Ukraine, Belarus recall Chornobyl

SLAVUTYCH, Ukraine - Hundreds of people filed shortly after midnight on April 26 through the streets of Slavutych, the Ukrainian town built to house Chornobyl plant workers after the world's worst civilian nuclear accident on April 26, 1986, Ukrainian and world agencies reported. Later the same day in Kyiv, the Verkhovna Rada, elected in 2002, held its last session, which was devoted to a hearing on the Chornobyl aftermath. In Homiel, Belarus, the Belarusian opposition on April 25 held a conference of scientists, lawyers and political activists on the Chornobyl aftermath. In the afternoon of April 26, the opposition was to stage a "Chornobyl Way" demonstration in Miensk, at which opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich was expected to publicize the Homiel conference's conclusions and announce the creation of a broad pro-democracy movement in Belarus. (RFE/RL Newsline)

Deceased Chornobyl liquidators honored

KYIV - President Viktor Yushchenko on April 25 signed a decree to posthumously confer the title Hero of Ukraine and the Gold Star State Order upon five Chornobyl eliminators: Mykola Vaschuk and Vasyl Ihnatenko, subunit commanders of the 6th Detached Paramilitary Fire-Fighting Unit; Oleksander Lelechenko, deputy chief of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant's electrical workshop; Mykola Tytenko, a firefighter with the 6th Detached Unit; and Volodymyr Tishura, a former senior firefighter of the 6th Detached Unit in the town of Prypiat. (Ukrinform)

China donates to Chornobyl project

KYIV - As announced by the Economy Ministry's press service, on April 25 Minister of the Economy Arsenii Yatseniuk and Chinese Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Ukraine Gao Yuishen signed a Ukrainian-Chinese intergovernmental agreement. Under the agreement China will grant 10 million yuans ($1.2 million U.S.) to Ukraine to implement a project within the framework of Ukraine's program toward eliminating the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear accident. (Ukrinform)

Some Chornobyl documents declassified

KYIV - Security Service of Ukraine Chief Ihor Dryzhchanyi stated on April 25 that as many as 10 classified documents on consequences of the Chornobyl accident have been declassified. Mr. Dryzhchanyi also said that the list of unclassified files will be enlarged and that experts are considering declassifying other top-secret documents. The recently declassified documents include an April 30 to May 2, 1986, graph of radiation movement in Kyiv; a May 1, 1986, report of the 6th Administration of the USSR Committee of State Security on radiation levels; an October 16, 1986, report on radiation pollution of the USSR; and a May 16, 1986, conclusion of experts of the Committee of State Security about the Chornobyl accident. (Ukrinform)

3 million are victims of Chornobyl

KYIV - The international conference "Twenty years after the Chornobyl Accident: Future Outlook" opened in Kyiv on April 24 with President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yurii Yekhanurov in attendance. The president said in his address to the conference that the parameters of scientific studies of Chornobyl issues should be expanded. He said that some 3 million people suffered from the Chornobyl accident and its consequences. Over 20 years Ukraine has spent almost $15 billion (U.S.) to liquidate the disaster's consequences. He noted that Ukraine can hardly expect to turn the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant into a technologically safe and ecologically friendly facility on its own, and he called on the world community for assistance. The assistant secretary general of the United Nations and director of the U.N. Development Program's Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, Kalman Mizsei, told conference participants that the United Nations will further aid those who suffered as a result of the Chornobyl accident both in the social and economic sphere. He said the UNDP had changed its approach to the Chornobyl accident, having placed an emphasize on revival of life in the areas affected by the disaster. (Ukrinform)

Conference: abandon nuclear power

KYIV - Participants in the international conference "Chornobyl 20+: Remembrance for the Future," which is under way in Kyiv on April 24 came to the conclusion that Ukraine should abandon construction of new nuclear reactors. They accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of systematic delivery of dubious information. According to British scientist Ian Fairlie, radioactive emissions from the Chornobyl plant's fourth reactor was much greater than reported. According to world-renowned scientist Dmytro Hrodzinsky, academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, "the radiation doses were much underestimated, as was the number of victims, which is a great untruth." (Ukrinform)

