KAZAKHSTAN, UKRAINE HAND OVER SUSPECTS IN TASHKENT BOMBINGS. Seven suspects in the 16 February bombings in Tashkent have been extradited from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 18 March. According to reports, all detainees are ethnic Uzbeks, although some are citizens of Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, and were found to be in possession of Wahhabi literature. Another four Uzbeks caught in Ukraine and suspected of involvement in the bombings will be extradited to Uzbekistan, Interfax quotes Ukrainian Minister Yuri Kravchenko as saying (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 March 1999). BP

UKRAINIAN MINERS STRIKE OVER BACK WAGES. Some 20,000 miners held a one-day warning strike on 18 March over unpaid wages. "Our task is to show our government our power and to force them to pay wage arrears worth 2.5 billion hryvni [$665 million]," Reuters quoted an activist from the Coal Industry Workers' Trade Union as saying. Another miners' organization, the Independent Miners' Union, has said it is planning a complete halt of coal production and marches from mining regions to Kyiv. Meanwhile, employees of Ukraine's nuclear power plants have postponed a planned strike over unpaid wages pending a Constitutional Court ruling on whether their protest would be legal. JM

STATEMENTS URGING UKRAINE'S IMMINENT NATO ENTRY DEEMED 'PROVOCATIVE.' Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of Ukraine's National Council of Security and Defense, said in Kyiv on 18 March that statements urging Ukraine's imminent NATO entry are "provocative in nature," Ukrainian Television reported. The Rukh parliamentary caucus, headed by Yuriy Kostenko, recently called for Ukraine to be admitted to the alliance soon. Horbulin said such statemnts are aimed at altering Ukraine's balanced foreign policy and at directing it along an "anti-European" line. Commenting on Russia-NATO relations, Horbulin said he is surprised that the "influential part of Russia's political elite" opposes contacts between NATO and Ukraine, while opting for cooperation between the alliance and Russia. JM

WORLD BANK TO REOPEN PERMANENT MISSION IN BELARUS. Paul Siegelbaum, the World Bank official in charge of Ukraine and Belarus, said in Minsk on 18 March that the bank will re-establish its permanent representative office in Belarus this summer. The bank froze aid to Belarus in 1994 and recalled its permanent envoy to Belarus last fall to protest Belarus's refusal to conduct market reforms and introduce a single exchange rate. Siegelbaum told journalists that "some progress on a number of issues" has been achieved in negotiations with Belarus, but he noted that the bank's main requirement for resuming assistance--the liberalization of the exchange rate by the National Bank--has not been fulfilled. JM

POLAND TO INTRODUCE VISAS FOR SOME NON-EU CITIZENS. Poland is to introduce entry visas for citizens of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and 10 other states no later than on the day of its accession to the EU, PAP reported on 18 March. The announcement was made by Polish Deputy Interior Minister Piotr Stachanczyk during so-called screening talks with EU officials, which aim at determining whether Polish legislation complies with that of the EU. JM