- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

KIEV, Ukraine — Rows of tanks rolled and columns of soldiers marched through Kiev yesterday in a parade marking 10 years of independence for the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski were among dignitaries who watched the four-hour procession of about 6,000 troops and 300 pieces of military equipment, including tanks and rocket launchers.
Helicopters and other military aircraft flew overhead as the parade moved up tree-lined Khreshchatyk Street to Independence Square.
Mr. Putin, who has stayed silent during events in Russia marking the 10th anniversary of the failed August 1991 coup that led to the Soviet collapse four months later, waved at onlookers. Earlier, he congratulated Ukrainians on their independence.
He also pointed to the need for close economic and political cooperation between the two large Slavic neighbors. Before the parade, the two countries' defense ministers said their governments need to develop military cooperation.
Smaller parades took place in the cities of Lviv, Vinnytsia, Odessa, Chernihiv and Sevastopol.
As in most of the 15 former Soviet republics, lawmakers in Ukraine declared independence in the days after the hard-line Communist coup attempt against reformist Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Ukraine's voters overwhelmingly approved the decision in a December 1991 referendum, and it became independent later that month when Mr. Gorbachev resigned and signed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics out of existence.
The decade since independence has been marked by economic and social decline and tense political and religious disputes. There have been signs of revival, however, and the economy grew by 6 percent last year.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma praised his country's peaceful transition to independence and promised continued stability.
"Ukraine matters to the United States because we believe in its European destiny," said Elizabeth Jones, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European affairs, who attended yesterday's celebrations.


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