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UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS PEACEKEEPER MISSION TO LIBERIA. The Verkhovna Rada voted 234-145 on 9 December to endorse President Leonid Kuchma's motion to send a peacekeeping contingent of 350 troops, 14 helicopters, and 20 civilian personnel to Liberia, Interfax reported. The peacekeepers are to be deployed in Liberia by May. The United Nations will reportedly pay $1.5 million a month to Kyiv to compensate for the cost of the deployment. The Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc, and a part of the Our Ukraine voted against the move. Defections from Our Ukraine reportedly helped the pro-presidential majority to approve the motion, which was rejected on two previous occasions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 2003). JM
WORLD BANK APPROVES $250 MILLION LOAN TO SUPPORT STRUCTURAL REFORM IN UKRAINE. The World Bank's board of executive directors on 9 December endorsed a $250 million loan to Ukraine to support specific achievements in the government's structural-reform program, Interfax reported, quoting a World Bank press release. The World Bank said the facility, called the Second Programmatic Adjustment Loan, "is focused on five thematic areas: financial discipline, regulation, property rights, public sector accountability, and management of social and environmental risks," according to the press release, available on the group's website (http://www.worldbank.org). Its specific aims include improving tax collection; eliminating favorable electricity tariffs to businesses and business sectors; legislating a solution to debt that accrues in the energy sector and launching a tender for the sale of state-owned electricity distributors; enacting a law to unify procedures regarding land and real-estate ownership; and reducing the number of tax exemptions. The first such targeted loan was issued by the World Bank in September 2001. JM