TATARSTAN'S PRESIDENT ESCAPES AIRCRAFT FIRE. Mintimer Shaimiev had a narrow escape on 29 November when one of the engines of his plane caught fire on the runway in Kazan, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 2 December citing an unidentified "reliable source." Shaimiev was about to fly to Kyiv to attend President Leonid Kuchma's inauguration. Three days earlier, the aircraft in which Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu flew to Kazan was seriously damaged when it landed at Kazan airport, whose runway is in urgent need of repair. LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT'S SUPPORTERS PROTEST PARLIAMENT'S 'NONCONSTRUCTIVE STANCE.' Some 200 representatives of the election bloc "Our Choice--Leonid Kuchma" picketed the parliament building on 1 December to protest the "nonconstructive stance" of the legislature, Interfax reported. According to Mykola Shevchenko, one of the organizers of the protest, "the parliament should cooperate with the executive, not block its activity." He added that if the parliament does not depart from its "confrontation course, we will initiate its dissolution through a nationwide referendum." President Leonid Kuchma, who has called on the parliament to form a pro-government majority, is expected to propose current Premier Valeriy Pustovoytenko as the head of a new cabinet. JM

UKRAINIAN HRYVNYA NOT LIKELY TO RETURN TO EXCHANGE CORRIDOR. The hryvnya exchange rate on 1 December stabilized at 4.95- 4.97 to $1 at the interbank currency exchange, Interfax reported. According to currency market dealers interviewed by the agency, the hryvnya is not likely to return to the exchange corridor of 3.4-4.6 hryvni to $1 that was set by the government in February. According to one dealer, there is no sense in setting a new exchange corridor. "Earlier the corridors were declared only for foreign investors. But now there are virtually no foreign investors on the market. As for domestic dealers, they have long ceased to believe in any corridor," he commented. JM

UKRAINE CUTS OFF ELECTRICITY FROM NON-PAYERS. Some 16,000 enterprises, or 33 percent of their total number, have received no electricity supplies since late November because they have not paid for earlier deliveries, Interfax reported on 1 December. The debt of those disconnected from the grid amounts to 432 million hryvni ($87 million), or 7.5 percent of the total debt for electricity supplies in Ukraine. JM