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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kuchma Targets Criminals

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, in office for just two days, launched a crackdown on crime Thursday, vowing to round up "bandits, extortionists and hostage-takers."

A four-page decree, read solemnly on national television, pledged to dispatch patrols of soldiers and police into areas of criminal activity -- dormitories, hotels, markets, railway stations and ports. The new president also sacked the interior minister who had held his job for four years.

"The interior ministry and security forces are to concentrate their efforts on special operations against banditism, extortion rackets, hostage-taking and other serious crimes," the decree said.

A separate decree issued by the new president dismissed Interior Minister Andriy Vasylyshyn, who had held the job since 1990, well before Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union.

He was replaced by Volodymyr Radchenko, who served with Ukraine's security service and the KGB, its Soviet predecessor.