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- Parliament Boosts Presidential Powers; Rejects PM’s Resignation
- Miners Strike Over Price Rises
- Miners Insist on Political Demands
- Energy Minister Resigns as Strikes Spread
- Kravchuk Agrees to Confidence Referendum
- Ukrainian President Decrees Emergency Powers
- Kravchuk Rescinds Executive Power Decree
Their treasures, such as never could be found,
And never will, in Babylon’s treasuries.
LEVITE 1: And did they pay you richly for your song?
ELEAZAR: With Canaanite treasure, you mean, maybe?
I earned just enough to buy my supper!
YOUTH: But surely for those songs which glorified
The might of Babylon they would have paid you
With many bracelets of the finest gold?
ELEAZAR: The viper cannot speak except with venom,
And yet the venom does not reach to all.
Wherever did you hear that I have sung
Songs of the might and glory of Babylon.
(The YOUTH, ash am ed , rem ain s silent)
OLD MAN: Maybe, Eleazar, in Babylon,
These songs have found their proper place and setting.
For Mizraim, Edom, and the Gentile tribes
Bring back no memories of Palestine,
Evoke no thoughts about Jerusalem.
ELEAZAR: Do we need songs to quicken memory?
OLD MAN: Not we, but those who among enemies
Now use the language of the foreigner.
ELEAZAR: How will they understand their native song?
Or how can it be sung in foreign speech?
OLD MAN: You too among the foreign speech could soon
Forget to speak the name: “Jerusalem!"
(ELEAZAR stands d eep in thought. His h a n d begins to touch the strings o f the
harp. Then, in the v oice o f a som nam bulist, h e starts half-singing, h a l f co m
p la in in g :)
ELEAZAR: Powerful was my right arm,
Who could that arm overcome?
But did I ever say to myself:
‘Blest am I in my right arm!’
Or did I speak to it so:
‘Right arm, know that thou art mine!
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
The wicked foe smote off mine arm,
Cut off that right arm o f mine.
Whom can I now smite in conquest,
Who will not trample me under?
Now day and night I bethink me:
‘Where, alas, where is mine arm?’
I gaze on my shoulder, bewailing:
‘Right arm, how can I forget thee?’
(H e p asses his h a n d gently ov er the strings. There is a so u n d o f qu iet w eeping
a m on g the p eople).
My father had a vineyard so fruitful,
My mother had a garden so verdant,
There I would walk and pluck the ripe clusters,
There trample leaves under my feet.
A wicket neighbour burned the vineyard fruitful,
And laid to waste that garden verdant.
Burned are the vines, destroyed the clusters,
Beauty abounding is burned to ashes.
Could I but find one leaf beneath my feet,
Like a dove, I’d press it to my heart.
Tell me, my brethren, is there one of you
That has yet one small leaf from out that vineyard?
(T he strings vibrate m ore sorrowfully; the w eeping grow s louder).
I have dreamed a dream of terror,
Who will read my dream for me?
I dreamed into the power I’d fallen
O f my fiercest enemies
What has that enemy done to me,
How has the foeman afflicted me?
Mine arms, it seems, are no less mighty,
My legs, it seems are no less strong,
Mine eyes, it seems, see no less keenly,
Only this tongue of mine, this tongue
Was given to the foe as victim!
I tried to speak a ringing word,
I tried to give my thought a voice,
But the blood poured from my lips:
And they but mourned in silence.
(A long silence. The harp fa lls fr o m ELEAZAR’s bands. The strings m oan, vibrate,
a n d fa ll silent. The weeping am ong the people ceases abruptly. It is utterly still).
ELEA2AR: (heavily, but firm ly a n d distinctly)
Fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters, tell me!
I’m waiting for your stoning, or your words.
Could a curse be more fearful than your silence?
OLD MAN: We shall not curse you, no Eleazar!
YOUTH: Forgive me, brother, for my words of venom!
ELEAZAR: You will not curse me? Brother, I forgive you
For every word. And yet I am accursed
With the dread curse of blood. Blood of our fathers
Poured out in vain for freedom that has gone
Weighs on this head of mine, on your head, too,
Pressing our foreheads down upon the earth,
Bown to those very stones which were not raised
Against me in the hands of my own people.
The son of man has wounded his own flesh
By falling on the sharp-edged, cutting stones.
He rent his robe of honour in despair,
And strewed his head with ashes of his shame.
I too have fallen as the Temple fell,
We all lie broken, like Jerusalem.
Now it would be as hard as to rebuild
The Temple, for us to rise up again,
Rise up out of the dust of slavish shame.
