BACK WAGES FOR VOTES IN UKRAINE? Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz says the government has increased efforts to pay arrears in an attempt to garner political support as parliamentary elections near, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 February. Moroz said the "influence of money sacks" is definitely being felt in some regions of Ukraine. He charged that wage and pension arrears are being paid with budgetary funds allocated for other purposes. The Central Electoral Commission reported on 1 February that nearly 7,000 candidates will compete for the 450 seats in the parliament. Half of those seats will be filled by the winners in single-mandate constituencies and the other half by candidates nominated by parties that clear a 4 percent threshold. The elections are scheduled for 31 March. PB

DEATH PENALTY BAN TO BE ADDRESSED IN UKRAINE. Boris Oleynyk, the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the Council of Europe, said his country's parliament will decide soon on the status of capital punishment, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 February. But the next day, parliamentary speaker Moroz said in Kyiv that legislators will address the issue later this month or in early March. Kyiv imposed a moratorium on executions when it joined the council in 1995, but it has repeatedly violated the ban. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recently demanded that Ukraine pass legislation banning the death penalty (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January 1998). PB