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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS MEDVEDCHUK AS CHIEF OF STAFF... President Leonid Kuchma has appointed lawmaker and financial oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the Social Democratic Party-united, as head of the presidential administration, UNIAN reported on 12 June, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olena Hromnytska. "Ukraine lacks a constructive political course. Medvedchuk's appointment is outside the context [of such a course]," the "Ukrayinska pravda" website quoted Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko as saying. "[Medvedchuk's appointment] is the price Kuchma had to pay for his victory in the election of parliamentary speaker," Socialist Party lawmaker Yuriy Lutsenko commented. "It's obvious that following Medvedchuk's appointment, the desire of Yushchenko and his adherents to get jobs in the executive branch will decrease," political scientist Anatoliy Hrytsenko noted. JM

...PROVIDES VERKHOVNA RADA WITH LEGISLATIVE WORKLOAD... President Kuchma has submitted 14 draft bills to the Verkhovna Rada, urging lawmakers to consider them on a priority basis, UNIAN reported on 13 June. JM

...ORDERS GOVERNMENT TO DRAFT ACCORD ON INTERNATIONAL GAS-PIPELINE CONSORTIUM... Kuchma instructed Deputy Prime Minister Oleh Dubina to work out a concept and an appropriate draft agreement on the creation of an international consortium to manage Ukraine's gas-pipeline system, UNIAN reported on 12 June. Kuchma, Russian President Putin, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on 10 June signed a trilateral accord on cooperation in developing and exploiting the pipeline infrastructure used to transport oil and natural gas from Russia through Ukraine to Western Europe. A day earlier, Kuchma and Putin reportedly signed a bilateral accord on "strategic cooperation" in the natural-gas sector. JM

...AND APPOINTS CHIEF OF ARMS EXPORTING COMPANY. Kuchma appointed Valeriy Shmarov, former deputy premier and defense minister, as the general director of the state-run Ukrspetseksport company which deals in arms exports, UNIAN reported on 13 June. Shmarov takes over after the death in March of Valeriy Malev, who was killed in an automobile accident. JM