ABKHAZIA OBJECTS TO UKRAINE'S INCLUSION IN UN MEDIATION GROUP... The Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia has issued a statement protesting against Ukraine's incorporation into the semi-formal group of states designated as Friends of the UN Secretary-General, which is charged with mediating a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Caucasus Press reported on 4 January. The Abkhaz statement said the inclusion of Ukraine in the grouping, which also comprises the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany, and Russia, constitutes a violation of the agreement reached earlier in Geneva on the format for settlement talks. Following Ukraine's accession to the group in December, Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministry officials met in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine's possible participation in the CIS peacekeeping force in Georgia. Ukraine had first volunteered to send peacekeepers to Georgia two years ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 July 1997). LF

...WHICH GEORGIAN ABKHAZ LEADER WANTS AZERBAIJAN TO JOIN AS WELL. Tamaz Nadareishvili, chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile which comprises the ethnic Georgian deputies to the Abkhaz legislature elected in 1991, told Caucasus Press on 5 January that the parliament will send a delegation to Ukraine and Azerbaijan next month to discuss the possible deployment of Ukrainian and Azerbaijani peacekeeping forces along the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. Nadareishvili called for the inclusion of Azerbaijan as well as Ukraine in the Friends of the UN Secretary-General group. LF

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SATISFIED WITH FORMATION OF NEW CABINET. Viktor Yushchenko on 4 January submitted another list of candidates for ministerial positions and state committee chairmanships to President Leonid Kuchma (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January 2000) but declined to reveal their names, Interfax reported. Yushchenko said he is "very satisfied" with the cabinet's composition, adding that "it is a part of the team [of professionals]" that he has referred to in earlier statements. Yushchenko denied rumors that the appointment of parliamentary Budget Committee Chairman Yuliya Tymoshenko to the position of deputy premier is part of a ploy aimed at securing passage of the 2000 budget. He added that, over the next few days, the government will submit a 2000 draft budget to parliament along with 10 other bills that "contain framework conditions to ensure budget activity in 2000." JM

SUSPECT ACCUSED OF ORGANIZING ATTACK ON UKRAINE'S VITRENKO. Ukraine's Security Service on 4 January announced that charges have been lodged against Serhiy Ivanchenko in connection with a grenade attack on Progressive Socialist Party leader Natalya Vitrenko during her presidential campaign rally in Kryvyy Rih on 2 October, Interfax reported. Ivanchenko was arrested on 25 December in Moscow and transferred to Ukraine on 31 December. The agency described Ivanchenko as a campaign organizer for a rival presidential candidate, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. Moroz denied any involvement in the attack, which injured 29 people, including Vitrenko. JM

UKRAINE TO CUT OFF ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES TO MOLDOVA? Ukraine has informed the Moldovan state electricity company that it may soon have to stop electricity deliveries to Moldova due to its own problems with gas deliveries from Russia, an official of the Moldtranselectro company said on 4 January. Moldova recently increased its electricity imports from Ukraine and Romania. The move came after Gazprom drastically reduced gas deliveries to Moldova because Chisinau was unable to meet debt payments. Romania has also warned Moldova that it may cut off electricity supplies on 6 January because Chisinau is failing to make payments on a $10 million debt, ITAR-TASS reported. MS