UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma on 8 August signed a decree appointing Anatoly Holubchenko first deputy prime minister, according to the presidential press service. Holubchenko, a metallurgical engineer, was industry minister from 1992 to 1995. He represents the Constitutional Center in the parliament. In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tyhypko and tax officials have agreed that the law on value-added tax will go into effect on 1 October. The law's implementation has been postponed twice since 1 July at the government's request.
ANOTHER SHOOT-OUT IN CZECH REPUBLIC AMONG EXSOVIET CITIZENS. Three people were hospitalized, one in serious condition, following a shoot-out between Ukrainian and Tajik members of what was described as a "Russian-speaking mafia" at a highway rest stop near Prague on 9 August, Czech media reported. Police found 37 spent cartridges at the scene of the shooting, which was just 100 meters from homes inhabited by Russian speakers. The incident came one week after a shoot-out in broad daylight on Prague's Wenceslas Square involving Chechens. Three gunmen had to be hospitalized following that incident.
SLOVAK UPDATE. Forty ethnic Slovak families in Ukraine, mainly from areas affected by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster, are to emigrate to Slovakia this year, TASR reported from Kosice on 10 August. All the families were selected by the Slovak Interior Ministry's immigration office. Most have members who are university educated. The first 19 families are due to arrive shortly and will be settled in 3-4 room apartments in Kosice that they purchased with a 20-year interest-free loan guaranteed by the immigration office. The other families are due to arrive in the fall. In other news, more than 4,000 Romas participated in the fifth annual Romany Roman Catholic pilgrimage on 10. August in Gaboltov in eastern Slovakia, TASR reported.