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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS WANT TO ABANDON HIGHER WAGES. Leaders of the Verkhovna Rada's groups and factions agreed on 14 November to give up the pay raise they were granted as of September, Interfax-Ukraine and ITAR-TASS reported. Verkhovna Rada speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn told journalists that he will sign a relevant directive to reflect this decision, while his deputy, Adam Martynyuk, suggested that the decision must be enacted by law in order to take effect. In September, following a similar increase in wages for cabinet members, the average monthly pay for legislators rose from $800 to $2,800. JM

PREMIER SAYS NEARLY 40 PERCENT OF UKRAINIANS OFFICIALLY LIVING BELOW SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM. Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said at an economic conference in Kyiv on 14 November that the official incomes of 36.5 percent of Ukrainian citizens are below the country's subsistence minimum, ITAR-TASS reported. Yekhanurov suggested that many businesses in Ukraine understate their employees' earnings in order to reduce tax payments to the budget. Ukraine's monthly subsistence minimum, which was set by the parliament in October 2004, amounts to 432 hryvnyas ($85). JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER SAYS SETTING WTO MEMBERSHIP DEADLINE WAS MISTAKE. Verkhovna Rada speaker Lytvyn told journalists on 14 November that the Ukrainian government has made a mistake by setting a deadline for gaining entry to the World Trade Organization by the end of 2005, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "We made a strategic mistake when we set time frames for joining the WTO without talking about the goal," Lytvyn said. JM