LUKASHENKA ADRESSES UNION PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY... Addressing a session of the Belarus-Russia Union Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk on 18 May, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that in the event of an emergency, Belarus and Russia can mobilize an "even larger" force than the 300,000-strong military group he had mentioned earlier, Belapan reported. Lukashenka noted that the U.S. Congress resolution on Belarus of 3 May (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 9 May 2000) provides "a biased account of political processes in Belarus and is based from beginning to end on inventions, provocative judgments, and conclusions of the same sort." He said the problem of human rights violations in Belarus is "far-fetched and overblown beyond reason in the West." Lukashenka also stressed that this fall's parliamentary election in Belarus will be held on a "first-past-the-post" basis. JM

ISRAELI DIPLOMATS FLEE MINSK BECAUSE OF INCREASED RADIATION. The Israeli Embassy's staff on 18 May left Minsk because of concerns over increased radiation levels in Belarus following wild forest and peat fires in radioactive areas in Belarus and Ukraine, Reuters reported. The dpa agency on 19 May quoted "The Jerusalem Post" as reporting that a Jewish immigration agency has prepared an emergency plan to evacuate some 30,000 Belarusian Jews. Belapan on 18 May quoted an official from the State Hydrometeorological Committee as saying that no significant changes in radiation levels have recently been observed. The USIS told Belapan on May 18 that the U.S. is not evacuating its diplomatic staff in Minsk and that no other embassy in Belarus has followed the example of the Israeli diplomats. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS THREE-YEAR PRIVATIZATION PLAN... The parliament on 18 May voted by 242 to 100 to adopt the government's privatization program for the next three years, Interfax reported. Lawmakers from the Communist, socialist Left Center, and Popular Rukh caucuses voted against the plan. The program calls for privatizing some 600 large and strategic enterprises, resulting in revenues totaling $1.5 billion in 2001 and $1 billion in 2002. This year's privatization revenues were set earlier at $500 million. JM