KUCHMA BLASTS GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 29 March sharply criticized the government for failing to revive the country's economy and blamed the parliament for blocking economic reforms, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said incomes dropped an average of 14.4 percent from the previous year and retail trade was nearly 12 percent lower. He said that financial policy is "inefficient" and sometimes wrong and that leftist forces in parliament are ready to block IMF and World Bank credits. Kuchma also noted that the government must support domestic production and improve the financial system in order to allay wage arrears. He vowed that Ukraine will "never go along the path of inflation" caused by printing money. PB

UKRAINIANS MOURN CHORNOVIL. President Kuchma and Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko were among an estimated 15,000 people attending the Kyiv funeral of Vyacheslav Chornovil, head of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine and a key leader in the country's fight for independence, the "Eastern Economist" reported. Chornovil, who died in a car accident last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1999), spent 15 years in Soviet prisons as a dissident. He was first arrested in 1967 after two of his books appeared in the West. PB

WARSAW DOESN'T WANT WALL BETWEEN POLAND, UKRAINE. Polish Foreign Minster Bronislaw Geremek said on 29 March in Warsaw that he does not want a new "Iron Curtain" to emerge after Poland joins the EU, PAP reported. Geremek made his comments after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, in the inaugural meeting of the Polish-Ukrainian Conference, designed to promote European affairs in Ukraine. Geremek said Poland, under pressure from EU members to tighten its eastern borders, will try to convince Brussels that it is better to create a "controlled border" than a new wall. PB

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS DUCKY'S KILLER ARRESTED. Ladislav Pittner on 29 March said the "likely murderer" of former Interior Minister Jan Ducky, who was shot dead in early January, has been "taken into custody," CTK reported. The suspect, whose cover name is "Alex," is a member of the "Ukrainian mafia." The child of Alex's driver was kidnapped because it was feared the driver "knew too much." When they received the ransom, the kidnappers attempted to kill the father, but police saved the child and arrested "Alex." With regard to another incident, Pittner said that three contract killers were involved in the shooting of 10 people in a bar in Dunajska Streda on 25 March and that they had been hired for a total of $1 million. The victims were members of a "Ukrainian mafia" gang headed by Tibor Papaya. Investigators are looking into a possible link with Lexa, because Papaya had claimed he enjoys Lexa's protection. MS