UKRAINIAN MINERS' STRIKE ENTERS SECOND MONTH. According to the Ukrainian Miners Independent Trade Union, strikes at 43 mines throughout the country entered their second month on 8 June, Ukrainian Television reported. Miners marching to Kyiv from Dnipropetrovsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998) are now 80 kilometers from the capital, while another group continue to picket the oblast administration building in Dnipropetrovsk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 May 1998). Meanwhile, miners picketed the National Bank building in Kyiv on 8 June to demand that the government implement a parliamentary resolution allocating funds for the purchase of coal. Under pressure from the striking miners, the government has announced it will reduce coal imports by 80 percent, ITAR-TASS reported. JM

PASSENGERS WANT $2 MILLION IN COMPENSATION FOR ABORTIVE SEA TRIP. The Ukrainian cruiser "Taras Shevchenko," owned by the Odessa-based Black Sea Shipping Company, is returning home with more than 500 passengers aboard after a canceled Mediterranean cruise, Ukrainian Television reported on 8 June. The passengers had strongly protested the previous day after realizing that the ship had changed its route and was returning from Piraeus to the Black Sea. Greek authorities had tried to impound the vessel because of the Black Sea Shipping Company's debts, which total $125 million. The passengers, who paid $1,500 -$7,000 for the trip, are to file suit against the company to obtain "moral and material compensation" amounting to $2 million. JM

...AS ABKHAZ TALKS REACH IMPASSE. Russian Foreign Ministry officials Lev Mironov and Gennadii Ilichev joined Georgian and Abkhaz presidential representatives Vazha Lortkipanidze and Anri Djergenia at their sixth day of talks in Moscow on 8 June, Russian agencies reported. They failed, however, to overcome differences between the two sides. The talks are intended to prepare a draft peace agreement, a protocol on the repatriation of ethnic Georgians to Gali Raion, and another protocol on control mechanisms. Those documents are intended to be signed at a meeting between Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and his Abkhaz counterpart, Vladislav Ardzinba. Shevardnadze said on 8 June that the Abkhaz proposals on repatriation are unacceptable as they stipulate no time frame, according to Interfax. Abkhazia has rejected Tbilisi's proposal that the Russian peacekeeping contingent currently deployed in Abkhazia under the CIS's aegis be augmented by a Ukrainian force. Abkhazia also demands that Tbilisi and Sukhumi jointly petition Moscow to lift the economic embargo on Abkhazia. LF

KAZAKH PLANE WITH RADIOACTIVE CARGO ALLOWED TO LEAVE UKRAINE. Ukrainian customs authorities have given permission to a Kazakh airliner with radioactive material aboard to continue its journey after they found all documents to be in order, Radio Rossiya reported on 8 June. The plane was grounded at the Rovno airport, outside Kyiv, when officials found unusually high levels of radiation from metal barrels aboard the plane. RFE/RL correspondents quoted officials in Kazakhstan as saying the radioactive material comes from Africa and the U.S. and is not dangerous. They added that it is intended for use at the Oskemen Metallurgical Plant as "raw material." BP