Georgia worries about the Chechen fall-out

PRESIDENT LEONID Kuchma of Ukraine sacked the governors of three central regions to bolster his chances in what is shaping up as a tight run-off election on 14 November against his main challenger, a Communist who favours closer ties with Russia.

In last weekend's first round Mr Kuchma, who wants faster progress to a market economy and close ties with Western Europe, won 36.5 per cent of the vote; his main challenger, Petro Symonenko, got 22 per cent.

Though Mr Kuchma remains a narrow favourite, signs were growing that Mr Symonenko could forge a coalition, with candidates defeated in the first round, capable of bringing him down. Mr Kuchma's response was to sack the governors of Vinnitska, Kirovograd and Poltava, where the left was victorious on 31 October.

Ukraine and other states which replaced the southern republics of the former Soviet Union are watching with growing concern Moscow's onslaught on Chechnya, seen by many as sign of a resurgent Russian nationalism.

In his way too Mr Kuchma is vulnerable to such trends, having failed to prevent a worsening of the economy, saddled by debts (not least to Russia) and trapped in an inefficient and corrupt "market-Leninism".

Nearer Chechnya, apprehensions are greater still. In Georgia, parties backing President Eduard Shevardnadze won a comfortable victory in weekend parliamentary polls over a pro-Russian alliance, suggesting that Mr Shevardnadze, who favours close ties with the West and membership of Nato, will win spring's presidential vote.

But Georgia's border with Chechnya, the insurgent republic's only link with the outside world, means it could get sucked into the conflict.

These fears grew yesterday as Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, demanded that Georgian citizens obtain visas before entering Russia. The move came after Russian commanders complained that the Georgian government had refused to take part in joint patrols along the mountainous Georgian- Chechen frontier.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Intruder Alarm Trainee Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This friendly and fast growing security compan...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore