UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND LIMITS ON COURT FINES. In a 3 May action protesting what they condemned as the suppression of the media in Ukraine by courts that impose exorbitant fines, some 50 journalists on 3 May erected a barricade some 5 meters high and marched along a central Kyiv street with their mouths taped shut, AP and Interfax reported. The journalists demanded that the parliament amend the law on media to establish limits on the size of the fine media must pay if found guilty of libel or other offenses. More than 2,250 lawsuits were filed against Ukrainian newspapers in 1999 for damages totaling 90 billion hryvni ($16.8 billion). That sum is nearly double Ukraine's planned budget revenues in 2000. JM

UKRAINE SIMPLIFIES VISA REGIME FOR MANY WESTERN COUNTRIES. As of 1 May, the government has simplified the visa application procedure for citizens of the EU, the U.S., Canada, and Japan, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 3 May. Persons from those countries can now apply for business, service, scientific, cultural, and private visas without an invitation. JM

PUTIN CAUTIOUS ON REUNIFICATION OF SLAVIC REPUBLICS... During a 3 May meeting with the Ukrainian and Belarusian presidents at Prokhorovka, the site of a major Soviet victory in World War II, Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin distanced himself from calls by Belarus's Alyaksandr Lukashenka to reunify the Soviet Union. "There are many forms of reunification," he commented, suggesting only that the three Slavic peoples are "such close nations" that there can be "no obstacles to the pooling of their efforts," Russian agencies reported. During the commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, the three leaders unveiled a memorial to the Kursk salient battle, and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II dedicated a unity bell at the site. PG