UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ENDS FREEZE ON PRIVATIZATION. Lawmakers have approved a privatization program ending a legislative ban on the sale of state assets, AFP reported on 13 February. The program, submitted by President Leonid Kuchma, allows for the privatization of the energy and telecommunications sectors but would not permit the sale of farm land. Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko said he expects privatization to add about 1 billion hryvna ($521 million) to state coffers this year. The parliament put a freeze on the privatization process in November after several reports of inefficiency and corruption. In other news, the National Statistics Committee said on 13 February that Ukraine received $759.2 million in foreign investment last year. That is a 42 percent increase over the previous year. Investors from the U.S. accounted for the largest percentage of investments. PB

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER SAYS CALL FOR ELECTIONS ILLEGAL. Anatoly Gritsenko said on 13 February that the Ukrainian parliament's call for early elections in Crimea is unconstitutional, ITAR-TASS reported. The Kyiv parliament's decision the previous day to hold early elections on 29 March is one of a "series of illegal acts" against the autonomous republic of Crimea, he argued. Gritsenko also said the Ukrainian parliament can demand early elections only if the Crimean legislature violates the country's constitution and the Ukrainian Constitutional Court rules to dissolve the peninsula's parliament. PB

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN IN KYIV. Zurab Zhvania held talks in Kyiv on 13-14 February with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksandr Moroz, and with Premier Pustovoytenko. Moroz affirmed Ukraine's support for Georgia's application for membership in the Council of Europe and promised that Ukrainian lawmakers will soon debate Georgia's request that Kyiv provide a peacekeeping unit to serve on the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Pustovoytenko said Ukraine is interested in drawing up a long-term program of economic cooperation that would increase bilateral trade. Zhvania, for his part, expressed support for Ukraine's planned participation in the TRACECA transport corridor project. LF

AID FOR CHORNOBYL VICTIMS ARRIVES. A shipment of medical aid from the U.S. for people suffering from the effects of the Chornobyl nuclear accident arrived in Minsk on 14 February, ITAR-TASS reported. The aid, which includes antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, will be distributed in hospitals in the Gomel and Mogilev regions and at three clinics in Minsk. Belarus was harder hit than any other country by the 1986 Chornobyl accident. PB