CIS SUMMIT IN MINSK CREATES ANTI-TERRORIST CENTER. Leaders of the CIS states, excluding Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, met in Minsk on 1 December, where they signed an accord on establishing a CIS anti-terrorist center based in Moscow and approved jointly meeting expenses for holding CIS summits, Russian and Belarusian media reported. No decisions were made on seven other issues planned for discussion, including military cooperation and a CIS free-trade zone. "We are fully satisfied with the results of the Minsk summit," Russian President Vladimir Putin commented, adding that the participants reached "an agreement in principle on deepening the practical cooperation of CIS member countries." Putin also reached agreement with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on Ukraine's gas debt (see below). JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA REACH 'BREAKTHROUGH' DEAL ON GAS DEBT. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced on 1 November that Russian President Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, reached an agreement in Minsk on Ukraine's gas debt to Russia. Kasyanov said that under the agreement, repayment of the debt will be postponed for 10 years and during that period Ukraine will pay only a low rate of interest on the sum it owes. Russia also agreed that during the next eight to 10 years, Ukraine can delay paying for half of its future gas supplies from Russia on condition that it pays for the other half in cash and stops siphoning off Russian gas. "After our talks, no one will say that Ukraine is stealing our gas like a thief in the night," AP quoted Putin as saying at a news conference. Putin hailed the deal as "balanced and well-considered," while Kuchma called it a historic "breakthrough." Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko said he and Kasyanov will sign a memorandum in a few days to formalize the deal. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN JOURNALIST'S DISAPPEARANCE. Leonid Kuchma has denied his complicity in the disappearance of independent journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, as alleged by Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 2000). In a conversation with Georgian President Shevardnadze in Minsk on 1 December, Kuchma said both Moroz's allegation and the tape the latter provided to support his claim constitute "a provocation, possibly, with the participation of foreign special services," Interfax reported. Kuchma noted that it is necessary "to find out" which special services were involved. Shevardnadze remarked that, alternatively, Kyiv could simply "guess" which countries' special services took part. JM

CHORNOBYL VICTIMS DEMAND MORE SOCIAL SUPPORT. Some 10,000 people affected by the Chornobyl nuclear accident in 1986, including participants in the Chornobyl cleanup operations, marched in Kyiv on 3 December to demand more government spending on social care and increased support for them, AP reported. More than 2.2 million Ukrainians are eligible for benefits related to the consequences of the Chornobyl accident. Meanwhile, the only remaining Chornobyl reactor was restarted on 1 December after a shutdown caused by an electricity supply failure last week. JM