KUCHMA FEARS "TRADE WAR" WITH RUSSIA. Speaking to a conference of trade union leaders in Kyiv on 21 October, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said bilateral talks with Moscow have failed to prevent a "trade war" between the two countries, Interfax reported. He said that as a result, bilateral trade fell by 18 percent in the first eight months of 1997, compared with the same period last year. In particular, Kuchma criticized Russia's imposition of a 25 percent tariff on Ukrainian sugar. But the Ukrainian leader suggested Kyiv "is close to finalizing its transitional period" in economic reform. Other Ukrainian officials, however, were less optimistic. Oleksandr Ryabchenko, the head of the parliamentary privatization committee, said on 21 October that revenues from privatization are far short of projections and will certainly fail to reach the "planned level of 500 million hryvna" ($267 million) by the end of the year, Ukrainian media reported.
UKRAINIANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT CIS'S FUTURE. Several Ukrainian political analysts have expressed skepticism that the CIS has any meaningful future. In a discussion on the upcoming Chisinau summit, the Kyiv analytic bulletin "Spivdruzhnist" said on 21 October that "for the first time there is a situation in the CIS where Russia could be in the minority in wanting deeper integration." The weekly added that "Boris Yeltsin will have only two more or less reliable allies at the summit, Armenia and Tajikistan." Other Ukrainian commentators suggested that the CIS should nonetheless be kept alive "at least for the Soviet generations, which still cannot get over the shock of the Soviet Union collapsing."
PROTEST THREATENS ANOTHER UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. At the Khmelnitskiy nuclear power plant near Lviv, workers have staged a series of rallies to demand payment of back wages, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October. The 600 employees of the plant have not been paid since February. Their action threatens the continued operation of the plant, even though under Ukrainian law, workers at such facilities do not have the right to strike.