko banned their privatisation. Timoshenko said so in an interview with Kiev-based ICTV TV Channel.

Yulia Timoshenko

“I can tell you that those senseless decrees will not change anything. I think the privatisation of those facilities will take place within the time limits set by the government, because all those decrees are just illegal,” Timoshenko stressed.

In her opinion, privatisation is being suspended for the purpose of disrupting the holding of a European football championship in Ukraine in 2012 and the payment of bank deposits to former clients of the USSR Sberbank (Savings Bank).

According to her information, 20 companies have been registered already for taking part in the privatisation of the Odessa Port Factory. She believes this is evidence of “the highest mark given to the preparation of the facility for privatisation.”

The day before Alexander Turchinov, first vice premier of Ukraine, also criticised Yushchenko’s stand on the privatisation of the Odessa Port Factory. “In my opinion, this is an especially aggressive provocation against the government and against Ukraine,” he said.

In his opinion, Yushchenko’s stand on the problem is “non-constructive.” Yushchenko believes the Odessa Port Factory should be privatised, but without the pipeline and the transhipment capacities of the Yuzhny Port. “The transport facilities should remain under the monopoly control of the state,” Yushchenko said during his visit to Odessa.

Yushchenko issued a decree on April 15, which suspended the resolution of the Timoshenko government, dated February 11, on the terms of the auction for the sale of the 99.52-per-cent package of shares of the Odessa Port Factory.

The starting price of the package, to be put up for sale at the auction, is three billion grivnas (some 600 million dollars). The auction was to be held 75 days after the publication of the announcement.

The Odessa Port Factory is the second biggest producer of ammonia and carbamide, and the third biggest producer of nitrogen fertilizers in Ukraine.

It specialises on the transhipment of chemicals coming from the CIS member countries for export. The Odessa Port Factory holds the monopoly on the interstate market of specialised services for the reception, cooling and transhipment of ammonia.

During the past three years some 88 per cent of the Factory’s produce has been going for export. Ammonia has been exported to Belgium, the United States and France, and carbamide – to Switzerland, Belgium, the United States and Germany. The charter capital of the Factory is 798,544,000 grivnas.

Source: ITAR-Tass

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rogozin Stays On Message In Brussels

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- He was once a firebrand nationalist politician who led rallies against illegal immigration, met indicted Serbian war criminals and ran a campaign ad that seemed to compare dark-skinned southerners to garbage.

Planting Dmitry Rogozin into the very heart of NATO bloc was a revolutionary appointment idea.

Now, Dmitry Rogozin lives in a brick house located in a quiet, leafy neighborhood of Brussels. Inside, only a Russian flag, a picture of St. Basil's Cathedral and some snapshots of Rogozin with world leaders suggest that it is the official residence of Russia's envoy to NATO.

Since taking the post in January, Rogozin has brought his bombastic style from the streets of Moscow to the corridors of NATO, where he has made headlines and provoked controversy with his criticism of the alliance.

"I express the viewpoint of my country," he said in a recent interview at his residence in the Belgian capital. "I am a thermometer that reflects the emotional level of Russia's reaction to steps taken by NATO, among other things."

The temperature of Russia-NATO relations has been rather hot lately, as Moscow has pushed back furiously at NATO proposals to admit Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance and to support building elements of a U.S. missile shield in Central Europe.

Despite assurances from U.S. President George W. Bush and other Western leaders, President Vladimir Putin has called the missile shield dangerous for Russian security and threatened to target missiles at Ukraine if NATO installations ever appeared there.

Against this backdrop, Putin made his surprise appointment of Rogozin, who rose to prominence as a leader of the nationalist Rodina party, as Russia's permanent representative to NATO.

In Brussels, some argue that Rogozin is not much of a diplomat. They see him more as a blunt instrument designed to convey Russia's stance as loudly as possible to the West.

"Clearly, he is not a person who is trying to find some solution to harmonize," said Rihard Piks, a former Latvian foreign minister who now represents Latvia in the European Parliament.