New donor conference suggested

KYIV - President Viktor Yushchenko called in Kyiv on April 25 for a new international donor conference on coping with the aftermath of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "I am calling on the European Council and the United Nations to support this initiative and to be the forum's co-organizers," Mr. Yushchenko said at an international conference in Kyiv marking 20 years since the Chornobyl disaster. "International efforts should focus on surmounting the main problems related to Chornobyl. Chornobyl should not remain a black mark on the map." The president said that in the past 20 years Ukraine spent some $15 billion in dealing with the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. (RFE/RL Newsline)

Prayer service held in Kyiv

KYIV - On the night 20 years after the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, President Viktor Yushchenko took part in a ceremony to lay flowers at the memorial "To Chornobyl Heroes" and in a public prayer service to honor those killed during the liquidation of the accident's consequences. "I believe, there is no family in Ukraine who hasn't suffered from Chornobyl. The tragedy touched every person and every family. Let everybody hear their own feelings and remember those events. Let's hail the perished heroes," the president said. (Ukrinform)

President attends ceremony in Prypiat

PRYPIAT, Ukraine - President Viktor Yushchenko took part in a memorial meeting at the Chornobyl plant on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the nuclear accident there. He said in his speech to the meeting participants that this year the government has increased funds for Chornobyl programs by 11 percent; thus, the 2006 budgetary outlays amount to 1 billion hrv ($200 million U.S.). Mr. Yushchenko stressed that Ukraine will complete construction of a new shelter facility to make the Chornobyl zone safer. There will be "no black holes, no white spots can be on our territory," he underscored. He sounded a hopeful note by saying that the time will come when people will speak about Chornobyl not with grief, but with promise. The president decorated Chornobyl liquidators with state distinctions and laid flowers at memorial plaques to those who perished. (Ukrinform)

Chornobyl vets seek Putin's help

MOSCOW - Praskovya Britskaya of the Moscow Union of Invalids of Chornobyl appealed to President Vladimir Putin at a Kremlin ceremony on April 25 to create a treatment center for the survivors of the clean-up effort that took place 20 years ago, Reuters reported. She said in remarks addressed to the president that "we sent a draft proposal to the government and to you but never received an answer." Mr. Putin gave out medals to the survivors at the ceremony. He stressed their courage in responding to what he called "one of the largest man-made disasters of the 20th century," Interfax reported. He added that "even lacking experience in dealing with such disasters, you and your colleagues worked out a strategy and made decisions swiftly, sometimes relying only on your own knowledge and experience." On April 26, former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov told Interfax that the Soviet government of the time did all that it could to respond to the disaster. He argued that "we did everything possible, based on the knowledge we possessed and using the scientific, organizational and technical means available to us then." Mr. Ryzhkov now represents Belgorod Oblast in the Federation Council. (RFE/RL Newsline)

Court confirms election results

KYIV - The Supreme Administrative Court on April 25 rejected a complaint by four Ukrainian political blocs and parties claiming that the Central Election Commission (CEC) violated legal procedure in announcing results of the March 26 parliamentary elections earlier this month, Ukrainian media reported. The decision effectively opens the way for the CEC to have the election results validated by publishing them in two state-sponsored periodicals, Holos Ukrayiny and Uriadovyi Kurier. In the March 26 polls, the Party of Regions won 32.14 percent of the vote, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc 22.29 percent, Our Ukraine 13.95 percent, the Socialist Party 5.69 percent and the Communist Party 3.66 percent. In the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada, the Party of Regions will have 186 seats, the Tymoshenko Bloc 129, Our Ukraine 81, the Socialists 33 and the Communists 21. (RFE/RL Newsline)

President meets with G-8 ambassadors

KYIV - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko met with G-8 ambassadors to Ukraine and the head of the European Commission delegation to Ukraine on April 24, the presidential press service reported. During the meeting Mr. Yushchenko briefed the ambassadors about the state of a series of key projects related to Chornobyl and he highly assessed their respective countries' assistance to Ukraine. He reiterated that "the Chornobyl issue calls for collective effort and colossal resources" and added that we must first build a safe new shelter for the Chornobyl plant's stricken reactor. The president later told journalists that construction of a new sarcophagus at the Chornobyl plant might start in mid-summer. He said almost $1 billion (U.S.) has been collected toward the project at three international conferences. The meeting was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, British Ambassador Robert Brinkley, Russian Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin, French Ambassador Jean-Paul Veziant, Italian Ambassador Fabio Fabbri, Japanese Ambassador Mutsuo Mabuchi, Canadian Ambassador Abina Dann, German Ambassador Dietmar Stuedemann and the head of the European Commission delegation to Ukraine, Ian Boag. The meeting was attended by Ukraine's Prime Minister Yurii Yekhanurov, Foreign Affairs Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Emergencies Management Minister Viktor Baloha and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Secretariat Anatolii Matvienko. (Ukrinform)

