...VOWS STRICTER BORDER CONTROLS WITH UKRAINE. Lukashenka told factory workers in Minsk on 22 July that Belarus and Ukraine "have not yet attained the necessary level" of integration, Interfax reported one day later. He complained that the agreements signed by the Ukrainian and Belarusian presidents in Gomel and Kiev "are not being implemented." In Lukashenka's view, Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to achieve "in the near future" the level of integration existing between Russia and Belarus. "Strict customs and border controls" will be introduced on the Ukrainian border, said Lukashenka, noting that Russia is to set up a similar regime on the Russian-Ukrainian border. "Ukraine wants to be a sovereign state, let it be one. Not at our expense, though," he commented. Lukashenka also told the factory workers that rumors of his aim to take over the Kremlin are being "spread by the Belarusian opposition so as to have him and Russian President Boris Yeltsin quarrel."

UKRAINE, GAZPROM REACH PARTIAL AGREEMENT. Rem Vyakhirev, the head of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, has reached partial agreement with Ukraine on payment of Kyiv's outstanding debt, but some Ukrainian customers seem likely to remain cut off, ITAR-TASS reported. Vyakhirev met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 23 July. The country's overdue bills prompted Gazprom to cut gas shipments to Ukraine the previous day. According to Gazprom in Moscow, Kuchma and Vyakhirev agreed on an extension of a contract to fill Ukrainian reserves. But there was no agreement to resume regular shipments. Gazprom says Ukraine's outstanding gas bill is between $100 million and $150 million.

UKRAINE EXPECTS IMF LOAN WORTH $750 MILLION. Anatoly Galchinsky, the deputy chief of Ukraine's presidential administration, told journalists in Kyiv on 23 July that Ukraine expects that the oneyear standby loan being negotiated with the IMF will be worth some $750 million. An IMF team is in Kyiv working out details of the loan package. Officials from the fund say they hope to finish drawing up the program and receive the final approval of the fund's board by the end of August. The IMF offered the regular standby loan after officials said Ukraine has not yet implemented enough reforms to qualify for the three-year extended loan of up to $3 billion that had been negotiated for several months.

ARMENIAN PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Levon Ter-Petrossyan was in Kyiv on 22-23 July for an official visit aimed at strengthening political and economic ties, ITAR-TASS reported. He held talks in Kyiv with his Ukrainian counterpart, Kuchma, as well as newly appointed Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoitenko and Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko. Discussion focused on economic and military cooperation as well as mutual assistance in streamlining tax laws. The two presidents on 23 July signed a declaration on further cooperation between CIS member states. Eleven intergovernment agreements were also signed. Ter-Petrossyan expressed his support for Ukraine's partnership agreement with NATO. He and Kuchma signed a friendship and cooperation treaty in May 1996.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN RIGA. Hennadi Udovenko and his Latvian counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, arrived in Riga on 24 July to sign three intergovernment accords, RFE/RL's Latvian Service reported. The accords deal with the protection and promotion of mutual investments, easing restrictions for the citizens of one country traveling to the other, and the readmission of illegal immigrants. Udovenko is also scheduled to meet with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime Minister Andris Skele, and parliamentary speaker Alfreds Cepanis.