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Ukraine: Crimea's Parliament Meets After Bombing Injures Minister

Kyiv, 6 February 1998 (RFE/RL) - Crimea's Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Safontsev remains in serious condition today after being injured in a bomb blast yesterday. Safontsev and his bodyguard suffered multiple bone fractures and puncture wounds when the bomb, which appears to have been detonated by remote control, blew up in a roadside trash container as Safontsev drove past in his car. The explosion occurred near the Tavria tourist camp, near the city of Simferopol.

Crimea's Parliament went into special session today to discuss the incident. Parliament Deputy Chairman Anatoly Franchuk issued a statement calling the attack "an attempt by destructive forces to undermine efforts to establish a lawful Crimean government." The statement said the government would not be intimidated by such attacks, and called on Crimeans to join to fight "these black forces." The Crimean parliament has been locked in a power struggle with Ukraine's central government in Kyiv.

The bomb blast followed a special session of Crimea's Parliament to discuss the situation in Yalta. Deputies condemned the appointment by President Leonid Kuchma of a new mayor of Yalta, Vladimir Marchenko. Kuchma appointed Marchenko after accusing Mayor Alexander Kalyus of mismanagement. But Kalyus and his aides and supporters refused to leave the government building in Simferopol.

Crimea's Parliament this week had also voted to consider a proposed referendum on returning the Black Sea peninsula to Russian rule. Crimea's population is about 70 percent ethnic Russian.

Safontsev is Crimea's official responsible for industry and trade. He is an industrial and economic specialist, and has generally been linked with policy decisions made by the central government in Kyiv.