- The Washington Times - Friday, December 17, 1999

Ukrainian shake-up?

The Ukrainian community in the United States is expecting a shake-up at Ukraine’s diplomatic missions in Washington, New York, Chicago and Canada because President Leonid Kuchma is angered by the low level of absentee votes he received here for his re-election.
Mr. Kuchma is believed to be preparing to recall Anton Buteiko, the ambassador to the United States, along with the ambassador to Canada and the consul generals in New York and Chicago, one Ukrainian-American source said Thursday.
Mr. Buteiko, who presented his diplomatic credentials to President Clinton in January, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Mr. Kuchma is said to be upset by the support his opponent, Yevhen Marchuk, received among Ukrainian immigrants in the United States and Canada who were eligible to vote in the presidential election last month.
Dmytro Tabachnyk, a political ally of Mr. Kuchma’s, is said to be a leading candidate to replace Mr. Buteiko.

China raps Congress

Chinese Ambassador Li Zhaoxing Thursday denounced China’s critics in Congress as relics of the Cold War who see China as a military threat.
Mr. Li, speaking at the University of Maryland, said congressional critics have replaced the Soviet Union with China as their “new enemy.”
During the Cold War, “they were happy to wake every morning and see the enemy still there,” Mr. Li said. “[Now] they want to find a new enemy and they point their finger at China.”
“Those people who are spreading the fallacy of a China threat don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.
Mr. Li scolded the protesters who demonstrated against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, saying they also “don’t know what they’re talking about.”
He said China’s entry into the WTO will be “good news for China, for America and for the whole world.”

Return to Riga

Latvian Ambassador Ojars Kalnins bought a one-way ticket to Latvia and then realized that, symbolically, he is making the return leg of a journey begun 50 years ago when his parents fled the communist takeover of the Baltics.
Mr. Kalnins, who was born in a West German refugee camp and reared in the United States since he was 2, leaves Washington Dec. 28, after serving seven years as ambassador. He is returning with his wife, Irma, born in the United States of Latvian immigrant parents, and daughter, Ingrida. Friday is his last full day at the Latvian Embassy.”I recently realized [the tickets] aren’t one-way tickets at all,” he said in a letter to Embassy Row. “Nearly 50 years ago our parents fled the Soviet occupation of Latvia and sought refuge in the United States, hoping that one day Latvia would be liberated and they would return.
“Unfortunately our parents never lived to see that day. Irma and I are returning in their place, completing a round trip that began a half century ago. For me, this is a very happy ending.”
Mr. Kalnins will be taking the position as director of new institute to promote Latvian culture worldwide.
“It is indeed bittersweet to say goodbye to seven years of being ambassador, 15 years of work in Washington and 48 years of life in the United States,” he wrote. “This is a great country, and I will always be grateful to the American people for the support they have given my people.
“They kept the faith during the dark days of the Cold War and stood by us when we struggled to restore our independence.”
During his posting to Washington, Russian troops have withdrawn from Latvia and “Western investment has come in,” he said.
“Our democracy has taken root, our economy has stabilized, and we have joined the World Trade Organization, been invited to begin [membership] talks with the European Union and given encouragement in our bid to join NATO,” he said.
Mr. Kalnins, a fan of bagpipes and tartan, expressed his regret that he was never able to attend a Scottish-American festival, such as the many held annually in the Washington area.
“Looks like I will have to visit the Highlands, themselves,” he said. “Given my new place of residence, Scotland will be a lot closer.”

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