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Ukraine's Government Like 'Junta,' Socialist Leader Says

(Washington, DC--November 13, 2002) A leading Ukrainian politician urged closer scrutiny of the current Ukrainian government which has taken on the "features of a [military] junta" to better control the crisis it has itself provoked -- "a crisis of the system which encompasses the political, economic, and social life of Ukraine."

Oleksander Moroz, chairman of the Socialist Party of Ukraine and member of parliament told an RFE/RL audience that the most profitable sectors of Ukraine’s economy are under the control of "a few with significant criminal elements." The "entire infrastructure of the Presidential Administration -- police, tax officials, prosecutors and security -- serves that class." Although the political opposition won the most recent parliamentary elections, it was unable to overcome its "ideological divisions" and form a reform government, Moroz said. Because of "current structures and presidential power," Moroz continued, "the parliament is controlled by those who only received 17 percent of the popular vote."

Moroz added that "the executive branch is the main obstacle for progress" in Ukraine. Moreover, evidence of official corruption is accompanied by killings of journalists, businesspeople, politicians, as well as suppression of the media and a lack of freedom of speech. Moroz said he also appreciates the distinction foreign countries make between the government’s responsibility for the current situation and the Ukrainian people. As early as next year, he hopes that new amendments to the constitution will come into effect, which have the potential for reducing the power of the president, and returning it to the parliament.

He believes the future of Ukraine depends on the democratic opposition’s ability to stay united, as it is in its present efforts. Moroz said that the publication of the secretly-taped conversations of the presidential administration, "provides the impetus" to get rid of the dictatorship. He expressed hope that "trials [of those who have broken the law] could begin outside Ukraine under international law," which "would be a signal for the business and political elite to abandon the regime" and join the reform efforts in the country.