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A Way Out Of The Ukrainian Crisis?

(Washington, DC--March 13, 2001) Ukraine's current political crisis can be overcome if there is a prompt and satisfactory resolution to the case of murdered journalist Heorhiy Gongadze and the formation of a new and more broadly based coalition government, according to Serhiy Tyhipko, the chairman of the Labor Ukraine Party and a member of Ukraine's parliament.

Tyhipko told an RFE/RL briefing today that "crucial mistakes" had been made in the Gongadze case, but he said that it could be resolved if outside investigators, including from the U.S. FBI, were to be brought in. He added that President Leonid Kuchma should serve out his term if the investigation proves that he had no involvement in the murder.

The Ukrainian parliamentarian also said that the current government of Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko should be reformed and expanded to include a broader array of parties. Such a move, Tyhipko said, would create conditions for joint responsibility of the parliament, the President and the Cabinet for economic and political reforms.

In response to questions which sought to elicit his views on the larger array of problems Ukraine now faces, Tyhipko said that he believed that people should "not exaggerate the role of oligarchs" or their special and corrupt relationship with Ukrainian leaders. He said a role should be found for the oligarchs and there should be laws enacted to regulate their activities.

Tyhipko also said that he wants Ukraine to continue its orientation toward Europe, but he said that Kyiv must maintain "sound relations" with Russia. He insisted, however, "we will never be the second Belarus." Russia poses a problem for Ukraine because Russian businessmen frequently are prepared to pay more for Ukrainian businesses than Ukrainians are. Tyhipko said Ukraine's only salvation would be to pursue economic reform more rapidly than the Russians are. He said that his party's guiding principle is "New Labourism," in order to protect both owners and workers.

Tyhipko added that he was in Washington both to clarify for himself the U.S. position on Ukraine and also to promote continued American involvement in his country.