UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 1997 BUDGET. The parliament on 28 June approved the much-delayed budget for 1997 by a vote of 229 to 71 with 11 abstentions. The budget deficit was set at 5.7 billion hryvnas ($3.1 billion) or 5.7% of gross domestic product. Total revenues were estimated at 22.4 billion hryvnas ($12.3 billion). The IMF representative in Kyiv welcomed the passage of the budget but noted that said the government must still cut income taxes and improve tax collection before the fund will release a $3 billion loan necessary for market reforms.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WANTS TO POSTPONE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Leonid Kuchma on 28 June again proposed postponing parliamentary elections for one year. Speaking to reporters on the occasion of the first anniversary of the passage of the constitution, Kuchma said elections would be costly and might cause a "final split in society." Kuchma said he was considering extending the parliament's term by one year so that deputies can approve much-needed economic legislation. But he said he had no plans to postpone presidential elections due in October 1999. The parliamentary ballot is scheduled for March 1998.
DEMONSTRATIONS IN KYIV OVER LIVING STANDARDS. Also on 28 June, some 5,000 people marched through the Ukrainian capital to protest worsening living standards. Many of the protesters were pensioners. Parliamentary Speaker Olexander Moroz, a Socialist, urged the crowd to vote for the Left at the next parliamentary elections.