UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BILL ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Supreme Council on 15 January voted by 232 to 23 to approve a law on presidential elections in 1999, AP reported. The law stipulates that presidential candidates can be nominated by political parties or a group of at least 500 voters. Each candidate must collect 1 million signatures among Ukraine's 35 million eligible voters, be over 35 years old, and have resided in Ukraine for at least 10 years before the elections. To win in the first round, a candidate must be supported by more than half of the voters who cast their ballots. A simple majority of votes is required to win in a runoff. Political parties that nominate candidates are allowed to send two representatives to every constituency to monitor vote counting. The vote is scheduled for 31 October. JM

KWASNIEWSKI PLEDGES 'PERMANENT SUPPORT' TO UKRAINE'S PRO-WESTERN BID. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, in Warsaw on 15 January that Poland is to render "permanent support for Ukrainian efforts in international institutions," including the IMF, the World Bank, and the EU, Polish Television reported. Kuchma said Ukraine wants to follow Polish models of integration with Europe. He added that assertions that economic reform in Ukraine has been halted are "groundless." The reform continues, he said, but owing to insufficient aid from world financial institutions, its pace is unsatisfactory. "We are witnessing an experiment in which the doctors, having diagnosed how to treat the patient, are indifferently watching if the patient will die or survive," Kuchma commented. Both presidents agreed to participate in the May opening of reconstructed Ukrainian-Polish cemetery in Lviv, which has recently provoked tension in mutual relations. JM