INTERNATIONAL AGENCY PLEDGES MORE CHORNOBYL AID TO BELARUS. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pledged on 31 October to increase its aid to Belarus for alleviating problems from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Reuters reported. Jihui Qian, the IAEA vice president, said "Belarus badly needs our assistance...there is nothing more important [here] than combating the consequences" of the disaster. Jihui made his announcement after a tour of the most affected areas. Some 25 percent of the country remains affected by radiation released in the 1986 explosion. The IAEA is involved in two programs in Belarus, one aimed at reducing radiation in homes and property, the other providing funds for the construction of a plant in the south that would produce safe cooking oil. PB

KUCHMA, SYMONENKO LOOKING FOR SUPPORT FROM LOSING CANDIDATES. The campaign manager for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 1 November that ahead of the runoff election for the presidency Kuchma's campaign team will seek allies from among "party leaders and our opponents from yesterday," Reuters reported. Ivan Kuras said Kuchma will "cooperate with those in a constructive mood...willing to be constructive allies." Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who will face Kuchma in the 14 November runoff, said he will hold talks with leftwing allies in a bid "to join forces with those who are ready to struggle against the regime." Symonenko, who advocates forming a Slavic union with Belarus and Russia, said he would divide Ukraine's foreign debts into the categories of "those that have to be paid and those whose legality should be checked." He also said he would "exclude the dollar from domestic circulation" and concluded a press conference asking "Why should the West be afraid of us?" PB

OSCE SEES FAIR ELECTION, DIRTY CAMPAIGN IN UKRAINE. Election observers said on 1 November that the Ukrainian presidential election held the previous day was "carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner," dpa reported. A joint statement by the OSCE and the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said that "although the campaign was highly questionable, voting in general was orderly and relaxed.... There is no immediate reason to doubt that the outcome of the first round of the election reflects the will" of Ukrainians. Simon Osborn, the head of the OSCE monitoring mission, said serious violations during the campaign included forged newspapers, the confiscation of campaign materials, the improper involvement of public officials in campaigning, and various media violations. Mykhailo Ryabets, the head of the Central Election Commission, said the commission received 37 claims of irregularities but that it has found no evidence of voterigging. More than 500 observers from 37 countries monitored the vote. PB