YELTSIN HAILS IMPROVED TIES WITH UKRAINE. In a nationwide radio address on 21 November, Yeltsin hailed improved bilateral ties with Ukraine, which had soured after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 , ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Yeltsin said ties between the two Slavic neighbors had been plagued over the past six years by "mutual reproach and misunderstanding." He acknowledged differences remain, namely over the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, and recent UkrainianNATO military exercises in the Black Sea. Yeltsin also accused socalled "demagogues" of fanning nationalistic feelings and warned that Russian foreign policy is the domain of the president. Yeltsin, however, said that "frank discussions" at a recent informal meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had alleviated tensions and paved the way for an official visit to Russia by Kuchma in February. AW

KYIV SEEKS MORE HELP TO CLOSE DOWN CHORNOBYL. Representatives of some 50 countries gathered in New York on 20 November to discuss how to raise the $760 million that the international community estimates is needed to close the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, ITAR-TASS reported The meeting, which was co-chaired by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and U.S. Vice President Al Gore, resulted in some commitments of additional funds but still far less than necessary. Kuchma commented that the conference came "10 years late. But better late than never." He also noted that Ukraine currently spends 12 percent of its budget revenues on the Chornobyl plant. PG

UKRAINE TO DEFEND NATIONAL CURRENCY. Ukraine's central bank has announced plans to support the embattled hryvna, Ukrainian media reported on 20 November. Other Ukrainian officials suggested Kyiv has the necessary funds to prevent a further decline in the value of its currency. The hryvna has recently come under pressure as a result of both domestic economic difficulties and international currency speculation. PG