NTV SAYS RESHUFFLE DELAYED BECAUSE OF KUCHMA VISIT. Yeltsin had been expected to reshuffle the cabinet on 26 February, the day the government reported on its 1997 performance. According to NTV on 1 March, Yeltsin decided whom to fire before the cabinet session but postponed announcing his decision until after his meetings with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 26 and 27 February. LB

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN SIBERIA. President Leonid Kuchma flew from Moscow to Kemerovo Oblast in Siberia on 27 February. Kuchma spent two days meeting with the oblast's governor, Aman Tuleev, and his administration, signing several trade agreements. Kemerovo will ship coking coal, rail tracks, chemical and electrical engineering goods to Ukraine and will receive cars and buses, light industry goods and foodstuffs. Kuchma told business leaders in Kemerovo on 1 March that Ukraine lost $3 billion in trade with Russia in 1997 but said agreements signed with Boris Yeltsin on 27 in Moscow ended the "trade war" between the two countries. Kuchma also visited relatives and his sister's grave in the village of Berezovskii before returning to Kyiv. BP

UKRAINIAN-EU AGREEMENT TAKES EFFECT. An economic cooperation agreement between the European Union and Ukraine became valid on 1 March. Borys Hudyma, the Ukrainian representative to the EU, said the document gives Kyiv "new responsibilities" but also improves economic cooperation between the EU and Ukraine. The agreement commits both sides to creating favorable conditions for trade and investment. The EU is second behind the U.S. in trade with Ukraine. The agreement comes on the heels of unilateral restrictions by Kyiv on car imports in a move designed to benefit Korean automaker Daewoo, which has made substantial investments in Ukraine. The EU said the restrictions violate the agreement, and that sanctions could be imposed as a result. PB

CHORNOBYL DIRECTOR UPSET WITH EBRD REJECTION OF FUNDING. Serhiy Parashin, the director of the Chornobyl nuclear plant, on 27 February protested the decision by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development not to help fund the construction of two new reactors that would facilitate the permanent closing of Chornobyl. The EBRD decided last week to not fund eight of 13 projects proposed by Ukraine and approved by the Group of Seven industrial nations in 1995. Parashin said the decision was a "serious political loss." The EBRD's decision cripples Kyiv's hopes of closing Chornobyl by 2000, as the government pledged to do in 1995. PB