KUCHMA CALLS ON U.S. TO EXTRADITE LAZARENKO. President Leonid Kuchma on 30 June called on Washington to extradite former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko to face corruption charges in Ukraine, AP reported. Kuchma said that because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries, he is prepared to sign whatever documents are necessary. If the U.S. does not act, he said, "what kind of trust would our society have for the American legal system?... If Lazarenko has no money, he would have been thrown out of America." In Switzerland on 29 June, Lazarenko was convicted in absentia of money-laundering. PG

KUCHMA URGES REFORM OF UKRAINE'S BANKING SYSTEM. Arguing that Ukraine's banks have failed to win the trust of the population, President Kuchma has called for new legislation and regulation to improve the situation, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. Kuchma also expressed concern about capital flight from Ukraine. He noted that in early June 2000, some $1.6 billion was transferred from Ukraine to Latvia, even though trade between the two countries amounted to only $45 million. "I am surprised that the national bank does not see this," the president said. But officials at the central bank said that things are better than Kuchma suggested: they noted that they are meeting debt payment schedules, supporting the national currency, and building hard currency reserves. PG

KYIV REJECTS CHARGE THAT UKRAINIANS ARE AIDING CHECHNYA. Leonid Dergach, the chairman of Ukraine's Security Service, told ITAR-TASS on 30 June that Russian Colonel General Valerii Manilov's suggestion that Ukrainian citizens and organizations are aiding the Chechen fighters is completely untrue. Meanwhile, AP reported that ethnic Chechens in Odesa staged a demonstration to protest what they said was police persecution of refugees from the war. PG

KYIV TO PURCHASE GRAIN FROM UKRAINIAN FARMERS. In order to ensure that Ukrainian farmers sell their grain, the Ukrainian government is to purchase their produce at the average market price but the farmers retain the option to repurchase it and sell it on the market if prices rise. That measure is provided for a decree signed on 30 June by President Kuchma, Reuters reported. PG

GAZPROM SAYS UKRAINE SELLING STOLEN RUSSIAN GAS. A Gazprom board member on 30 June said that Kyiv is illegally exporting stolen Russian gas at dumping prices, ITAR-TASS reported. The official said that Ukraine is stealing 10 billion cubic meters of gas and selling a quarter to a third of it to Hungary, Poland, and Romania. To counter this, Gazprom plans to put pressure on Ukraine and also diversify its export routes around that republic. PG

GEORGIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS CONCLUDE. A Georgian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Merab Antadze held talks in Kyiv last week on the legal basis for political and economic cooperation and the prospects for expanding those ties, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. Regional security in the South Caucasus and the unresolved Abkhaz conflict were also on the agenda. Ukraine has offered to send peacekeepers to Abkhazia under a UN mandate. LF