UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CHIEF BANKER AS PRIME MINISTER. By a vote of 296 to 12, the parliament on 22 December approved National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko as prime minister. The required number of votes for Yushchenko's approval was 226. Yushchenko, who is known as a pro-market reformer and strict monetarist, told the parliament that he will reduce government intervention in the economy, consolidate state finances, and promote privatization and land reform, according to Reuters. JM

UKRAINE ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN OVER OIL SUPPLIES. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh on 21 December threatened that Kyiv will cancel the sale of stakes in some Ukrainian refineries to Russia and Kazakhstan unless they meet their formerly pledged terms for deliveries of crude oil to these refineries, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. The threat came on the heels of an acute oil shortage in Ukraine, which is accompanied by a RussianUkrainian row over Ukraine's alleged siphoning-off of Russian transit gas. Kinakh said the reasons for the current oil crisis are a sharp increase in prices of oil on the world market, limitations on Russia's oil export to Ukraine, the introduction by Russia of a new tariff for oil export, and inflation in Ukraine. JM

UKRAINIAN HARD-LINERS PROTEST COURT RULING ON UKRAINIAN LANGUAGE. The parliamentary caucuses of the Communist Party and the Peasant Party have protested the recent Constitutional Court ruling that obliges state officials to use the Ukrainian language during official business, Interfax reported on 21 December. Protesting lawmakers said the decision violates Ukraine's Constitution, the European charter on minorities' languages, and the rights of millions of Ukrainian citizens who speak only Russian. Communist lawmaker Hryhoriy Boyko announced that the court passed a "political" ruling, "which is supported neither by a majority in the Supreme Council nor by a majority of Ukrainian citizens." JM