SOROS WANTS AID TO UKRAINE TO DEPEND ON REFORM. In an opinion piece published in the 24 November "International Herald Tribune," U.S. financier and philanthropist George Soros called on the West to condition its assistance to Ukraine on democratic improvements in the country. Soros noted that Kuchma's "corrupt and ineffective" government has been able to survive so far owing to international assistance granted "largely on account of Ukraine's geopolitical position." Soros said that in order to receive further Western financial support, Ukraine should push ahead with its political and economic reforms, comply with the IMF's recommendations, allow more freedom for the media, and be more efficient in combating corruption. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES MORE REGIONAL LEADERS. In what appears to be an act of political revenge, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has fired the governors of Zaporizhzhya and Mykolayiv Oblast as well as four raion heads in Luhansk Oblast and two raion heads in Chernihiv Oblast. In all those regions, Kuchma lost to Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko in the 14 November presidential runoff. Following the 31 October first round of voting, Kuchma fired the governors of Kirovohrad, Poltava, and Vynnytsya, where he lost to either Symonenko or Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. Moreover, Kuchma replaced presidential administration staff head Mykola Biloblotskyy with Volodymyr Lytvyn. Biloblotskyy was appointed Ukraine's ambassador to the Russian Federation. JM

EU TO ADOPT STRATEGY ON UKRAINE THIS YEAR. Finland's ambassador to Ukraine said on 23 November that by the end of this year, the EU will adopt its strategy regarding Ukraine, Interfax reported. The ambassador, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency, added that the document "will not only declare [the EU's] intent of further support to Ukraine on its European path but will also point to specific integration directions, including several specific cooperation projects for the next year." In the 23 November "Financial Times," Kuchma had appealed to the EU for a clear sign that Ukraine might eventually be granted union membership. JM