LEBED ON NATO, BALTICS. Former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed says he is not opposed to NATO membership for the Baltic States, but only after Russia's economy has improved. Speaking in Berlin at a conference on NATO enlargement, Lebed said, "I do not dispute the right of the Baltic countries to self-determination," AFP reported on 5 October. However, he argued that "Russia must have the feeling that it is advancing economically and in other areas, that its people can rely on something constructive." Lebed told Interfax on 4 October that NATO will "aggravate the internal crisis in Russia" if the alliance expands into the "zone of Russia's geopolitical interests," which he identified as the Baltic States and Ukraine. Earlier this year, Lebed argued that NATO expansion poses no threat to Russia because "the rich and satisfied will never attack the poor and hungry" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May and 9 July 1997).

UKRAINE DENIES "SECRET" EXECUTIONS. Vitaliy Boiko, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, has denied recent charges that Kyiv executed more than a dozen people this year, thereby violating its pledge to the Council of Europe, "Fakty" reported on 4 October. Boiko acknowledged that more than 60 people have been sentenced to death in Ukraine so far in 1997, but he said that none of those sentences have been carried out. At the same time, he noted that those sentenced to death before President Leonid Kuchma promised to end capital punishment in Ukraine might still be executed.