Piks, who said he knew Rogozin from his days on the State Duma's foreign relations committee, called him a "nationalistic and arrogant politician" with an aptitude for stirring up controversy.

"From my experience, Mr. Rogozin sometimes does not know very much what he is speaking about," Piks said. "His main aim is to make some noise, to surprise the people around him and to win attention."

Rogozin defends his style and insists that it is the correct response to the challenges he sees facing Russia.

"Diplomats who hide the meaning of their words are bad diplomats," he said. "I had one acquaintance, a Russian diplomat, who could speak for two hours and not say anything. He thought this was super, that it was a sort of mastery. But I considered him an idiot."

The reason he needs to be blunt, Rogozin said, is that NATO expansion and missile defense pose a clear and present danger to Russia. The envoy dismissed suggestions that Moscow itself was being the aggressor by meddling in the affairs of its Soviet-era dominions.

"Any of our objections, any of our occasionally emotional outbursts, are seen as signs of aggression," Rogozin said. "But who are the real aggressors here? They are the ones building new military bases, the ones moving ever closer to our borders, the ones digging foundation pits for rocket bases near our defensive perimeter."

A NATO official denied that the alliance's expansion posed a threat to Russia. "That's something that we don't agree with at all," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment.

The official linked NATO expansion to the spread of democratic values and downplayed the military aspect of the alliance.

"If you were to look very carefully at the actual effect of enlargement," he said, "you have, first, an enlarged area of predictability and transparency, and second, you're talking about countries which are in the process of ensuring the highest standards which NATO expects. And military standards are just one part of this."

Rogozin does not buy that argument.

"Imagine if the Warsaw Pact were alive today," he said, "and we were telling Bush that the entry of Venezuela and Panama did not pose a threat to America, but was simply an expansion of our democratic alliance. It would be interesting to see how Washington would react to such rhetoric from our side."

Earlier this month, Moscow appeared to win a skirmish in the ongoing struggle when NATO decided not to offer Membership Action Plans — the concrete steps needed for admission — to Ukraine and Georgia.

But the compromise deal reached at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, affirmed that the two countries would eventually join the alliance.

For Rogozin, this means he still has work to do.

"In Bucharest, they once again confirmed that it would be good to swallow up Ukraine and Georgia," he said. "Their appetite is excellent, which is something they can be complemented on. My only concern is that, from the viewpoint of NATO's external appearance, it resembles those people who eat too much at McDonald's."

Though some may call him an unyielding hard-liner, Rogozin said he wanted to be constructive and find areas where Russia and NATO can cooperate.

In the interview, he repeatedly mentioned an agreement signed in Bucharest allowing the alliance to ship supplies across Russia to forces in Afghanistan. Other potential areas of cooperation, Rogozin said, are the fight against radical Islamic groups like the Taliban and international drug trafficking.

"NATO seems to understand that the main threat to it today comes from the south, but it continues expanding to the east," he said.

This is not the first time that Rogozin has sought to win people over by emphasizing a threat from the south.

Illegal immigration from the Caucasus and Central Asia was one of Rogozin's signature issues during his decade-long career in the State Duma. In 2005, he was accused of racism after appearing in a Rodina campaign ad that showed dark-skinned immigrants tossing watermelon rinds on the ground. The television commercial showed Rogozin chastising them and ended with words "Let's clear the city of garbage."

The Moscow City Court ruled that the ad incited ethnic hatred. Rogozin called the ruling politically motivated and denied that the term "garbage" was supposed to refer to the immigrants.

In 1996, before he was first elected to the State Duma, Rogozin met with Bosnian Serb Army leader Ratko Mladic, who had been indicted in The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Rogozin has also spoken at ultranationalist rallies in Moscow where demonstrators displayed Nazi and anti-Semitic signs, although he has denied holding racist beliefs himself.

Perhaps the peak of Rogozin's career came in December 2003, when his Rodina party won 9 percent of the vote in the Duma election. Rodina, which means "motherland," had been cobbled together a few months earlier and was widely seen as a Kremlin project to steal votes from the Communists.

Rogozin's relationship with the Kremlin quickly soured, however, and after the court ruling against his "garbage" commercial, Rodina was barred from the 2005 Moscow City Duma elections.

