|Monday, 27 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 193, 00-10-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 4, No. 193, 5 October 2000
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIA WELCOMES U.S. VOTE ON GENOCIDE BILL...Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on 4 October, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian applauded the previous day's endorsement by the U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee of a bill that calls on the U.S. president to recognize as genocide the 1915 killings of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, Armenpress and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Oskanian said he does not believe that recognition of those killings as genocide will negatively impact on the development of Armenian-Turkish relations in the long term but rather will help the two countries overcome their mutual distrust, and contribute to stability in the South Caucasus. He again called on Turkey "to embark on a dialogue on all issues of mutual interest." LF
 ...AS TURKEY TOUGHENS VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR ARMENIANSThe Turkish government responded on 4 October to the House of Representatives' Committee vote by introducing a requirement that all Armenians wishing to enter Turkey must acquire a visa from a Turkish diplomatic representation abroad, ITAR-TASS reported. Previously Armenians could acquire Turkish visas either at border crossing points or on arrival at Turkish airports. Turkey has no diplomatic representation in Armenia. The "Neue Zuercher Zeitung" on 5 October reported that Ankara will also close its airspace for the transport of international humanitarian aid to Armenia. LF
 ARMENIA WANTS COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBERSHIP DECOUPLED FROM AZERBAIJANI ELECTIONArmenian Foreign Minister Oskanian also said at his 4 October press conference that the imminent decision to admit Armenia to full membership in the Council of Europe should not be made contingent on the conduct of the 5 November Azerbaijani parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The council decided in June to make a decision this fall on admitting both Armenia and Azerbaijan simultaneously (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 29 June 2000). In the case of Azerbaijan, that decision is contingent on whether the parliamentary poll is deemed free, fair, and democratic. Oskanian called on member governments of the council not to postpone Armenia's admission in the event that the Azerbaijani election fails to meet the required standard. LF
 ARMENIA DENIES RECEIVING KURDISH REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCEArmenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ara Papyan on 29 September denied that his ministry had received a written request from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to take refuge on Armenian territory, according to Snark, cited by Groong on 4 October. The "Turkish Daily News" had reported on 29 September that PKK leader Osman Ocalan had asked Yerevan "to increase the accommodation available in Armenia to the PKK" and expressed thanks for Armenian assistance in the past. Over the past few years, Armenia has systematically denied repeated accusations by Ankara that it allows the PKK to maintain military bases in Armenia. LF
 U.S. CALLS ON AZERBAIJAN TO HOLD FREE AND FAIR PARLIAMENTARY POLL...The U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee unanimously passed a resolution on 3 October urging the Azerbaijani leadership to ensure that the 5 November parliamentary poll is free and fair, Turan reported the following day. The resolution expressed concern that seven opposition parties have been barred from contesting the party list seats in the new legislature, and called on U.S. President Bill Clinton to remind his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, of his commitment to democratization. LF
 ...AS AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL REJECTS OSCE CRITICISMSpeaking at a press conference in Baku on 4 October, presidential administration chief Ramiz Mekhtiev criticized as "unprofessional" a statement by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights criticizing the Central Electoral Commission's decision to exclude seven opposition parties from participating in the 5 November poll under the proportional system, AP and Interfax reported. Mekhtiev said that Azerbaijan's election law is "completely in accordance with generally accepted norms of democracy." Also on 4 October, some 1,500 people congregated outside the district electoral commission in the northwestern Tovuz Raion to protest that body's refusal to register a member of the opposition Musavat party as a candidate in a local constituency. Additional police have been sent to the town from neighboring Shamkir and Akstafa. LF
 ARRESTED AZERBAIJANI EDITOR RELEASEDRauf Arifoglu, editor of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," was released from pre-trial detention on 5 October after giving written assurances he will not leave Azerbaijan, Turan reported. Arifoglu was arrested in late August and charged with attempted hijacking and planning a coup d'etat (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 August and 21 September 2000). Those charges remain in force, and no trial date has been set. The French and Italian ambassadors in Baku met with Arifoglu for two hours on 4 October. LF
 REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES FOR POLL IN AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVE COMPLETEThe Central Electoral Commission of the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic has registered a total of 91 candidates to contest the 45 mandates in the new local legislature to be elected on 5 November, Turan reported. Thirty of those candidates are independent, 46 represent the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party, eight the Azerbaijan Popular Front, three each the opposition Musavat Party and the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, and one the People's Party. LF
 NEW GEORGIAN JUSTICE MINISTER APPOINTEDGeorgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 4 October named Mikhail Saakashvili as Minister of Justice, Caucasus Press reported. Saakashvili, a U.S.-trained lawyer who heads the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia parliamentary faction, replaces Dzhoni Khetsuriani, who resigned on 3 October following the escape of 12 inmates from a Tbilisi security prison. LF
 GEORGIA TAKES DELIVERY OF CZECH ARMY TANKSThe Georgian armed forces on 4 October took delivery of 12 Czech-made tanks, CTK and Caucasus Press reported. The tanks, which cost an estimated $330, 000, were paid for from a $5.5 million Turkish loan. Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Grigol Katamadze said that though somewhat obsolete, the tanks are ideally suited for Georgia's mountainous terrain and were cheaper than their Russian equivalents. LF
 UN-SPONSORED WORKING GROUP DISCUSSES ABKHAZ SECURITY...A working group comprising representatives of the Georgian and Abkhaz governments, the UN Observer Mission in Georgia and the CIS peacekeeping force deployed since 1994 along the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia met in Tbilisi on 4 October to discuss the security situation in the Kodori gorge, scene of two abductions of UN personnel, and implementation of the 11 July protocol on a non-resumption of hostilities, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhaz Deputy Defense Minister Givi Agrba and head of the UN Mission General Ahmed Anis Bajwa both positively assessed the group's activities. Agrba expressed satisfaction at the Georgian authorities' arrest last month of Forest Brothers guerrilla leader Dato Shengelia but said that White Legion commander Zurab Samushia should also be detained for guerrilla activities. The group is one of three created under the aegis of a UN Coordinating Council set up in late 1997. LF
 ... AS KILLINGS IN ABKHAZIA CONTINUEFour civilians were killed and three wounded in Abkhazia's Gali Raion on 4 October when gunmen opened fire on their car, Caucasus Press reported. Two people died and five were injured in a similar attack in Gali on 28 September. LF
 RUSSIAN GENERAL CALLS FOR CIS MEDIATION MISSION FOR ABKHAZIAMajor-General Sergei Korobko, who commands the CIS peacekeeping force, told Caucasus Press on 4 October that he thinks CIS heads of state at their next summit should consider sending a CIS political mission to Abkhazia to try to mediate a political settlement of the conflict. Such a mission, he pointed out, would parallel the UN civilian mission that complements the UN Observer Force and relieve him of the need to attend "political talks." LF
 GEORGIA SAYS IT HAS PROOF DISPUTED BORDER VILLAGE IS GEORGIANThe head of the Georgian State Border Guard department, Valerii Chkheidze, told the Georgian parliament commission for mountain regions on 4 October that Tbilisi has archive documents proving that the disputed village of Pichvni on the Georgian-Russian border is situated on Georgian territory. Russian border guards occupied the village early this summer, driving out the inhabitants. LF
 ITALIAN-GREEK CONSORTIUM TO BUILD KAZAKH GAS PIPELINEA consortium of Italy's Saipem and the Greek company CCC has won a $900 million contract to build a 635 kilometer gas pipeline from the Karachaganak deposit in western Kazakhstan to the Caspian port of Atyrau, Interfax and the "Financial Times" reported. John Murrow, general director of Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, the international consortium developing the vast Karachaganak deposit, said that the pipeline should be completed by late 2003 or early 2004. In addition, the Saipem/CCC consortium will build a plant to refine some 7 million tons of gas condensate per year. LF
 KYRGYZ SURVEY SUGGESTS INCUMBENT PRESIDENT'S RATING RISINGA nationwide poll of 1,200 Kyrgyz conducted by an independent research group showed that 38.4 percent of respondents will vote for incumbent President Askar Akaev in the 29 October presidential poll, Interfax reported on 4 October. In October 1999, only 28.8 percent would have done so. Interfax quoted political commentator Zhyrgal Kasabolotov as revealing that Akaev has not had a chance to prepare a hand-picked successor since the "most worthy" candidate, former Security Minister and Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov, broke with Akaev and joined the opposition in April 1999. Kasabolotov predicted that any attempt by the authorities to manipulate the poll's results in Akaev's favor is likely to trigger nationwide protests. LF
 TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE SIGN GAS SALE AGREEMENTTurkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and his visiting Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, signed an agreement on 4 October in Ashgabat whereby Turkmenistan will provide Ukraine with 35 billion cubic meters of gas over the next 15 months at a total price of $1.2 billion at the Turkmen border, ITAR-TASS reported. The 5 billion cubic meters Kyiv will purchase in 2000 will cost $38 and the remaining 30 billion cubic meters $40 per thousand cubic meters. Of that sum, 40 percent in 2000 and 50 percent in 2001 is to be paid in cash and the balance in goods and services. Those prices are the same as those recently agreed on between Turkmenistan and Russia. Kyiv will pay the transit fees for transportation of the gas to Ukraine. In addition, Ukraine must make weekly advance payments to Ashgabat of $7 million in cash and $9 million in goods and services. LF
 UZBEKISTAN MINES BORDER WITH TAJIKISTANNewly appointed Uzbek Defense Minister Kadyr Gulomov said in Tashkent on 4 October that Uzbekistan has begun mining part of its border with Tajikistan to prevent further incursions by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan militants, ITAR-TASS reported. The previous day, Uzbekistan's National Security Minister Mirakbar Rakhmonkulov presented Gulomov, who is a physicist and former academician, to the Uzbek leadership and assessed the ongoing reform of the country's armed forces. Rakhmonkulov explained that operative command functions are the prerogative of the new Combined Armed Forces Staff which comprises Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, and border guard personnel. That force will also draft a national military strategy and be responsible for developing the armed forces. The Defense Ministry will be "an executive branch in charge of subordinate troops" and will liase between its own troops and the parliament, local authorities, and public organizations, Rakhmonkulov said. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 TENS OF THOUSANDS CONVERGE ON SERBIAN CAPITALPeople from all parts of Serbia began arriving in Belgrade on 5 October for an afternoon demonstration. Their goal is to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to leave office in favor of opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica. Police in some parts of the country attempted to block small groups of protesters from traveling to Belgrade but made way for groups "too large to stop," such as a column of 15,000 demonstrators from Cacak, Reuters reported. Protest organizers said that Milosevic must resign by 3:00 p.m. local time but did not specify what would happen if he does not. Opposition leader Vladan Batic stressed that "this flame will engulf the whole of Belgrade." Addressing 30,000 protesters in Nis the previous evening, Mayor Zoran Zivkovic warned the army and police not to interfere with the demonstration. "I'm telling the army and police that we won't stop. We are going to Belgrade to finish off what we started in the elections," namely the ouster of Milosevic, AP reported. PM
 SERBIAN POLICE FIRE TEAR GAS AT PROTESTERSPolice used tear gas against demonstrators in front of the parliament building in Belgrade on 5 October, CNN reported. Demonstrators had tried to break through police lines in a possible attempt to provoke the police, the broadcast added. Reuters reported that the situation has since "calmed down." Protest organizers have stressed that they want demonstrations to be peaceful. PM
 SERBIAN MINERS, SUPPORTERS DEFY POLICEPolice in riot gear arrived at the Kolubara coal mine on 4 October to put an end to an anti-Milosevic strike by coal miners that had entered its sixth day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2000). In response to the miners' call for help, some 25,000 supporters arrived, prompting most of the police to withdraw, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. AP added that some police stayed to "mingle" with the strikers and their supporters. Kostunica told the jubilant crowd that "there is nothing more honest than the miners defending their votes." Opposition leader Dragan Kovacevic said that "the battle for Serbia was won here," in reference to the fact that the police for the first time backed down when confronted by determined crowds. He added that "Kolubara is our Gdansk," alluding to the home of Poland's Solidarity trade union, London's "The Guardian" reported. Belgrade's "Danas" recalled the slogan "no pasaran" from the Spanish Civil War. PM
