BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN. Alyaksandr Lukashenka ended a two-day official visit to Kazakhstan on 4 November, having signed with his host, President Nazarbaev, a 10-year economic cooperation agreement and a cultural agreement, Interfax reported. Lukashenka had told journalists on his arrival the previous day that a "large number" of agreements would be signed during his visit. Lukashenka reportedly expressed interest during his talks with Nazarbaev in buying crude oil and other minerals from Kazakhstan, while Nazarbaev said his country is ready to export grain to Belarus and buy tractors produced there. Nazarbaev also commented that Kazakhstan is prepared to "cooperate" with the envisaged Russia-Belarus union. On arriving, Lukashenka had expressed optimism that if that union materializes, both Kazakhstan and Ukraine will join it. He implied that such a fusion could form the nucleus of the Eurasian Union, for which Nazarbaev has been lobbying since 1994. LF

UKRAINE'S MOROZ, VITRENKO SUPPORT SYMONENKO AGAINST KUCHMA? Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission officially confirmed on 4 November that President Leonid Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko will face each other in the 14 November presidential runoff. According to official results of the 31 October first round, Kuchma won 36.49 percent of the vote, Symonenko 22.24 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 11.29 percent, Natalya Vitrenko 10.97 percent, and Yevhen Marchuk 8.13 percent. Turnout was 70.15 percent. Moroz declared that he and "most" of his supporters will vote for Symonenko in the runoff but warned that a "large part" of his electorate will "vote against" both Kuchma and Symonenko. Vitrenko said she will back Symonenko if he offers her the post of premier in a future cabinet. Meanwhile, Interfax reported that other candidates in the elections--Oleksandr Tkachenko, Volodymyr Oliynyk, Mykola Haber, Oleksandr Bazylyuk, and Yuriy Karmazin--have also decided to support Symonenko against Kuchma. JM

KUCHMA TO STRIKE ELECTION DEAL WITH MARCHUK? Kuchma said on 4 November that a dialogue with Marchuk about their "cooperation" in the 14 November runoff is "possible," Interfax reported. "Marchuk has to make up his mind," Kuchma added, noting that "talks with some of the former presidential candidates are under way and the results will be known shortly." Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, head of the Kyiv-based Center for Political Research, told journalists on 4 November that Symonenko could beat Kuchma if the turnout in the second round is low. "If only 35 percent of the electorate turns out, then Symonenko will be president," Pohrebynskyy said, adding that "Kuchma's problem is to convince voters that Symonenko could win." JM

UKRAINE URGES RIGHT TO EU MEMBERSHIP. First Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Bersheda urged the EU on 4 November to make a clear pledge that Ukraine has the right to become a member of the union, Reuters reported. It is expected that at the Helsinki summit on 10-11 December, EU leaders will unveil a new strategy for Ukraine, similar to that drawn up for Russia earlier this year. Bersheda said Ukraine wants the strategy to make clear that the country has a future in the EU once Kyiv meets the union's economic and political conditions for prospective members. Bersheda added that the first round of the presidential elections in Ukraine proved that Ukrainians want to move toward the West rather than turn back toward Russia. JM

UKRAINIANS STAGE RIVAL RALLIES TO MARK 1917 ANNIVERSARY. Supporters of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his competitor in the 14 November presidential runoff, Communist Petro Symonenko, held rival demonstrations across Ukraine to mark the anniversary of the 1917 revolution and to back the presidential bids of both candidates. "In these elections, we should return power to the people...and change the country's ruinous socio-economic course," Symonenko told a 3,500-strong crowd of Communist supporters in Kyiv. "Some call [the 1917 revolution] the dawn of a new era and others--a coup marking the beginning of the long rule of dictatorship and violence.... A look at the past should prevent us from repeating tragic mistakes," Kuchma said on television. In Lviv, nationalists threw eggs and bags with paint at Communists and burned the flags of the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR. JM