This shame has come on us at our own hands,
Since in defeat we did not lift them up
To build our lilfe, but used them toiling for
The enemy. Dishonour’s leprosy
Has spread over the flesh of Zion’s daughters,
Who would not drown themselves in the Euphrates,
But went to please the sons of profligacy,
Feeding upon the fruit of their dishonour,
Dishonour, too, poisoned these lips of mine,
Because from hunger they did not keep silence,
But spoke forth in the language of the foeman
On those broad squares, accursed by God, where every
Manner of songs is heard, except the song
Which flows forth from the heart — and that must die.
Shame weighs on us more heavily than fetters,
And gnaws at us more sharply than iron chains.
To suffer fetters is a deep disgrace,
But it is far worse to forget one wears them.
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
There are two roads for us now, death or shame,
Till we find the road to Jerusalem.
Let us seek, brothers, the road to the Temple,
As the gazelle seeks water in the desert,
So that the enemy can never say:
T have slain Israel. Here he lies dead!"
Until we find that road, let us fight on
Like wounded badger battling with the hunters,
So that the people never make a proverb:
‘The God o f Israel sleeps in the high heaven!’
It is too soon, Babylon, to rejoice!
Our harps, hung on the willows, still vibrate,
Tears flow into the waters of Babylon,
And still the daughter o f Zion burns with shame.
The Lion o f Judah roars yet in his anger.
The Lord liveth! This soul of mine yet lives,
Israel lives — even in Babylon!
WATCHMAN’S VOICE FROM THE CAMP:
Israel, to your tents. The night is coming!
The crow d disperses, ea c h to his ow n tent. On a distant tower, B ab y lon ian
m a g i c a n be seen , p rog n osticatin g fr o m the stars. The c a m p grow s quiet.
From B aby lon com es a fa in t so u n d o f n octu rn al orgy. A solem n night trem
bles ov er the cam p o f the captives a n d ov er B aby lon . H ere a n d there, w atch-
fir e s a r e kin dled. Silence.
© 1993 Translation Vera Rich
News From Ukraine
The P o litic a l Crisis
Ukrainian Prime Minister
KYIV, May 20 — Prim e M inister
Leon id K uchm a resig n ed after
P arliam ent refused to extend his
d e cre e -m a k in g
Ukraine’s President requested near
total co n tro l o f the govern m en t.
Kuchma has defended his reform
programme in three days of debate
against deputies denouncing large
prices and calling for restoration of
heavy state subsidies to industry.
“W e have to be resp o n sib le", he
said. “If I was sitting in your seats,
perhaps I too would call for no price
increases or for more state credits.
But I cannot do this with a clear
conscience”. Kuchma has promoted
sw ift privatisation and m oved to
reduce a huge budget deficit since
taking office last O ctober. But he
has run into difficulties with the con
servative parliament and the national
bank over issuing state credits.
Rejects PM’s Resignation
K Y IV ,
— U k ra in e ’s
Parliam ent gave President Leonid
Kravchuk sweeping powers to direct
the economy, but the former Soviet
republic remained in deep constitu
tional crisis, formally without a gov
ernment. Deputies voted 354 votes
to eight to em pow er Kravchuk to
issue unlimited decrees on economic
reform pending the passage o f cor
resp o n d in g law s by P arliam en t.
Parliament, how ever, rejected the
resignation of Prime Minister Leonid
Miners Strike Over Price
KYIV, June 8 — Thousands of min
ers in U kraine’s D onbas coalfield
w en t on strik e in sp o n ta n e o u s
protest against sharp price increases,
trade union officials said. Workers in
other parts of Ukraine and Belarus
have also denounced the price rises
at isolated rallies at large factories
over the past two days. The miners,
apparently furious at sharp rises in
the price of their meals, walked out
at about half the country’s more than
Miners Insist on Political
DONETSK, Ju n e 11 — Ukrainian
miners stepped up a five-day-old
strike saying they would not give up
until their political demands for a
national vote o f confidence in the
President and Parliament were met.
Strike leaders in the city of Donetsk
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
said that despite President Leonid
Kravchuk’s promise to meet strikers’
demands for better wages and more
economic autonomy, another 30 pits
had stopped work in the country’s
industrial east. Up to 5,000 people,
many of them pensioners, crowded
Donetsk’s central square in the latest
b ig d em on stratio n th ere to hear
sp e a k e r after s p e a k e r attack
Energy Minister Resigns as
KYIV, June 14 — Ukraine’s Deputy
Prime Minister responsible for ener
gy quit his p ost as co a l-m in ers
stepped up strike action. A state
m en t
P re sid e n t
Kravchuk said: “Yuli Yoffe has been
reliev ed o f his re s p o n s ib ilitie s ”.
