UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS DRAFT BUDGET. Lawmakers have given initial approval to the government's draft budget for 1998, Interfax reported on 4 December. By a vote of 264 to 42, the parliament approved a budget that would cut the deficit from 5.2 percent of GDP to 4.3 percent. Parliamentary deputies also passed a resolution calling on the government to increase revenue and expenditure plans before a second vote. In addition, they urged greater spending in the regions and on social problems. PG

UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON CORRUPTION, FRAUD. Police on 4 December arrested Vasily Koval, the chief of the Foreign Ministry's consular department, on charges of abuse of office and involvement in illegal currency operations, ITAR-TASS reported. The same day, acting Prosecutor-General Oleh Lytvak asked lawmakers to lift the parliamentary immunity of Yulia Timoshenko so that the opposition legislator can be tried for illegal financial dealings, Interfax reported. And Ukraine's emergencies ministry released a statement saying that some 3,819 people who falsely claimed to have been clean-up workers at Chornobyl had been stripped of their special benefits. PG