The management of Kharkiv’s Turboatom plant is publicly venting its ire at President Leonid Kuchma’s decision to cancel Ukraine’s partnership with Russia in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant project. In its latest statement yesterday, Turboatom management accused Kuchma of "acting under U.S. pressure" and "ignoring national economic interests." It claimed that Turboatom has lost not only the $45 million deal as a subcontractor to the Russian side, but also further subcontracts of a far higher value promised by the Russian side. Kyiv’s decision "dealt a stab in the back to our age-old, blood-related partners," the statement complained. (Itar-Tass, March 11; DINAU, March 10)
The situation underscores the political price that Kuchma may have to pay for his decision on the eve of Ukraine’s elections. The russified city of Kharkiv is a major economic, political and demographic factor in these elections. Turboatom’s politicization of the issue can strike a responsive chord in Kharkiv region, hurting even more the People’s Democratic Party on which Kuchma’s hopes in that part of Ukraine rest.
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