UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES CABINET FOR SLOW REFORMS... Leonid Kuchma on 19 April criticized Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet for the slow reform pace in the country, Interfax and the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported. "The government still has not found the instruments that could solve present problems," Kuchma told a cabinet meeting. He added that the government should focus its attention on structural reform and increase the regulatory function of the state. Responding to Deputy Premier Yuriy Yekhanurov's report that Ukraine posted a 5.6 percent growth in GDP in the first quarter of this year, Kuchma said the growth results from the former cabinet's effort last year and is not linked with current reforms. JM

...AND FOR POOR PERFORMANCE OF FUEL, ENERGY SECTOR. Kuchma also said the performance of the fuel and energy sector, for which Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko is in charge of, is "completely unsatisfactory. The situation in the sector has reached the critical point and it was only a miracle that the country's energy system has not collapsed," Kuchma noted. He accused Tymoshenko of continuing the communist-era practice of using energy resources where, he said, those resources are consumed but not paid for. "The energy sector became the creditor of practically all other sectors although it is almost bankrupt itself," Kuchma added. There have been rumors that Kuchma wants to sack Tymoshenko, but he said he is not going to take personnel decisions at a cabinet meeting. Some 200 Tymoshenko supporters demonstrated outside the government's offices saying they back her attempts at reforming the sector. JM

HUNGARY'S EXTREMIST PARTY CLOSES REGIONAL BRANCH. The Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) has dissolved its Gyor branch due to "attempted infiltration by members of the extremist organization National Front Line, provocative leftwing elements and other [factors], possibly supported by foreign secret services," party chairman Istvan Csurka told Hungarian media on 19 April. He said that right and left-wing forces are trying to make the party "ungovernable," adding that MIEP advocates "national radicalism" but "disassociates itself from extremism." In other news, President Arpad Goncz on 19 April met visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk and discussed the possibility of establishing a Ukrainian-language university department in Budapest. MSZ