UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT SPEAKER FOR THIRD TIME. The Supreme Council on 28 May failed to elect a speaker for the third time (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 27 May 1998). Only 176 of the 438 registered deputies cast their ballots, falling well short of the two-thirds majority required for a valid vote. In the latest round of voting, Communist leader Petro Symonenko ran against Progressive Socialists leader Nataliya Vitrenko and independent deputy Oleksandr Rzhavskyy in the ballot. The Supreme Council has not released any voting results. As on the two previous occasions, the Popular Democratic Party, the Rukh, the Social Democrats, and the Greens parliamentary groups abstained from voting. They are demanding that a speaker be elected along with two deputy speakers in one ballot. Observers speculate that the parliament may call for a vote to assess the popularity of potential candidates in such an election, ITAR-TASS reported. JM

UKRAINE INCREASES REFINANCING RATE TO WEATHER RUSSIAN FINANCIAL STORM. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko on 28 May raised the refinancing rate from 45 percent to 51 percent in an attempt to shield the country from turbulence on the Russian financial market, the Ukrainian News agency reported. Commenting to Reuters on Russia's decision the previous day to triple interest rates, Yushchenko expressed the hope that Russia will continue seeking to curb financial uncertainty since Ukraine might otherwise be unable "to stay the course." In a joint statement issued on 28 May, the National Bank and the government said the situation on Ukraine's financial markets "remains difficult, but generally controllable," Ukrainian Television reported. JM

KYIV CONDEMNS PAKISTANI NUCLEAR TESTS. In a statement issued on 29 May, the Foreign Ministry condemned Pakistan's nuclear weapons tests, Reuters reported. The statement said that the nuclear tests conducted recently by India and Pakistan demonstrate that international mechanisms to control nuclear non-proliferation are ineffective and need to be modernized. The ministry called on the UN Security Council to hold a session devoted to nuclear testing. JM