UKRAINIAN SPEAKER THREATENS TO RECONSIDER CHORNOBYL CLOSURE. Ivan Plyushch pledged on 4 November to propose a bill that would keep the Chornobyl plant operational past the 15 December deadline for its closure if the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development fails to provide money to complete two nuclear reactors at Rivne and Khmelnytskyy, Interfax reported. Plyushch's remark followed his meeting with IMF official John Odling-Smee, whom he urged to renew the fund's suspended $2.6 billion loan program to Ukraine. EBRD President Jean Lemierre said in Kyiv the previous day that the EBRD is ready to lend Ukraine $100 million to compensate for the energy loss owing to Chornobyl's closure, but he made that credit conditional on the restoration of the IMF's loan program. JM

TYMOSHENKO FIGHTS BACK IN UKRAINE'S ENERGY SECTOR CONTROVERSY. Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko told STB Television on 4 November that Yevhen Marchuk submitted a "politically-motivated" report on the government's alleged misrepresentation of the situation in Ukraine's energy and fuel sector (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 2000). Marchuk, who is chief of the Council of National Security and Defense, accused the cabinet of overstating the level of cash revenues in the energy sector. Tymoshenko noted that Marchuk's report is the result of "intrigues" aimed at discrediting Viktor Yushchenko's cabinet. Yushchenko said the previous day that he is not going to work in a government "that has its own shadow cabinet." Marchuk's report was signed, among other officials, by Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Yermilov. JM

VATICAN SAYS POPE TO VISIT UKRAINE IN JUNE. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Walls said on 6 November that Pope John Paul II will visit Ukraine in June 2001, AP reported. The announcement followed a report in Germany's "Bild" that the pope will leave office at Christmas because of health problems and retire to a monastery in his native Poland. "There is no foundation to the report.... I can confirm that the Holy Father will travel to Ukraine in June," NavarroWalls noted. JM

POLAND TO TALK TO RUSSIA ABOUT 'ADDITIONAL' GAS SUPPLIES TO EU. Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Steinhoff on 3 November said Poland's Oil and Gas Mining Company is to start talks with Russia's Gazprom on deliveries of Russian gas to the EU, Polish media reported. Steinhoff was commenting on his meeting with Russian Transport Minister Sergei Frank earlier the same day. Poland has so far been against the idea of the construction of a gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine. Steinhoff said the situation has radically changed because Russia is now talking about an "additional 60-80 billion cubic meters" of gas to be delivered to the EU. Steinhoff noted that these deliveries require new gas pipelines and said that Poland is interested in their construction. JM

MOLDOVAN, UKRAINIAN LEADERS DISCUSS TRANSDNIESTER ISSUE. President Petru Lucinschi spoke by telephone on 3 November with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, about expanding cooperation in a variety of areas, including resuming deadlocked talks about the Transdniestrian dispute, Infotag reported. Meanwhile, the authorities of the breakaway Transdniester Republic said the same day that they will resume talks with Chisinau after Moldova elects a new president, BASA-Press reported. PG