UKRAINE CHARGES EX-PREMIER WITH CONTRACT KILLINGS. Ukraine's Deputy Prosecutor-General Mykola Obykhod announced on 2 June that the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case against former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on charges of arranging three contract killings, Interfax reported. Obykhod said Lazarenko ordered the killing of prominent lawmaker Yevhen Shcherban, who was gunned down along with his wife in Donetsk in 1996. Obykhod added that Lazarenko wanted to get rid of a competitor and that people close to him allegedly transferred money to the killers. According to Obykhod, Lazarenko had also plotted the assassinations of two high-ranking government officials, but both plots failed. JM

UKRAINE, KAZAKHSTAN WANT TO BOOST COOPERATION. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, have spoken out in favor of boosting bilateral economic cooperation, Interfax reported on 3 June. Kuchma said the prospects for developing cooperation in the energy sector, metallurgy, and machine building are good. Nazarbaev noted that Kazakhstan and Ukraine are engaged in no political or economic disputes. He said that next year Kazakhstan will complete the construction of the Severokaspii-Novorossiisk oil pipeline, after which Kazakhstan "will be able to ensure the operation of Ukraine's refineries." Both presidents attended celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of the town of Dniprodzerzhinsk, Donetsk Oblast, where Nazarbaev graduated from a vocational school in 1960 as a trained metal worker. JM