UKRAINIAN PREMIER DENIES CABINET PLANNING TO CHANGE ECONOMIC STRATEGY. Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 28 July denied that his government plans any changes in its economic strategy, Interfax reported. Pustovoytenko was responding to First Deputy Premier Volodymyr Kuratchenko's proposals at a government meeting earlier the same day in which the latter called for restoring state economic planning and revising Ukraine's accords with the IMF and the World Bank. "We have a clear strategy for our reform course and we will stick to it," Pustovoytenko said, adding that Kuratchenko expressed his personal opinions at the meeting. Meanwhile, IMF senior official John Odling-Smee has urged the government to accelerate economic transformation, particularly privatization and agricultural and administrative reform. JM

UKRAINE CONDITIONS ALUMINA SUPPLIES FOR TAJIKISTAN ON COTTON SUPPLIES. Pustovoytenko on 28 July threatened to stop supplies of alumina to Tajikistan from 1 August unless Dushanbe pays off its debts with cotton supplies promised earlier. Last week, Pustovoytenko and his Tajik counterpart, Yakhye Azimov, signed a deal on partly repaying Tajikistan's $60 million debt to Kyiv with cotton supplies totaling 7,000 tons, including 1,300 tons this month. In return, Ukraine pledged to ship 500,000 tons of alumina to Tajikistan in both 1999 and 2000 and increase imports to 600,000 tons in 2001, Reuters reported. JM

ANOTHER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL REGISTERED. The Central Electoral Commission has registered former Foreign Minister Hennadiy Udovenko, head of one of the two splinter groups of the Rukh party, as the sixth official candidate for the 31 October presidential polls. Earlier, the commission registered President Leonid Kuchma, Petro Symonenko, Yevhen Marchuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, and Oleksandr Moroz. The commission is still verifying the signatures supplied by another seven presidential aspirants, Reuters reported. According to Interfax, a total of 15 aspiring candidates have supplied signatures to the commission. Meanwhile, Marchuk, Moroz, and Tkachenko have signed an agreement on fair play in the presidential race, pledging to restrain themselves from mud-slinging and other such practices. JM