UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RAISES MINIMUM PENSION. The parliament on 17 September voted 299 to eight to approve raising the minimum pension from the current 24.9 hryvni ($5.4) to 55 hryvni, AP reported. Given President Leonid Kuchma's repeated vetoes of several pension increases, the parliament's 17 September decision seems to be yet another example of the confrontation between the legislature and the government ahead of the 31 October presidential elections. State Pension Fund head Borys Zaychuk commented that his fund, whose annual revenues total 13 billion hryvni, will not be able to find the additional 9.7 billion hryvni needed to pay for the increase. JM

UKRAINE, KAZAKHSTAN SIGN DEALS ON OIL, GAS SUPPLIES. Talks between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, on 17-18 September resulted in the signing of several protocols on cooperation in the oil and gas sectors and a 10-year cooperation agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1999), the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported on 20 September. Ukraine wants Kazakhstan to supply 5 billion cubic meters of gas next year so that Kyiv is less dependent on gas supplies from Russia and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan agreed to supply 1.5 million tons of oil to Ukraine by the end of this year. JM

BRZEZINSKI PROPOSES THAT ARMENIA JOIN GUUAM. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told journalists in Tbilisi on 17 September that he considers the GUUAM alignment comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, "a good initiative" that may at some point evolve into a security system, Caucasus Press reported. But Brzezinski added that he thinks Armenia should also become a member of GUUAM, together with Romania, Poland, and Turkey. He proposed that Tbilisi offer the maximum concessions in order the resolve its conflict with Abkhazia. But he ruled out independence for the breakaway republic, advocating instead a confederation with Georgia, according to Caucasus Press. The Georgian leaders insist they would agree only to Georgia becoming an "asymmetric federation." LF