UKRAINIAN SPEAKER CALLS FOR CABINET RESIGNATION. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko said on 25 August that the legislature should reconsider the issue of the cabinet's resignation, UNIAN reported. Tkachenko added that in July he voted against dismissing the government because he did not want "to upset the balance between Ukraine's branches of power at harvest time." Now, however, Tkachenko believes that the cabinet "pays absolutely no attention to national economic issues but is wholly engaged in the president's election campaign." Tkachenko criticized Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko for his involvement in the campaign. "Pustovoytenko was appointed prime minister to head the government...and not the [pro-presidential] Zlahoda association," the speaker said. JM

UKRAINE'S GRAIN CROP NEARS LAST YEAR'S LEVEL. As of 25 August, Ukraine harvested 21.1 million tons of grain, compared with 22.5 million tons by the same date last year, the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported, quoting an agricultural official. Premier Pustovoytenko predicted last week that this year's grain yield may exceed 27 million tons, some 500,000 tons more than in 1998. JM

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT URGES FASTER EU EXPANSION. At the conclusion of a visit to Tallinn by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Lennart Meri called on the EU to accelerate the process of expansion, Interfax reported on 25 August. "History is how developing faster than politics," he said, adding that "politics is developing faster than European institutions." He noted that Estonia will also "do its best" to join NATO as well, saying that the inclusion of his country into these Western institutions would " encourage the democratic aspirations of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine." PG

UKRAINIAN AIRLINE STARTS COURT PROCEEDING AGAINST MOLDOVA. Aeroalliance, whose AN-26 cargo plane has been impounded in Moldova since 7 April, has filed suit with the Moldovan Economic Court demanding the release of the plane and compensation for losses incurred, Infotag reported on 25 August. The agency, citing Ukrainian media sources, reported that Aeroalliance President Valeriy Marinichenko has said his company is ready to accept responsibility for the fact that the crew of the plane, which made an unscheduled landing in Chisinau, declared the cargo as oil pumps and other equipment en route from Budapest to Burgas, Bulgaria. The plane, however, was carrying 5,000 pistols ordered by Yemen. MS

UZBEK TORTURE VICTIMS SENTENCED TO PRISON TERMS. In what the New York-based Human Rights Watch called "an appalling example of political persecution," on 18 August an Uzbek court sentenced six men to prison terms ranging from 8 to 15 years for participation in a "criminal society"--the opposition party Erk banned in 1992--and for insulting the dignity of President Islam Karimov. Each of the six defendants testified that he had been repeatedly tortured. The methods included electric shocks, beatings with batons, and plastic bags which temporarily suffocate the victims. Under such coercion, all six signed self-incriminating statements and several declared their guilt on television. Though the authorities barred local and international observers from attending the trial, one defendant, the nationally known writer Mamadali Mahmudov, smuggled out his testimony. Four of the men convicted were extradited by the Ukrainian government in March.