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LEBED REMAINS UNPERSUADED ON WASTE... Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgenii Adamov has failed to persuade Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed to abandon his opposition to shipments of nuclear waste from Ukraine, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January 1999). According to the newspaper, Adamov needed a victory in Krasnoyarsk in order to bolster his own weakening position in Moscow, where "in the opinion of many people, Adamov has not proved to be tough enough in upholding his ministry's interests." The newspaper concluded that Lebed is "trying to score badly needed political points in the 'ecological patriotism' sphere." "Nezavisimaya gazeta" receives financial backing from Boris Berezovskii's LogoVAZ group. JAC

IMF TEAM ARRIVES IN KYIV TO DISCUSS RESUMING LOAN TRANCHES. An IMF mission arrived in Kyiv on 12 January to decide whether the fund should resume disbursing a $2.2 billion loan. After releasing $335 million, the IMF suspended the loan last November because of Ukraine's poor tax collection and sluggish economic reforms. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko said on 11 January that "practically all agreements with the IMF have been implemented," but Ukrainian news agencies offered a different picture. Ukrainian News reported that Ukraine has met only 20 of the IMF's 141 requirements. In particular, the government has not yet halted subsidies to public utilities and transportation, announced it will collect taxes in cash only, reduced tax privileges, or boosted privatization efforts. Analysts predict that Ukraine in 1999 may be forced to default on its foreign debt if the fund decides not to resume releasing loan tranches. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS ABOLISHING PRESIDENCY? Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Adam Martynyuk told journalists on 11 January that this week the parliament may consider abolishing the post of the Ukrainian president, Ukrainian News reported. According to Martynyuk, deputies will be asked to vote on whether the parliament should debate a constitutional amendment that reinstates a parliamentary republic and abolishes the presidency. If at least 226 deputies support that motion, the Constitutional Court will be asked to rule on the "constitutionality of the issue," Martynyk added. The amendment may be considered during the parliamentary session that begins on 2 February. JM

NEWSPAPER ACCUSES UKRAINE OF STEALING RUSSIAN GAS. The 12 January "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that every day Ukraine "steals" Russian transit gas worth $5 million from gas pipelines on Ukrainian territory. According to the newspaper, 2.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in transit to Europe "vanished" from Ukrainian pipelines in December 1998 alone. The report says the figures are taken from two messages sent by Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev on 10 January to Ukrainian Prime Minister Pustovoytenko and Supreme Council speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko. "One has the impression that the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers is purposely seeking to destabilize relations between Gazprom and the European gas market. How long is such an outrageous practice going to continue?" "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quotes Vyakhirev as asking Pustovoytenko. JM