NATO, UKRAINE SIGN PARTNERSHIP ACCORD. Ukraine and NATO signed a partnership agreement in Madrid on 9 July. Before the signing, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told a news conference he is satisfied with the agreement. He said Ukraine "obtained what it wanted" and that he discussed the content of the agreement with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He also said the agreement was "modeled" on the Russia -NATO Founding Act, signed in May. Kuchma said that he did not expect any disagreement with Russia over the issue of relations between Ukraine and NATO. In his view, the agreement corresponds to the national interests of both Ukraine and Russia. Meanwhile, in Kyiv, a newly formed group of Ukrainian parliamentary deputies have protested the country's impending partnership with NATO. A total of 187 deputies from various political parties are reported to have joined an anti-Nato movement over the past few weeks called "Ukraine Outside of Nato."

SOME BELARUSIAN, UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN DEPUTIES PROTEST NATO EXPANSION. Anti-NATO parliamentary groups in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia have issued a statement urging the three countries to join efforts in the near future to counteract the alliance's expansion, Interfax reported. The statement says that NATO expansion means the U.S. and its allies "consider force or threat of force as the main factor in international relations." NATO is "creating division lines and barriers in Europe to return to the policy of spheres of influence, expansion and dictatorship typical for the periods preceding World War I and World War II," according to the statement. The Anti-NATO group will call on the presidents and governments of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia to hold "consultations, urgently working out efficient joint programs to counteract" NATO expansion.

UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER CRITICIZES ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN. Ukrainian Justice Minister Serhiy Holovaty on 8 July demanded a meeting with President Leonid Kuchma, saying he wants confirmation that market reforms and the campaign against corruption will continue. Holovaty told journalists he is concerned that reforms in Ukraine are being stalled. He described the reform process as "only show, but no concrete action." Holovaty also accused officials responsible to Acting Prime Minister Vasyl Durdinets of blocking an anti-corruption campaign. Durdinets has recently criticized Holovaty for failing to fight corruption. There was no immediate comment from Kuchma, who is in Madrid attending the NATO summit.

BULGARIAN PREMIER ON ORGANIZED CRIME. Ivan Kostov on 8 July said organized crime in Bulgaria is threatening to destroy the authority of the state and has already virtually replaced that authority in some regions, Reuters reported. Interior Ministry secretary Bozidar Popov told the agency that Russian mafia were also operating in the country with the help of local criminal groups, sometimes "using Bulgarian frontmen to buy estates and hotels." He said Russian criminal groups were involved in drug dealing and trafficking with women, who are sent to work as prostitutes in neighboring Greece and Turkey. Those groups, he said, also include citizens of former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia as well as Chechnya.