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Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Muted reaction in Kiev
Chernobyl road sign
The road to nowhere: Chernobyl will close in December
Newspapers in Ukraine have given a downbeat welcome to the official announcement that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is set to close.

They questioned the timing of the announcement and linked it firmly to Ukraine's demands for more Western aid, particularly for the energy sector.

"It is pleasant to know that we are not only capable of waiting, but also of meeting the expectations of the international community," the mainstream Ukrayina Moloda wrote.

It is possible that when we recover from yesterday's supershow we shall wail: 'Where is the money?'

Vechirniy Kyiv newspaper
The announcement, it said, was Ukraine's "gift to the world's most powerful man".

The paper said the station's last remaining active reactor could have gone on working perfectly well for a few more years supplying power to Ukraine's crisis-hit national grid.

"But the chances of raising that little bit more money to solve the problems associated with the closure would have been completely eroded.

"Now Kiev has reserved a perfectly moral right to tug at the pockets of the not-so-generous rich at the Berlin donor conference, and the West is less able to pretend that it has forgotten its [past] promises," the paper wrote.

'Well-publicised surprise'

The government paper Uryadovyy Kuryer agreed.

"On Kiev's part, the announcement of a fixed date for the closure of this nuclear plant was a carefully-prepared and well-publicised surprise," it said.

One hopes the world will remember Chernobyl tomorrow and will not leave Ukraine alone with its problems

Kievskiye Vedomosti newspaper
"We may have every hope that the United States will remember Ukraine's interests at the meeting of donor countries in Berlin in July."

The capital's tabloid daily Kievskiye Vedomosti said it was obvious that the date of Chernobyl's shutdown was known long before 5 June - but its formal announcement had to be pegged to a solemn occasion.

"Clinton got his gift and the world found out when exactly Chernobyl would close. One hopes the world will remember Chernobyl tomorrow and will not leave Ukraine alone with its problems."

Clinton's 'expensive' visit

The papers also found space to comment on the broader aspects of President Clinton's visit.

Headlines ranged from "The gospel according to Bill" and "Clinton's sermon on the Mount" to "William of Hope" and the "The Benny Clinton show".

Ukrayina Moloda described the visit as over-promoted, but important for Kiev.

"Clinton's third and final visit to Ukraine was, as always, expensive and pompous. The afternoon in Ukraine cost the US budget an estimated $25m," it said.

"But whatever we may say about the 'strategic partner's dictatorship', Washington remains perhaps Ukraine's only ally in the West, the only Western capital that has not forgotten our existence."

Carnival atmosphere, sceptical note

Other papers were less reverent. The Kiev daily Khreshchatyk commented on Mr Clinton's appearance on the hill of Kiev's St Michael's Cathedral.

"It resembled a beerfest," it said.

The crowd chilled out. Such lovely rubbish hasn't been heard since the time of the glorious Youth Communist League

Kievskiye Vedomosti newspaper
"For a moment, it seemed Clinton would either sing or play his saxophone.

"And sing he did: 'Great honour', 'the artistic and cultural achievements of the Ukrainian people', 'the oppressors are gone', 'you are building a free and independent Ukraine' - the president's speech could excite the most demanding of nationalists."

Kievskiye Vedomosti compared the American president's lofty words to Soviet-style rhetoric.

"Nation-building, friendship, world peace. The crowd chilled out. Such lovely rubbish hasn't been heard since the time of the glorious Youth Communist League, Komsomol."

The mass-circulation evening paper Vechirniy Kyiv also struck a sceptical note.

"It is possible that, once we recover from yesterday's supershow, we shall wail: 'Where is the money?' It would have been less disappointing if Clinton had played out our glorious future on his saxophone."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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06 Jun 00 | Europe
Chernobyl to close
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