 JUDGE SAYS SERBIAN COURT TO CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONSThe Constitutional Court ruled on 4 October that unspecified "parts" of the 24 September Yugoslav presidential election are invalid. The court did not give the reasons for its ruling. Clarification is expected in the afternoon of 5 October. Opposition leader Zoran Djindjic told the BBC that the decision is a manipulative effort by the regime aimed at buying time (see also Part I). RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service quoted Constitutional Court Chief Justice Milutin Srdic as saying by telephone on 5 October that the court will call for completely new elections. Observers note that the protesters will most likely ignore the decision and demand that Kostunica take office. The state Election Commission had scheduled a second round of voting for 8 October. The opposition refuses to accept the need for a second round in the presidential vote, arguing that Kostunica won outright in the first round (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2000). PM
 HAGUE COURT, ANNAN SLAM DIENSTBIER REMARKS ON SERBIAOn 4 October, Jim Landale, who is a spokesman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, called "extremely disturbing" a statement by UN human rights envoy Jiri Dienstbier that Milosevic should receive immunity from prosecution in return for leaving office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2000). Landale stressed that "it is not possible for anyone to negate an indictment by the tribunal--no individual, no state, no group of states." Paul Risley, who is Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte's spokesman, pointed out that she has repeatedly said that Milosevic's indictment remains firm. Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia, argued that "the rule of law must apply to everybody, whether we like it for political and tactical reasons." In New York, Fred Eckhard, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's spokesman, said that Dienstbier's remarks reflect his personal views "and do not represent the views of the secretary-general or of any inter-governmental organ," AP reported. PM
 MORE INDICTMENTS ON THE WAY FOR SERBIAN LEADER?Del Ponte and her deputy, Graham Blewitt, met in Sarajevo on 4 October with representatives of the survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Following the meeting, Blewitt said that "it is highly likely that indictments will be coming out in respect to [atrocities committed in Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1995] later this year or early next year," AP reported. A lawyer for the Srebrenica survivors added that "on the basis of the conversation [with the officials from The Hague] today, I believe Slobodan Milosevic will be indicted for genocide and other atrocities that he inflicted here in Bosnia." PM
 MONTENEGRIN MINISTER: NO CHANGE IN WESTERN POLICYForeign Minister Branko Lukovac told an RFE/RL correspondent in Podgorica on 4 October that he expects no change in Western policy toward Montenegro if the Serbian opposition ousts Milosevic. Lukovac stressed that Montenegro has already begun a process of integration in Western "political and security structures." Some observers have suggested that Western governments are likely to urge the Montenegrin and Kosovar leaderships to reach an accommodation with Belgrade once a democratic government takes office in Serbia. Leaders in both Podgorica and Prishtina have made it clear that they intend to pursue their own respective interests regardless of who is in power in Belgrade. PM
 U.S. URGES ALBANIAN PARTIES TO ACCEPT ELECTION RESULTSSpeaking in Tirana on 5 October, U.S. Ambassador to Albania Joseph Limprecht said: "We call on all parties to continue the cooperation demonstrated in hundreds of local commissions throughout the country and accept the ballot results" of the 1 October local and municipal elections, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). Officials of the opposition Democrats, who fared poorly in the vote, have said that the elections were "manipulated." PM
 SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS PRIVATIZATION A PRIORITYSpeaking in the run-up to the 15 October parliamentary elections, Andrej Bajuk told Reuters in Ljubljana on 4 October that Slovenia is moving forward in its efforts to join the EU and NATO at the first opportunity. "The world is in the process of globalization. Our only choice is to join in this globalization," he stressed. Bajuk, an international banker who spent much of his life in Argentina, argued that previous governments led by former communists have not done enough to privatize important sectors of the economy. "The need for privatization is an urgent problem because too many firms are directly or indirectly owned by the state. This is not acceptable by international standards," he added. Bajuk singled out Telekom, Nova Ljubljanska Banka, and Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor as overdue for privatization. He argued that Slovenia needs long-term investors who can bring know-how to the newly privatized firms. PM
 NO CLEAR WINNER IN SLOVENIAN POLLSRecent polls give former Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek's center-left Liberal Democrats about 40 percent of the vote, Reuters reported from Ljubljana on 4 October. Bajuk's three-party conservative coalition follows with 33 percent. Political power in Slovenia rests with the parliament. Most Slovenian governments since 1990 have been shaky coalitions. PM
