UKRAINIAN SECURITY CHIEF DENIES CHECHEN ACTIVITIES IN CRIMEA. "Krymskaya pravda" reported on 19 October that "representatives of Chechen field commanders are buying dirt cheap apartments in Kerch, Feodosiya, and other towns of Crimea for families of [Chechen] militants," according to Interfax. The newspaper also suggested that Chechen militants are supported by "representatives of Crimean Islamist organizations of a fundamentalist orientation." Ukraine's Security Service chief Leonid Derkach told Interfax on 21 October that he has no information confirming that report. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Zhytomyr the same day that the authorities "are seriously keeping under control everything that is taking place in Crimea." He also said he will order that the "Krymskaya pravda" report be checked for accuracy. JM

UKRAINIAN CHIEF BANKER CLAIMS TO HAVE BEATEN OFF ATTACK ON HRYVNYA. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko on 21 October said the bank has fought off an attack on the national currency, which slipped below the government trading limit of 4.6 hryvni to $1 the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1999). Yushchenko said the attack was prepared by "Russian and Latvian banks," adding that it could be even more serious than the "fuel crisis in July-August," Interfax reported. Yushchenko noted that there are no "monetary reasons" for the destabilization of the financial market. The same day, President Leonid Kuchma commented on the recent hryvnya slide by saying that "money has appeared in Ukraine and people want to play on this." JM

KUCHMA TO DEMAND $150 BILLION FROM RUSSIA? Speaking to journalists in Khmelnyskyy on 20 October, Kuchma said Ukraine intends to discuss with Russia the return of the money transferred from Ukraine's Savings Bank to Russia shortly before the breakup of the USSR. Earlier, Kuchma had said that in 1991 some 84 billion rubles ($150 billion at the official exchange rate of that time) were transferred from Ukraine to Russia. Kuchma argued that Ukraine has the right to a part of "what was accumulated and produced" during the Soviet era, according to Interfax. He added that it is difficult for him to say whether Ukraine will succeed in holding such talks since they depend on "the good will of both sides." JM