In 2006, Rogozin resigned as the party's leader, citing heavy Kremlin pressure, and was replaced with a more compliant, less charismatic leader, businessman Alexander Babakov. Last year, Rogozin attempted to start a new nationalist party, Great Russia, but its registration was denied on technical grounds.

While conceding that he disagreed with the Kremlin on some aspects of domestic policy, Rogozin stressed that he saw eye to eye with Putin on international affairs, especially since the shift toward a more muscular foreign policy in the second half of Putin's presidency.

"I was interested in helping my president defend the nation's interests," Rogozin said. "And the president was probably interested in having adequate people who were up to the task."

Rogozin added that he was no stranger to diplomacy, having led the Duma's foreign relations committee for four years.

Though some may find it hard to square with his reputation, Rogozin's resume is highly cosmopolitan. He graduated from the international department of the Moscow State University journalism school, and he speaks English, Spanish, Italian and French, according to the biography on his web site.

News of Rogozin's appointment broke late last year. Putin was expected to sign the decree sending him to Brussels in December, but the decree only came in January, and the delay caused some speculation.

Expressing satisfaction with his new job, Rogozin said it was nice to be working with the Kremlin again after his efforts to lead an opposition party.

"The problem of being in the opposition is that it's always a passive role," he said. "You end up as a critic of everything taking place in your country, and you don't participate in the formation of government policy.

"This is okay if your country is stable and perfectly safe, if your country is a well-fed Western democracy. Then it might even be preferable to having real responsibility.

"But if you care about the fate of your country — and I care what happens to Russia — and you know what needs to be changed, then you can't remain in the opposition. You need to strive for self-realization within the system.

Source: Moscow Times

Speaker Of Poland's Parliament Urges EU To Look Eastwards

BERLIN, Germany -- The European Union should look eastwards, enhancing contacts with Ukraine and promoting the democratization of Belarus, the speaker of the Polish parliament said Sunday during a visit to Berlin.

Speaker of Polish Parliament Sejm Marshal Bronislaw Komorowski

Sejm Marshal Bronislaw Komorowski said the thrust of Polish foreign policy was to promote the modernization and democratization of Ukraine "following the Western example."

"The point is to bind the country into NATO and the EU," he said, adding that Poland as a country was recovering from decades under communist rule like Ukraine, and had a lot to offer in this regard.

Germany was the EU country that could most easily share Poland's aim of a common new "Ostpolitik," Komorowski said in an interview with Das Parlament, an official publication issued by the German Bundestag.

He criticized the fact that 70 per cent of EU funding for enhancing links with its neighbours was dedicated to countries south of the bloc.

"We are fighting for more funding for neighbourhood policies with Ukraine and other countries east of the EU," he said.

Poland also sought good relations between the EU and Russia,Komorowski said, while also reiterating Poland's strongly critical attitude towards the Nord Stream gas pipeline planned to link Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland.

Komorowski said the fact that the Baltic pipeline was considerably more expensive than an overland alternative showed that the decision to build it had been politically rather than economically motivated.

The Sejm marshal called for a united EU energy policy with regard to Russia.

The liberalization of the energy market, the influence of energy concerns on political decision-making and the diversification of energy sources were the core issues, he said.

But Komorowski said no preconditions should be set on Russia, such as compelling Moscow to ratify the EU Energy Charter regulating trade, transport and investment in the sector. Moscow has declined to ratify the treaty, signed in Lisbon in 1994.

Regarding the planned controversial stationing of elements of a US missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, Komorowski said he believed the shield should be a general NATO project, protecting all European capitals.

Source: DPA

Can The Ukrainian Coalition Hold Together?

KIEV, Ukraine -- The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc (BYT) and President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine, People’s Self-Defense (NUNS), is on the verge of breaking apart.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Yushchenko’s team not only criticizes Tymoshenko’s economic policy but also publicly accuses her of fostering corruption.

Tymoshenko, for her part, has been torpedoing Yushchenko’s efforts to strengthen the presidential rule.