 CROATIAN WAR CRIMES TRIAL OPENSTihomir Oreskovic, Ivica Rozic, Ivan Jovanovic, Martin Markovic, and Joso Miletic, who are former members of the armed forces, went on trial in Rijeka on 4 October. They are charged in conjunction with the killing of some 50 ethnic Serbian civilians in 1991. Police recently arrested them in Gospic in a dragnet aimed at rounding up war crimes suspects (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 29 September 2000). PM
 CROATIAN, BOSNIAN LEADERS MEETIn Zagreb on 4 October, President Stipe Mesic and his Bosnian guest, Alija Izetbegovic, signed agreements on social insurance and on trade. Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the current state of relations between the two former Yugoslav republics, "Dnevni avaz" reported. PM
 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TELLS ROMANIA 'ROAD AHEAD IS STILL LONG'The European Parliament's report on Romania's progress to EU membership says the country still has a long way to go before it is ready to join the union, Romanian Radio reported. The report says the country's economic situation is "worrying," despite indications of improvement, and points to serious environmental problems, corruption, and the growth of crime as well as the need to reform the legal system and deal with the problem of abandoned children. MS
 FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE INDICTEDThe Prosecutor-General's Office on 4 October indicted Iosif Boda, who headed former President Ion Iliescu's 1996 election campaign, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Boda, who is now a deputy representing the Alliance for Romania, is suspected of masterminding a tax evasion scheme in connection with the import of election posters that a French company headed by Romanian-born French-Israeli businessman Adrian Costea had produced. Boda denies any responsibility, saying the agreement with Costea was concluded when he (Boda) was Romanian ambassador to Switzerland and before he became head of the election campaign team. Boda also told reporters that the indictment is based only on the testimony of former Party of Social Democracy in Romania treasurer Gheorghe Pascu, who has also been indicted. MS
 ROMANIAN DRIVERS BLOCK BUCHAREST CENTERTruck and taxi drivers blocked the central Victoria Square in Bucharest on 4 October to protest high fuel costs, which have risen 40 percent since the summer. A delegation representing the drivers held talks with Deputy Premier Mircea Ciumara but failed to reach an agreement. The drivers threatened to return to the square and block access to refineries as well. Negotiations resumed on 5 October, and Mediafax reported that an agreement has been reached "in principle." No details of that accord have been released. MS
 BULGARIA BACKS YUGOSLAV OPPOSITIONForeign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova told a forum of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe in Sofia on 4 October that change in Yugoslavia "can be delayed but cannot be halted," AP reported. Mihailova said that by "refusing to accept the results of the [24 September] vote, [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic disregards the choice of his own people, places himself above the law and the democratic order and pushes the country towards violence." One day earlier, the opposition Socialist Party said in a statement that "Vojislav Kostunica is categorically the winner of the presidential elections" in Yugoslavia and that "a runoff " ballot can only be "the result of pressure," Bulgarian radio reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 UKRAINIANS IN SEARCH OF THEIR IDENTITYBy Taras Kuzio
After Italy's unification in 1860, Italian leader Massimo d'Azeglio remarked that "We have made Italy, we now have to make Italians."
The same is true of many post-Soviet states, including Ukraine, where nation- and state-building are as much part of their transition as are liberal democratic and market economic reforms. Viktor Yushchenko's government is thus taking the same degree of interest in national integration as it is in economic reform. Government measures aimed at enhancing national integration can be divided into four areas.
First, there are measures related to the Ukrainian language. In December 1999, the Constitutional Court ruled that provisions on the Ukrainian language in the June 1996 constitution should be more strictly enforced. In February 2000, the newly appointed Yushchenko government drew up a draft program of measures on implementing the Constitutional Court ruling, a modified version of which was adopted in June.
The program outlines plans to expand Ukrainian-language training for students, state officials, the security forces, national minorities, and employees working in the private sector. The number of Ukrainian-language books and encyclopaedias as well as foreign films dubbed into Ukrainian for television and video are to be increased, Ukrainian coverage on state television boosted, and festivals and concerts organized.
