UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION CHIEF. After long wrangling, lawmakers on 22 October approved by a vote of 230 to 112 President Leonid Kuchma's nominee to head the State Property Fund, AP reported. Oleksandr Bondar will now oversee the country's privatization efforts. In a related development, the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper won in its bid to audit the Ukrainian telecommunications monopoly as part of the preparation for its privatization, Interfax reported the same day. PG

KYIV SAYS UKRAINE MEETS IMF REQUIREMENTS. Valeriy Lytvytsky, an aide to President Kuchma, told journalists in Kyiv on 22 October that Ukraine has met all the requirements for the next tranche of an IMF loan. But he acknowledged that the payout will depend on the outcome of negotiations with a major foreign bank. PG

UKRAINE IMPROVES NUCLEAR SAFETY RECORD. Oleksandr Smyshliayev, the chief of the Environmental Safety Ministry's nuclear regulatory agency, said that the number of malfunctions at Ukraine's nuclear power plants has been declining since the start of 1998, Interfax reported. But he acknowledged that malfunctions in the first half of 1998 were up 50 percent from the same period last year. Smyshliayev predicted that the number of problems at these plants will decline further by the end of the year. PG

UKRAINIAN, ROMANIAN, MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTS URGE RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Leonid Kuchma, Emil Constantinescu, and Petru Lucinschi signed a document in Chisinau on 22 October urging Moscow to withdraw its troops from the Transdniester region, AP reported. In the document, the presidents expressed concern about the situation in the Transdniester region and appealed for a "peaceful and definitive solution." Kuchma said after the meeting that Ukraine will always support Moldova's territorial integrity. The document referred to the Transdniester as a region "inside the territory of an independent, unitary, and sovereign Moldova." The breakaway republic declared independence in 1990 and fought a five-month war with Moldova two years later. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov is due to meet with Lucinschi and Kuchma on 23 October. PB

MOLDOVA WANTS PART OF CASPIAN OIL. Moldovan President Lucinschi said on 22 October that Chisinau wants to purchase Caspian Sea oil and invest in a Romanian refinery in an effort to reduce its dependence on Russia and Ukraine, AP reported. Lucinschi made his remarks after a meeting with Romanian President Constantinescu. Moldova, which has no oil refinery of its own and has accumulated an enormous debt with the Russian gas giant Gazprom, is interested in purchasing a stake in the Onesti refinery, located about 150 kilometers from the Moldovan-Romanian border. It is also building an oil terminal at the confluence of the Prut and Danube Rivers, which Ukraine claims is partly on its territory. This issue is to be discussed during the two-day meeting of the three presidents. PB

BLACK SEA ECONOMIC CONFERENCE OPENS. The eleven member countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) agreed on 22 October to promote closer cooperation in the development of the Black Sea region at the opening conference in Sofia, dpa reported. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadejda Mihailova, who is ending her term as BSEC chair, said the organization "can only develop successfully in cooperation with the EU." She said the officials attending the meeting discussed ways to attract foreign investment in such fields as transport, tourism, and telecommunications. They also established the BSEC Bank, to be located in Salonika, Greece. Georgia will hold the BSEC chair for the next six months. The other member countries are Turkey, Romania, Albania, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Moldova. PB