The situation is similar to the crisis of September 2005, when Yushchenko fired Tymoshenko from the post of prime minister, but there is one fundamental difference.

In line with the constitutional amendments that came into force 2006, the president cannot dismiss the prime minister. This is within the jurisdiction of parliament, where Yushchenko is very far from commanding a majority.

The Tymoshenko government has increased social spending, and it plans to use privatization proceedings in order to keep Tymoshenko’s election promise to repay savings in the defunct Soviet State Savings Bank through the Ukrainian state savings bank, Oshchadbank.

Yushchenko’s team maintains that this policy is populist and will unbalance the economy, but this policy increases Tymoshenko’s popularity ahead of next year’s presidential election race in which she is expected to challenge Yushchenko.

Opinion polls conducted in March and April showed that 23 to 25 percent of Ukrainians are ready to vote for Tymoshenko in a presidential election, while support for Yushchenko is under 10%.

Yushchenko has urged Tymoshenko to amend the 2008 state budget as it was based on the expectation that inflation would be around 10 percent annually, but it reached 9.7% just in period from January to March.

Tymoshenko said that she saw no point in amending the budget for the time being. On March 19 the Tymoshenko cabinet ruled to privatize four regional power generating companies. Yushchenko’s secretariat warned that the decision could lead to the bankruptcy of the state-run Energy Company of Ukraine which manages the four companies.

Tymoshenko ignored the warning, and Yushchenko issued a decree on April 11 canceling the privatization decision, saying that it “threatened the state’s economic security.”

Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko on March 28 of failing to settle the debt for Russian gas. He estimated the debt to Gazprom at $2 billion, and warned Tymoshenko of an imminent “gas war.” Tymoshenko calmly replied that the debt was lower, at some $900 million, and she pledged to continue talks with Russia.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko also disagreed over the early mayoral election in Kyiv. Yushchenko was against the election, but in March parliament backed Tymoshenko, scheduling the election for the end of May.

Yushchenko suggested fielding a single candidate from the coalition, but Tymoshenko refused, unilaterally nominating her right-hand man, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov.

Yushchenko’s team moved to strong statements in April, essentially burning their bridges. On April 10 Yushchenko’s office head Viktor Baloha accused Tymoshenko of “creating a large-scale land trade scam” by setting up a single body to conduct land auctions across Ukraine.

Baloha alleged that Tymoshenko wanted to install a friend of Bohdan Hubsky, “BYT’s notorious landowner,” at the helm of the body. He suggested that Tymoshenko “simply wants to head this mafia.”

Tymoshenko rejected the accusations, saying that the body was needed in order to ensure transparency in land auctions.

Yushchenko accused Tymoshenko on April 3 of betraying the coalition by hiring people who had served the old regime. He named Viktor Medvedchuk, who managed the office of Yushchenko’s predecessor Leonid Kuchma, and Oleksandr Zadorozhny, who was Kuchma’s representative in parliament.

Zadorozhny advises Tymoshenko on constitutional matters, while Medvedchuk, Yushchenko’s secretariat claimed, drafts a new constitution for her.

Yushchenko suspects that Tymoshenko joined forces with the team of Medvedchuk and the opposition Party of Regions (PRU) in order to block his plan to reverse the 2004-2006 constitutional reform.

Yushchenko wants to restore strong presidential powers. Tymoshenko, however, has signaled that her party is in favor of a parliamentary form of government. The PRU and the BYT have agreed to set up a commission in parliament in order to draft constitutional amendments.

On April 14 United Center (YeTs), a small party linked to Baloha, issued a statement accusing the BYT of conspiring with the PRU to provoke an early parliamentary election. Yushchenko’s legal advisor, Ihor Pukshyn, accused BYT on the same day of political corruption.

He quoted unnamed BYT deputies as alleging that positions on the BYT list for the 2007 early parliament election were sold “for millions of dollars.”

From April 12 to 14 the teams of Yushchenko and Tymoshenko exchanged strong statements, accusing each other of conspiring to break up the coalition. On April 14 the leading members of the two parties gathered for an urgent meeting to find ways to save the coalition.

