CHORNOBYL CLOSURE BY 2000 IN DOUBT. The delay in the construction of two new nuclear reactors may force Ukraine to keep Chornobyl open after 2000, an RFE/RL correspondent in Kyiv reported on 11 February. Environment Minister Yury Kostenko said that if the reactors at the Rivne and Khmelnytsky nuclear power plants are not completed on time, Chornobyl will have to remain open. Kyiv is negotiating with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to secure a loan that would allow it to complete the new reactors, but probably not before 2001. President Leonid Kuchma has pledged to close Chornobyl by 2000. The one functional reactor at Chornobyl is currently undergoing repairs and is scheduled to go on line again by March. PB

UKRAINE'S COMMUNIST LEADER BESIEGED ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL. Nationalists shouted slogans and threw potatoes at Communist chief Petro Symonenko as he campaigned in the western city of Lviv on 11 February. Police encircled the building where Symonenko was meeting with journalists. The Communist Party has the largest faction in the parliament, with about one-sixth of the 450 seats. But its support is concentrated mainly in eastern Ukraine. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 31 March. PB