UKRAINE HOPES TO PAY GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA BY 1 JANUARY. Ihor Bakay, head of the Naftohaz Ukrayiny company, has said Ukraine will repay its debt for Russian gas supplies by 1 January, Interfax reported on 13 November. Ukraine agreed with Russia last month to pay by barter the gas debt accumulated in the fourth quarter of 1997 and during this year Ukrainian First Deputy Premier Anatoliy Holubchenko said Ukraine will deliver $500 million worth of food and $500 million worth of industrial products in payment for Russian gas. Under a gas deal reached last week, Ukraine will receive 40 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia in 1999 as payment for transit of Russian gas through its territory to Western Europe. Ukraine's annual gas consumption totals 80 billion cubic meters, of which only 18 billion cubic meters is produced domestically. JM

UKRAINE OPENS GAS PIPE TO EASE ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIA. Ukraine has opened a 103 kilometer gas pipeline that will carry domestically produced gas from Donetsk to Mariupol. "Russia has in the past had the ability to exert pressure on Ukraine, but it does not now," Reuters quoted President Leonid Kuchma as saying at the official opening of the pipeline on 13 November. Ukrainian Television commented that the pipeline will help ensure that industrial giants in Zaporizhzha and Donetsk Oblasts receive regular supplies. JM

KUCHMA DISSATISFIED WITH POWER SYSTEM, PARLIAMENT. President Kuchma says that "the power structure determined in the constitution by the former Supreme Council does not include mechanisms that could induce the parliament to form a majority and operate as a responsible, efficient legislature," "Holos Ukrayiny" reported on 14 November. In his opinion, Ukraine's inefficient parliament should either dissolve itself or transfer its legislative powers to the president or the cabinet. Kuchma said some 750 draft bills are currently awaiting consideration by the Supreme Council. He added that the parliament has viewed only one out of the 48 decrees he has issued this year to deal with urgent economic matters. Kuchma said that even if he were to dissolve the parliament, there may be no change since it is necessary to amend the constitution "to lay down the levers of coexistence and the principles of balance between the parliament and the government." JM

...HOPES TRANSDNIESTER SETTLEMENT IMMINENT. Lucinschi said he hopes agreement on a special status for the separatists and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Transdniester will be reached at the summit in Kyiv on 27-29 November. He said one of the main unresolved problems is that of the military equipment that Russia left in the region, adding that "in the past three years, [Moscow] has withdrawn 3,900 soldiers but only two tanks." The same day, Lucinschi received a telegram from Gazprom director Rem Vyakhirev saying that in view of Moldova's repeated failure to abide by agreements for settling its debt, Gazprom will reduce and eventually cut off supplies to Moldova. He added that his company is pulling out of a deal to take over a controlling stake in the MoldovaGas joint venture in exchange for part settlement of the debt by government bonds. MS