RUSSIA CRITICAL OF NAVAL EXERCISES IN BLACK SEA. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said in Moscow on 7 August that Russia will not take part in international naval exercises which will be held later this month in the Black Sea on Ukraine's initiative, ItarTass reported. The exercises, called Sea Breeze-97, are scheduled to be held off Crimea's coast. They will involve ships from Ukraine, the U.S. and other countries. Russia has repeatedly criticized the exercises in the past. Sergeyev said the Russian military does not understand the aim and tasks of these exercises. Nevertheless, Sergeyev also said he has a positive attitude to joint undertakings by the navies of Russia and Ukraine. He said Russia and Ukraine have decided to conduct their own joint naval exercises, which he said would have "a peace-keeping character."
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS REGULAR NEIGHBOR SUMMITS. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas told journalists on 7 August that he would like next month's conference organized by the Lithuanian and Polish presidents to turn into "a regular event." The presidents of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus, and the Russian prime minister are to take part in the 5-6 September conference in Vilnius. The conference is titled "Coexistence of Nations and Good Neighborly Relations as a Guarantor of Security and Stability in Europe." Brazauskas met with the organizing committee for the conference on 7 August. Petras Vaitiekunas, foreign policy adviser to the Lithuanian president, told BNS that the idea of adopting a joint declaration at the conference "has been given up." He said only very general and "empty" phrases could be included in such a communique because of the different stances of the participating states on many issues.
UKRAINE SIGNS IMF COOPERATION MEMORANDUM. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko and Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko on 6 August signed a cooperation memorandum with the IMF, Interfax reported. The memorandum was sent to the IMF the same day. The IMF board of directors will discuss a $525 million standby loan to Ukraine on 25 August. The loan will be provided over a period from July 1997 through July 1998, with the first IMF inspection scheduled for November. Ukrainian officials hope the standby loan program may be transformed into an Extended Fund Facility program later this year. The IMF has made such a change conditional on accelerating reforms in Ukraine. The approval of the Extended Fund Facility program would give Ukraine a chance to resume talks on World Bank loans.
UKRAINE'S CHANGE OF VISA RULES CAUSES CONFUSION. Mykola Lesnikovsky, chief of the Kyiv international airport's consular department, told journalists on 6 August that dozens of foreign visitors have been sent back to their home countries from the airport in recent days after Ukraine tightened its rules for issuing visas. He said that visas previously were available to arriving passengers at the airport. But as of 1 August, the only people allowed to obtain visas at the airport have been citizens of countries where Ukraine has no embassy. He said visitors from countries where Ukraine does have an embassy have been turned back at the airport. Several of the people turned away were from the U.S. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry adopted the new policy in 1993, but it was only put into force on 1 August