UKRAINIAN LEGISLATORS ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has submitted to the parliament materials allegedly showing that six deputies have been involved in corruption, Interfax reported on 24 March. Three deputies are from the Greens' Party, one from the Hromada party, and two are independent. SBU Chairman Leonid Derkach did not give details of the case against the legislators but said that under current law they would be held only administratively, not criminally responsible. JM

UKRAINE'S NAFTOHAZ HEAD RESIGNS CITING 'POLITICAL BLACKMAIL.' Ihor Bakay, head of the Naftohaz state-run company, resigned on 24 March, citing "purely political" reasons for his step, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. According to Bakay, he stepped down owing to "groundless and impertinent political blackmail" from both Ukraine and the West, but he declined to say which Western countries wanted his ouster. Bakay added that Naftohaz has been made a scapegoat for the shortage of gas in the country and has been forced by the government to conclude a gas supply contract with Gazprom, which increased Ukraine's gas debt to Russia by $500 million this year. JM

UKRAINIAN WORKERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT POLICIES. Some 2,000 people picketed the government building in Kyiv on 24 March in a protest organized by the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers, Interfax reported. The protesters demanded that the government lower the prices for bread, cancel the recent hikes in tariffs for public transportation and utilities and ensure the timely payment of wages and pensions. They also demanded that the government cancel the 16 April constitutional referendum, revoke its agreements with the IMF, and break off Ukraine's relations with NATO. The rally was attended by Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who called for a boycott of the referendum. JM