UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REINTRODUCES BAN ON UTILITIES PRICE HIKES. A week after Ukraine's Constitutional Court revoked a parliamentary ban on price increases for utilities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March 1999), the Communist-dominated Supreme Council on 17 March voted by 232 to 18 to reinstate the ban as an amendment to the law on prices and pricing. The amendment obliges the cabinet to seek the parliament's approval to raise the prices of water, heating, and electricity supplies. It also prohibits the cabinet from seeking such price hikes before all wage and pension arrears have been paid. Economy Minister Vasyl Rohovyy said the ban is "politically motivated. We need a pragmatic approach-- everything that is consumed must have an appropriate price," Ukrainian Television quoted him as saying. JM

UKRAINE'S INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT FALLS, UNEMPLOYMENT GROWS. The State Statistics Committee has reported that Ukraine's industrial output fell by 2.1 percent in the first two months of 1999, compared with last year. Ukraine's GDP decreased by 4.2 percent over the same period, while the official unemployment rate increased to 4 percent. Currently, there are 1.12 million people officially registered as jobless, but the actual figure is believed to be much higher. According to AP, many Ukrainians either do not formally register as jobless or are forced by their companies to take unpaid vacations. JM

UKRAINIAN POLICE ARREST SEX TRADE GANG. Police in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, have arrested two men and a woman suspected of selling some 200 females aged 13 to 25 years to individuals engaged in illegal sex business abroad, UNIAN reported on 17 March. The three allegedly received $2,000 for each woman sent to night clubs in Turkey, Greece, or Cyprus, where the women were subsequently forced to become prostitutes. The International Organization for Migration estimated last year that more than 1 million Ukrainian women seeking work abroad are in danger of becoming ensnared in the illegal sex business. JM

FOUR SUSPECTS IN TASHKENT BOMBINGS ARRESTED IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian police have arrested four Uzbek nationals suspected of involvement in the Tashkent bombings last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 February, 1999), Interfax reported. The four were apprehended in Kyiv. In a 16 March statement, Amnesty International names two of the detainees as Yusif Ruzimuradov and Muhammed Bekjon, both members of Uzbekistan's banned Erk Party. Bekjon is the brother of Mohammed Solih, whom Uzbek President Islam Karimov has named as an organizer of the bombings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 1999). BP