KAZAKHSTAN, UKRAINE SIGN COOPERATION PROTOCOL. Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymjomart Tokayev and his Ukrainian counterpart, Boris Tarasyuk, met on 21 December and signed a protocol on cooperation between the two countries' Foreign Ministries in 1999-2000, ITAR-TASS reported. The two also discussed CIS reforms, and Tarasyuk said "the reform process is continuing, but it is too early to speak of results." Tokayev said it is "necessary to improve the effectiveness of the Commonwealth," especially in adhering to accords signed by the heads of member states. BP

LAZARENKO MAY FACE TRIAL IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko asked lawmakers on 21 December to lift the parliamentary immunity of former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko so that he can be tried on corruption charges, Ukrainian Television reported. Potebenko said he is ready to charge Lazarenko--who was freed on $3 million bail from a Swiss prison last week-- with embezzling some 2.2 million hryvni ($620,000) in state funds. He added that Lazarenko is also guilty of embezzling "considerably larger" funds, but their size will be announced after receiving a "consent from certain states." Mykhaylo Obikhod, Potebenko's deputy, said Lazarenko may face up to 15 years in prison if he is stripped of his immunity and tried. Lazarenko told the parliament on 22 December that he did not break Swiss law and that the charges against him are aimed at eliminating a "serious political rival." JM

UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS DEMAND TKACHENKO'S OUSTER. Ten nationalist parties on 21 December demanded that parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko be sacked for appealing during his trip last week to Moscow that Ukraine integrate with Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December 1998), ITAR-TASS reported. Tkachenko said in Moscow that Ukraine must integrate closer with Russia by creating a "common defense doctrine and economic space" and sharing a "single currency." Tkachenko told journalists in Kyiv on 21 December that when he was in Moscow, he was expressing the Ukrainian parliament's point of view, not only his own. "I express my opinions as head of the Supreme Council, as a state official. I have said some time ago [that] I am not the first [official], but neither am I the second," Ukrainian Television quoted him as saying. JM

CRIMEAN TATARS DEMONSTRATE FOR MORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. Some 1,000 Crimean Tatars demonstrated in Simferopol on 21 December to protest the adoption of the Crimean Constitution in its current version (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 December 1998), Ukrainian Television reported. They called on the Ukrainian parliament not to approve that constitution until it incorporates provisions that would guarantee Tatar representation in the Crimean legislature and local government. The Supreme Council rejected the constitution last week after some lawmakers argued that it contains separatist provisions. JM