FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS KYIV VIOLATES SPIRIT OF TREATY BY BARRING ZATULIN. The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent a message to its Ukrainian counterpart, saying that Kyiv violated the spirit of the recently-signed Russian-Ukrainian treaty by not allowing politician Konstantin Zatulin to enter Crimea, ITAR-TASS reported in 24 June. Black Sea Fleet Commander Viktor Kravchenko invited Zatulin to a 12 June flag-hoisting ceremony in Sevastopol, but Kyiv had barred Zatulin from entering Crimea two days earlier. As State Duma CIS Affairs Committee chairman in 1994 and 1995, Zatulin repeatedly criticized Ukrainian policy on Crimea. More recently, he co-authored an article published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 March, which urged Russia to sabotage alliances within the CIS--such that between Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia--and to refuse to recognize its current borders with Ukraine unless Kyiv agrees to sign a federal treaty with Crimea.

NIYAZOV SUSPENDS TURKMENROSGAZ OPERATIONS. Interfax reported on 24 June, that Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov signed an order on 19 June suspending the activities of the Turkmen-Russian company Turkmenrosgaz. The company delivered gas to Ukraine after purchasing it through the ITERA International Energy firm. Turkmenistan, however, canceled the deal with ITERA in April and agreed to provide direct gas supplies to Ukraine.

WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE CRITICAL OF BELARUS. Christopher Willoughby, the World Bank's representative in Minsk, told journalists on 24 June that Belarus continues to back away from reforms and is increasing state interference in the economy. The bank's Minsk office opened three years ago but is now moving to Kyiv, Ukraine, as part of a bank reorganization. Willoughby said the main obstacle to reform is at the political level. He said economic restructuring has been "in reverse" since late 1995 and that, since then, the bank and the IMF have suspended their lending activities in Belarus. Willoughby is preparing a new memorandum of understanding between Belarus and the bank, which spells out the reforms the bank would require the country to undertake to resume lending. He told reporters, however, that the situation in Belarus is worse than it was two years ago. RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reports that officials in the U.S. capital say no new loans are being considered.

STORMS KILL 12 PEOPLE IN UKRAINE, BELARUS. A storm with high winds that struck western Ukraine and parts of Belarus on 24 June killed 12 people and injured scores of others. A spokeswoman for Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry told journalists in Kyiv that eight people died and some 30 others were injured in Ukraine's Volyn region. Most were killed by falling trees or were electrocuted by downed powerlines. Winds reportedly reaching 115 km an hour left three people dead and more than 40 injured in neighboring Belarus. The Minsk and Brest regions were hardest hit by the storm. Authorities say 620 homes were destroyed in Belarus and 140 farming installations were damaged.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TELLS UN CHORNOBYL WILL CLOSE. Leonid Kuchma told the UN General Assembly on 24 June that Ukraine will honor its commitment to close the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. Addressing a special General Assembly session on world environmental issues, the so-called Earth Summit, Kuchma said "it is not economically profitable to pollute the environment." Later in the day, Kuchma met Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin and Argentine President Carlos Menem.

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL SUGGESTS JOINING NATO. Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Buteiko, speaking at a press conference in Kyiv on 24 June, suggested that Ukraine will eventually consider applying for membership in NATO. "We have already integrated into one trans-Atlantic structure, the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe. Another target is NATO." He added that the charter on special cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, which is scheduled to be signed in Madrid on 9 July, will create a legislative base for the practical integration of Ukraine into NATO."