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RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
WARSAW OBLIGES ITSELF TO BUILD EU'S 'BERLIN WALL.' Last week, Poland concluded the Administration of Justice and Internal Affairs Chapter in its European Union accession talks in Brussels. Warsaw pledged to beef up control of its 1,200-kilometer-long border with Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast, Belarus, and Ukraine to prevent illegal migration, as well as smuggling of goods and trafficking of drugs and arms, after Poland joins the EU. Some Western media commented that Poland's obligations under this negotiation chapter -- the 26th closed chapter out of a total of 30 -- are tantamount to erecting a new "Berlin Wall" on the country's eastern and northern frontiers, which are expected to become the EU's external frontiers as early as 1 January 2004.
Poland's obligations under this chapter involve a serious overhaul of its border guards and, understandably, mean making sizeable expenditures from the state budget. Interior Minister Krzysztof Janik said in a recent press interview that in order to qualify for joining the Schengen agreements, which may take place around 2007, Poland needs $250 million euros ($245 million) to refurbish its border-guard force and infrastructure. Janik hopes that up to 75 percent of this sum may be covered by various EU funds and programs.
Last week, Poland committed itself to increasing its current border-guard force of some 12,000 servicemen and civilians to 18,000. By 2006, the country will increase the force by 3,200, hiring 5,300 professional frontier guards and 1,000 more civil servants while phasing out 3,100 army conscripts who are currently deployed.
The government plans to buy and equip seven helicopters and two light aircraft for the border guards, as well as night-vision surveillance devices and other necessary equipment. The number of frontier watchtowers will be increased in order to space them at a distance not exceeding 20 kilometers.
Poland's accession to the EU will, of course, mean tougher restrictions on travelers from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Warsaw will introduce visa requirements for them as of 1 July 2003. At present, nobody is able to imagine the scale of technical difficulties or the political and socioeconomic consequences of this upcoming operation.
Chief EU negotiator Jan Truszczynski said last year in Brussels that in 2000, Poland was visited by 5.9 million Belarusians, 2.8 million Russians, and 6.1 million Ukrainians. The same year, Truszczynski added, Polish consulates all over the world issued only 185,000 visas.
But Truszczynski's estimates of eastern visitors to Poland may be much lower than the real figures. According to the Warsaw-based government-sponsored Center for Eastern Studies, in 2000, Poland was visited by 4.4 million Russians from Kaliningrad Oblast alone (it should be noted here that Russia's Kaliningrad exclave is inhabited by some 1 million people). Some 90 percent of these visits, the center asserts, were made by people engaged in petty cross-border trade, which primarily means smuggling of alcohol, cigarettes, and other goods.
Such cross-border business is the main source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands, if not for millions, of people in both Poland and the three above-mentioned post-Soviet countries. When Poland tightens its eastern and northern borders, there will unavoidably occur "local economic disasters" in the borderland regions of the four countries. As for Poland's eastern and northern regions, they still may hope for some assistance from Brussels under various development and restructuring programs. But who will help people living under the penury of the Lukashenka and Kuchma economies? And what about the Kaliningrad region with its highest rates of criminality and HIV infection in all of Russia?
Poland officially advertises its role as a promoter of European integration values on post-Soviet territory -- particularly in Ukraine and Belarus -- but it is hardly believable that it will be able to perform this role seriously after the line of European prosperity and affluence moves some 600 kilometers eastward and becomes a new "Berlin Wall" for Belarusians and Ukrainians for a decade or longer. It is clear even today that not only Poland but the entire EU will not be able to influence transformation processes in the "forgotten Europe" -- Belarus and Ukraine -- if Brussels focuses on tightening Poland's frontiers and fails to draw up attractive and comprehensive programs to make Belarusians and Ukrainians maintain their hope that some day they will also find themselves in Europe not only geographically, but also politically and economically. (Jan Maksymiuk)
MELNYCHENKO TAPES REPORTEDLY THROW LIGHT ON BEATING OF LAWMAKER... The "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua/) on 30 July published a transcript of what it claims to be a secret audio recording made by former presidential bodyguard Mykola Melnychenko of President Leonid Kuchma's conversation on 7 February 2000 with then-Security Service Chairman Leonid Derkach. The recording, the website asserts, sheds light on the beating of lawmaker Oleksandr Yelyashkevych on 8 February 2000. Below is a translation of the "Ukrayinska pravda" transcript of the conversation, with "stage directions" supplied by the website. The language of the conversation is very strong in its obscenity and spontaneous anti-Semitism, but "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" decided to reproduce it as closely as possible to the original (with some original terms supplied in brackets) in order to let readers experience the flavor of the vernacular -- essentially Russian, but with Ukrainian intrusions -- that apparently is used in Ukraine's corridors of power.
The office of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.
A conversation in the office between Leonid Kuchma and then-Ukrainian Security Service Chairman Leonid Derkach. A television set is on with a live broadcast of a session of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada.
People's Deputy of Ukraine Oleksandr Yelyashkevych is addressing the session of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada.
Leonid Kuchma, instantly agitated by Yelyashkevych's proposals, breaks off his conversation with Derkach.
Yelyashkevych continues to address the session, while Kuchma and Derkach suddenly begin to speak in low voice.
At this moment, parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch begins to comment on one of Yelyashkevych's proposals that was voiced shortly before [regarding the announcement of a recess in the session to hold consultations among the leaders of all parliamentary caucuses]. Kuchma, agitated by this, says loudly in his characteristic style that the speaker has to continue the session without announcing a recess before the time stipulated by parliamentary regulations.
