UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER "TEMPORARILY" DISMISSED. The Office of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced on 19 June that Kuchma has decided to temporarily remove Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and replace him with First Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Dudinets. Presidential spokesmen told journalists in Kyiv that Lazarenko was being removed from his post for the duration of an unspecified illness. Lazarenko has made no comment. Observers cast doubt on Lazarenko's alleged health problems. Rumors of his dismissal have been circulating in Kyiv for weeks amid allegations of high-level government corruption. Under Ukraine's constitution, Lazarenko's dismissal would mean the resignation of the cabinet.
SENIOR IMF OFFICIAL IN KYIV. Kuchma met with IMF Deputy Director Stanley Fischer on 19 June to discuss a new loan to Ukraine, UNIAN reported. A final decision on the loan has been delayed since late 1996 because Ukraine has failed to meet a number of fundamental IMF conditions, including approval of the 1997 State Budget within certain guidelines, reform of the pension system, and liberalization of trade. Media reports suggest that Fischer is to hand over to Kuchma a letter from IMF Executive Director Michel Camdessus expressing concern about Ukraine's continued failure to those conditions. An IMF special mission is to arrive in Ukraine at the end of June. In other news, Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk and his visiting Polish counterpart, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, praised improved bilateral military ties. They said at a 19 June press conference in Kyiv that close cooperation between their militaries was important for European security.
NEW CRIMEAN CABINET APPROVED. The parliament of Ukraine's autonomous region of Crimea on 19 June approved the cabinet of newly appointed Premier Anatoliy Franchuk, RFE/RL's Kyiv office reported. There are five holdovers from the previous government of Arkadiy Demydenko and a larger number of members of the Russia faction, which was the driving force behind Demydenko's ouster. No members of Demydenko's newly formed Crimea Our Home faction are included in the new cabinet. Franchuk, a close ally of President Kuchma, was Crimean premier in 1994-1995. He has pledged rapid and comprehensive economic liberalization.