UKRAINE EXPECTS TO RECEIVE IMF LOAN. Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Tyhypko has said the IMF will approve a 94.1 million hryvna ($49 million) stand-by loan for his country on 26 January, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Tyhypko led a delegation to Washington last week for talks with IMF and World Bank officials. He said the meetings went well and that Kyiv has made "important steps in fiscal and monetary policies." An IMF mission is scheduled to go to Kyiv in February to evaluate the situation. PB

CRIMEAN LEADER PRAISES KUCHMA ON VETO. Crimean parliamentary speaker Anatoliy Hrytsenko has praised President Leonid Kuchma for vetoing an election law as unconstitutional, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 January. Kuchma said a provision in the legislation would permit only Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea to be elected to its parliament, which, he argued, is a violation of the Ukrainian Constitution. He also said it is too early to switch to a proportional election system, as stipulated in the bill. Such a move could inflame political infighting on the peninsula, he added. Hrytsenko called Kuchma a "constitutional guarantor." Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, however, has sharply criticized the veto. PB

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS MEET IN SLOVAKIA. The presidents of 11 East-Central European Countries met in Levoca, eastern Slovakia, on 23-24 January to discuss strengthening civil society in their countries. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma told journalists after the summit that his country hopes first to join the EU and then integrate into other European structures. The presidents declined to comment on developments in Slovakia, but many said they will pay close attention to the country's upcoming presidential elections. Poland's Aleksander Kwasniewski said Warsaw supports Bratislava's efforts to gain access to NATO and the EU but added that Slovakia's policies need to be "clear and predictable," an RFE/RL correspondent reported. MS

COUNCIL OF EUROPE "SHOCKED" ABOUT EXECUTIONS IN UKRAINE. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe is to decide on 27 January whether to suspend Ukraine from participating in the assembly because of its failure to halt executions, an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg reported. Kyiv's membership in the council will not be debated. Ukraine agreed to a moratorium on the death penalty when it joined the council in 1995, but it has admitted that at least 13 people were executed last year. Parliamentary Assembly chairwoman Leni Fischer said the assembly is "shocked" that the moratorium has been violated. With parliamentary elections scheduled for March, Ukrainian politicians are reluctant to declare support for a ban on capital punishment. Opinion polls show most Ukrainians opposing such a ban. PB

UKRAINIAN MINE WORKERS DEMAND UNPAID WAGES. Some 200 construction workers from coal mines in eastern Ukraine have demonstrated in Kyiv for the payment of back wages, AFP reported on 26 January. Some of the workers have not been paid for more than a year. Government wage arrears at the end of 1997 totaled some 5 billion hryvnas ($2.6 billion). PB