NEIGHBORS HAVE MIXED REACTIONS TO BELARUS-RUSSIA TREATY... Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko said on 8 December that Ukraine's accession to the Belarus-Russia union is a "matter of time," adding that Ukraine may join the treaty "in three years at most." President Leonid Kuchma commented in Washington the same day that Ukraine has already made its choice and "will proceed on the path of independence." The Polish Foreign Ministry said Poland does not consider the Belarus-Russia union a threat and will not treat the union as a "new subject of international law." Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis said the Belarus-Russia treaty is a "challenge [that] sharpens the international situation," according to ELTA. JM

UKRAINE'S KUCHMA PROMISES REFORM, CRACKDOWN ON CORRUPTION. Meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Vice President Al Gore in Washington on 8 December, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma pledged to implement a "strict program of economic and democratic reforms" and launch a "true war against corruption" in Ukraine, AP reported. "I believe there is no more important issue for the future of Ukraine," the agency quoted Gore as saying. Kuchma's major concern in Washington is also to persuade IMF head Michel Camdessus to resume the fund's suspended loan program for Ukraine. JM

POLISH RADICAL FARMERS' LEADER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. SelfDefense union leader Andrzej Lepper said on 8 December that he will run for the presidency next year, PAP reported. Lepper is currently setting up a new party, the Self-Defense Peasant-National Bloc (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 7 December 1999), to create a "third" political force, alongside the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action and the opposition Democratic Left Alliance. The new bloc's constituent congress is to take place on 17 January in Warsaw. JM