Yushchenko Instructs PM To Save Artek Children Center

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's president has instructed the country's prime minister to look into and take urgent measures to prevent the possible closure of the cash-strapped International Children's Center Artek in Ukraine's Crimea.

International Children's Center Artek

During a video link between Kiev and Moscow devoted to the problem, Artek's chief doctor, Mykhailo Bezugliy, blamed interest groups, which plan to take over the center's land valued at some $100,000 per 100 sq m, for orchestrating its financial woes.

The opposition Party of Regions has accused Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko of pushing Artek to bankruptcy.

"Public attention, generated by media reports, in particular those saying the government is pushing Artek to bankruptcy... are causing concern," the presidential press service quoted Yushchenko as saying.

The president gave the prime minister one week to deal with the matter.

Located in the southern Crimea not far from Yalta, Artek is famous as the main Soviet-era pioneer camp that took children in all year round since the 1930s and even carried on working during World War II, when the center moved to Altai.

It remained a unique international meeting place for children of all ages from all over the former Soviet Union and other countries after the breakup of the U.S.S.R. when already under Ukraine's jurisdiction, but closed in January over a lack of funds.

It is currently supervised by the Ukrainian president's property management committee.

Artek General Director Boris Novozhilov said in Kiev on January 16 that the center could cease to exist within a year as the government had not provided any funding for the former Soviet recreation camp for three years. On Monday he was hospitalized with heart problems.

Source: RIA Novosti