RUSSIA WANTS TO SHUT DOWN MILITARY NUCLEAR REACTORS. "The Washington Post" reported on 13 February that the Russian government has told U.S. officials it wants to scrap a 1997 joint project to convert Russian military nuclear reactors to civilian use. According to the newspaper, Moscow cited delays in implementing the joint project, cost overruns, and nuclear experts' warning of a possible Chornobyl-type catastrophe. Under a new Russian proposal, the reactors would be shut down instead of converted, and conventional energy sources would be used for local cities at an estimated cost of $230 million, which would be provided by the U.S. The 1997 agreement had committed Moscow to ending the production of weapons-grade plutonium by the end of 2000. The newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying such production will not be halted before 2004, regardless of whether Moscow's latest proposal is approved. Last week, the Russian government agreed to stop making plutonium out of spent fuel from its civilian nuclear reactors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 February 2000). JC

UKRAINIAN COURT ORDERS INVESTIGATION OF LEFTIST LAWMAKERS. A Kyiv district court has ordered prosecutors to open a criminal case against ousted parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Tkachenko and leftist deputies for "derailing" parliamentary sessions, Interfax reported on 11 February. The ruling adds that the leftist minority prevented the new parliamentary leadership from entering parliamentary offices and "created discomfort and inconveniences in the work of the Supreme Council administration in general." Complying with an earlier court ruling, Tkachenko on 11 February gave back the speaker's seals to the parliamentary Secretariat. JM

UKRAINE'S TKACHENKO SAYS PARLIAMENT CANNOT BAN COMMUNISTS. Oleksandr Tkachenko has said that the parliament has no right to ban the Communist Party, Interfax reported on 11 February. The ex-speaker was commenting on a draft bill--submitted to the parliament last week--that would prohibit the Communist Party. Tkachenko called the legislative initiative "extremist," adding that the Communists received more than 10 million votes in the last parliamentary elections. Independent deputy Serhiy Holovatyy told the agency that a political party may be banned only by a court decision. The Communist Party of Ukraine, which was registered in 1993, is the country's largest party, with more than 120,000 members. JM

IMF REQUESTS EXPANDED PROBE OF UKRAINE'S CENTRAL BANK. The IMF has asked Ukraine to expand the probe of its National Bank following a report by the "Financial Times" on 11 February that the government placed bank reserves in highrisk ventures against IMF advice. The newspaper alleged that the bank bought government treasury bills in an attempt to prop up the domestic debt market and moved $150 million through several accounts to make its reserves seem larger than they were. "Such a transaction would clearly violate the spirit of Ukraine's [IMF loan] because it would have enabled the National Bank of Ukraine to give an inaccurate picture of its external position," Reuters quoted an IMF spokesperson as saying. The "Financial Times" alleged last month that the bank misused IMF funds, after which Kyiv asked an international audit firm to check the allegation. JM