TURKISH PREMIER SAYS OCALAN FLEW TO MOSCOW. Bulent Ecevit said on 18 January, following a meeting with Russian ambassador to Ankara Aleksandr Lebedev, that he has reliable information that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan flew from Italy to an airport near Moscow on 16 January, Reuters reported, citing the Anatolia news agency. Ecevit said that the Russian authorities are trying to verify that information, adding that Ocalan may have entered Russia under a false name. He said he hopes that if Ocalan is found to have entered Russia, he will be deported immediately. Also on 18 January, a spokesman for the Estonian Foreign Ministry told Interfax he has no information on Ocalan's possible imminent arrival in that country. He added that Ocalan has not applied for an Estonian entry visa and would be unable to acquire one at the border. Ukrainian and Belarusian spokesmen also denied on 18 January that Ocalan had entered their countries, according to AP. LF

PUSTOVOYTENKO URGES 'SOUND DEMOCRATIC FORCES' TO UNITE... Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has called upon "sound democratic forces" to form a nationwide coalition named Zlahoda [Concord], Reuters reported on 18 January. Although Pustovoytenko declined to say whom the movement would support in the 1999 presidential elections, analysts in Kyiv predict that Zlahoda is being created to back President Leonid Kuchma in his re-election bid. The Popular Democratic Party and the United Social Democratic Party are expected to form the core of the new movement. Pustovoytenko said "Zlahoda" will hold its first nationwide forum in February. JM

...SHUNS RESPONSIBILITY FOR SIPHONING OFF RUSSIAN GAS. Pustovoytenko told a cabinet meeting last week that the government does not intend to "take the blame" for any unauthorized consumption of Russian transit gas, ITARTASS reported on 18 January. Nor will it bear the responsibility for any related back payments, he added. According to Pustovoytenko, since the government has signed no agreement with Gazprom, it does not consider it necessary to answer Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev's telegram alleging that Ukraine has siphoned off Russian gas last December (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999). Naftohaz, Gazprom's Ukrainian partner, has also denied siphoning off Russian gas transiting Ukrainian territory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1999). JM