IMPEACHMENT COMMISSION CONSIDERS TREASON CHARGE. The State Duma's impeachment commission on 27 July held hearings on the first of five possible charges against the president, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Duma Legislation Committee Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov and Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, both prominent members of the Communist faction, summarized the first charge against Yeltsin. They said he committed treason in December 1991, when he (as then president of the RSFSR) and leaders of the Ukrainian and Belarusian republics signed the Belavezha accords on dissolving the USSR. Among other things, Ilyukhin said Yeltsin and the other signatories lacked the authority to break up the USSR and ignored the will of the Soviet people, as expressed in a March 1991 referendum. (Although six Soviet republics boycotted that referendum, some 80 percent of the electorate in the remaining republics participated, of whom 76 percent voted in favor of preserving the USSR.) Presidential representatives did not turn up for the hearings. The impeachment commission postponed further consideration of the charge until 17 August. LB

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANKER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT PROSPECTS FOR IMF LOAN... National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko said on 27 July that he believes the IMF will approve a $2-2.5 billion loan to Ukraine, Ukrainian News reported. An IMF mission is currently in Kyiv to discuss conditions for the loan. "The fund is not insisting we meet all the starting conditions of the [loan] program. Ukraine should show that the measures that have already been taken will lead to the desired result, particularly to a balanced budget," he commented. Yushchenko said the IMF agrees that its main condition-- reducing Ukraine's 1998 budget deficit to 2.3 percent of GDP--could be met by passing a governmental resolution or a presidential decree. Despite repeated appeals by President Leonid Kuchma, the Ukrainian parliament adjourned on 24 July for the summer recess without approving the required budget deficit reduction. JM

...AND FOR KEEPING NATIONAL CURRENCY WITHIN EXCHANGE CORRIDOR. Yushchenko also vowed to keep Ukraine's embattled currency, the hryvnya, within the previously established exchange corridor of 1.8-2.25 to $1. The National Bank "is so convinced in its strategy on the financial market that it is not even discussing any other version of the corridor," AP quoted Yushchenko as saying. The hryvnya is facing pressure because of foreign investors' lack of trust in Ukraine's financial market. In August, Ukraine must repay $500 million of its $18 billion foreign debt. Domestic payment arrears by the end of June reached nearly 6 billion hryvni (some $3 billion). A possible IMF loan is widely seen as preventing Ukraine's financial collapse. JM