UKRAINE TO LAUNCH SERIAL PRODUCTION OF AN-70 PLANE. The Ukrainian government has decided to begin serial production of the AN-70 military transport plane, Interfax and AP reported. The first plane is to appear by the end of 2002. Ukraine's Defense Ministry plans to purchase one plane a year beginning in 2006. Another buyer will be Russia's Defense Ministry. The AN-70 plane is a Ukrainian-Russian project: the body of the plane will be assembled in the Aviant plant in Kyiv and the Aviakor plant in Samara (Russia), while engines will be built at the Sich plant in Zaporizhzhya and the Salyut factory in Moscow. One AN-70 will cost nearly $50 million. According to State Committee for Industrial Policy head Volodymyr Novytskyy, 110 planes need to be sold to turn a profit. The AN-70 is able to carry a cargo of 35 tons over a distance of 5,000 kilometers. JM

POPE TO VISIT UKRAINE NEXT YEAR? Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Zhulynskyy said on 12 October that it is possible that Pope John Paul II will visit Ukraine in the summer of 2001, Interfax reported. Zhulynskyy added that such a visit taking place in Ukraine's 10th year of independence "not only would be welcome by Ukrainian Catholics but also would be extremely important to the entire nation." Zhulynskyy was speaking after talks with Archbishop Mykola Yeretovych, the Vatican's nuncio to Ukraine. Yeretovych noted that the pope would like to meet with "representatives of all big denominations in Ukraine without exception" on his visit. The pope has been invited to Ukraine but has not yet visited that country. JM

UZBEK, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTS DENOUNCE NEW EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION. President Karimov and his visiting Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, told journalists in Tashkent on 12 October that the Eurasian Economic Union launched in Astana three days earlier on the basis of the CIS Customs Union is "a time bomb" that could destroy the CIS, Interfax and Reuters reported. Karimov predicted that the new body will not prove capable of resolving problems that its predecessor had created. Kuchma, for his part, posed the question why other CIS members were not invited to join the new body. The two presidents also signed an agreement on 12 October that will facilitate the return to Ukraine of Crimean Tatars deported to Central Asia by Stalin in 1944, according to AP. LF