New energy minister appointed
On 31 January, the new energy minister, Oleh Dubyna, was officially introduced at a meeting of cabinet ministers. Unlike his predecessor, Yuliya Tymoshenko, Dubyna will also take over some duties of First Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov.
Dubyna has not yet announced his specific policies. However, he has made it clear that he does not agree with all of the past schemes in the coal-mining industry developed by his predecessor. The new minister also stressed that Ukraine should refuse further barter or mutual settlement payment plans. According to him, "everything must be paid for in cash." He has expressed his conviction that Ukraine's economy can be cleaned up. He also said that, for now, there would be no personnel reshuffles connected with his appointment.
Before he became energy minister, Dubyna was general director of the state enterprise Kryvorizhstal. The company was losing money before Dubyna appeared on the scene, and within one year he had managed to repay its debts and make it profitable.
The appointment was welcomed by some experts and politicians. In particular, Petro Poroshenko, leader of the Solidarnist (Unity) parliamentary group, said he knew Dubyna to be a highly professional manager, who could point to real achievements in his past work with Kryvorizhstal. The president of the Union of Entrepreneurs also expressed confidence in Dubyna.
MP killed in car accident
Oleksandr Yemets, a representative in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), died in a car accident on 28 January. The funeral, which was attended by 5000 people, took place on Wednesday 31 January.
Oleksandr Yemets was elected to the Parliament as a member of the National Democratic Party in 1990 and re-elected in 1994 and 1998. Between 1993 and 1994, he was the minister for minorities and migration issues and has held several political posts since, including that of advisor to the president. Since May 1999, he has been a member of the executive committee of the Reforms and Order Party.
The accident occurred when Yemets's driver lost control on a slippery highway while driving Yemets back from Zaporizhya oblast, where the MP had been meeting with members of the electorate.
Although Yemets's colleagues consider the death an accident, the Moscow newspaper Vesti on 31 January published an article claiming Yemets was murdered according to a scenario similar to the 1998 death of Vyacheslav Chornovil, leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine. According to MP Mykhaylo Syrota, due to the inefficiency of Ukranian law enforcement, any accidents involving members of Parliament are viewed as politically or business-motivated revenge.
Ukrainian citizen murdered in Poland
On 28 January a Ukrainian citizen was killed by a Polish policeman not far from the Polish city of Lublin.
According to the press attaché of the Polish Embassy in Ukraine, the Ukrainian driver had refused to stop, and when he eventually did, a disagreement between him and the police officer broke out, ending in death.
However, on 30 January new details of the accident were revealed by the Ukrainian Embassy in Poland, following its own inquiry. In this version, the 25-year old Ukrainian citizen had been driving to Ukraine from the Czech Republic, where he had been working legally. He sped up when his pregnant wife, who was also in the car, felt she needed medical attention. According to the Embassy's version, the man stopped the car immediately when he saw the police. However, the Polish officer took him away form the car and killed him.
Based on this information, on 30 January the Ukrainian Embassy in Poland sent a letter to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs protesting the "aggressive actions of representatives of the Polish police toward a Ukrainian citizen." The letter also requested that an independent investigation be launched and preventive measures be taken in the future.
Iryna Solonenko, 2 February 2001
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