Events from May 1 to May 7, 2004
Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich Specifies Conditions For Troop Pullout From Iraq. Speaking to the journalists on 6 May in Zhitomir, Prime Minister Yanukovich stated that Ukraine might pull its military contingent out of Iraq if Ukrainian companies are denied participation in the economic reconstruction of that country. "If Ukraine fails to get an immediate opportunity to take part in the measures that are planned in Iraq, our partners should realize that we reserve the right to withdraw our contingent," Yanukovich said. He clarified that he was expressing his own personal opinion on this issue.
Comment: Ukrainians are particularly annoyed over this because while no Ukrainian company to date has recieved any subcontract work in Iraq, the Russian companies have recieved sub-contracts despite the fact that Russia oppossed US war against Iraq and has not provided any peacekeeping assistance there.
Blast At Ukrainian Ammunition Depot.
A disaster took place in the village of Novobohdanivka, Zaporizhya Oblast, in the south of Ukraine: ordnance ammunition depots exploded. A fire started on May 6 in the afternoon and as expected will continue several days since at present it is impossible to come closer to them. Some 10,000 people were evacuated. Five persons died, four of them as a result of stresses.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Evhen Marchuk, speaking on a local television station, admitted in having difficulties in putting out the blaze and said that the neighboring Russia was sending a specialist team to help combat the blaze. He also said that the United States has also offered to help.
Comment: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited more than 180 military arms depots from the Soviet Army.
The substantial part of it was removed from Germany when German Demokratic Republic united with German Federative Republic and Warsaw Pact disappeared.
Ukrainian Parties Mark May Day. Some 100,000 people reportedly took part in a rally organized by the communist Party on 1 May. The rally took place under the anti-NATO, anti-EU, and anti-government slogans. Participants in the rally supported a resolution proposing Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko as a presidential candidate. Some 10,000 people participated in a separate May Day rally organized in Kiev by the Party of Regions led by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich. A Karaoke organized on a square in Kiev by Victor Yuschenko’s "Our Ukraine" Bloc attracted only some 200 young people.
Comment: May Day rallies were also held in the provinces. For example, in Kharkiv nearly 40,000 people attended a pro-government May Dary rally while in Simferopol (Crimea) 12,000 participated.
Will Ukrainian Communists and Socialists Field Common Presidential Candidate? One of the leaders of the Socialist Party Yosip Vinsky said on 1 May that his party and the Communist Party might nominate a single candidate for the 31 October presidential election. Vinsky added that if such a joint candidate lost to both Yuschenko and Yanukovich on 31 October the Socialists and the Communists might support Yuschenko in the second election round.
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission said in Dublin, Ireland, (Apr. 5) that Ukraine did not have prospects to ever become a member of the European Union.
Prodi said that effectively there was no vacant place in the EU.
Ukraine addressed the U.S. with a request for assistance in transferring to Ukraine of the Ukrainian crew of the ship NevStar-1 who had been convicted in Iraq to do their time in Ukraine instead. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Konstantyn Hryshchenko directed attention to that fact that conditions of the custodial system where the Ukrainian citizens are kept are improper, there are no vitally important medical service and a strained situation around a penitentiary institution jeopardizes their lives.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich expressed an opinion that so far the Ukrainian contingent should remain in Iraq. However, according to him, if the UN did not take responsibility for the situation in Iraq on itself, and Ukraine as before did not have a chance to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq a question may arise about the withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Iraq. He also said that European integration still remained a priority for Ukraine.
On May 5 the International Consortium "Sea Launch" carried out the 12th successful launch of an American communication satellite by means of the Ukrainian missile carrier Zenit-2SL.
A Foreign Investment Agency is being set up in Ukraine
The Government has decided to set up the Foreign Investment Agency in the form of a joint-stock company in which the 51% share will belong to the state.
It is also planned to establish the Agency's subsidiaries in the regions.
Although the volume of direct foreign investments in Ukraine in 2003 increased almost by a quarter or by USD 1,318.6 million the total volume of accumulated foreign investments still remains quite negligible compared with other countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
As of January 1, 2004 it was only USD 6,657.6 million.
It is planned that the creation of the Agency will make it possible to sharply increase the inflow of foreign investments.
The U.S Government plans to keep sanctions against Ukraine for violating intellectual property rights
The sanctions were imposed in 2002 with a motivation that Ukraine is one of the largest violator of the intellectual ownership rights, first of all, in the field of manufacturing illicit compact discs.
The total amount of the sanctions is USD 75 million per year, which is quite tangible for the Ukrainian economy.
The Ukrainian experts stress the attention on the fact that at present the production of illegal compact discs in Ukraine accounts for quite a penny ante portion of their world production and it is simply not serious to speak about Ukraine's leadership in this field.
In recent year quite tough law-enforcement measures were taken to combat the manufacturing of counterfeit products.
No doubt, the market of its products in Ukraine is still large, but illicit products from Belarus and Russia account for the lion's share of these bootlegged items. Since the frontiers with these countries are practically open it is extremely difficult to fight smuggling of compact discs.
Nevertheless, in Ukraine it is quite clear for any unbiased expert that the situation over the last two year have cardinally improved..
Therefore, the decision to keep the sanctions in place is taken, first of all, as one of the forms of the restrictions on imports from Ukraine on the part of the U.S. and also as a lever of political pressure.