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FORMER DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER INDICTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT. The Main Military Prosecutor on 31 May indicted former Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov for gross embezzlement of state funds, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 31 May. Vavilov is charged with having illegally transferred funds from the defense budget to the Ukrainian Energy Systems company then headed by Fatherland Party leader Yuliya Tymoshenko. The prosecutors said that some of these funds, which totaled $450 million, were diverted into the private accounts of Vavilov and Tymoshenko. VY

UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS NEW CABINET IS 'OPTIMAL COMPROMISE.' Anatoliy Kinakh told journalists in Minsk on 31 May that the appointments made thus far to his cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 May 2001) are "the result of an optimal compromise" among President Leonid Kuchma, the parliamentary groups that voted for Kinakh's approval, and Kinakh himself, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Kuchma said in Minsk the same day that "only the premier was changed, while the government remained [the same]" in Ukraine, Belarusian Television reported. JM

KUCHMA'S DECREE ON STATE SECRETARIES SAID TO CONTRADICT CONSTITUTION. Kyiv-based political scientist Mykola Tomenko told Interfax on 31 May that President Kuchma's decree introducing state secretaries for the cabinet and ministries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 and 31 May 2001) contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution "to a significant extent." Tomenko said the functioning of the government, in line with the constitution, is to be regulated by a law on the Cabinet of Ministers that has already been passed but not yet signed by Kuchma. According to Tomenko, Kuchma's decree on state secretaries "violates the constitutional status of the cabinet." Tomenko noted that many ministers from the previous cabinet of Viktor Yushchenko retained their posts in that of Kinakh, but "significantly lost their powers" to state secretaries. "Kinakh is becoming a sort of presidential representative or adviser to deal only with managing the regional system of power, some economic branches, and individual enterprises," Tomenko added. JM

KUCHMA URGES CREATION OF CIS FREE-TRADE ZONE. The Ukrainian president said in Minsk on 31 May that if the CIS does not create a free-trade zone for its members, as it agreed to do in April 1994, its political prospects will be "illusory," Interfax reported, quoting Kuchma's interview with Belarusian Television. "As of today, the CIS is, unfortunately, a large consultative council," Kuchma said, noting that the "economy moves everything." JM

UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BELIEVERS PROTEST POPE'S PLANNED VISIT. On 31 May in Kyiv, some 1,000 believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) staged a protest against the planned visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine from 23-27 June, Interfax reported. Valentyn Lukyannyk, one of the leaders of the protest, told the agency that the pope's visit is "inopportune." And he added: "So far, [Ukrainian] Catholic and Orthodox believers have not resolved many problems, in particular, there is continuing suppression of Orthodox Christians in Western Ukraine." JM