Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma yesterday dismissed Economics Minister Vasyl Hureyev, Machine-Building, Military Industry and Conversion Minister Valery Malev, Finance Minister Valentin Korenevsky, and Statistics Minister Oleksandr Osaulenko for unsatisfactory performance. Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko had criticized those ministries’ work at a cabinet meeting last week and asked Kuchma to remove the ministers. At the same time, the ministers of industry, coal mining, and agriculture, along with the head of the Oil and Gas State Committee, were given warnings over their performance. (Interfax-Ukraine, UNIAN, February 21-25)
The head of Kuchma’s newly created Political Council, Oleksandr Yemets, expressed regret yesterday over the Ukrainian Popular Movement — Rukh’s — failure to join the Council. Rukh has thereby snubbed "the President’s outstretched hand," opportunistically declining to share political responsibility during difficult times, Yemets complained. He challenged Rukh either to support the president or to declare itself an opposition movement. (Interfax-Ukraine, February 25) Nine mostly "centrist" parties have joined the Council, created as a consultative mechanism to ensure that the views of various political forces are taken into account in shaping state policies. Rukh’s refusal to share responsibility could doom Kuchma’s plans, unveiled last week, to form a political alliance with that pro-reform and patriotic movement against leftist forces.
Azerbaijan Ratifies Another Big Oil Contract.