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ukraine-related news stories from RFE


UKRAINE

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST KILLED IN SUSPICIOUS CAR CRASH... On 16 July the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Ukrainian government to thoroughly investigate the cause of a 14 July road accident that resulted in the death of Vladimir Efremov, newspaper and TV editor. Efremov's car collided with a truck near the eastern town of Verkhnyodniprovsk. The Interior Ministry's local representative has been named to head the investigation. Efremov, a correspondent for the press freedom organization Institute of Mass Information in Dniepropetrovsk, was editor of the newspapers "Sobor" and "Dniepropetrovsk" and founder of the regional television station TV 11, which supports former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, an opponent of President Leonid Kuchma. Efremov had agreed to testify at Lazarenko's 18 August embezzlement trial in the United States. CC

...WHO HAD BEEN SUBJECTED TO THREATS, OFFICIAL PRESSURE. Efremov, in the official paper "Golos Ukrainy" on 13 October 2001, wrote that he feared he would be killed --- probably in a staged road accident -- due to his work as a journalist. Efremov had been detained for two days in January 1999 in Dniepropetrovsk for alleged irregularities in a 1995 loan agreement involving "Sobor." Efremov claimed he had fully repaid the loan, believing he was arrested because TV 11 had broadcast a New Year's message from Lazarenko rather than from Kuchma. Ukrainian authorities closed Efremov's TV station on 9 March 1999 for alleged technical reasons - although its broadcast license was valid until 2001 -- and seized its transmitters eight days later. For more information contact europe@rsf.org or see http://www.rsf.org CC

IFJ: LAW THREATENS PROTECTION OF JOURNALISTS' SOURCES... The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticized the Ukrainian parliament for adopting legislation outlawing journalists' right to protect their sources. The 9 July law permits the detention of journalists suspected of revealing state secrets and gives, according to the IFJ, "excessive levels of power" to the Ukrainian secret service. The IFJ says it will protest the new law at the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Union. The OSCE representative on media freedom, Freimut Duve, said the new law would have a "chilling effect on the work of journalists, especially those investigating corruption" (see
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/1092/). CC

...AND UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT 'EXPLAINS' THE LAW. The Ukrainian parliament released a statement on the law, saying it "gives special rights to staff of the Ukrainian secret service to arrest journalists who have been investigating issues related to state secrets and who intend to publish this information...the secret service is authorized to demand a written statement from the journalist, explaining the reasons behind this violation of state secrets and confidential information. The secret service is also permitted to carry out a body search and a search of their personal belongings.... The law [would] also...fine journalists who have been arrested for seeking, obtaining, fixing, using and/or imparting information by technical means. The fine would be in the range of 50 to 300 times the monthly salary for the journalist in question and 200 to 500 times the monthly salary for the official source." CC

PART OF BLACK SEA FLEET TO BE REMOVED FROM SEVASTOPOL. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is conducting an inspection tour of the North Caucasus Military District, said on 17 July that Russia is speeding up the pace of construction of a new naval base at Novorossiisk for some elements of the Black Sea Fleet, RTR reported. The entire Black Sea Fleet is currently based at the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, and Ivanov noted that it is always better to have several bases. He said that following completion of the Novorossiisk base, Russia will be able to save part of the $100 million a year that it currently pays Ukraine to lease the Sevastopol base. However, he emphasized that Russia will not be leaving Sevastopol completely, even after the Novorossiisk base is finished. VY

UKRAINIAN NGOS TO RECEIVE USAID GRANTS ON CIVIL-SOCIETY PROJECTS. Thirteen Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) carrying out projects to further civil society within the framework of the Ukrainian Community Action Network (UCAN) will receive grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Interfax reported on 17 July. The grants range from $10,000 to $50,000. The same day, grant agreements were signed between NGOs and UCAN in Kyiv, marking the end of the first year of the UCAN grant program. Some 250 Ukrainian NGOs competed for grants in late January under that program. USAID awarded grants to projects aimed at agricultural reform, the defense of women's and children's rights, transparency in the work of parliament, the improvement of regional economic policy, and housing and utilities reform. The USAID intends to provide 60 Ukrainian NGOs with grants totaling $1 million. AM

MINISTER ASSURES COUNTRY THAT POLISH TROOPS WILL RETURN FROM IRAQ ON TIME. Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski vowed on 17 July that Polish troops serving in the Polish-led stabilization force in Iraq will return home on time, Polish state radio reported. Polish soldiers will be rotated every six months, Szmajdzinski stressed. A Polish contingent of 2,300 servicemen is expected to arrive to Iraq in mid-August. The Polish-led international division will be staffed by servicemen from nearly 20 countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2003). "We are considering an air bridge that will have to be put into operation to supplement materials, equipment, spare parts, and to carry mail," Szmajdzinski added, noting that the weekly flight between Poland and Iraq might also stop over in Kyiv, Odesa, or Sofia. AM