PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF ORTHODOX STATES IN CHISINAU. Anti-Western and anti-NATO statements were made at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodox Church States that took place in Chisinau on 21 January. Russian philosopher Valerii Alekseev said that NATO is a "serious danger to mankind" and its eastward expansion will bring about a division of Europe. Moldovan parliamentary deputy Vlad Cubreacov told an RFE/RL Chisinau correspondent that the meeting marked "the first serious attempt by Russia since the dismemberment of the Soviet Union to re-establish and expand its influence zone, taking advantage of the Orthodox community of faith." The meeting was attended by representatives of Orthodox Churches from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Bulgaria, and Georgia. MS

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PROTESTS PRIVATIZATION BAN. Leonid Kuchma on 22 January appealed to the Constitutional Court over a ruling on a parliamentary resolution that in effect bans privatization, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The resolution, passed by the parliament last year following the release of a report on the activities of the State Property Fund, bars the fund from selling property until its chairman is approved by the parliament, as stipulated by the constitution. The parliament has twice rejected appointing Vladimir Lanovoi, the acting chairman of the fund. PB

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT DISCLOSES DEATH PENALTY NUMBERS. Lukashenka said in Moscow on 22 January that some 30 people were executed in Belarus in 1997, RFE/RL reported. He added that since he came to power in 1994, he has pardoned just one person facing the death penalty. The Council of Europe bars executions and has threatened to expel Ukraine from the organization if it does not abolish legislation providing for capital punishment. PB

'LANGUAGE WAR.' The Moldovan custom authorities are prohibiting the transit of trucks from CIS states unless the documents presented at the border are filled out in the Romanian language, which is Moldova's "state language." Radio Bucharest said on 22 January that similar measures have been instituted by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In other news, the authorities in the Transdniester breakaway republic have reduced electricity to Moldova by 10 percent, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Chisinau owes Tiraspol $15 million for energy supplied by the Dnestrovsk power station, which accounts for some 40 percent of Moldova's electricity consumption. The Tiraspol authorities rejected a Moldovan offer to pay 30 million lei (some $6.5 million) and insist on the full settlement of the debt. MS