UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS COMMUNIST OPPOSITION. Speaking on Ukraine's Television on 20 October, President Leonid Kuchma sharply criticized the 122 Communist parliamentary deputies who staged a walkout to protest the government's failure to produce a budget on time. Kuchma said their action, as well as that of 68 other deputies who supported the protest but did not walk out, represented "a war against" the Ukrainian people. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko the same day said that the government has promised to submit the draft by 22 October, one week after it was due. Meanwhile, Kuchma told an international forum that Ukraine has entered a new stage of reforms intended to speed economic growth, Interfax reported. PG

UKRAINE EASES CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS FOR CRIMEAN TATARS. Ukrainian authorities in Crimea told a news conference in Simferopol on 20 October that Kyiv has simplified its naturalization rules to make it easier for Crimean Tatars who returned from deportation to Uzbekistan to become Ukrainian citizens, Reuters reported. While few Crimean Tatars took advantage of the new rules on the first day of the program, officials said that they expect many more to do so, thus easing what has been a serious political problem in the region. Because nearly 250,000 Crimean Tatars only returned to Ukraine after 1991, many of them are technically citizens of Uzbekistan or one of the other post-Soviet states and are in effect stateless in Ukraine. PG