NUNS representatives insisted that the BYT should stop its joint work with the PRU on a constitutional commission. BYT insisted that Yushchenko should fire Baloha.

BYT backed down on April 15, saying that it was suspending the plan to set up the constitutional commission. Baloha on April 15 urged dismissal of the ministers of finance and economy. He blamed them for high inflation. Both represent BYT in the Cabinet.

Source: Eurasia Daily Monitor

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Harvard Law (Movie) Review: Orange Revolution

BOSTON, MA -- The common perception of Ukraine four years ago was that it was one of the many former Soviet bloc nations racked by corruption and ruled by an oligarchy of billionaires.

Poster from the movie "Orange Revolution".

Today many see it as a democratic nation struggling to escape from the influence of Russia and its state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

Although the nation continues to be dominated by corrupt and wealthy interests and the people remain sharply divided in their international allegiances, Ukraine has become an icon of democratic change since the events now known as the Orange Revolution.

During November and December of 2004 hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians protested the falsification of the nation's presidential election results through round-the-clock protests on the central streets of Kyiv, the nation's capital.

Ukraine's national political identity was quickly transformed by these non-violent protests which were organized by the "orange" Our Ukraine party.

The leader of the party, presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, led the protests with a stoic demeanor despite an attempt on his life by dioxin poisoning which caused him horrible pain and disfigurement.

Ultimately the Supreme Court of Ukraine ordered a new round of voting, following which Yushchenko became president.

Director Steve York's latest documentary, Orange Revolution, provides an inspiring visual record of how the events in Ukraine unfolded during late 2004.

York has produced documentaries on topics ranging from American history to the Palestinian West Bank, and he has recently received critical acclaim for his exploration of non-violent political movements in the films A Force More Powerful and Bringing Down a Dictator.

York says, "When we saw during the summer of 2004 what was going on [in Ukraine] and we saw the Yushchenko poisoning . . . we began to pay very close attention."

He and his team arrived in time to capture the scene in full detail, and the product is a compelling story of how a national political crisis was resolved through peaceful demonstrations.

The Harvard Program On Negotiation presented the film as a part of the PON film series, which has featured both of York's previous films on non-violent conflict.

The version screened is currently being edited for broadcast on PBS later this year.

Orange Revolution begins with a fast-paced journey from the campaign trail to the corrupt election and then follows the daily progress of the mass demonstrations on the streets of Kyiv.

York skillfully weaves together the many threads that are critical to understanding the politics and pressures which culminated in the falsification and then reversal of the election results, telling the story with footage of the campaign mixed with interviews of party organizers and journalists.

All the players in the drama are shown as they were, and the only voice-overs come from Ukrainians who were first-hand participants or reporters, not the director.

In the campaigning before the election, Our Ukraine candidate Viktor Yushchenko is shown eating watermelon with villagers, shaking the hands of supporters, and speaking against the Kuchma regime and its corruption.

Yushchenko's rival, prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, is shown to be the regime's chosen successor, standing with President Leonid Kuchma and political ally, Vladimir Putin.

The pace and intensity of the film are elevated by lively scenes of demonstrators living in the tent city in Independence Square, Ukrainian pop stars Oleh Skrypka of VV and Svyatoslav Vakarchuk of Okean Elzy singing to huge crowds, and the impassioned Yulia Tymoshchenko, an ally of Yushchenko, inciting the people of Ukraine to take to the streets.

Top officials in Yushchenko's party and the Ukrainian government recount how they mobilized the people, convinced the police to cooperate, and avoided violent clashes with the military and riot police through private negotiations with top military officers.

The tension is palpable as the Supreme Court takes testimony while protesters continue to crowd the streets and surround government buildings.

Steve York says, "My job is primarily to document events, and I leave it to others to find the deeper meaning."

It is refreshing that York refrains from assaulting his audience with a message, and instead, he has embedded his theory of non-violent social movements in a factual presentation of the events.

After the screening, York explained that he believes all successful non-violent movements are characterized by three common elements: unity, organization, and non-violent discipline.

