LEBED URGED TO ACCEPT WASTE. Minister for Nuclear Energy Yevgenii Adamov met with Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed on 5 January and urged him to accept nuclear waste from Ukraine or risk losing the business to other countries, such as Britain and France. The next day, Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko called on the Russian government to work out a compromise with Lebed. Lebed has refused to accept the waste because he said the rate that the Ukrainians are paying is a fraction of the world market price. In addition, he charged that goods and services that make up part of Ukraine's payment never arrive in time or in full, according to "Segodnya." JAC

STROEV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN NEXT TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION. Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Yegor Stroev said he is sure Kazakhstan will be the next country to join the Russia-Belarus union, Interfax reported on 5 January. Stroev said "necessity will push Kazakhstan into our union,' adding that Ukraine will "follow in Kazakhstan's footsteps." Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev is a staunch advocate of further integration within the CIS and one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the CIS Customs Union, which comprises Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan is expected to become a full member of that union in the near future. BP

KUCHMA PRAISES ORTHODOX CHURCH IN CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. In a Christmas message on 6 January, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma praised the Orthodox Church for its role in society and said Christian ideals should guide the Ukrainian people, AP reported. "On the eve of a great date, 2000 years since the birth of Christ, the Church's activities become even more important," Kuchma said. In his last year's Christmas address, Kuchma had called for unity among Ukraine's feuding Orthodox Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church--Kyiv Patriarchate, and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. JM