West concerned over political situation in Ukraine
According to Yury Yekhanurov, Ukraine's first Vice Prime Minister, the Bush administration has tied continuous American aid for Ukraine to a resolution of political turmoil that sparked battles in Kiev between police and protests on 9 March. He said this on Monday 12 March following his Washington talks with the Bush administration, the IMF and the World Bank.
The US concern over the political situation in Ukraine is also evident by their establishment of a fund of USD 750,000 for the development of mass media in Ukraine. The fund was announced during the press conference conducted by the US ambassador to Ukraine, Carlos Pascual, and the US ambassador to the European Union, Richard Morningstar on Friday 16 March. The money will be given to support the free and independent press as well as non-governmental organizations by the means of small grants.
Similar concerns have also been voiced by Canada. On Wednesday 14 March, Carl Schwenger, a spokesman for the Canadian foreign ministry, said that the talks between Ukraine's Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko's and his Canadian counterpart, John Manley, scheduled for 26 March, are likely to focus on Ottawa's unhappiness with the turmoil in Ukraine. He said that Canada "like the United States and the European Union is loosing patience with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma over his crackdown on opponents and growing scandal over the murder of an independent Ukrainian journalist."
According to Mr Schwenger, "the goal of the exercise is for Minister Zlenko to come here and tell us what's going on in Ukraine." After the visit to Canada Mr Zlenko is expected to fly to the United state to conduct similar talks.
Poland encourages Ukrainian president to start dialogue with opposition
This week a meeting between President Leonid Kuchma and Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski was also largely devoted to political unrest in Ukraine. During the meeting on 15 March in Kazimierz Dolny (Central Oland) the Polish president offered to negotiate personally between his Ukrainian counterpart and the opposition. Kwasniewski also warned Kuchma about using force against the opposition.
The previous day Aleksander Kwasniewski had met representatives of the Ukrainian opposition, among them several MPs, scholars and journalists. He promised them he would require Kuchma to begin a dialogue with the opposition, reach an agreement with different social elites and give new impetus for economic reforms in Ukraine.
After the meeting, Kuchma said he recognizes the existence of opposition in Ukraine and agreed to start negotiations with the part of opposition, which "stands at the principles of statehood of Ukraine." However, he added that only the Communist opposition would be considered for negotiations, as they are supported by almost 30 percent of Ukrainian electorate. As to the National Salvation Forum, a forum of oppositional parties headed by imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, Kuchma said that it first "has to be registered." Kuchma also said he would "never and under no circumstances" apply force to resolve political crises in Ukraine.
Opposition demonstrations continue
On Wednesday 14 March around 1000 people picketed outside the Ukrainian Parliament, the office of the President of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs calling for the resignation of President Leonid Kuchma, Internal Affairs Minister Yury Kravchenko and Prosecutor General Mykhailo Potebenko. The demonstration took place under the flags of the Socialist Party, the Patriotic Party, the Ukrainian People's Movement, the Social-Democratic Party and the UNA-UNSO (radical right) Party.
Yulia Tymoshenko's health and security threatened
According to Anatoliy Lesovyy, head of the forensic medicine chair at the Kyiv Institute of Medicine, Yulia Tymoshenko is in bad health. He made the announcement at the Pechersky District Court of Kyiv, which is hearing a complaint by Tymoshenko's lawyer Viktor Shvets, against the arrest warrant that the public Prosecutor-General's Office had issued to arrest the ex-Deputy Prime Minister Tymoshenko. According to Tymoshenko's lawyer, Tymoshenko has lost nine kilograms in weight over the past month.
Earlier this week, the Defender of the Motherland Party claimed it had received an anonymous letter saying that law enforcement officials have been ordered to stage a fake suicide for Tymoshenko. MP Olena Masur, representative of a Yabluko Party, said she had received the same information in an anonymous telephone call.
Meanwhile, Head of the Pechersky District Court of Kyiv Mykola Zamkovenko has requested that the General Prosecutor's Office provides information about whether the investigation of Tymoshenko was being conducted when she was appointed to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. According to him, when high officials are appointed their past is also checked. Mr Zamkovenko said that he had received telephone calls at home threatening the lives of his family members.
Ukrainian political analyst resigned
The head of the Department of Press and Information of the Kyiv City Administration and the Director of the Institute of politics, Mykola Tomenko, a high-profile political analyst, has submitted his letter of resignation saying he could not support Kuchma's latest political moves. Tomenko stressed his letter of resignation should be considered as a response to the president's demand the previous week for state officials to define their allegiance.
Iryna Solonenko, 16 March 2001
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