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UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY REPORTEDLY SUED OVER AIR-SHOW CRASH. The parents of Hryhoriy Kozak, a 23-year-old man who was killed in the disastrous air-show crash in Lviv on 27 July, have sued the Defense Ministry, demanding 350,000 hryvnas ($66,000) in compensation for the death of their son, UNIAN reported on 12 August, quoting Deutsche Welle. JM
UKRAINE'S GRAIN HARVEST EXCEEDS 35 MILLION TONS. Serhiy Melnyk, the state secretary in the Agrarian Policy Ministry, announced on 9 August that Ukrainian farmers have so far gathered more than 35 million tons of grain, UNIAN reported. This year's grain yield exceeds 2.8 tons per hectare. The government expects to harvest at least 36 million tons of grain in 2002. Last year's grain output was 39.7 million tons. JM
UKRAINE'S POPULATION SHRINKS BY 200,000 IN JANUARY-JUNE 2002. The population of Ukraine fell by nearly 200,000 people in January-June 2002, UNIAN reported on 9 August, citing the State Statistics Committee. According to last year's census, there were 48.4 million people living in Ukraine on 5 December 2001. JM
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SETS UP NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR TRANSDNIESTER NEGOTIATIONS. President Vladimir Voronin on 10 August issued a decree setting up the National Commission for the Negotiation Process for Solving the Transdniester Problem, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The commission is headed by Vasile Sturza, who is Moldova's chief negotiator in the parleys with Tiraspol mediated by the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine. The new commission is likely to be directly involved in the actual negotiations and is different from the recently established State Commission for the Reintegration of the Republic of Moldova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 2002) headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vasile Iovv. MS
UKRAINIAN TOP INVESTIGATOR SPREADS BLAME FOR AIR-SHOW TRAGEDY. National Defense and Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk, who heads the commission investigating the tragic crash in Lviv on 27 July, said on 12 August that air force commanders, pilots, and city authorities must share the blame for the death of 85 spectators, Ukrainian media reported. Marchuk reportedly told President Leonid Kuchma that "numerous violations and shortcomings by the show's organizers, servicemen, Lviv city authorities, and the pilots' deviation from the flight plan" caused the crash. Kuchma ordered Marchuk to prepare a final conclusion regarding the reasons for the crash by 15 September. JM
UKRAINE'S INTERNATIONAL RESERVES ON THE RISE. The Ukrainian National Bank's international reserves increased by 14 percent in July and amounted to the equivalent of $3.8 billion, UNIAN reported on 12 August, quoting a government memo. International reserves comprise a country's monetary gold, foreign-currency reserves, and reserves allocated within the IMF. JM
RUSSIA, UKRAINE START TALKS ON SHARING FORMER SOVIET PROPERTY ABROAD. Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii Potapov has begun talks in Kyiv with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Motsyk about the fate of former Soviet assets abroad, RIA-Novosti reported on 12 August. Ukraine is the only former Soviet republic that has not signed the so -called "zero variant" agreement, according to which Russia took upon itself both the foreign debts and assets of the former USSR. Instead, Kyiv asked Moscow to present a list showing the full value of Soviet gold and diamond reserves, the foreign assets of Russian banks, and Russian debts to Ukrainian organizations and citizens. Some observers in Moscow and Kyiv believe that some concessions on both sides might now be made because of the special relationship emerging between presidents Putin and Leonid Kuchma. Russia, in order to keep Ukraine in its orbit might offer Ukraine 16 percent of former Soviet real estate abroad, the BBC commented on 13 August. VY
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
RADIO MARYJA REPORTEDLY EVANGELIZING BUNDESWEHR. "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 7 August ran a report asserting that Radio Maryja -- a Roman Catholic radio station in Poland -- is also spreading the gospel to Germany's Bundeswehr. "This is Radio Maryja. The Catholic voice in your home": Such words in Polish were reportedly heard some time ago by a Luftwaffe pilot in the course of a routine flight on the short-wave frequency 7,400 kHz, which is used by the Bundeswehr for military communications.
Radio Maryja was started as a local radio station by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk in Torun in 1990; in 1993, the station received a concession for broadcasting nationwide. Today, Radio Maryja claims a regular listenership of 14 percent of adult Poles (some 4 million people), and touts itself as the most influential Catholic media outlet in Poland. The weekly "Wprost" called Father Rydzyk -- who remains the head of Radio Maryja -- "the most influential religious fundamentalist in Europe."
It took some time for the Bundeswehr to identify the station interfering with Luftwaffe messages, but once this was done, the German Defense Ministry turned for help to the Polish General Staff. "The Military Frequency Management Office has been notified by a frequency-control unit of the German Defense Ministry that German military radio communications are being interrupted by the Polish Radio Maryja network on the short-wave frequency of 7,400 kHz. I am asking National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council Chairman Juliusz Braun for an explanation," wrote General Lech Konopka of the Polish General Staff.
Father Rydzyk's explanation, according to the daily, "stupefied everyone." The radio signal on the 7,400 kHz frequency is transmitted not from Poland, but from the Russia Federation. In line with a license issued by the Russian Communications Ministry and an agreement signed in 1997 with the RTRS company it owns, the transmitters used by Father Rydzyk's network are located in Krasnodar (southern Russia). Radio Maryja broadcasts in Poland on UHF frequencies; its license does not allow for its signal to be emitted on short waves, which have become rather unpopular. It remains a mystery why Father Rydzyk needs a shortwave transmission as well.
"Everything is in line with the law," "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted experts from the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council as saying. "The Polish broadcaster, who did not have the possibility to broadcast on short waves in Poland, obtained such a license in Russia and broadcasts into Poland [from there]. Before the Radio Maryja signal reaches Poland, it passes many countries on its way. One can confidently claim that Radio Maryja primarily targets Catholics who live east of the Bug River [which runs along a portion of Poland's border with Belarus and Ukraine]. The evangelization of German troops is a side effect." (Jan Maksymiuk)
CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" on 6 August misquoted the Center for Eastern Studies (Warsaw) in saying that Poland was visited in 2000 by 4.4 million Russians from Kaliningrad Oblast. In fact, this figure represents the overall number of individual trips across the Polish-Russian border in 2000 and includes both Poles and Russians.
CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" on 6 August mistakenly reported that the bulldozing of an Orthodox church in the Belarusian town of Pahranichny earlier this month was the first destruction of a Christian shrine in the Commonwealth of Independent States since the fall of communism. Sadly, in November 1999, a Seventh-Day Adventist church in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, was bulldozed following an order from the authorities.
"While we are engaged in profound deliberations about 'European choice,' Russia and Europe have already started making money together." -- Ukrainian opposition leader Yuliya Tymoshenko in "Zerkalo nedeli" on 5 July.
"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.