According to Yoffe he had asked to
b e reliev ed o f his p o st b e ca u se
nobody listened to his suggestions
about how to overcom e problems
that were being raised by the min
Kravchuk Agrees to
KYIV — Ukrainian President Leonid
Kravchuk, under pressure from strik
ing miners, called on Tuesday, June
15, for a referendum of confidence
in his leadership and new parlia
Prim e M inister Leonid Kuchma
demanded special powers to save
the economy from collapse and end
a constitutional conflict pitting him
ag ain st K ravch u k. T h e p rem ier
w arn ed that o th e rw ise U kraine
would slide into dictatorship within
a month. Kravchuk, apparently try
ing to seize the initiative after a
week o f labour unrest, proposed to
Parliament that the polls b e held
next December and January.
“People who strike and hold meet
ings are waiting for our decision”,
Kravchuk told deputies. “This this
suggestion] can satisfy all of them”.
Deputies failed to agree on how
to stage the ballots and called for
further study. They also asked gov
ernment ministers to outline what
powers were needed to avert eco
More than 200 coal-m in es and
dozens of factories in conservative
eastern Ukraine have joined a two-
week strike protesting against up to
fiv efo ld in c re a s e s in b a s ic food
prices. Trade unionists staged rallies
in Kyiv and other m ajor cities on
June 15 to denounce a fall in living
In D onetsk, the cou ntry’s e c o
nomic powerhouse and focal point
o f the strik e s, lo ca l a u th o rities
p assed a re so lu tio n d e n o u n cin g
Kravchuk and dem anding greater
autonomy. Deputy Prime Minister
Yuli Yoffe, responsible for energy,
has already resigned over the han
dling of the strike.
K ravch u k, c le a rly h o p in g to
secure the public endorsement Boris
Yeltsin achieved in a Russian refer
endum in April, proposed that the
ballot let people pass judgment on
him and also decide on the politica
structures they wanted. He said th<
referen d um sh o u ld h ave sev era.
q u estion s and sh o u ld ask voters
whether they wanted to preserve the
post of president.
Kuchma supported the referen
dum b u t said it sh o u ld ask
NEWS FROM UKRAINE
Ukrainians whether they wanted to
press on with reforms or stand by
Communist econom ics. The prime
minister said the Ukrainian economy
was faring even w orse than other
form er Soviet rep ublics and time
was running out to rescue it from
“This government needs extraor
dinary powers. There is still time.
O th erw ise we will have to do it
w ith in a d icta to rsh ip w ithin a
month”, he said.
He said these pow ers included
the right to amend laws, hire or sack
public officials, overturn any deci
sion taken by a state body, and
com plete control over the Central
Bank. Kuchma said the strike by the
miners,' who earn well in excess of
average wages, was overtly political.
He warned that unless they resumed
work, the country’s major industries
faced imminent shutdown.
“I ask you to go back to work, I
am prepared to go down on my
knees if necessary”, Kuchma said.
“Our steel and chemical industries
could well be stopped completely
within two days”.
Communists and democrats sup
ported both the referendum propos
al and an extension of the govern
ment’s powers — though largely out
o f fears of growing economic chaos.
The Com m unists say attem pts to
sw itch to a m arket so ciety have
ca u se d e c o n o m ic ca ta stro p h e .
Liberals accuse parliament of bury
ing economic reform.
Som e Ukrainian political parties
h av e
d e crie d
th e se
p o litica l
demands, some suggesting that anti-
U krainian pro-C om m u nist fo rces
have co-op ted the strike for their
own political ends in the conserva
tive region that borders Russia. The
dem ands for reg io n al au tonom y
“can h ave very n eg a tiv e c o n s e
quences and threaten Ukraine’s terri
torial integrity”, said Yuriy Berdnyk,
a member of the Independent Trade
Union o f Miners, w hose econom ic
demands are much less strident than
the combined political and econom
ic demands of the Donetsk miners.
Ukrainian President Decrees
KYIV, Ju n e 16 — U krain ian
President Leonid Kravchuk, facing
sp read in g in d u strial u n re st th at
threatens the eco n o m y w ith c o l
lapse, decreed himself extraordinary
powers and took direct control of
the government. Kravchuk also cre
ated a special Cabinet committee to
take charge of the day-to-day run
ning of the economy and undertake
measures to reduce inflation and sta
bilise industrial production. The new
b od y is to b e h e a d e d b y Prim e
M inister Leon id K uch m a and
includes the head o f the Ukrainian
N ational B an k and m in isters of
finance and economy.
Executive Power Decree
KYIV — In a roller-coaster exchange
of information, ranging from threats
of resignations, subsequent denials,
to h ig h -le v e l d u els, P resid en t
K ravchuk fin ally re s c in d e d his
decree establishing a special e c o
nomic commission and setting him
self up as head of government.
The hectic events in the capital
w ere p re cip ita ted b y the lab o u r
THE UKRAINIAN REVIEW
unrest in Donbas, which by Monday,
June 21, for all intents and purposes
had come to a halt. Only 26 of the
250 pits in e a ste rn U kraine had
resu m ed w ork after gov ern m en t
negotiators offered pay rises and
Prime M inister Leonid Kuchma
negotiated with the striking miners
w h ile in the Su p rem e C ou n cil
Kravchuk convinced the lawmakers
to agree to a confidence referendum
on September 26.
