UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS THREATEN TO BLOCK RATIFICATION OF INTERNATIONAL ACCORDS. The parliamentary caucus of the Communist Party of Ukraine has threatened to block ratifications of all international agreements signed by the government, Reuters reported on 14 December . Adam Martynyuk, deputy speaker from the Communist Party, said his caucus will not vote for any of the 64 international treaties pending ratification until the parliament approves Ukraine's membership in the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly. Communists hold 122 seats in the 448-member Supreme Council and often block legislation, together with the Socialist and Agrarian caucuses. JM

UKRAINIAN MINER SETS HIMSELF ON FIRE OVER UNPAID WAGES. Oleksandr Mykhalevych, a 35-year-old miner in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, doused himself with gasoline and set alight to himself on 14 December to protest unpaid wages, Ukrainian media reported. Mykhalevych, along with some 200 miners, had been on strike since July, living in shacks built near the Luhansk administration building. In a note written before his attempted selfimmolation, Mykhalevych said he was taking this action because he has lost hope of receiving the some 5,000 hryvni ($1,450) he is owed. After police and fellow miners put out the flames, Mykhalevych was taken to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition. According to the Independent Miners' Trade Union, more than 20,000 miners are currently on strike over back wages. JM