KUCHMA SIGNS LAW ON PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS... President Leonid Kuchma has signed a law on Ukraine's participation in peacekeeping operations, which was passed by the parliament last month, Interfax reported on 12 May. The law allows Ukrainian troops to participate in international actions sanctioned by the UN Security Council, the OSCE, and other regional bodies responsible for maintaining peace and security. Under the law, the decision to sent Ukrainian troops abroad must be taken by the president and subsequently approved by an appropriate parliamentary bill. The participation of Ukrainian citizens in any peacekeeping contingent will be voluntary. JM

...SAYS PRIMAKOV'S DISMISSAL WILL INCREASE TENSIONS IN RUSSIA. Kuchma said in Rivne on 12 May that the dismissal of Russian Premier Primakov will intensify tensions in Russia, Interfax reported. He added that without Primakov in the government, Russia is likely to sustain more economic damage. In Kuchma's opinion, Primakov's dismissal may be used by conflicting political forces in Russia to play "political games. If these political games continue, there will be no winners." JM

IMF ADVISES UKRAINE TO SEEK FOREIGN DEBT RESTRUCTURING. The IMF representative in Ukraine said on 12 May that, given Ukraine's low hard-currency reserves, the country should try to persuade foreign creditors to postpone some debt repayments. The IMF official added that Ukraine should seek from lenders only voluntary debtrestructuring schemes. According to Ukrainian Finance Ministry data, Ukraine has to pay foreign creditors some $1.9 billion in 1999 and $2.4 billion next year. The Ukrainian National Bank's reserves totaled $896 million at the end of April. JM