Books on Ukraine
Update No: 309 - (26/09/06)
Our Ukraine bloc issues ultimatum to Party of Regions
The political crisis in Ukraine is not yet over, although a working government
has been in place since June. The pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc said on
September 14th that it had given the Party of Regions 10 days to decide on
forming a new coalition in parliament.
A parliamentary anti-crisis coalition, formed in June and comprising the Party
of Regions, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, had for the previous
two weeks been engaged in intensive consultations with Our Ukraine on the
possibility of expanding the grand coalition.
In August, the parties signed a national unity agreement on key policy areas.
But outstanding differences on some of its provisions prevented them from
forming a common political platform in the Supreme Rada.
"Ten days is the maximum time within which members of the anti-crisis
coalition can make up their minds," said Anatoliy Matviyenko, a member of
the Our Ukraine parliamentary faction. The pro-presidential bloc warned that
otherwise it would move to the opposition.
"If this is not done, it will mean intentional retreat from the national
unity agreement, and then we will have to switch to the opposition,"
He said the six political forces comprising the bloc "are ready to search
for a compromise, but we cannot violate fundamental positions on the
pro-European choice, European integration, the EU, and the language
President Viktor Yushchenko himself has called for a nationwide discussion aimed
at historical reconciliation and mutual understanding between the eastern and
the western parts of the country. The split in Ukrainian society became
particularly evident during the past 20 months of political turmoil, when
candidates backed by the east and west of the country vied for power. The
country emerged from the political wrangling with a pro-Western president,
Yushchenko, and a new prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, head of The Party of
the Regions, backed by eastern Ukrainians.
NATO issue to be resolved by referendum - Ukraine's PM
The issue of Ukraine's accession to NATO will be resolved by a referendum,
which will be held when the time is right, Ukraine's new prime minister said on
Western-leaning President Yushchenko has made NATO membership a priority since
coming to power in 2004, but has met with strong opposition on the issue from
pro-Russian political forces in the country, of whom the premier is foremost.
"We separated NATO membership from the issue of normal mutually beneficial
cooperation with the alliance, which is a key guideline for the government's
work in relations with the alliance," Viktor Yanukovych said after a
session of the Ukraine-NATO commission in Brussels in mid-September. "The
issue of Ukraine's joining NATO will be resolved by a nationwide referendum, and
time will tell when the need to hold it arises."
He said it was premature to hold the referendum, as a number of social and
economic reforms need to be implemented first to improve the living standards of
the population. Yanukovych said Ukraine's accession to NATO needed the support
of people at large, and not the current 12-25% of the population.
Ukraine's line toward NATO has particularly displeased Russia, which is anxious
about the approach of NATO bases closer to its borders.
In this respect, Yanukovych said it was in Ukraine's interests to maintain
strategic relations with Russia. "This completely suits Ukraine's strategic
interests," he said.
Yushchenko urges end to language debate, backs church
Addressing the nation on its Independence Day, Thursday, 24th, August, the
Ukrainian president called for the promotion of the Ukrainian language among
politicians and the establishment of a united, independent Orthodox church. In a
speech from a central square in Kiev, Yushchenko said all the country's
politicians should be able to speak Ukrainian.
Twenty-four percent of the population in Ukraine, which is marking the 15th
anniversary of its secession from the Soviet Union, speak Russian, particularly
those living in the east of the country, near the Russian border.
"The principle of this country is simple - a Ukrainian citizen is free to
choose," Yushchenko said. "But a Ukrainian politician or a public
servant must know, use and live by the national language."
Yushchenko also called for an end to religious debates. Ukraine's two leading
religions are Catholicism dominating in the west and Orthodoxy in the east. The
president also said he advocated independence and international recognition for
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Following Ukraine's independence in November 1991, Metropolitan Filaret, then
head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, convened a national church council and
declared the canonical independence of the Ukrainian church from Russia. The
council later asked Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, to
approve the decision, but it was rejected in April 1992, and the Russian church
went so far as to anathematise Filaret.
The Kiev Patriarchy has not been recognized by any of the world's Orthodox
Commemoration of the famine of Stalin's day
The Ukrainian leader further said he expected parliament, the Supreme Rada,
to adopt a bill declaring the famine of 1932-33, or "holodomor," an
act of genocide against the Ukrainian nation. The famine, which claimed millions
of lives, is said to have been deliberately orchestrated by the Soviet
authorities under Joseph Stalin to destroy Ukrainian society and culture in
order to subdue the nation.
Yushchenko instructed the government to set up a memorial to the victims of the
famine by the 75th anniversary of the tragic events. The fourth Saturday of
November is the day of commemoration of the famine victims in Ukraine.
NBU allows Credit Agricole to buy Index Bank
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has allowed France's Credit Agricole to
acquire an almost 100 per cent stake in Kiev's Index Bank and has registered a
subsidiary bank of Turkey's Finansbak in Ukraine, Interfax News Agency reported.
Credit Agricole signed an agreement on the purchase of a 98 per cent stake in
Index Bank in March 2006. Based on the agreement, Credit Agricole will pay
US$260m for its new stake in the Ukrainian bank. As of early July 2006, no Index
Bank shareholders held a stake in the bank of more than 10 per cent.
