KUCHMA 'CATEGORICALLY' OPPOSES UNION WITH RUSSIA, BELARUS... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says he is "categorically against" the idea of creating a union of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, proposed by Russian State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev during his 28-29 September visit to Kyiv (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1998), Interfax reported. "The Belarusian-Russian Union and the Customs Union created by the CIS's individual members showed that nothing has come out of this idea," Kuchma told journalists on 29 September. He added that it is necessary first to ensure the implementation of bilateral agreements between CIS countries, including the Ukrainian-Russian accord on free trade. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 30 September that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is drawing up a protest note over Seleznev's proposals to the Ukrainian parliament. JM

...WHILE SELEZNEV SAYS KYIV VISIT WAS 'SUCCESS.' Despite the disruption of his speech in the Ukrainian parliament by Rukh deputies, Seleznev said his visit to the Ukrainian capital was a "success," ITAR-TASS reported on 29 September. "We reached full mutual understanding and our dialog will go on," he told journalists in Kyiv. According to Seleznev, his proposal of a union between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine was "acceptable" to Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, while President Kuchma "got interested" in the idea. Commenting on the Rukh deputies' reaction to his speech, Seleznev said it was "normal," adding that "complete unanimity of opinion in the parliament is bad." An official communique signed by the Ukrainian and Russian speakers says their talks took place in an "atmosphere of friendship, cordiality, mutual understanding, and confidence," dpa reported. JM