Home-made bombs injure 14

KHARKIV - Two homemade bombs exploded at two supermarkets in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, on April 22, injuring 14 people, Ukrainian and world news agencies reported. Police sources said initial indications suggest the blasts were linked to a settling of scores between businesses. Doctors said there were no serious injuries in the blasts, which occurred within minutes around noon in two suburban supermarkets located some 1 kilometer apart. (RFE/RL Newsline)

Intellectuals warn of 'unnatural alliances'

KYIV - According to the official website of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, a group of known Ukrainian intellectuals has sent a message to President Viktor Yushchenko to condemn the idea of creating "unnatural political unions" and to support efforts toward creating a coalition of democratic forces. The message notes that Ukraine has a rare chance to create a "unique tandem of the authority and national intellect," which will be a reliable base and springboard in realizing programs for Ukraine's spiritual and cultural revival, and the nation's integration with the European community. The message argues that the people of Ukraine have confirmed the acceptability of Ukraine's further development under a coalition of three political forces: the Tymoshenko Bloc, Our Ukraine and the Socialist Party; anything else would be deceptive and amoral, the message further says. The Ukrainian intellectuals have called upon the president, as the guarantor of stability, democracy and civil freedoms, to prevent further fanning of political passions and a new wave of public disillusionment. The letter was signed by National Academy of Sciences President Borys Paton, National Union of Musicians Chairman Anatolii Andriyevskyi, Academician Ivan Dzyuba, Taras Shevchenko Literature Institute Director Mykola Zhulynskyi, National Union of Writers Chairman Volodymyr Yavorivskyi, All-Ukrainian Prosvita Society Chairman Pavlo Movchan, writers Pavlo Zahrebelnyi and Borys Oliynyk, composer and People's Artist of Ukraine Yevhen Stankovych, as well as other intellectuals. (Ukrinform)

Ukraine-U.S. discuss consular issues

KYIV - The U.S. Department of State hosted negotiations into consular-legal matters between Ukraine and the United States, chaired by the Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry's Consular Service Department Director Borys Bazylevsky and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty. The U.S. agreed to a Ukrainian proposal for providing consular assistance to Ukrainian citizens who find themselves in difficult situations in countries where Ukraine does not have diplomatic missions. American consular missions can assist them upon the Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry's petition in each concrete case. Regarding further simplification of the visa regime between the two states, the Ukrainian side offered to issue multiple-entry/exit visas to relevant categories of citizens of the two countries, in particular to businessmen, journalists and scientists, for a period of up to 10 years instead of current five. During the negotiations the Ukrainian side raised the painful issue of lack of information about some Ukrainian children adopted by U.S. citizens and expressed its hope that the U.S. will settle the problem. Both parties agreed that the next round of consultations on consular-legal matters might be held in the first half of 2007, but, if need be, could occur earlier. (Ukrinform)

Kyiv hosts Kontakt film festival

KYIV - Kyiv hosted the second international festival of documentary films "Kontakt." The opening ceremony of the festival on April 10 was attended by President Viktor Yushchenko, who underscored that the festival aims to focus on new talents. The festival's program consisted of national and international segments. According to organizers, the festival aims to create interest in documentary films among a broader audience. The top prize of the festival is about $5,000 (U.S.). Several Ukrainian films, including "There Was A House" by Olena Fetisova, "Nevseremos. People from the Maidan" by Serhii Masloboyschikov, "Adam and Eve" by Murat Mamedov, "Oleksandra Ekster and World Scenography" by Valentyn Sokolovskyi, "Travelers" by Ihor Strembitskyi, "Castles of Ukraine" by Artem Sukhariov and "The Seventh Day" by Oles Sanin were chosen to participate in the competition. (Ukrinform)

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 30, 2006, No. 18, Vol. LXXIV

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