CRISIS CONTINUES IN UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT... The recently created center-right majority in the Ukrainian parliament on 19 January continued to block debate in a disagreement over changes to the parliament's regulations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 2000), Interfax reported. The majority wants to introduce the procedure of a roll-call vote in the parliamentary regulations, which supposedly is to facilitate ousting the current speaker, Oleksandr Tkachenko. The agency quoted Tkachenko as saying that if the current parliamentary leadership is changed, Ukraine will "ultimately be ruled by the IMF" together with the president and the prime minister. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS MARKET ECONOMY PRIORITIES. Speaking to the diplomatic corps on 19 January, Leonid Kuchma said the main objective of his activity is to accelerate and deepen market economic reforms in the country, Interfax reported. Kuchma added that the government is primarily going to transform the budgetary and tax systems, implement land reform, develop entrepreneurship, liberalize economic relations, and improve the investment climate. He also noted that Ukraine cannot move forward under the current "continuing differences of opinion and confrontation between the power branches." According to the president, the constitutional referendum decreed for 16 April will help him to learn the opinion of compatriots regarding the consolidation of Ukraine's power system. JM

POLISH SUGAR PRODUCERS BLOCK BORDER CROSSING. Some 100 sugar beet growers and trade unionists from a number of sugar refineries on 19 January blocked a road to the border crossing with Ukraine at Zosin, Polish Television reported. The protesters demanded the rescheduling of sugar refinery debts, the immediate completion of the sector's privatization (preferably by foreign capital), and the allocation of sugar production limits for farmers. There is also another group of farmers and trade unions in Poland who oppose the privatization of sugar refineries by foreign capital and demand the creation of a Polish sugar holding to save the sector from bankruptcy. JM

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. General Oleksander Kuzmuk and his Romanian counterpart Victor Babiuc on 19 January agreed to finalize three bilateral accords by the end of the year, envisaging measures to increase mutual confidence, collaboration in procurement of materiel and logistics, and the protection of secret information, Mediafax reported. Babiuc said Ukraine is "more advanced than Romania" in its preparations for setting up a battalion with Hungary and Slovakia for intervention in case of natural disasters and that Romania will try to "recuperate its lag behind" to ensure the battalion is set up by the end of the year. MS