UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 2001 BUDGET IN SECOND READING. The parliament on 30 November voted by 247 to 10 with two abstentions to approve the 2001 zero-deficit budget in the second reading, Interfax reported. Communist and Socialist lawmakers refused to participate in the voting. The bill projects revenues at 41.6 billion hryvni ($7.65 billion), including 5.9 billion hryvni from privatization. The final reading of the bill is expected to take place next week. JM

UKRAINIAN SOCIALIST LEADER SUED FOR SLANDER. Presidential administration chief Volodymyr Lytvyn has sued Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz in a Kyiv district court for slander, Interfax reported on 30 November. According to Lytvyn, Moroz committed slander by publicly alleging that Lytvyn, along with President Leonid Kuchma and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, are responsible for the disappearance of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 2000). Meanwhile, the state printing house "Presa Ukrayiny" has refused to print an issue of the "Tovarysh" newspaper, the Socialist Party's press organ, containing the materials produced by Moroz alleging the involvement of Kuchma, Kravchenko, and Lytvyn in Gongadze's disappearance. JM

SLOVAK COURT HALTS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST MINISTER'S SUSPECTED MURDERER. A Bratislava court on 30 November ordered that proceedings against Oleg Tkhoryk, a Ukrainian suspected of murdering former Economy Minister Jan Ducky in January 1999, be stopped owing to "lack of evidence," CTK reported. The court ordered that Tkhoryk be set free, but his release from custody was postponed after the Prosecutor-General's Office announced it will appeal the decision before the Supreme Court. Tkhoryk is believed to have been hired by unknown individuals to commit the murder. The opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), of which Ducky had been a prominent member, said the decision of the court signals the "total incompetence" of the Interior Ministry. MS

SLOVAKIA IMPOSES VISA REQUIREMENTS ON RUSSIA, BELARUS CITIZENS. The Foreign Ministry on 30 November announced it is imposing visa requirements for citizens of Russia and Belarus as of 1 January 2001, CTK reported. Russia announced it would reciprocate, after Slovakia made known its intentions earlier this year. Visa requirements for Ukrainians were introduced in late July. The government said the move is aimed at harmonizing policies with those of the EU and combating organized crime and illegal unemployment. MS