Kiev, March 4 (RFE/RL) - After
more than a month of debate, Crimea's Parliament has elected a new
Prime Minister. Arkady Demydenko had been acting Prime Minister for
several months, and had been a Deputy Prime Minister in the
government of former Prime Minister Anatoly Franchuk.
Franchuk was dismissed in December for his alleged pro-Kiev
sympathies. Franchuk has now been elected as a member of Ukraine's
Our Kiev correspondent cites observers who say Demydenko's election
last week is expected to improbe Kiev-Simferopol relations.
Demydenko is a 46-year-old engineer, who is considered a moderate.
He was born in the Kiev region. He graduated from the Leningrad Rail
Institute. Demydenko began his career as a railroad electrician and
eventually became first secretary of the rail regional communist
party, and chief of the Sevastopol Regional Party Organization.
Demydenko was a Deputy Minister in the government of Crimea's former
President Yuri Meshkov. But Meshkov fired Demydenko, citing his
Despite his communist party background, Demydenko now is not a
member of any party.
The member of Ukraine's cabinet who deals with organizational issues
(Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers), Valery Pustovoytenko,
characterizes Demydenko as an experienced politician, who can
consolidate Crimean society. Pustovoytenko also said Demydenko's
election as Prime Minister is a "constructive step toward improving
relations between Kiev and Simferopol."
Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma has also expressed satisfaction
with Demydenko's election.
Demydenko has stated that he will be submitting proposals for
structural changes in the peninsula's government, which, he says,
will be followed by changes in personnel.
Demydenko has also promised to pursue greater economic independence
for Crimea, particularly through developing offshore oil-and-gas
deposits, and alternative energy sources.