Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma has ordered the government to draft by August 15 a plan to create an anti-terrorism center, and to submit by October 1 a comprehensive program for combating terrorism, organized crime, corruption among state officials, and the shadow economy. The program also envisages measures to check separatism in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Kuchma’s instructions to the government follow last week’s National Security Council resolution on strengthening law and order and defending the Ukrainian Constitution and the state in the wake of the July 16 bomb attack on Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko.
In the same decree, the president dismissed the Donetsk region’s head of administration, Volodymyr Shcherban, and a host of law enforcement and mine industry managers, at least some of whom had condoned the coal workers’ strike and also had pressed Kiev for inflationary subsidies to unprofitable mines. Shcherban is also reported to entertain presidential aspirations as a possible rallying point for antireformist forces in eastern Ukraine. (Interfax-Ukraine, July 19 through 21)
The government’s response to the challenge seems to be paying off in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where the coal workers’ strike is petering out since the government moved to settle it and to prosecute instigators of highway and railroad blockades. The government also seems to have intimidated the radical nationalist Ukrainian Nationalist Assembly, which proclaimed allegiance to the constitution and announced that it was turning its paramilitary arm, the Ukrainian Self-Defense Organization, into a civilian body.
Russian Peacekeeping in Abkhazia Expires as Georgia Sets Conditions for Renewal.