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'FREEDOM OF SPEECH' FILM AIRED. On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, most Armenian TV channels showed an Internews TV film, "Freedom of Speech." Journalists of Russia, the U.S., Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan contributed to the production of this 14-minute film. The heroes of the film, people on the street, describe what freedom of speech means to them. The film, translated into various languages, was shown on 3 May in ten CIS countries by several hundred TV companies. The film can be viewed at the Internews Russia website: http://www.internews.ru/internews/Internews_Tele.html#Svoboda. ("Yerevan Press Club Newsletter," 28 April-4 May)
U.S. EXPERTS IDENTIFY MISSING JOURNALIST'S BODY... Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Harnyk on 8 May announced that a team of U.S. experts concluded that a headless body found near Kyiv last November is that of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, whose disappearance has sparked a political crisis, Interfax reported. Harnyk added that the experts could not determine the cause of Gongadze's death because the head has not been found and because of the time that has elapsed since his death. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May)
...AND WIDOW CALLS FOR 'TRANSPARENT' INVESTIGATION. Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington on 3 May, Myroslava Gongadze said that she doubts whether "the authorities will ever conclude or reveal who killed her husband because it would implicate Ukraine's top government or business leaders," the "International Herald Tribune" reported. Unlike the Ukrainian political opposition, she did not claim that the tapes made by President Kuchma's former bodyguard ordered her husband's death or that someone acted on what they assumed were his orders. She did say that because Gongadze was the first journalist in Ukraine to make regular reports on corruption, many people were unhappy with his activities. She also said that an "open, transparent investigation" is needed and that the Ukrainian authorities had so far limited their investigation to identification of the corpse and were not "focusing on when, how, or by whom he was killed." ("International Herald Tribune," 5-6 May)
PATRIARCH CONDEMNS POPE'S PLAN TO VISIT UKRAINE. Patriarch Aleksii II and visiting Greek Archbishop Christodoulos on 11 May issued a joint statement saying that Pope John Paul II should have secured the approval of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine before planning to go there, Russian and Western agencies reported. In other comments, they said that "the future will show whether the pope was sincere" in his apology for past Roman Catholic actions against the Orthodox, and they criticized efforts by Universal Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to involve himself in what they called the internal affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and Estonia. On 12 May, some 1,500 people in Moscow assembled to protest the papal visit to Ukraine, Interfax reported. One of the organizers was arrested, the news agency said. PG
CHERNOMYRDIN SEEN HAVING 'UNPRECEDENTED' POWERS. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 11 May said that President Putin has given newly appointed Russian Ambassador to Ukraine "unprecedented" powers to resolve the economic and political ties between the two countries. "Vremya MN" said on the same day that Chernomyrdin will undoubtedly focus on gas debts. But "KommersantDaily," also on 11 May, described the appointment as meaning that Chernomyrdin "has again become prime minister but now the Ukrainian one." PG
UKRAINE, TURKMENISTAN SIGN ACCORD ON GAS SUPPLIES IN 2002- 2006. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov signed an accord in Kyiv on 14 May on Turkmen gas supplies to Ukraine, Interfax reported. Niyazov said Turkmenistan will supply 250 million cubic meters of gas to Ukraine in 2002-2006. In 2002 the supply quota will be 40 million cubic meters at the price of $41 for 1,000 cubic meters. Ukraine is to pay 50 percent in cash and 50 percent in "investments" in the Turkmen economy for the gas supplies. According to Niyazov, Ukraine's debt for Turkmen gas now stands at some $420 million. Kuchma commented that the Turkmen supplies "will meet Ukraine's gas demand practically to the full extent." JM
UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION GROUPS DIFFER ON ANTI-KUCHMA REFERENDUM. The opposition For the Truth group will not participate in the preparation and holding of a referendum on President Leonid Kuchma's ouster, Interfax reported on 14 May, quoting lawmaker Taras Stetskiv, a leader of the group. Stetskiv did not rule out that the group's activists may join the referendum initiative as private persons. The referendum seeking Kuchma's ouster was proposed separately by the National Salvation Forum (FNP) and the Socialist Party (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 4 May 2001). Meanwhile, lawmaker Taras Chornovil said not everyone in the FNP is convinced that the staging of an anti-Kuchma referendum is necessary. "We have serious apprehensions that this referendum may backlash," Chornovil noted. JM
OUT: President Putin named on 10 May State Duma deputy (Unity) and former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin Russia's ambassador to Ukraine. Chernomyrdin will replace Ivan Aboimov.