UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN PORTUGAL. Leonid Kuchma visited Portugal from 25-27 October, holding talks on bilateral trade and cooperation with Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio and Premier Antonio Guterres, Interfax reported. The two sides signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation as well as intergovernmental accords on investment, education, science, technology, and media. JM

POLAND, UKRAINE SET UP GAS PIPELINE TEAM. Polish Premier Jerzy Buzek and his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko, agreed in Warsaw on 26 October that the two countries will respect each other's interests and "take them into account," PAP reported. They appointed an intergovernmental team to consider the recent project to build a Russia-Europe gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October 2000). The team, headed by deputy economic ministers from the two countries, is to "resolve current matters and report on the talks that each of our government will hold together with external partners," Buzek told journalists. He declined to say whether Poland will agree to build a gas pipeline that by-passes Ukraine. Yushchenko noted that "with only small extra investments," Ukraine's existing gas pipeline network could allow gas supplies to potential customers to be increased by 60-70 billion cubic meters a year. JM

OPPOSITION POLITICIAN'S BODYGUARDS CHARGED. Criminal proceedings have been launched against two of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party first deputy chairman Ali Kerimov's bodyguards on charges of hooliganism, Turan reported on 23 October. The two men are accused of having beaten the chairman of the Gyaanja branch of the association of Chornobyl invalids while Kerimov was addressing a meeting in that town the previous day. A spokesman for Kerimov said the man had tried to disrupt the meeting by addressing abusive remarks at Kerimov. Another of Kerimov's bodyguards was injured when someone threw a knife at Kerimov in the town of Masally, according to the independent newspaper "Azadlyg" on 21 October. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 24 October)


LEGISLATORS PROTEST NEWSPAPER'S CLOSURE. Leftist and centrist deputies on 17 October left the parliamentary session hall to protest the closure of the "Silski visti" newspaper for nonpayment of taxes, Interfax reported. Ivan Bokyy, of the Socialist Party caucus, demanded that President Leonid Kuchma "immediately" cancel the ban on "Silski visti." The State Tax Administration ordered the newspaper to pay 1.8 million hryvni ($330,000) in penalties for not having paid income tax on property it received eight years ago. The Kyiv City Arbitration Court rejected the newspaper's appeal to cancel the penalties. "Silski visti" has been known for its leftist political sympathies and criticism of the Kuchma administration. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF HIDING INFORMATION ABOUT DISAPPEARED JOURNALIST. Lawmaker Oleksandr Lavrynovych on 17 October said Ukraine's law enforcement bodies are giving only "a part of the information" to the public about their investigation into the disappearance of opposition journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, Interfax reported. Lavrynovych heads a special commission created by the parliament to look into Gongadze's disappearance. Alona Prytula, chief editor of the Internet newsletter "Ukrayinska pravda," for which Gongadze worked before his disappearance, said Security Service head Leonid Derkach and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko "are interested in convincing" the president that Gongadze "disappeared on his own initiative." According to Prytula, Gongadze was kidnapped and "is now being kept somewhere." ("RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October)

NASHE RADIO WARNED FOR VIOLATING LICENSE REGS. Nashe Radio has been given an official warning that it is in violation of a law which requires that over half the country's programming should be in Ukrainian. The station's management has been given one month to bring its programs in line with legal requirements. (Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, 19 October)

RESETTLEMENT OF CRIMEAN TATARS EASED? The presidents of Ukraine and Uzbekistan on 12 October agreed to help ethnic-Tatar natives of Ukraine who were deported to Uzbekistan by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the AP reported. Stalin ordered some 500,000 Tatars deported from Crimea on the Black Sea to Central Asia in 1944, on allegations of collaboration with the Nazis. The exiles and their descendants were allowed to return to Ukraine shortly before the 1991 USSR collapse. Over 270,000 have returned to Crimea, but many remain in Uzbekistan and have difficulties getting citizenship and finding jobs. The agreement is intended to ease the process of acquiring Ukrainian citizenship for Uzbekistan's Crimean Tartars. (MINELRES, 19 October)

NEW WORLD BANK STUDY ON CORRUPTION. The World Bank conducted a survey in September on the transition economies in Europe and Central Asia ("Anticorruption in Transition: A Contribution to the Policy Debate," Washington DC, 2000; Joel S. Hellman, Geraint Jones, and Daniel Kaufmann, "Seize the State, Seize the Day: State Capture, Corruption and Influence in Transition," Policy Research Paper 2444, World Bank, Washington DC, September 2000.) The World Bank data suggests that there are five types of countries. First are those, such as Belarus and Uzbekistan, that are at such a low level of government capacity that little business activity occurs, and hence corruption and state capture are at low levels. Second is a group of countries, mostly in the eastern part of the region and including Russia and Ukraine, that have powerful enough governments and strong enough business opportunities to generate demands for government favors. They suffer from high levels of both state capture and administrative corruption. Third are countries, mostly bordering on Western Europe but including some of the Baltic states, that have medium levels of both administrative corruption and state capture. Corruption and cronyism exceed the levels in most of Western Europe, but the state functions reasonably well. The fourth and fifth categories score highly on just one of these measures. (Transitions Online, 24 October)