UKRAINIAN PREMIER PROMISES IMPROVEMENT THIS FALL... Viktor Yushchenko said during his visit to Ternopil Oblast on 19 May that Ukrainians will notice improvements in their living standards as soon as this fall. "Believe me, this will happen," Interfax quoted him as saying. Yushchenko added that his government has managed not only to ensure the timely payment of current wages and pensions but also to reduce wage and pension arrears by 14 percent. Yushchenko pledged to remove the entire pension backlog "in the next four-five months." The State Statistics Committee reported a 10.4 percent growth in industrial output from January-April 2000, compared with the same period last year. Inflation, however, was 12.1 percent over the same period in 1999, which is double government forecasts. JM

...VOWS TO ROOT OUT BARTER. Yushchenko also said his government is determined to end barter deals that are hindering economic development. "Our position is tough and unshakable. We shall squash [those deals] alive," AP quoted him as saying. Yushchenko commented that the fight against barter is already yielding results, noting that the number of such deals has dropped from 43 percent of all payments at the start of 2000 to some 15 percent. Earlier this month, the government banned all barter payments in the energy sector (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 May 2000). JM

UKRAINE'S DEPUTY SPEAKER SAYS NO REASON TO JOIN BELARUSRUSSIA UNION. Viktor Medvedchuk has said "there are no economic, political, or any other grounds" in Ukraine for joining the Belarus-Russian Union, Interfax reported on 19 May. Medvedchuk was responding to Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev's statement in Minsk last week that Armenia and Ukraine will join the union "in the near future." Medvedchuk noted that this is "Seleznov's personal viewpoint," adding that such statements have already been voiced more than once. JM

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REFUSES TO RATIFY TREATY WITH UKRAINE. Lawmakers on 19 May refused to ratify the basic treaty with Ukraine and indefinitely suspended the debate on that accord, Romanian Radio reported. Moldova's legislators debated the treaty in closed session, but Romanian radio said the deputies objected to the provision on a swap of small pieces of territory. MS