UKRAINE TO HELP FAMILIES OF 'KURSK' SUBMARINE VICTIMS. The Ukrainian government on 23 August announced it will pay 5,000 hryvni ($919) to the families of each Ukrainian-born sailor who died on board the Russian submarine "Kursk." The same day, Interfax published an official list of the 27 Ukrainianborn sailors who were killed in that disaster. On 22 August, President Leonid Kuchma had set up a special fund to collect money for the families of the "Kursk" victims. And the wellknow Ukrainian soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk has pledged to donate $100,000 to the relatives of the "Kursk" victims. JM

CONSECRATION OF KYIV CATHEDRAL SPARKS CONTROVERSY. Some 100 people on 23 August picketed the Ukrayina Palace, where state officials were attending a celebration on the eve of Independence Day, to protest the consecration the next day of the newly rebuilt Assumption Cathedral in Kyiv. Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) was to consecrate the cathedral. Interfax reported that taking part in the picket were representatives of the two wings of Popular Rukh and nationalist parties, as well as supporters of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The protesters demanded that the cathedral be consecrated jointly by the heads of Ukraine's three Orthodox Churches. President Leonid Kuchma suggested he will not interfere in the consecration, saying that society will not back those trying to foment a conflict over the cathedral. Meanwhile, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz said the state "should have a say" since the cathedral was rebuilt for state funds. JM

UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES FAIL TO IDENTIFY CAUSE OF MASS POISONING. A special government commission has so far failed to find the cause of the poisoning of several hundred people in four villages in Mykolayiv Oblast, Interfax reported on 23 August. A total of 331 people, including 170 children, have been hospitalized since 4 July after being poisoned by contaminated soil. Health officials said nitrates and nitrites in the soil appear to have been the reason for the poisoning, which has resulted in the victims' suffering rashes, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and an impairment of their sight. Some media, however, suggested that the poisoning may have been caused by liquid rocket fuel that has remained in the soil after rocket launches took place in the vicinity of those villages. JM