UKRAINIAN SPEAKER JOINS PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Supreme Council Chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko announced on 29 May, after his Agrarian Party formally nominated him as its presidential candidate, that he will run in the 31 October presidential elections. Tkachenko is widely believed to pose the biggest challenge from the left of the political spectrum to incumbent President Leonid Kuchma. The previous day, ITAR-TASS reported that the Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission has so far registered 17 candidates in the 1999 presidential elections. JM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES WARM WELCOME IN CHERNIVTSI. Emil Constantinescu on 28 May visited Chernivtsi, capital of the Bukovyna region, which is home to some 460,000 ethnic Romanians. Thousands of people waving Romanian flags came out to greet Constantinescu, the first Romanian head of state to visit the area in 60 years. "Relations between Romania and Ukraine, as well as those between our ethnic groups can be an example for the world," Reuters quoted Constantinescu as saying. Constantinescu and Kuchma inaugurated a Romanian consulate in Chernivtsi. Later this year, Ukraine plans to open a multicultural university in Chernivtsi, which will offer tuition also in Romanian. JM