President Leonid Kuchma yesterday appointed Pavlo Lazarenko as prime minister in place of Yevhen Marchuk, whom Kuchma had forced to resign the preceding day. (See Monitor, May 28) Lazarenko, born in 1953 and, like Kuchma, a native of Dnepropetrovsk oblast, is a close political ally of the president. His latest position was that of first deputy prime minister responsible, among other things, for the energy sector. Lazarenko is, however, a trained agronomist. He is the fifth and youngest prime minister of independent Ukraine and a supporter of Kuchma’s reform programs. Kuchma coordinated Lazarenko’s appointment with the regional governors of Ukraine.
Pro-reform parliamentary leaders yesterday expressed support for Kuchma’s decision to remove Marchuk, a decision which they said was precipitated by Marchuk’s proposal last week to pay wage arrears from foreign loans and the state’s hard currency reserves. He also supported the holding of anticipated legislative and presidential elections — in which he was expected to challenge Kuchma — this year following the adoption of the new constitution, rather than in 1999. Marchuk, who had been appointed prime minister in February 1995, expressed confidence yesterday that Ukraine will eventually provide an example to politicians and social scientists of how to overcome an economic crisis. (Interfax-Ukraine, Western agencies, May 28 & 29)
Uighurs Call Attention to Repression in Xinjiang.