POLL ON RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION. According to a poll conducted in Russia in May by the respected Public Opinion Foundation, 75% of Russians view the Russia-Belarus union as the first step toward the restoration of the USSR, Interfax reported on 26 June. Asked which other former Soviet republics they would like to see accede to that union, 64% of the 1,500 respondents named Ukraine, 40% Kazakstan, and 14 % Moldova. Georgia and Uzbekistan each received 8%, Latvia and Lithuania 5%, Tajikistan and Armenia 4%, Estonia and Kyrgyzstan 3%, and Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan 2%.
UKRAINE SAYS DEVELOPED NATIONS NOT ACTING ON CHORNOBYL. Foreign Minister Hennadiy Udovenko on 26 June complained that the world's leading industrial nations are not honoring pledges to help Ukraine recover from the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chornobyl. Udovenko told journalists in New York that the major powers have been slow in providing technical assistance, advice, and financial aid. The minister is attending the UN Earth Summit. President Leonid Kuchma told the summit on Tuesday that his country spends about $1 billion a year to try to minimize the impact of the Chornobyl disaster. At the recent Summit of Eight in Denver, world leaders pledged an additional $300 million to help Ukraine build a shell over the destroyed Chornobyl reactor.
KUCHMA AIDE ON GOVERNMENT'S FUTURE. Yevgeny Kushnaryov, head of the Presidential Administration, told journalists in Kyiv on 26 June that "no formal grounds exist today for discussing the fate of the country's government. If something changes, such grounds may appear." President Kuchma on 19 June appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Durdinets acting prime minister "for the period of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's illness." Lazarenko was taken to hospital the same day, and doctors say he may need an operation for varicose veins and chronic thrombophlebitis. But observers view Durdinets' appointment as the de facto dismissal of Lazarenko.
ROMANIAN LOWER HOUSE RATIFIES TREATY WITH UKRAINE. The Chamber of Deputies on 26 June approved by 165 to 92 votes the basic treaty with Ukraine, signed by Presidents Emil Constantinescu and Leonid Kuchma on 2 June. The three opposition parties voted against ratification. The treaty must now be approved by the Senate, Radio Bucharest reported. The same day, the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM) organized a demonstration against the treaty in front of the presidential palace in Bucharest. President Constantinescu told the protesters will raise the problems of the Romanian minority in Ukraine when he meets President Leonid Kuchma in Izmail, Ukraine, on 3 July.
MEDIATORS IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT SUBMIT DRAFT AGREEMENT. The mediators in the conflict between Moldova and the Transdniester breakaway region have submitted a draft proposal for a settlement, BASA-press reported on 26 June. The Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators expressed the hope that the draft will serve as the basis for a "speedy and successful" outcome of the negotiations. No details were released on the contents of the document. In other news, Vasile Tarateanu, the president of the Federation of Romanian Communities in Ukraine, handed Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi a memorandum on the situation of Romanians in Ukraine and asked him to intervene on their behalf. Radio Bucharest reported on 26 June that the memorandum describes the problems faced by Romanians living in the Odessa and Chernivici regions. Lucinschi promised Tarateanu to discuss the matter at the meeting of the three countries' presidents in Izmail next week.