Kuchma, after making significant
headway with the strikers, accused
Kravchuk on Saturday, June 19, of
stripping him of his powers and said
he would press ahead with plans to
resign, the official Ukrinform news
agency reported. The agency said
Kuchma told industrialists in central
Ukraine that he had no room to pur
sue his p o licies after K ravchu k’s
decree this week placing himself at
the head of the government.
“In Ukraine, the prime minister’s
base has been eliminated. The govern
ment is now headed by the president”,
Ukrinform quoted Kuchma as saying in
the city of Dnipropetrovsk. “Therefore
at the next session of Parliament, I
intend to make a fully grounded state
ment about my resignation”.
Kuchma has already tendered his
resignation twice to Parliament in a
month-long constitutional battle with
Kravchuk. But deputies who have
b lo c k e d his refo rm p o lic ie s for
months rushed to his defence and
persuaded him to stay on.
Later on Ju n e 21 K ravchuk
appeared to give in to the prime
m in iste r, re scin d in g the d e cre e
which had placed him at the head of
The new presidential decree said
the o rd er w as b e in g w ithdraw n
“with the aim of determining in full
the appropriate nature o f relations
betw een the president o f Ukraine
and the cabinet pending passage of
a law on the cabinet”. Presidential
sp o k esm an
V olod ym yr
Shlyaposhnikov denied Kravchuk’s
m ove rep resen ted a clim bd ow n .
“We have to deal with the relation
ship between the president and the
government”, he said. “No law has
yet been adopted on the govern
m ent. It is not certa in w ho w ill
assume responsibility at this difficult
time. This decree returns matters to
the position o f status quo ante”.
But it was clear that Kravchuk
was anticipating stiff opposition to
the d e cre e from the c o u n try ’s
volatile Parliament when it resumed
its sittin g s on T u esd ay . T h e
P arliam ent’s in flu en tial chairm an
spoke out against the decree, saying
the prime minister should be given
additional powers to proceed with
market reforms. Parliament is also
likely to raise objections to a deal
signed by Kravchuk and Yeltsin on
dividing the Black Sea Fleet in half.
Parliament last w eek gave in to
the m iners’ principal demand by
agreeing to stage twin referendums
o f confidence in the president and
Parliament. Parliamentary chairman
Ivan Plyu sh ch said it was up to
Parliament to work out what he said
was a “crack” in the state’s struc
tures. But he clearly came down on
the side o f the prime minister. “If
Parliament really wants to stabilise
the political situation, it must trans
fer pow ers to the governm ent as
requested by the prime minister”, he
NEWS FROM UKRAINE
said. “A popularly clecled president
always has a politically stabilising
effect. But when you have a sapling
with two main trunks, one has to be
Nonetheless, while Ukraine’s two
top leaders have declared a truce in
th e ir m o n th -lo n g co n stitu tio n a l
stru g g le o v er how the cou n try
sh o u ld b e g o v ern ed , th ey face
im m en se e c o n o m ic p ro b lem s.
Parliament was due to reconvene on
T u esd ay , Ju n e 22, with d eb ate
expected to focus on how Kuchma
will pursue market reforms despite
calls from conservative deputies —
and som e senior m inisters — for
salary increases and more state sub
“I haven’t got any billions and nor
d o es the prim e m in ister”, the
U krinform new s agen cy q u o ted
Kravchuk as telling the cabinet meet
ing. "Anyone who tries to demand
them from the government is pushing
the leadership into a corner”.
First Deputy Prim e M inister
Yukhym Zvyahilskyi, a reputed con
servative appointed with a mandate to
end the miners’ strike, called on min
isters virtually to double the minimum
monthly salary to 40,000 karbovanlsi.
“I oppose such populist measures”,
Ukrinform quoted Kuchma as saying
in reply. “They will only cast the peo
ple even deeper into poverty”.
L ab ou r
M in ister
Kaskevych said fulfilling agreements
on increasing subsidies to mines,
in d e x in g sa la rie s , and cu ttin g
income tax would cost the govern
ment vast sums. It would send infla
tion and the budget deficit soaring
and send the country’s currency into
'Increased outlays to this extent
in the near future can only mean the
complete collapse of the Ukrainian
econom y”, he told reporters after
w ards. U k ra in e’s D ep u ty Prim e
Minister last w eek said price and
salary rises had sen t the budget
deficit climbing sevenfold to seven
trillion karbov an tsi in a month.
Kuchma has had limited success
in launching small-scale privatisation
and curbing inflation, but is viewed
both inside parliament and in the
West as the only technocrat capable
o f overseeing reform.
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