POLISH PRESIDENT VISITS AZERBAIJAN... Visiting Baku on 27-28 October, Aleksandr Kwasniewski met with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, to discuss Poland's support for Azerbaijan's accession to the World Trade Organization and integration into European structures, including full membership in the Council of Europe, Turan reported. Possible Polish involvement in the GUUAM alignment (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) was also discussed. Kwasniewski said Poland is ready to help prepare NATO's Caucasus strategy. The two presidents also discussed Polish participation in the construction of cement plants and sugar mills in Azerbaijan and the prospects for the export via Poland of Azerbaijani oil transported via the Baku-Supsa export pipeline. A memorandum on cooperation between Poland's state oil and gas company and the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR was signed at the meeting. LF

...AND KAZAKHSTAN. On 29 October, Kwasniewski held talks with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, in Astana, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kazakh capital reported. Those talks focused on preparations for the OSCE Istanbul summit and the prospects for Polish participation in construction projects in Astana as well as in the export of Kazakhstan's oil via Ukraine to the Polish port of Gdansk, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbaev termed the $100 million annual trade turnover between the two countries "not bad." LF

INCUMBENT, COMMUNIST LEADER TO COMPETE IN RUNOFF FOR UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko finished first and second, respectively, in Ukraine's presidential vote on 31 October and will face each other in a runoff in two weeks, AP reported on 1 November. With 96 percent of the votes counted, Kuchma gained 36.36 percent backing and Symonenko 22.32 percent. Oleksandr Moroz, head of Ukraine's Socialist Party, came third with 11.29 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of radical leftist Natalya Vitrenko (11.05 percent). Former Premier Yevhen Marchuk placed fifth with 8.06 percent, the Central Election Commission reported. Voter turnout was reported at 70-75 percent, an increase over the 1994 ballot. Voters in the largely nationalist western half of the country tended to favor Kuchma, while voters in the east voted for Symonenko and other leftist candidates. PB

CANDIDATES COMPLAIN OF ELECTION VIOLATIONS. The organizations of several candidates reported violations of election regulations and dirty tricks on 31 October, AP reported. The UNIAN news agency reported that in the eastern coal mining city of Donetsk, a leaflet was distributed claiming that Kuchma had died of a heart attack and had been replaced by a double so that his "criminal entourage" would remain in power. Although election advertisements and commercials are banned 24 hours before the vote, the state-run UT-2 television channel on 31 October showed footage of a Kuchma speech that was followed by a message that read "Vote for your Future." In the runup to the election, Kuchma is said to have received more coverage in the electronic media than the 12 other candidates together. PB

GAZPROM CUTS ENERGY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA. As of 1 November, Gazprom will cut its energy supplies to Moldova by 40 percent, Infotag reported on 29 October. The same day, Gazprom Deputy Chairmen Aleksander Pushkin and Vasilii Fadeev handed over to Moldovan government representatives a letter from Gazprom Chairman Rem Vyakhirev saying that Moldova has failed to pay on time for current gas deliveries and reduce its outstanding debt. Fadeev said that negotiations are under way on restructuring the Moldovan debt, which Moldovan officials say now totals $489 million. Of that sum, $310 million is owed by Tiraspol. An additional $277 million is due in fines for overdue payments. Flux reported that energy supplies from Romania and Ukraine will be diverted to Chisinau to avoid plunging the capital into darkness but that this will cause serious problems in the countryside. MS