UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT STANDS FIRM ON PRIVATIZATION. Volodymyr Lanoviy, the acting head of the Ukrainian State Property Fund, told a Kyiv press conference on 5 November that the government does not consider the parliament's decision suspending privatization to be law, Ukrainian media reported. "We will never change our privatization plans," he said, "and we have all the laws needed for that in place." In an indication that President Leonid Kuchma fully backs Lanoviy, the president's spokesman told reporters that Kuchma will quickly asks the parliament to confirm Lanoviy in his current position. PG

BULGARIA OPPOSES RUSSIAN PIPELINE PROJECT. The Bulgarian Ministry of Environment says it is opposed to a Russian project to lay a pipeline under the Black Sea that would supply gas to Turkey without passing through Bulgaria. In a statement released on 5 November, the ministry said the project was extremely difficult to realize and carried ecological risks that far outweigh its advantages, AFP reported. Gazprom director Rem Vyakhirev said the project would go ahead. He said the pipeline was a "reserve route" in case of political instability in Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, or Ukraine. But he added that Gazprom wants to sign a new agreement with Sofia on piping gas through Bulgaria. An earlier agreement expired in August. MS