UKRAINIAN CABINET DISCUSSES ENERGY SECTOR PROBLEMS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 10 May pressed for tighter checks on payments for electricity, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 11 May. Pustovoytenko told a cabinet meeting that unpaid electricity bills "cost the budget millions in lost revenues." Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Kuratchenko said that only 23 percent of all gas bills are paid, with some 13 percent settled in cash. The gas sector is currently owed 3.9 billion hryvni ($1 billion), including 1.9 billion hryvni in fines. Pustovoytenko told the meeting that industrial production in JanuaryApril slumped by 2.7 percent, compared with the same period in 1998. JM

UKRAINIAN POPULIST LEADER TOPS LIST OF PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS. Nataliya Vitrenko, the outspoken populist chairwoman of the Progressive Socialist Party, tops the list of Ukraine's presidential hopefuls, according to a poll conducted in April by the independent Democratic Initiatives Fund and Socis-Gallup. Vitrenko has 19 percent backing and is followed by President Leonid Kuchma (17 percent), Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz (10 percent), and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko (8 percent). The poll also showed that 75 percent of Ukrainians intend to vote in the 31 October presidential elections. JM