The conversation between Kuchma and Derkach, interrupted for a moment, resumes.
Kuchma tries to reach first deputy speaker [Viktor] Medvedchuk by phone, but it is impossible to connect with him for the moment. Medvedchuk is in the presidium in the session hall, and it is impossible to find an assistant who has the right to enter the session hall to summon [Medvedchuk to the phone].
Kuchma becomes extremely nervous. He switches to exquisitely vile swearwords. He demands that he be immediately connected with Medvedchuk, [and] he demands that Medvedchuk's secretary be sacked.
At this moment, Kuchma begins to talk with Medvedchuk on the phone.
KUCHMA: [loudly and very swiftly, mumbling]: Hello! [unintelligible] Listen! There is no need to take an early break. It is necessary to continue until 12. Otherwise, they will celebrate a victory. They will mess up everything. Under no circumstances. Drag it out. Any issues [you like]. Good.
Kuchma and Derkach again listen to deputy Yelyashkevych's speech. Kuchma says in low voice:
KUCHMA: Let them beat him! He's become impudent, that son of a bitch [suka]!
...AND SUGGEST THAT KUCHMA WAS NOT ONLY TAPED, BUT ALSO TAPED OTHERS. The "Ukrayinska pravda" website on 5 August published a transcript of what it claims to be a secret audio recording made by former presidential bodyguard Melnychenko of President Kuchma's conversation on 9 September 2000 with then-Security Service Chairman Derkach. The recording, the website says, testifies to the fact that Ukraine's Security Service successfully bugged embassies of several NATO countries (including Turkey and Spain) and -- "if Derkach did not lie" -- broke the codes of secret messages sent by those embassies to their governments. As in the above transcript, the website supplied "stage directions."
9 September 2000
Ukrainian Security Service Chairman Leonid Derkach reports [to the president].
Kuchma rustles papers that Derkach brought him.
Kuchma continues to rustle papers.
DERKACH: These are all three, almost one by one
[literal translation -- compiler's note]. And here is one more.
KUCHMA: What's this?
DERKACH: A scheme how to ship out [vyvezti] millions of hryvnas.
"Why strengthen the NATO bloc today when Russia is ruined in terms of military power? You see that the situation in Russia is worse than in Belarus. [And the situation in] Ukraine? God forbid! And Belarus today is unable either to defend [Russia] or prevent [NATO expansion]." -- Alyaksandr Lukashenka to journalists on 31 July; quoted by Belarusian television.
"RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.
UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS TO PARTICIPATE IN ANTIPRESIDENTIAL PROTESTS, BUT WITH CONDITIONS. Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko has listed conditions for the participation of his comrades in the opposition protest actions planned for this fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 2002), UNIAN reported on 6 August. According to Symonenko, the protests should focus on forcing early presidential elections and forming a "democratic and efficient political system" in Ukraine. Symonenko stressed that the Communist Party has different "strategic goals" than the right-wing opposition and added that the Communists are not going to decide "at the present stage" on an opposition presidential candidate for a possible early ballot. Symonenko said he is aware that Our Ukraine and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc as well as the Socialist Party will support Viktor Yushchenko for the post of Ukraine's president. According to Symonenko, the promotion of Yushchenko as a presidential candidate during the planned protest would run "counter not only the needs of the leftist movement but, first and foremost, those of the Ukrainian people." Simultaneously, Symonenko warned opposition parties against attempts by "the ruling regime to use ideological differences between opposition groups [to pursue] its dirty and greedy interests." JM
FIRST CASPIAN OIL FLOWS INTO ODESA-BRODY PIPELINE. A tanker carrying 30,000 tons of Caspian oil arrived at the Southern (Pivdennyy) oil terminal in Odesa on 4 August and began unloading the following day, UNIAN reported on 5 August. This is the first oil received by the Southern terminal of the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline, which are part of Ukraine's ambitious Eurasian Oil-Transporting Corridor for supplying Caspian oil to Europe. JM
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS OSCE PLAN CAN SERVE AS BASIS FOR TRANSDNIESTER... Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 5 August that the plan proposed in Kyiv in July by the OSCE for the settlement of the Transdniester conflict "can be used as the basis" by experts representing the two sides in working out a "mutually acceptable version" of the plan, Infotag reported. Yakovenko said the idea of Moldova's federalization, on which the OSCE plan is based, "has been welcomed in both Chisinau and Tiraspol." MS
...AS SEPARATIST LEADER PRAISES IT. Separatist leader Igor Smirnov, speaking on Tiraspol television on 5 August, said that the July meeting in Kyiv has resulted in the elaboration of "absolutely new conceptual principles concerning the construction of relations between Transdniester and Moldova" and the "full rejection of the obsolete views of the Republic of Moldova's statehood," Infotag reported. Smirnov said the new concepts "correspond to the stance consistently upheld by Transdniester in the negotiation process" and added that the dialogue between the two sides must now proceed. He said remaining differences can be overcome, leading to "a balanced and responsible political solution for the full-scale normalization of relations between Transdniester and Moldova. " MS
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT RETURNS ENVIRONMENTAL-PROTECTION BILL. President Georgi Parvanov on 5 August returned a new bill on environmental protection and demanded that parliament revise several provisions of the draft law, news.bg reported. Parvanov criticized provisions in the bill pertaining to information policy to be followed by state authorities. The draft law stipulates that citizens will have to request information about environmental issues, rather than obliging authorities to provide the public with information on a daily basis. Parvanov said this could lead to information blackouts on vital issues, as was the case with Chornobyl in Ukraine. UB