UKRAINE OFFERS TO PAY FOR RUSSIAN GAS WITH SHIPS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 26 September that Ukraine plans to pay for Russian gas supplies with newly constructed ships, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma was attending the launching of a river-to-sea dry-cargo ship built at a cost of $7 million for Russia's Gazprom. Ukraine imports from Russia some 70 percent of the gas it requires and currently owes that country some $1.8 billion for gas supplies. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER UPBEAT ABOUT PROSPECTS IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko has said he expects to be proposed as the single presidential candidate from among his election alliance with Yevhen Marchuk, Oleksandr Moroz, and Volodymyr Oliynyk, Interfax reported on 25 September. Tkachenko added that the Communist Party may also support his candidacy. "I think we will win. I think I've have done a lot in this state," the news agency quoted him as saying. Tkachenko noted that he had left the Communist Party when it was banned, but he stressed that he remains a "worthy son of the Communist Party" even if he is now a member of the Peasant Party, which he founded. "I think that by 31 October we will find the courage [with Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko] to acknowledge that today we have no right to work separately," Tkachenko said. JM