UKRAINE PLEDGES TO REPAY GAZPROM DEBT BY END OF 1998. Ukrainian First Deputy Premier Anatoliy Holubchenko has said Ukraine will pay its debt to Gazprom for gas supplies by the end of 1998, Ukrainian Television reported. Holubchenko's statement followed a meeting between Gazprom chief executive Rem Vyakhirev and Ukrainian Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko in Kyiv on 24 June. The two men discussed payments for Russian gas supplied to Ukraine last year and joint use of Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities. Holubchenko added that Ukraine is interested in signing a long-term agreement on Russian gas transit through Ukrainian territory. According to him, such an agreement would guarantee that Russia will not build an alternate pipeline bypassing Ukraine. Ukraine's gas debt to Gazprom amounts to some $700 million. JM

LEFTISTS ACCUSE RIGHTISTS OF BRIBERY IN ELECTION OF PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER. Leftist deputies have accused their political opponents in the Ukrainian Supreme Council of attempted bribery during the voting on a parliamentary speaker, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 June. They assert that some deputies have been offered $10,000 for casting blank ballots during the vote for speaker. The parliament has set up a deputies' group to investigate the allegation. Meanwhile, after the 12th fruitless round of voting, the Supreme Council passed a resolution prohibiting the deputies from leaving the session hall until they elect a parliamentary head, Ukrainian Television reported on 24 June. JM

UKRAINE TO SEND PEACE-KEEPERS TO TRANSDNIESTER. Igor Smirnov, leader of the separatist Transdniester region, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma agreed in Kyiv on 24 June that Ukraine will send ten peace-keepers to the security zone in the Transdniester, ITAR-TASS reported. On the same day, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported that Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, in a telephone conversation with Kuchma, urged Ukraine to enhance its involvement in conflict resolution attempts and send peace-keepers to the zone. In other news, BASA-press reported on 24 June that OSCE chairman Bronislaw Geremek told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that Moldova may "count on the support of international organizations" on the withdrawal of "all foreign troops" from its territory. Geremek also said Chisinau must "prove" its determination to solve the Transdniester conflict. MS

ECONOMIC UPSWING IN ARMENIA. Prime Minister Armen Darpinian said on 24 June that Armenia registered 6.3 percent economic growth in the first five months of 1998, according to Noyan Tapan. Darpinian added that direct foreign investment in the Armenian economy reached $100 million during that time period, and is expected to total $250 million by the end of the year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Addressing an Armenian-Ukrainian business forum in Yerevan, Darpinian attributed the inflow of foreign capital to his government's emphasis on private enterprise and its commitment to privatizing large state enterprises. Darpinian also announced that the Armenian state airline company will soon be put on international tender. "Privatization is the only way to guarantee its efficient and competitive work," he argued. LF