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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Eyes Crackdown After Assassination Bid

COMBINED REPORTS


KIEV -- Ukraine's leadership has decided to introduce "elements" of a state of emergency following a bomb attack on Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, President Leonid Kuchma's top security adviser said Wednesday.


Volodymyr Horbulin, chairman of the National Security Council, said the former Soviet republic faced a threat to its very existence.


He gave no concrete details on what measures, debated at a special session of the council, would be introduced. But he said they would involve dismissals of officials, stiff checks on use of state funds and tighter security to protect top leaders.


"I cannot say this is a state of emergency but elements of a state of emergency will be introduced. Today a real threat to the security of our country has emerged," Horbulin said.


"The task before us is not an easy one. But if we do not start to solve these problems I cannot be sure that by autumn we will be able to speak of Ukraine as an independent state."


He said communists and their allies, extreme nationalists and criminal gangs threatened state security.


Ukraine had to take action to eliminate all forms of illegal paramilitary groups. But no measures would be undertaken to undermine basic freedoms, including freedom of the press, he said.


Lazarenko was shaken but not hurt when a bomb went off as he embarked on a trip to the Donbass coalfield, where tens of thousands of miners have been striking to demand back pay.


He blamed Ukraine's huge coal industry on Wednesday for the assassination attempt against him and dismissed several top officials in the coal-rich Donbass region.


"It was undoubtedly connected to only one thing: an effort to cancel the trip to Donetsk," Lazarenko said on Ukrainian television.


A government delegation in Donetsk signed an agreement with striking miners on Tuesday to pay the overdue wages they had demanded in their two-week protest.


Lazarenko indicated that the agreement angered certain "forces" in the coal industry.


"Our concrete solution to the crisis forced the coal structures to organize an attack using the most modern methods," he said.


Many coal industry leaders oppose the government's plans for restructuring the industry, including the closure of several unprofitable mines. The mine managers want increased subsidies to their ailing industry. ()