Fitch RatingsProredit Ukraine AAA(ukr)
Fitch Ratings has assigned ProCredit Bank Ukraine (ProCredit Ukraine) a National
Long-term AAA(ukr) rating with a Stable Outlook. ProCredit Ukraine's other
ratings are affirmed at foreign currency Issuer Default BB- (BBminus) and
Short-term B, local currency Issuer Default BB and Short-term B, Individual D
and Support 3. The Outlooks on the IDRs are Stable. At the same time, Fitch has
assigned ProCredit Ukraine's upcoming four-year 175 million hyrvnias bond issue,
with a two-year put option, an expected National Long-term AAA(ukr) rating, New
Coal output to increase 2.5% in 2007
Ukraine plans to increase coal production 2.5 per cent in 2007 to 82 million
tonnes, Serhy Tulub, the coal minister, said at a meeting of coal ministry
officials, New Europe reported.
"We need to achieve the 2004 level of at least 82m tonnes," Tulub
said. The ministry also needs to work on a programme to raise coal production to
100m tonnes in 2011, he said. Tulub said particular attention must be paid to 35
mines built 30 years ago with reserves of 3.5bn tonnes. He said those mines were
capable of producing 65m tonnes a year but were only producing 32-34m tonnes.
Shell signs Ukraine gas deal
Royal Dutch Shell has inked a small but strategically important gas purchase
agreement in Ukraine with Poltava Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of UK-based
JKX Oil & Gas, The Financial Times reported recently.
The agreement marks the continued expansion of Shell into Ukraine, which has
been dominated by Russian and Ukrainian companies.
JKX said in a statement that the agreement would give the Shell subsidiary a
minimum of 250m cubic metres of gas over a 12-month period commencing in
It also allows Shell to acquire more gas from Poltava Petroleum, which produced
more than 356m cubic metres of gas in the previous year.
Shell said the agreement marked the energy giant's entry into the gas trading
market of Ukraine, a large consumer of gas and transit route for hydrocarbons
from Russia and central Asia to Europe.
Shell said it would sell the gas to industrial and commercial consumers, adding
that the company did not yet have export rights allowing for westward sales to
Europe, where prices are higher.
Poltava Petroleum is the principal production unit for JKX, which is traded on
the London Stock Exchange.
Poltava Petroleum is a lucrative operation that produces only a fraction of the
gas needs of Ukraine, a country that consumes in the order of 75bn cu m
Ukraine produces 20bn cu m of gas every year, importing the rest from gas-rich
Russia and Turkmenistan.
It has opened its doors to western energy firms, seeking help in reducing its
energy dependence on Russia.
Naftogaz Ukrainy has no debts toward UkrGaz-Energo
Naftogaz Ukrainy national joint-stock company's subsidiaries have fully paid ZAO
UkrGaz-Energo (Kiev) for gas supplies, Naftogaz Ukrainy's press service said
recently, New Europe reported.
"In July Naftogaz Ukrainy fully paid back its 360 million hryvnias debt to
ZAO UkrGaz-Energo, which arose from partial payment of April-May natural gas
supplies," the press service said in a release. In April-May, UkrGaz-Energo
supplied to Naftogaz Ukrainy over 3.1 billion cubic metres of gas. In June-July,
Naftogaz purchased no gas from the company.
Naftogaz Ukrainy comprises the country's major oil and gas production companies.
It is a monopoly in import, export, transit and storage of natural gas in
underground reservoirs and for the transit of oil in Ukraine.
UkrGaz-Energo was created in February 2006 in accordance with a January 4th 2006
agreement, regulating relations between Naftogaz Ukrainy, Russia's Gazprom and
Swiss RosUkrEnergo AG. Naftogaz Ukrainy and RosUkrEnergo each have a 50 per cent
stake in UkrGaz-Energo.
MINERALS & METALS
EU raises Ukrainian steel quota 6%
The European Union on August 10th sanctioned a six per cent increase in
Ukraine's quota to export steel this year, Interfax News Agency reported.
The increase represents 60,480 tonnes of steel carried over from 2005. The quota
is being increased in line with a 2005 agreement on steel trade between Ukraine
and the EU, which states that unused quotas of up to 15 per cent can be carried
over from one year to the next. This is the first time that this option has been
used. Ukraine and the EU signed an agreement on July 29th last year by which the
EU will allow Ukraine to ship up just over one million tonnes in 2006.
The quota does not apply to EU imports of Ukrainian flat and long products
intended for the ship building industry or the construction and renovation of
drilling rigs of platforms.
NGZ ups putput 4.5% ZALK downs output 4.4%
Ukriane's Nikolyev (Mikolayiv) alumina plant (NGZ), the FSU's biggest alumina
producer, raised output 4.5 per cent year-on-year in January-July to 820,000
tonnes of alumina, including 123,375 tonnes in July, the company said, Interfax
News Agency reported.
NGZ said the production growth was achieved by augmenting the plant's capacity
to 1.4m tonnes from 1.1m tonnes per year. Production rose 4.8% to 1.365m tonnes
in 2005. NGZ aims to increase output 2.5% to 1.4m tonnes in 2006 as a whole.
Zaporizhiya Aluminium (ZALK), Ukraine's only aluminium smelter, reduced output
of the metal 4.4% year-on-year in January-July to 54,059 tonnes, the company
said. July output was 7,760 tonnes. ZALK raised alumina production 0.6% to
150,280 tonnes in the seven months and produced 22,282 tonnes in July.