GUUAM DEFENSE MINISTERS' MEETING SHELVED. The meeting planned for early this year of the defense ministers of the five GUUAM member states (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) has been postponed indefinitely, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 January, quoting the Georgian Defense Ministry. The meeting was originally to have taken place in Tbilisi on 28-30 January, but then rescheduled for 24-25 January on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Moscow. Western observers have suggested that the reason for the postponement may be the recent rapprochement between Uzbekistan and Russia. LF

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SPLITS, HOLDS TWO SEPARATE SESSIONS. The center-right, pro-government parliamentary majority consisting of 241 deputies held a separate session in the Ukrainian House exhibition center in Kyiv on 21 January . The split within the parliament occurred after a majority failed last week to adopt amendments to parliamentary regulations and to unseat speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko and his deputy, Adam Martynyuk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 2000). The majority voted on 21 January by 239 to zero to oust both Tkachenko and Martynyuk. It also approved Volodymyr Stelmakh as National Bank head. According to another resolution, the majority will reconvene on 1 February in the parliamentary building. Meanwhile, 180 leftist deputies loyal to Tkachenko held their session in the parliamentary building. Both warring factions claim to be Ukraine's legitimate legislatures. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER BRANDS RIVAL SESSION AS ILLEGAL. Oleksandr Tkachenko on 21 January said the alternate session held by the parliamentary majority is illegal, Interfax reported. Tkachenko noted that according to the constitution and the parliamentary regulations, only the parliamentary speaker has the right to convene legislative sessions. Therefore, he added, all resolutions adopted at other sessions are illegitimate, even if they were adopted by a constitutional majority of deputies. Tkachenko noted that he does not intend to resign his post of parliamentary speaker. In an appeal to the nation adopted the same day, Tkachenko accused President Leonid Kuchma of causing the parliamentary crisis in Ukraine, saying that Kuchma intends to create a puppet legislature in order "to legalize the dictatorship of oligarchs." JM

UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS APPEAL TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE OVER PARLIAMENTARY CRISIS. Ukraine's leftist parliamentary minority has adopted an appeal to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, urging the council "to speak in the defense of parliamentarism in Ukraine," Interfax reported on 22 January. The appeal wants the European body "to prevent the violation of freedom and democracy in the very center of Europe." The appeal warns that President Leonid Kuchma intends to establish an "unrestrained presidential authority" in Ukraine through a constitutional referendum. JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER DEPRIVED OF BODYGUARDS, CAR, TELEPHONES. Parliamentary deputy Yaroslav Kendzor from the Popular Rukh told Interfax on 22 January that he has signed an order to deprive Tkachenko of official bodyguards and a business car as well as to disconnect telephone lines from Tkachenko's office in the parliamentary building. Kendzor said he had the right to sign such an order as head of a temporary commission for investigating Tkachenko's activities, which was set up at the parliamentary majority session the previous day. Communist leader Petro Symonenko told Interfax that similar restrictive measures have also been taken against deputy speaker Martynyuk, a member of the Communist Party. JM