UKRAINE MOUNTS DEFENSE OF NATIONAL CURRENCY. The Ukrainian Central Bank on 21 November announced a series of measures to defend the hryvna after the currency slipped below its current float rate of 1.70 to 1.90 to the U.S. dollar, Ukrainian media reported. After the bank indicated that it would raise key interest rates and also increase the reserve requirements for banks, the hryvna rebounded from 1.97 to the U.S. dollar early in the day to close within its range at 1.883, ITAR-TASS reported. In another piece of news that may have helped the currency, Russia and Ukraine have agreed to work out procedures for eliminating value-added taxes on exports to each other. According to the "Wall Street Journal Europe" on 24 November, interest rates will be raised again, from 25 to 35 percent. PG

KYIV READY TO START WORK ON CLOSING CHERNOBYL. President Leonid Kuchma said on 22 November that the $37 million pledged at a recent conference in New York was enough, combined with the $350 million already committed, for work to begin on reconstructing the sarcophagus at Chornobyl, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said that the work will begin "no later than in two years." But in an indication that this schedule may slip, Ukrainian media reported the same day that the nuclear power station at Zaporizhia has been temporarily shut down following the discovery of a leak in its cooling pipes. PG