Last Tuesday, citizens of Lviv (Western Ukraine) buried their famous fellow resident, composer and singer Ihor Bilozir. The almost unbelievable occurred: he was fatally injured for singing Ukrainian songs. A couple of weeks ago, Bilozir, sitting with his friends in one of Lviv's cafés, began singing in Ukrainian. This provoked the displeasure of a another group of guests. After a fight between the two groups, Bilozir was brought to hospital, where he died last week, never regaining consciousness. It later surfaced that one of the Russian-speaking attackers turned out to be the son of a senior police officer in Lviv.
The incident raised a wave of anti-Russian sentiment in the city. Angry protesters organised a picket of the office of the public prosecutor and attacked the café where the fighting occurred. The protesters called for the "de-Russification" of Ukraine and the sacking of all Russian-speaking servicemen from the city police force.
On the same day, announced as a day of mourning in Lviv, tens of thousands of citizens participated in Bilozir's funeral.
The decision adopted by the Crimean Parliament regarding the dismissal of the Crimean government has not yet been officially approved (See last week's news review). The major problem lies in legal contradictions and discrepancies between Ukrainian and Crimean legal documents and constitutions. This question will be discussed again on 21 June during a regular parliamentary session. Meanwhile, Leonid Grach, speaker of the Crimean Parliament, suggested Sergy Kunitsyn, the Crimean prime minister, and members of his cabinet "continue the job, fulfilling their functions and tasks."
Pavlo Lazarenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister, is still awaiting the final decision of US federal authorities. After being accused of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement by Ukrainian and Swiss authorities, he requested political asylum in the US. Currently, he is being held in an American prison pending the resolution of a Swiss request for his extradition.
The Attorney's Office for Northern California announced on Thursday that a US
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Lazarenko himself continues to deny the accusations, saying that he has become the victim of a political vendetta by his enemies.
The next hearing of Lazarenko's case in court is on 24 July, when the Swiss request for extradition will be examined.
Natalya Krasnoboka, 2 June 2000
Den', daily national newspaper
Kyiv Post, weekly national newspaper
Facty, daily national newspaper
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
UA Today, on-line information agency
Ukrainska Pravda, on-line independent daily newspaper