KUCHMA STRESSES ECONOMIC TIES WITH RUSSIA... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 29 October said a clear-cut program on cooperation with Russia will be prepared soon, Interfax reported. Kuchma stressed that Ukraine is very dependent on Russia and "has a stake in Russia's stability." He criticized Moscow for not taking reciprocal steps to strengthen economic ties and recalled that Russia has not yet ratified the 1995 treaty on free trade with Ukraine. Kuchma repeated his proposal to create a free trade zone within the CIS, saying that the Customs Union (whose members are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan) is "fictitious and does not work." JM
...LAMBASTES PARLIAMENT FOR NOT COOPERATING. Kuchma also criticized the parliament for its lack of cooperation with the executive, saying lawmakers take "months and years" to make economic decisions, while the current situation "calls for immediate intervention." Kuchma noted that "everybody wants a strong hand" at present and that he is "ready to take responsibility" for Ukraine. At the same time, he said he prefers the "European way" to "the Belarusian way, where all structures are puppet bodies and unanimously vote for all decisions." Kuchma also proposed to abolish the immunity and privileges of parliamentary deputies and to put the issue to a referendum. JM
UKRAINE, POLAND SIGN MARKET REFORM COOPERATION PROGRAM. Ukraine and Poland have signed a cooperation program that, with U.S. assistance, will help Ukraine use Poland's experience in implementing market reforms, Western agencies reported. Stephen Sestanovich, adviser to the U.S. secretary of state on the "newly independent states," said at the signing ceremony in Kyiv on 29 October that the program will focus on macroeconomic and local government reforms, with special emphasis on the development of small businesses. The U.S. Agency for International Development is to provide the bulk of the funding for the program, which includes training for local government officials. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tyhypko commented that Poland's thriving economy is proof that Ukraine must pursue radical reforms, despite domestic calls to reconsider its economic policies. JM.