Some Russian-language media outlets are being transformed into Ukrainian- Russian media. "Zerkalo Nedeli," the leading weekly Russian-language newspaper since 1994, which is read by Ukraine's ruling elite, launched a Ukrainian-language edition, "Tserkalo Tyzhnia," in July. The television station Inter, formerly Ukrainian State Television Channel Three, also became bilingual in the summer. Inter is mainly watched in eastern Ukraine and was the only channel, apart from cable television, that re-translated Russian Public Television into Ukrainian for Russian-language audiences.
Second, the presidential administration has promoted its own personality cult as part of the nation-building project. An annual concert to commemorate independence day, held on 23 August in Ukraine Palace, included film clips of historical events leading to Ukraine's independence. The culmination of the tortuous process to gain independence was not only independence itself, the film explained, but Leonid Kuchma's presidency. Kuchma's alleged personal contribution to the establishment of Ukrainian independence was also advertised on independence day (24 August), with large placards bearing quotations from his speeches strategically located along the Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main thoroughfare.
Moreover, Kuchma's collected speeches have just been published under the title "I Believe in the Ukrainian People." In the summer, two Ukrainian- language publications--"Prezydent" and "Prezydentskyi Visnyk"--appeared. "Prezydent" is a glossy Ukrainian-English journal geared toward "New Ukrainians," foreign diplomats, journalists, and governments. Both the Ukrainian-language "Prezydentskyi Visnyk" and "Prezydent" provide a positive spin on their coverage of Kuchma in both domestic and foreign settings.
Third, there are efforts to promote the country's national symbols. A presidential decree on 29 November 1999 introduced new presidential symbols in time for Kuchma's second inauguration as president. These include the president's standard, a symbol consisting of an order chain of a drop and six enameled medallions and 12 decorated links, a heraldic seal with the national symbol, the "tryzub" (trident), and presidential mace (based on a Cossack Hetman's "bulava").
A few months later, the non-leftist majority took control of the Ukrainian parliament in a velvet revolution. It promptly exchanged the large hammer and sickle on the old Supreme Soviet building with the "tryzub" (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had done the same in May 1998 on its building, the former headquarters of the Kyiv City Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine).
This year, Kyiv instituted a new state holiday, "National Flag" day, on 24 July. The tryzub was adopted as the "small symbol" in 1992 but a larger, more elaborate state symbol had still to be approved. In the summer, a new state symbol was unveiled after a lengthy competition that had remained undecided since the adoption of the constitution. The new state symbol consists of a "tryzub" flanked by a lion, the symbol of Lviv, and a Cossack with a musket adorned by a crown and the words "Freedom-Harmony- Prosperity."
Fourth, there are also efforts related to the country's historiography. The 22 January 1919 union of western and eastern Ukraine was officially commemorated for the first time in January as "Unity Day." On the evening before the ninth anniversary of independence, an open air concert of Ukrainian classical spiritual music was attended by the cabinet. The concert was held next to the monument to the 7 million Ukrainian victims of the terror famine of 1932-1933, which has been officially commemorated each year since 1999. The concert's political message was clear; namely, that Ukraine will be spared another famine only if it is an independent state.
Plans have also been unveiled for a large monument to independence to be unveiled next year on the 10th anniversary of the declaration of Ukrainian independence. The monument resembles the Risorgimento monument in central Rome, commemorating Italy's unification in the mid-19th century. It is located on the site where Kyiv's largest statue of Vladimir Lenin stood until 1991 on Independence (formerly October) Square. The monument will be decorated with a mural of important historical figures ranging from leaders of Kyiv Rus, the Galician-Volhynian Principality, the Cossack Hetmans (including Ivan Mazepa), and Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, who was the doyen of Ukrainian historiography and first president of the Ukrainian People's Republic of 1917-1918.
It is not planned, however, to include Kuchma, the leader of Ukraine since 1994, on the mural. Although he voted for independence on 24 August, he had other pressing engagements and was absent from the parliament during the crucial vote on the Declaration of Sovereignty on 16 July 1990.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty