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BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT WANTS GOVERNMENT TO LOWER GAS, ELECTRICITY RATES... President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 2 May pledged to workers of a cement factory in Kastsyukovichy, Mahilyou Oblast, that he will order the government to bring gas and electricity rates into line with recent Belarusian-Russian agreements, Belapan and Belarusian Television reported. Last month, Russia agreed to sell gas and electricity at domestic prices to Belarus (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 16 April 2002). Lukashenka added that the new gas and electricity rates will make the factory's cement competitive abroad. JM
FORMER UKRAINIAN SPEAKERS PESSIMISTIC ABOUT PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY. Oleksandr Moroz and Oleksandr Tkachenko told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on 1 May that they do not foresee the creation of a stable, permanent majority in the newly elected Verkhovna Rada. "I think there will be a situational majority with the participation of communists during the election of the Verkhovna Rada leadership and the heads of parliamentary committees," Tkachenko said. According to Tkachenko, the Communist Party is likely to find common language in the parliament with For a United Ukraine rather than Our Ukraine. Moroz did not rule out that the current Verkhovna Rada may be led by a lawmaker who has previously been its speaker. Aside from Tkachenko and Moroz, there are two other former speakers in the current legislature: Ivan Plyushch and Leonid Kravchuk. JM