UKRAINE REJECTS ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE FOR CRIMEA. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko told journalists on 17 October that Kyiv may annul the Crimean parliament's decision to put the peninsula in the same time zone as Moscow and to seek economic independence from Ukraine, Interfax reported. Pustovoytenko added that Crimea could make progress "only together" with the rest of Ukraine. At the same press conference, he refused to answer questions about the lawsuit brought against him by former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko.

POWER PROBLEMS PLAGUE UKRAINE. A cracked pipeline recently shut down another nuclear power plant, Ukrainian media reported. Operators at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant took that step after discovering a leak. Shortly before, managers at the Chornobyl plant announced that it will not start up again until sometime in 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 October 1997). Ukraine is also suffering from a shortage of natural gas, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. Ukrgazprom no longer has any reserves and hopes to draw from state reserves. Meanwhile, unidentified thieves drilled a hole in the Druzhba pipeline near the village of Suskovo in Ukraine's Transcarpathian region, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 October. The pipeline burst and several tons of oil flowed into a tributary of the River Uzh, which marks a large stretch of the Ukrainian-Slovak border. It is the third incident this year in which attempts have been made to tap the pipeline that carries oil from Russia to Western Europe.

UKRAINIAN RAILWAYS REFUSE TO HELP DEFENSE MINISTRY. The railways are refusing to transport Defense Ministry freight and passengers until the government pays what the ministry owes for past services, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October. The railways' decision has blocked delivery of basic necessities to military bases and may create chaos when some 100,000 draftees are discharged from the service and sent home.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON UPCOMING CIS SUMMIT. Petru Lucinschi told ITAR-TASS on 17 October that he plans no "special initiatives" toward a settlement of the Transdniester conflict at the CIS summit scheduled for 22-23 October in Chisinau. He said that the presidents of Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine will meet with the Transdniester leadership during the summit and that he hoped they will agree to some "concrete measures" on the demilitarized zone. Meanwhile, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the extreme nationalist Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), said he has designated Aleksandr Saidakov, a former Minister of Industry in the Tiraspol separatist government, to set up a branch of the LDPR in the region.