UKRAINIAN MINISTER SCOLDS PARLIAMENT FOR TAXATION BLUNDERS. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov told the Supreme Council on 11 May that 24 resolutions on tax privileges and exemptions passed by the parliament between December 1998 and March 1999 have caused losses totaling 4.7 billion hryvni ($1.2 billion) to the budget, UNIAN reported. Mityukov added that the absence of a number of badly needed tax laws costs the state budget another 1.5-2 billion hryvni annually. He reminded deputies that in 1996, the cabinet drafted a package of tax bills, of which only two have so far been passed by the parliament. The legislature responded by passing a resolution saying that the cabinet's activities with regard to taxation are detrimental to the country's further economic development. JM

KUCHMA DECREES MUTUAL DEBT CANCELLATION. President Leonid Kuchma has signed a decree on settling individual citizens' debts for utilities, UNIAN reported on 11 May. According to the decree, unpaid utilities charges as well as gas and electricity bills can be paid for by drawing on unpaid wages, pensions, and social benefits. JM

CZECH POLICE RAID RACIST GROUPS, ARREST MONEY-LAUNDERING SUSPECTS. Czech police on 11 May carried out a raid of various far-right extremist and racist groups, CTK reported. Some 100 people were interrogated during the raid and one suspect was arrested on several charges, including the promotion of a group that seeks to suppress human rights and freedoms. In other news, Czech police arrested three Ukrainians and froze a local bank account containing $2.2 million in connection with an international money-laundering investigation, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 11 May. The case, involving the FBI, German investigators, and Interpol, is considered to be a watershed in the fight against international money-laundering. Also, on 11 May the lower house of the Czech parliament passed a law on access to information, Czech media reported. VG

GEORGIAN OFFICIAL SAYS GUUAM DOES HAVE A MILITARY COMPONENT. In an apparent contradiction of earlier statements by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze that the pact signed in Washington last month by members of the newly-enlarged Georgia-Ukraine-Uzbekistan-Azerbaijan-Moldova alignment "does not include any military aspects," Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Katamadze told Interfax on 11 May that military cooperation between that grouping's five members does exist. But he stressed that cooperation is based on the coinciding strategic interests of the five GUUAM members, in particular the joint defense of the Eurasian transport corridor. He also noted that it is not directed against other parties. LF