CHERNOMYRDIN, TALBOTT TO DISCUSS PEACE PLAN. Senior Kremlin officials held consultations with Russia's special envoy for Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and senior Russian military commanders on 26 April, AP reported. The meeting took place just hours ahead of scheduled talks in Moscow between Chernomyrdin and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. The decision to dispatch Talbott to Moscow came after Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton's 25 April telephone conversation in which they discussed Russia's mediation efforts. Chernomyrdin is expected to submit to Talbott the Russian peace plan for Kosova. "Kommersant-Daily" on 24 April said that Chernomyrdin favors a peace-keeping force composed of Uzbek, Georgian, Azerbaijani, Ukrainian, Czech, and Polish forces. The daily added that Chernomyrdin also wants Serbian forces and police to withdraw to the levels agreed on by Milosevic and U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke last October. FS

UZBEKISTAN JOINS GUAM. At a ceremony in Uzbekistan's Washington embassy on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Uzbekistan formally became the fifth member of the GeorgiaUkraine -Azerbaijan-Moldova alignment, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 24 April. The grouping will now be known as GUUAM. The presidents of the five countries issued a joint statement affirming their support for one another's territorial integrity. They also backed both regional cooperation, including the creation of regional transport corridors, and cooperation within the framework of international organizations such as the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The statement stressed that their cooperation is not aimed against third countries or groups of countries. ITAR-TASS quoted an unidentified diplomat from one of the five member states as saying that GUUAM does not intend to supplant the CIS, nor do any of its five members intend to leave the commonwealth. LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SUCCEEDS IN PASSING ANTI-NATO BILL... Following several failures, the Ukrainian Supreme Council on 23 April finally passed a resolution seeking to limit the country's cooperation with NATO, AP reported. The document condemned NATO's bombing in Yugoslavia as "unjustified and inhumane" and called on President Leonid Kuchma to submit Ukraine's cooperation programs with NATO to the parliament for approval. It added that Ukraine should immediately stop dismantling strategic bombers and nuclear missile silos. Heorhiy Kryuchkov, head of the parliamentary Defense Committee, told Reuters that the adopted bill should "free our foreign policy from its one-sided pro-NATO orientation." JM

...WHILE KUCHMA'S KOSOVA PEACE PLAN GETS 'POLITE BRUSHOFF' FROM ALLIANCE. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana has given a "polite brush-off" to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's plan to settle the Kosova crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 April 1999), Reuters reported on 24 April. At a news conference in Washington, Solana hailed Ukraine's "tireless diplomatic efforts" to resolve the crisis but made it clear that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will have to agree to NATO's five-point plan for ending the conflict. Solana said Russian and Ukrainian troops will be welcome to join a future peacekeeping "robust force" in Kosova, but he stressed that NATO troops should be at that force's core. Kuchma told the news conference that Ukraine's peace efforts are not a "solo performance" and expressed his satisfaction that they are "understood and appreciated by NATO leaders." JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS CHORNOBYL ACCIDENT ANNIVERSARY. Some 7,000 opposition demonstrators rallied in Minsk on 25 April to mark the 13th anniversary of the Chornobyl accident and to protest President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's policies, AP reported. The demonstrators criticized the proposed union between Belarus, Russia, and Yugoslavia and demanded the release of Mikhail Chyhir, a candidate in the opposition presidential elections, who has been arrested on embezzlement charges. JM

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ALSO BACKS POSSIBLE OIL EMBARGO. Petar Stoyanov said on 24 April that Bulgaria fully supports the possible oil embargo against Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Stoyanov said "not a single drop of oil will go through Bulgaria on its way to Yugoslavia." He said Bulgaria anticipated the call for the embargo and has already closed oil pipelines to Yugoslavia. Stoyanov repeated that Bulgaria suffered immense financial losses each day that the conflict continued and appealed to the EU and the U.S. for government-backed investment in Bulgaria. He also said Sofia hoped for fast and early accession to NATO in return for its support of the alliance. On 23 April, a Bulgarian customs patrol intercepted a Ukrainian ship attempting to smuggle in fuel near the town of Ruse. PB