Orange Revolution demonstrates that the success of the movement depended on popular disgust with the corruption of the ruling Kuchma government, careful logistical planning in advance by the Yushchenko campaign, and the insistence among all protest organizers that there be no violence.

Once the people were mobilized, the Yushchenko camp used political authority to ensure that Kuchma couldn't launch a violent attack without signing a written order.

Faced with the full responsibility for their actions, Kuchma and Yanukovich balked, and the negotiations which resulted provided the basis for subsequent electoral reforms and constitutional reduction of the president's powers.

The victory of Viktor Yushchenko and his Our Ukraine party was hailed worldwide as a victory for democracy and a step toward the West, but the three years since have seen the nation undergo chaotic political reversals along the same lines as were drawn during the Orange Revolution.

Some have criticized the movement as a failure, as the pro-Russian Party of the Regions and its leader, Viktor Yanukovich, have at times held a coalition in the parliament.

York responds, "The Orange Revolution should not be criticized for failure to achieve that which was not its goal."

The film's final scene, workers taking out the trash in Independence Square, emphasizes that the purpose of the movement was the narrow one of reversing election fraud and removing a corrupt president.

Although the nation continues to struggle with endemic corruption - the parliament recently called for snap elections for the Mayor of Kyiv following accusations he was involved in $3 billion in corrupt land deals - the country has taken significant steps forward in the development of democratic governance.

York points to four enduring legacies of the Orange Revolution: creation of a free press, election reforms which have provided three fair elections, enactment of constitutional reforms which created a healthier balance between the executive and legislative branches, and the awakening of a national political identity.

As the younger generation comes of age, that spark of a democratic consciousness is creating a Ukraine which is more closely tied to the Orange Revolution than its history as a Soviet Republic.

Whether that results in alignment toward the East or West remains the free choice of the people.

Source: The Record

Did Western Spider Spin Orange Web?

MOSCOW, Russia -- A new book claims to have uncovered the inside story behind Ukraine's Orange Revolution. Written by several international analysts, it accuses the West of having masterminded coups in post-Soviet countries.

Orange Revolution

The book whose title translates as “Orange Webs” is the first publication from a brand new Russian NGO, the Institute of Democracy and Co-operation, which aims to challenge Western views of Russia.

Four years ago thousands poured into Kiev’s Independence Square. Amid claims that the presidential poll was rigged, they demanded victory for their man, Viktor Yushchenko.

Now, a book is out in Russian detailing how the so-called “colour revolutions” were plotted and financed by the West.

“The way they were executed, planned and depicted in the media has one and the same technology behind it,” said Natalya Narochnitskaya, the editor of “Orange Webs.”

Claims that Washington poured millions of dollars into Ukraine’s opposition have already hit the headlines.

“Orange Webs” is a step-by-step guide of the why’s and how’s of a coup d’etat - a process, it claims, that toppled Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, lifted Georgia’s Mikhail Saakashvili to power and fuelled Kiev’s rallies.

Analyst John Laughland believes that “to get Ukraine into NATO, you have to have a pro-NATO government installed in power. As the Americans say it’s not rocket science.”

The book points the finger of blame at a number of foreign NGOs. One in particular, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, is accused of using American money to campaign against the pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovich - allegations it strongly denies.

“The money we received from Western donors was allocated specifically for monitoring the election. After that we haven’t got a penny from anyone,” said Aleksandr Chernenko from the NGO.

Analysts also say many activists from the Ukrainian pro-Yushchenko youth movement ‘Pora’ were trained by members of similar groups in Serbia and Georgia. The movement’s leader, Vladislav Kaskiv, has slammed the claims as pure propaganda.

“The Russian government isn’t interested in democratic changes. That’s why they use information wars to discredit the very idea of change through democratic movement,” he said.

The change was seen by many as a step towards democracy, but for the authors of the book it was an unlawful process.

The authors say they’ve got facts and figures never before made public to prove their point.

“Orange Webs” is now set to hit the shelves. If history is written by the winners, this book tries to provide an alternative account of what drove the revolutions forward.

Source: RussiaToday