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FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER FAILS TO APPEAR FOR INTERROGATION. The Interior Ministry's Kyiv Directorate for Fighting Organized Crime wants former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to explain why he failed to appear for questioning on 30 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May 2005), Interfax reported on 30 May. "Viktor Yanukovych was invited to come to questioning as a witness at 11 a.m. today [30 May], but he did not show up," Valeriy Heletey, head of the directorate, told journalists, adding that Yanukovych was summoned through mass media. Meanwhile, Yanukovych's Party of Regions on 29 May issued a statement slamming the Ukrainian authorities for what it said is an ongoing campaign to present the opposition to the public as the "people's enemies," ITAR-TASS reported. "The new authorities are suffocating from their inability to solve social and economic problems, which result from their inept management and the destruction within less than four months of the tendencies toward positive economic growth achieved by the previous government," the statement read. "Thus, they simply have to find someone to blame for the hardships ordinary people are experiencing." JM
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT OPPOSES 'AMICABLE ARRANGEMENT' IN CONTROVERSIAL STEEL-MILL PRIVATIZATION. Valentyna Semenyuk, head of Ukraine's State Property Fund, said on 30 May that a peaceful settlement of the ongoing legal controversy over the privatization of the Kryvorizhstal metallurgical giant in 2004 is not possible, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www2.pravda.com.ua) reported. "An amicable arrangement cannot be even viewed by court, since it has not been demanded by prosecutors or the State Property Fund [as claimants]," Semenyuk said. In April, the Kyiv Economic Court ruled that the purchase of 93.02 percent of shares of Kryvorizhstal by the Investment-Metallurgical Union, a consortium owned by Ukrainian oligarchs Rynat Akhmetov and Viktor Pinchuk, was illegal. Now the consortium is appealing against the verdict with the Kyiv Appellate Economic Court, at which it has reportedly called for an amicable arrangement with the government. Semenyuk also said the State Property Fund can question previous privatizations if new owners have not fulfilled their investment commitments. She said she has blacklisted 199 privatized companies that have failed to meet their investment pledges. JM
LAWMAKER SAYS FRENCH REFERENDUM IS 'BAD FOR RUSSIA.' Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev (Unified Russia) said on 30 May in Paris that the French rejection of the proposed European Union constitution in a 29 May referendum will have negative consequences for Russia, Channel One reported the same day. "Instead of the old principle of consensus, the new EU constitution introduced a more politically motivated, and therefore flexible, approach to decision making," Kosachev said, adding that the new document would make Russia's dealings with the EU much easier as a result. Failure to adopt the constitution, he said, would mean Russia would have to continue working with the "current amorphous and over-bureaucratized EU structure." Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Nikonov, the president of the independent Politika foundation, told Channel One on 30 May that the French referendum may actually work to Russia's advantage, as it may significantly delay the entry of Georgia and Ukraine into the EU. In a separate interview with TV-Tsentr on the same day, Nikonov said Russia will never join the EU, as European politicians have told him "they can never imagine Europe sharing a border with China." VY
...AS POWER-OUTAGE DAMAGE RISES INTO THE BILLIONS. Leonid Melamed, a former EES first deputy head and the current head of the ROSNO insurance firm, of which EES is a client, said on 30 May at a Moscow press conference that preliminary damage estimates from the 25 May blackout may reach as high as $3 billion-$5 billion, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Mikhail Delyagin, the head of the Moscow-based Institute of Globalization, said on 27 May that the massive outage was the "biggest technical accident in Russia since the Chornobyl catastrophe in 1986, and the result of a systemic crisis in Russia's electrical-power grid," Channel One reported the same day. Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu told RTR on 29 May that the outage caused more than 9,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage to overflow into Moscow area rivers and lakes, strana.ru reported. Gennadii Onishchenko, Russia's chief health inspector, warned on 30 May that Muscovites should not use water in the Moscow River, the toxicity of which is now 16 times the norm, Channel One reported. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said 28 May that he believes the blackout was the result of "incompetence" on the part of EES management, and that the city is planning to sue the company once the extent of the "colossal damage" is calculated. VY
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KAZAKHSTAN. Ukrainian President Vladimir Yushchenko met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Astana on 30 May for talks focused on economic cooperation, "Kazakhstan Today" reported. After their meeting, Nazarbaev told journalists that the two discussed the possibility of extending Ukraine's Odessa-Brody oil pipeline to Gdansk to provide an outlet to the Baltic, as well as the construction of a 52-kilometer pipeline from Dnepropetrovsk to Ukraine's Pivdenny terminal. Nazarbaev said that in order to gain access to the Baltic through Odessa-Brody, "we are ready to act as pipeline shareholders," ITAR-TASS reported. For his part, Yushchenko said that Ukraine is ready to move ahead with the Single Economic Space (SES; Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine), Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. He said, "Participation in 16 of 29 documents of the first stage has already been considered and approved at government level." Yushchenko added, "We welcome all SES-related initiatives that would ensure mutual ties in transit, customs, budget, and fiscal relations." DK