MINERS STAGE PROTEST IN KYIV. Some 1,000 coal miners marched on the presidential administration building in Kyiv on 17 June, demanding months of back wages from the government, RFE/RL's bureau in the Ukrainian capital reported. Viktor Derzhak, Chairman of the central committee at the nationwide Union of Coal Industry workers said the miners will continue their protest until their demands are met. He said the union wants the government to work out a plan to pay back wages and increase pensions for miners.
UKRAINIAN ENERGY UPDATE. A Ukrainian energy official told journalists on 17 June that Kyiv aims to increase its electricity exports from 4.5 billion kilowatt hours to 16 billion kilowatt hours by 2000. Deputy Energy and Electricity Minister Yuri Ulitich said earnings from such exports have helped to pay energy debts to Russia and the reconstruction of the Burshtynska power plant. Also on 17 June, Turkey and Ukraine announced they plan to build a pipeline to carry Middle Eastern oil from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. Turkish Energy Minister Recai Kutan and his visiting Ukrainian counterpart, Andrei Minchenko, are to sign an agreement on the pipeline on 18 June. The pipeline, to be located between Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and the Black Sea port of Samsun, will have a capacity of 25 million tons of crude.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON MOLDOVAN SETTLEMENT. Leonid Kuchma, in a letter addressed to his Moldovan counterpart, Petru Lucinschi, has restated his country's willingness to participate in the settlement of the Chisinau-Tiraspol conflict. The Ukrainian embassy in Chisinau told Interfax that Kuchma voiced support for setting up groups of experts who will draft the legal framework for stationing Ukrainian peacekeeping forces in the security zone of the breakaway Transdniester region. Kuchma also reiterated his country's willingness to guarantee the implementation of a final settlement.
25 CHORNOBYL VICTIMS ON HUNGER STRIKE IN KAZAKSTAN. In the northern city of Kokchetau, 25 Kazak citizens who were "mobilized" by the state to take part in clean-up operations at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant after the 1986 disaster are still on hunger strike after 20 days, according ITAR-TASS on 17 June. The group are demanding compensation for their loss of health. Local officials said the 25 receive special benefits as invalids, but the group claims those payments are not enough for basic foods, let alone the expensive medicines they require. The Kazak government has said it recognizes their demands are justified. The Ministry of Labor and Social Care will discuss the issue in September.