BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST FACES TWO-YEAR PRISON TERM. The prosecution in the trial of Mikalay Statkevich, leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, has demanded a two-year prison term for the defendant, Belapan reported on 31 May. Statkevich, along with Supreme Soviet deputy Valery Shchukin, was charged with the organization of and participation in the unauthorized "Freedom March" on 17 October 1999. The march ended in clashes between protesters and riot police as well as in numerous arrests (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 19 and 26 October 1999). A defector from the Interior Ministry later confessed that the clashes were deliberately provoked by the police (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 17 February 2000). Statkevich told the court that street protests have now become the only way for people in Belarus to express their views. "I think this struggle will continue, regardless of whether Statkevich is in prison or not," Belapan quoted him as saying. JM

CRIMEAN CABINET TO REMAIN IN OFFICE. The Presidium of the Crimean Supreme Council announced on 31 May that it will not officially publish the legislature's former resolution to dismiss the Crimean cabinet of Serhiy Kunitsyn (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 and 26 May 2000), Interfax reported. According to the agency, the presidium's decision means that Kunitsyn's cabinet will in effect remain in office. The presidium said it made its decision following consultations with the presidential administration in Kyiv and taking into account "revealed legal contradictions and discrepancies" between the Ukrainian and Crimean constitutions and other legislation. "We should take into account that Ukraine's constitution is the main [law] and resolve all problems between the Crimean Supreme Council and the president, the guarantor of Ukraine's constitution, on a constructive legal basis," Crimean speaker Leonid Hrach commented. JM

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER GIVES MORE INFO ON ARMY CUTS. Oleksandr Kuzmuk on 31 May provided additional information on the army reductions approved earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 May 2000), Interfax reported. Kuzmuk said the armed forces will total 295,000 servicemen and 80,000 civilian employees by December 2005. He added that the army's current numerical strength is 310,000 servicemen and 90,000 civilian workers. The armed forces will also reduce its hardware by 400 tanks, 289 aircraft, 189 helicopters, and 11 ships. Kuzmuk added that the army will acquire a new combat formation called "rapid-response forces." Leonid Polyakov, an independent Ukrainian political expert, told Interfax that the total numbef of military and civilian personnel is lower than official figures suggest and in fact totals 370,000- 375,000. "There will be no changes," Polyakov said, commenting on the announced personnel cuts. JM