TURKMENISTAN SEEKS TO REASSURE UKRAINE OVER GAS DEAL. Deputy Prime Minister responsible for energy resources Elly Gurbanmuradov said on 22 December that the deal Ashgabat concluded last week to sell natural gas to Russia will not affect future supplies to Ukraine, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 December 1999). He suggested that if Ukraine seriously wants to buy Turkmen gas next year, it should first pay at least 30 percent of its $100 million outstanding debt for earlier deliveries. LF

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT OPTIMISTIC OVER YUSHCHENKO'S PREMIERSHIP. Leonid Kuchma said on 22 December that following the parliamentary confirmation of National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko in the post of prime minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1999), "the period of stagnation [in Ukraine] should come to an end," Interfax reported. Kuchma noted that he is satisfied with "those changes that took place in the parliament," adding that there is understanding between the legislature and the executive that "it is impossible to move further ahead without mutual responsibility." Addressing the parliament before his confirmation, Yushchenko said the government and the parliament need to sign an agreement on "setting up joint responsibility" for the state of affairs in Ukraine. JM