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Ukraine: Country Mourns 83 Killed In Air-Show Tragedy

Kyiv, 29 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Today is an official national day of mourning in Ukraine to commemorate the 83 people killed and more than 100 injured at an air-show disaster on 27 July. A memorial service is planned at the airfield in Sknyliv, in western Ukraine, where a Sukhoi Su-27 jet appeard to lose control before hitting the ground and exploding, crashing into a crowd of onlookers. It is reported that 19 of those killed are children.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma fired armed forces Chief of Staff Petro Shulyak, air force chief General Viktor Strelnikov, and General Serhei Oniszhenko, commander of the 14th air force division, which took part in the show.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said Strelnikov and three other officers had been taken into custody in connection with the crash. The state attorney is also investigating the jet's two pilots, who managed to eject safely.

Defense Minister Volodymyr Shydchenko offered to quit, but Kuchma has not yet accepted his resignation.