UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT LAMBASTES CABINET FOR ENERGY POLICY. Leonid Kuchma on 8 June criticized Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet for failing to regulate the situation in the fuel and energy sector, Interfax reported. "No use has been made of the 11,000 directives from the government committee on reforming the fuel and energy sector and from the Ministry of Fuel and Energy," Kuchma noted, commenting on Deputy Premier Yuliya Tymoshenko's performance in reforming the energy market. Kuchma said Ukraine's debt for Russian gas supplies for the first five months of this year totals $700 million. He added that Ukraine has illegally siphoned off 13 billion cubic meters of Russian gas from pipelines crossing its territory. Russia has the right to take Ukraine to an international court over the issue, he commented. Ukraine's lucrative energy market is widely believed to provide huge revenues for a few powerful oligarchs who sell Russian gas at inflated prices. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT REPLACES DEATH PENALTY WITH LIFE IMPRISONMENT. The parliament on 8 June amended the penal code to substitute life imprisonment for the death penalty, Interfax reported. The parliament also ruled that life sentences cannot be handed down to people under 18 or over 65 or to women who are pregnant either at time of committing their crime or receiving the court verdict. The move followed last year's ruling by the Constitutional Court that the death penalty is illegal. Under pressure from the Council of Europe, Ukraine imposed a moratorium on executions in March 1997. JM