UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES FIRST DEPUTY PREMIER. Leonid Kuchma has sacked First Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Kuratchenko, Kuchma's spokesman said on 31 July. He provided no reason for the dismissal, however. Observers say the dismissal can be linked to Kuratchenko's remarks last week that Ukraine should revive state economic planning and change its course of reform (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). The government's press service issued a statement on 29 July confirming the country's commitment to market reforms. JM

UKRAINE, U.S. AGREE ON KOSOVA MISSION, EXTENSION OF WEAPONS DEAL. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told President Kuchma on 31 July that the U.S. and other NATO members will provide one-time aid to send 800 Ukrainian peacekeepers to Kosova. Kuchma's spokesman quoted Cohen as saying that NATO has already taken a decision in principle on the issue, while financial details will be worked out in the near future. Moreover, Ukraine and the U.S. agreed to a six-year extension--until 2006--of the U.S.-sponsored program to destroy ICBMs and long-range bombers that were left in Ukraine after the breakup of the USSR. JM

NINE CANDIDATES TO COMPETE FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY. The Central Electoral Commission on 31 August registered Cherkasy Mayor Volodymyr Oliynyk as the last candidate in the 31 October presidential elections, bringing the total number of presidential hopefuls to nine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1999). Several other aspirants failed to qualify because they could not produce the required 1 million signatures in their support, Interfax reported. JM