Ukraine set to mark milestone fifth anniversary

by Marta Kolomayets
Kyiv Press Bureau

KYIV - Celebrations marking the fifth anniversary of Ukraine's independence are slated to begin next week and last through December of this year, Presidential Chief of Staff Dmytro Tabachnyk told reporters during a weekly briefing at the presidential administration on August 14.

On Friday, August 23, President Leonid Kuchma will address the Ukrainian people during a celebratory gathering of members of Parliament, government leaders and distinguished guests at the newly renovated Ukraina Palace.

In the address, scheduled to be televised live, the Ukrainian leader is scheduled to outline his "perception and vision" of the process of state-building, said Mr. Tabachnyk.

Among the highlights of the celebrations for Kyiv residents and tourists alike will be a military parade along the Khreshchatyk, the capital's main thoroughfare. But, unlike the parades of the Soviet era, this procession will exclude all military hardware, such as tanks, heavy artillery and armored personnel carriers. Members of Ukraine's armed forces will march past a reviewing stand that will include Ukraine's top government officials.

An earlier plan to hold an air show has also been canceled, according to Lt. Gen. Mykola Zabely, who is in charge of the parade, as the city's officials are concerned about both its citizens' safety and keeping costs to a minimum.

Given that the anniversary falls at a time Ukraine is undergoing the difficult transition to a market economy, Mr. Tabachnyk pointed out that many of the events scheduled on this historic anniversary will be funded by private donations.

"These celebrations should be neither expensive nor exhaustive," said Mr. Tabachnyk, emphasizing the fact that they will be popular in nature, ranging from flower shows and outdoor theater productions to Kozak games and sporting competitions.

"And, this holiday is not only for citizens of Ukraine, but for Ukrainians throughout the world," noted Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras, who heads the working group for planning the anniversary events.

Underscoring the global nature of this event, Mr. Kuras said at the briefing that on August 22 there will be a ceremonial gathering of the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council at the Teachers' Building, formerly the headquarters of the Central Rada of the Ukrainian National Republic.

It is unlikely that any of the Soviet symbols adorning the facades of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Foreign Ministry and the presidential administration buildings will be destroyed by the fifth anniversary of independence. As a matter of fact, Mr. Tabachnyk told journalists that such a move is improbable, given that these buildings are historic landmarks and, thus, are protected by law.

Mr. Kuras said all ministries, departments and administrations have been instructed to examine this issue and bring everything in line with the new Constitution, which does not envision the use of Communist symbols such as the hammer and sickle. (The new Constitution states that the state symbols of Ukraine and regulations for their use shall be prescribed by law, adopted by at least a two-thirds majority of the Parliament.)

Kyiv City Administration officials - in an attempt to keep the crowds more controlled and orderly - have forbidden the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city center (a one-kilometer zone) during the day's festivities. The city has also limited the amount of beverages that will be sold in glass containers to ensure public safety and facilitate clean-up.

Some of the events planned by the president and the Ukrainian government include:

Mr. Tabachnyk said that through the end of the year "Days of Ukrainian Culture" will be held in Bulgaria and Kazakhstan, where there is a large ethnic Ukrainian population. He also told reporters that progress has been made in getting funds for the reconstruction of the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Moscow, located on the Arbat, on the site of the Ukrainska Knyha bookstore. Although there had been some problem with funding, the presidential chief of staff said funds, blocked by the Russian Bank, had been released and the project is now slated to be completed by the end of the year.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 18, 1996, No. 33, Vol. LXIV

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